Welcome back to the monthly behind-the-scenes peek at my on-the-road freelance business, in which I discuss how I make money while traveling full time.
In June, as usual, the bulk of my work was copywriting and content strategy. Beyond that, I spent some time writing travel articles, wrapping up the first course of my DIY Website Workshop, consulting with web clients, and very occasionally promoting my travel guides.
Here are the more in-depth details:
June 2017 Income Sources
:: Copywriting and content strategy (78%)
This is my primary income source (and has been for most of the last 15 years). I develop content strategies and write content for websites, brochures, billboards, headlines, etc.—mostly for companies in travel and tech (like Xanterra Parks and Resorts or Best VPN).
:: My unique series of local-centric travel guides (16%)
Every month, I make money from my 11 travel guides. I don’t spend much time promoting them these days (just the occasional mention on the blog or in an interview), but happily they continue to be a fairly steady source of income.
This month, they came in a bit lower than usual, but I did make a few sales directly on my website (which means a higher percentage of the money goes directly to me instead of being filtered into Amazon commissions), which was nice.
:: Website consulting (5%)
From time to time, I help clients with everything from WordPress customization to SEO questions or even build start-to-finish websites. This month, I did a little consulting with an ongoing client on Google business listings and WordPress customization and trained another client on the basics of SEO.
:: Travel writing for magazines/websites (1%)
This is not income I actively pursue anymore, but I still have good relationships with a magazine or two, so I somewhat regularly write travel articles for those.
In June, I did break my mold a little bit, writing a small piece for a new-to-me publication called Eat Your World. I also wrote three short web articles for magazines I already work with regularly, though the payment schedule on those is early next month, so they’re not reflected in the figures above.
:: Affiliate sales/advertising here on the blog (0%)
No new advertising clients or affiliate checks this month (that’s pretty normal; for most bloggers, myself included, blogging itself isn’t a big money-maker).
:: My new DIY Website Workshops (0%)
The DIY Website Workshop is a seven-week course where I walk small business owners, entrepreneurs, and creatives through the process of creating and launching a smart, beautiful website for their business or blog.
Even though this month was the bulk of the program (four weeks of a seven-week session), the number above is zero since everyone pays for the course up front. To see how this factors into my income, see April and May’s business reports.
The first workshop went really well, so I think it’s a pretty good bet that I’ll be opening up another session in the fall (so, if you’re interested, just hop on my mailing list).
A Note on Payment Schedules
The percentages above are based on the month when money arrives in my checking account, which isn’t always the month in which the project finishes. Some clients are quick payers, turning payments around in a week or two. Others take the full allotted time (a month).
When I bill clients, I do so with the following terms: payment is due in 30 days. Late payments are subject to a 10% late fee (which the clients agree to up front when they sign my contract), which compounds for every 30 days they’re late. For fixed-price projects, I usually bill 1/2 up front before the project begins and 1/2 on delivery. For smaller hourly or ongoing consulting, I bill monthly at the end of the month or the end of the ongoing consulting. Occasionally a client request a different schedule (one client asks for weekly bills) and I comply.
For book sales, payments come in on a bit of a wonky schedule as well. When I sell a book through my own website, the payment comes in immediately. When I sell it through Amazon or elsewhere, there’s a delay of about a month before that payment hits my bank account.
So, what does this mean for my numbers? It means that what I make in a month doesn’t necessarily reflect what I actually accomplished in that month. Consider it a mash-up of things I did that month and things I did the month before (which is why on months that I take vacation, I generally still see high numbers and don’t notice a drop until the month following the vacation).
June 2017 New & Ongoing Business
This June, clients I was actively working on projects with included:
:: A US-based content marketing agency (writing work)
:: An Australian travel magazine (writing)
:: A UK-based tech website (content strategy + writing)
:: Two US-based orthodontics offices (web consulting + SEO training)
:: A US food website (writing)
As for new business, I started conversations with four new prospective clients, one of whom signed right away:
:: A US-based content strategist who’d overbooked herself and needed some last-minute help (in the end, she needed more time than I had, but it’s never bad to connect with others in the industry; maybe next time it’ll turn into a project)
:: A US-based ad agency (this is my wheelhouse and the owner is amazing; I got this lead through a referral from another copywriter and if it pans out it’ll probably be in 1 – 2 months)
:: Another US-based ad agency with a psychology website project (in the end, they didn’t have much budget and I had to pass on the project)
:: A fellow writer who needs a bit of website help
:: An orthodontics office that needed a bit of SEO help (this client signed right away)
So, in summary, this June that’s:
:: 3 content strategy/copywriting/web consulting proposals or estimates sent to new prospective clients (the first prospect listed didn’t get to the estimate stage since our timelines didn’t match up and the second listed above will likely need an estimate in a month or two – not just yet)
:: 1 new client signed
:: 0 proposals requested and not yet sent
:: 5 existing clients with ongoing work (in wildly varying amounts) + the ongoing DIY Website Workshop group (those clients are not listed above)
Colleagues working hard.
Work-Life Balance & My June Workspace
As you may already know, I run this whole copywriting, content strategy, and web consulting shebang while traveling the world full-time. This month, that meant working from the wildly green valley town of Konjic in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Work projects probably took up about 15 – 20 hours per week this month, not counting time spent on my novel (which falls somewhere between work and play for me). When I wasn’t working, I spent my time exploring the mountains, taking day trips to Sarajevo for sushi (shockingly, wonderfully good) and vet visits, and researching literary agents while I waited for feedback from the first few readers of my manuscript.
Savings, Expenses, & Long-Term Financial Planning
So, what do these percentages mean in terms of supporting my lifestyle of full-time travel? What do they mean for my ability to save for retirement? Can you travel full-time and still be a financially responsible adult?
If you’ve been reading awhile, you know the answer – at least in my case – is yes. Financial sustainability is all about making more than you spend. My current goal is to save at least 50% of my income this year. This month went well, with my savings right around the 64% mark.
Are you a freelancer (or hoping to become one)? Tell us about your month! Feel free to drop any questions you might have in the comments and you’re welcome to join my Facebook business group where we talk all things entrepreneurship, business, and web.
Is there something you wish I’d cover in these monthly reports? Please let me know! I want them to be as useful as possible, so if you have a suggestion, drop it in the comments or reach out to me on Facebook anytime.