Behind the Scenes at My Location-Independent Business: Q2 2018

by Gigi Griffis

This post is part of a series about how I make money while traveling the world. For a deeper look at how I started my business and began traveling full-time, start here.

For the past year or two, I’ve been sharing a series of behind-the-scenes peeks at my location independent business. First, they came monthly. Now, I tackle them quarterly. Today, it’s time to talk about Q2 2018.

As you may already know, in Q1 I was on a serious hunt for new clients. That hunt bled into Q2 and resulted in several mid-sized projects (still ongoing), as well as, sadly, two big interesting projects that fell through at the last minute.

Ah, freelance life.

But I digress.

Because of those projects falling through, I’ve definitely still got openings in my schedule and am still looking for new clients. That said, the first and second quarter were tiring for me since I’m not a fan of sales work, so toward the end of Q2, I decided to take a little break. I have enough clients to get by, so the current plan is to calm down a bit about new business and see what comes from the sales tactics I’ve been hitting so hard in the first half of the year.

Income Sources: How I Made Money in Q2 2018

:: Copywriting and content strategy (57%)
This is my primary skill set and the primary way I make money (though web consulting in general has been on the uptick this year). This quarter, this included everything from strategy work to writing company taglines to drafting blog posts.

:: Website consulting (27%)
The more coding and design and web consulting I do, the more gets referred to me, so this is a category that seems to be doing a lot of growing lately. This also includes a payment for a big web project that includes consulting and copywriting and content strategy, so some of this percentage probably belongs above (but I didn’t want to split it out, so here it is).

:: My unique series of local-centric travel guides (15%)
Every month, I make money from my 11 travel guides. I don’t spend much time promoting them, and over time the income from them seems to be dropping off (no surprise there, since people want to buy recently published guidebooks since some information changes over time). They still do give me a nice little series of payments each month, though, for which I’m grateful.

:: Affiliate sales/advertising/donations here on the blog (1%)
As you probably know, my blog is not a real income source for me (and I don’t do much to try and make it one). I write here because I love it and because I think it’s helpful and because it benefits me in non-financial ways. That said, I do use affiliate links, I do take donations (so if I’ve helped you out and you want to buy me a coffee, I’ll take it!), and I do occasionally get paid. Probably just enough to cover the hosting expenses the website incurs and maybe grab the occasional coffee.

:: My new DIY Website Workshops (0%)
I’m still figuring out how to best make this work for me. Which is why in June I decided to do something totally different: I made the workshop free for the month. I got somewhere around 150 sign-ups and all I asked for was some feedback at the end of the program. Based on that feedback, I plan on assessing what to do with the workshop.

A few of the options I have in mind:

:: Splitting it up so that people who just need a little help can buy a single module (on SEO, for example)

:: Making the first week perpetually free and using it to sell the rest of the course

:: Making the course free and using it to sell consulting services

Hopefully next quarter I’ll have some answers on this. For now, the income is a goose-egg, but the potential is still unknown.

:: Travel writing (0%)
While most of my writing is for businesses these days, I do occasionally write articles for magazines and other publications. This quarter I wrote a few pieces on digital nomad life, Mexico, and France, but I didn’t turn them in until late June, so that income will show up next quarter.

Sales & Marketing

As I mentioned, sales and marketing efforts continued into Q2. I continued most of the same efforts from early in the year (Facebook, Slack, LinkedIn, in-person networking, etc.) and I also attended three back-to-back conferences at the end of May. Usually leads from conferences take awhile to turn into anything, so will have to wait and see what this turns into.

New Business: How I Actually Got New Clients

:: Referrals (1 new client)

:: Blog & online presence (1 new client)

:: Newsmodo (1 new client)

I also have my ongoing clients and one or two old clients who circled back to work with me again.

Savings: Current Goals & How I’m Doing

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that I have very aggressive savings goals. Every month, I do my best to put away 50% of my income.

There are dozens of reasons for this, from the fact that as a freelancer I have to put aside money for taxes since it doesn’t auto-deduct from my paychecks to the fact that someday I’d like to retire and having money is an obvious prerequisite.

That said, freelance life isn’t always steady. There are up months and down months. And this quarter, with its two big projects falling through at the last second, was a bit of the latter. Happily, I was still able to cover my expenses (despite them being substantially higher than usual because of May conferences and then June flights/train purchases). But my savings rate was dismal, at just 5%.

Finally, keep in mind that this is all based on a part-time work schedule. After a pretty epic illness a few years ago, I realized I couldn’t work full-time and take care of my physical and mental health. My hours have varied since then, but I shoot for a half-time schedule of 15 – 25 hours per week. If either of my big projects came through, I would have easily hit my 50% and if I worked full-time I likely would have as well.

Location Independence: Where I Worked

And, finally, as you probably already know, I’m running my business while also traveling full-time. So, what kind of backdrops was I working against this quarter?

For most of the quarter, we were still in NYC networking like crazy as the weather turned to summer. Then, in early June, we made our way back to Europe. Chad got a gig that requires him to be in the EU time zone and we were pretty thrilled, despite the fact that the planning was extremely last-minute.

In both locations, I worked from home most of the time, cozying up on the couch with the dog beside me and my laptop in my lap. In NYC, I tried to work from cafes occasionally, but ended up finding them way too loud for concentration. C’est la vie.

Attempting to work in a Harlem cafe.

Need Some Content, Strategy, or Web Help?

As of this writing, I’m definitely looking for new clients. Especially if you need someone on an ongoing basis. I’m particularly great at:

:: Writing content about technical topics (tech, software, healthcare, dentistry, economic development, history, etc.) for a a non-technical audience

:: Inbound marketing/content marketing

:: Developing writing guidelines for your team

:: Helping experts translate their knowledge for the layman

:: Coming up with headlines, taglines, and brand campaigns

:: Making your website clearer, simpler, and more strategic (or building you a new website from scratch)

:: Managing blogs (from the writing to the tech side to everything in between)

If you’d like to chat about what I can do for your business, drop me a line.

Are you a freelancer or business owner? Tell us about your quarter! 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 quartly 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.

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Aubrey Tauer July 9, 2018 - 10:01 am

I would love to know a bit more about how you do sales, networking etc to bring in new clients (I’m looking to get some medical writing clients which is not dissimilar to copywriting). If you’ve already written a blog about that I apologize! Greetings from Minneapolis, glad to hear you are really enjoying Europe!

gigigriffis July 10, 2018 - 9:26 am

Hey! Hope all is well with you! I did a lot more detail on my sales/marketing tactics in the last quarter – Let me know if that answers things for you!

Aubrey Tauer July 14, 2018 - 12:54 pm

It does, thanks, and I’ve also found some other blog articles you’ve written in the past that should be very helpful!

lee July 10, 2018 - 7:53 pm

enjoyed your post as usual,
i hope before the end of the year to be ready for a blog review and will contact you then for pricing

gigigriffis July 12, 2018 - 11:46 pm

Great! Feel free to reach out anytime.


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