Back from the Abyss, Illness, Income vs. a Job, and My New Business Plan

Hello again! First off, my sincere apologies for being gone for so long. I came down with a case of allergies. Which then became a sinus infection. And a head cold. Then a chest cold. Which ticked off my asthma to no end and morphed itself into severe asthmatic bronchitis. Which was “treated” by my doctor with not enough medication. Which landed me in Urgent Care with a rebound of it over the Memorial Day weekend where I had to be given a steroid injection just to breathe, essentially, and after being put on heavy duty antibiotics (again) and steroids (prednisone…again) I’m finally almost all the way better! 

Phew!

So that’s where I’ve been. In a way I brought it on myself. I went off my raw vegan lifestyle/diet for about two weeks just to see what would happen because I wanted to track the difference. I guess I found out. In a way it was good for providing data, especially since my health drastically improved once I returned to it. But you can read all about that on my other blog, The Rawesome Truth. This is the writing blog! So, onward with that. 

Radical Changes

So the first thing I want to tell you about is the radical shift I’m making in my approach to my writing. Part of the reason that I’m approaching my business completely differently is because I’ve finally figured out the topics I want to focus on, and that makes a more structured business easier to handle. Raw veganism/veganism, endurance sports, and handmade art and crafts and the business involved in them, travel, and home are my topics of interest. It took me just over a year to put that together, but I think that’s natural and completely okay. The more you write (and the more things you write about) the more you figure out what you really love. I’ve never been a fan of having one or two niches. If you have a few that you can weave together, more power to you. Being able to write about a lot of different things will help you in your freelance business. 

But knowing what I love to write about has now given me some ideas as to how I want to approach my business, and I no longer feel that, for my business, places like Textbroker and Zerys are doing me any favors. If I use Elance I will be pitching only the subject areas I want to write about, and only the price I can actually afford to write at – nothing lower – but it’s likely I won’t be using Elance, either. 

Instead, I’ll be focusing solely on querying magazines and publications, writing eBooks, corporate clients, and, to a lesser extent, Constant Content. I still write on Yahoo! Voices because I feel that it’s a legitimate way to write in first person about things I know a lot about, help other people, get my name out there, and make some money doing it. I wouldn’t recommend it as a sole source of income by any means, but having some payments come in every few days is nice. 

But for the most part, my focus is going to now be trained in on the “big fish”. In reality, I should have done this when I first started out. Textbroker and places like that are great for quick cash, but you really can’t make a good living there unless you’re comfortable working 14 hour days at least six days a week. 

Most of you know that I recently obtained a part-time job as a special education instructional assistant. It’s not a lot of hours or high paying, but having a consistent monthly payment come in that handles my bills and food/gas is extremely helpful. Let me make my next point here since it fits, and then I’ll move on. 

Income and Job: Know the Difference

I just want to take a second, a time out of sorts, from my discussion of my new approach to my business and talk about the difference between getting a job and earning an income. Many people who want to make it full time as a freelancer have this stubborn pride about getting any kind of job to help them along. For some reason it seems that people want to pit “people with a job” against “people with a life”. You either have a job or you freelance, period. 

I know because I fell victim to that thought process. I thought if I ever sought out part-time work to help me out I was admitting failure in writing, freelancing, jewelry making, or whatever it was that I was pursuing as freelance income. But finally I figured it out…

What you need is an income strategy. For now, my part-time job as an instructional assistant is part of that income strategy. Why? Because for my freelance business to work the way I want it to, and to ever get to a point where I can sustain my life on my own terms, I need to have my bills covered so I can focus on the big fish of the writing industry and, to a lesser extent, the handmade jewelry business. 

The problem with saying “I’m only going to do freelance work, I don’t care what anyone says, I’m not taking a job anywhere” is that you  cut your business off at the knees. Now if you can jump into freelancing, land some magazine articles, get some corporate clients, and skyrocket to a cushy monthly income without help good on you! But most people can’t. It takes a lot of time to build your business, and I think you need to focus on the big picture. 

What I finally realized was that as part of my income strategy I needed something that would be there for me to cover my bills so I didn’t have to run after the $5 and $10 articles, spending all my time on the piddly paying jobs just so I could break even. That’s no life. I happen to absolutely adore my part-time job, by the way, because I get to work with kids, help people, and I work with some amazing teachers and fellow IA’s. I could never go back to a desk job. But this I love. So sometimes you might surprise yourself with what you can find for part-time work to help you along on your writing job – you just might like it! 🙂 

Okay…Back to the Plan

Now that you understand you need to earn income and have an income strategy, which can include a job without admitting “failure”, we can get back to my new plan. Obviously the part-time job is part of that plan. To earn income while I build my freelance business. I may even do this for several years because I love it so much, who knows, but for at least the next year to two years I fully intend on keeping this job as part of my income strategy. I don’t think I’ll “need” it for that long, but I just really love it. I would miss the kiddos and the social interaction without it. I became somewhat of a hermit during my writing only days. Sure this has a lot to do with my mindset and that I wasn’t getting out there and doing the type of writing I will be now – travel, nutrition, talking to others, journalism type stuff – but I digress. 

So why am I not focusing on Zerys and Textbroker and all those places? Because, simply put, they are the black holes of the writing universe. I know this seems to contradict what I’ve said in the past about using these places to help you out when you start out and all that, but as you grow in your profession you learn, and what I’m learning is that these places set you up for failure. 

Let me explain. 

Let’s say you were training for a marathon. You want to build strength, endurance, stamina, etc. Right? (Nod here.) Okay. So your training program should consist of building blocks that will eventually lead you to a body that’s fit, ready to perform, has energy, and so forth so you can get better, run faster, and run farther, right? 

What would you say if I told you about a training program that gave you exactly enough energy and stamina you needed for the miles you intended to run and no more. Every time you went out for a run of any length you had to start the entire program over from square one, but you could get exactly the energy you needed for that set of miles. But it would take repeating the entire training program up to the miles you need every single time you left the house to run. Seems completely silly, right? It’s so much work that you have to keep doing just to break even, and you never build on your skills, stamina, strength, or endurance. You’re essentially on a treadmill…working your tail off but going nowhere, only getting exactly what you need to subsist and nothing else. 

That’s what Textbroker and Zerys and, for most people, Elance and other places like that do for your writing business. You have to work incredibly hard just to break even, and once you’ve broken even you can’t build on your success because it’s a new day or month and you have to start all over. 

When you seek out higher paying work from clients, magazines, eBooks, books, etc. you are setting up building blocks for yourself on which you can continue on and create a booming business. Sure it takes longer to do, and you may need a part-time job as part of that income strategy to set it up, but it’s so worth it. 

How I’m Tracking the Progress

For the next three months I refuse to work on bidding sites, job boards like Zerys or Textbroker, content mills, and so forth. This is incredibly scary, for sure. But I am only going to focus in the higher paying work. I’ll be tracking my progress on spreadsheets and in documents, and I’ll show you how I set that up in the next blog since this one is becoming a novel. 🙂 

I’m doing a three month trial period where, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’m going guns blazing into it. None of this let’s write a couple articles and submit a couple of queries and then wait. Waiting is wasting time. Never wait. Three months is a good amount of time to see if your efforts are paying off, and I suspect I’ll have a good idea how it’s going by the end of June, middle of July. But for June, July, and August I’m going to query, submit, write, and pitch my rear end off. Go at it like I can’t fail. And we’ll see what happens. 

I’m an analytical person, and I really like to run numbers and predict, to the extent I can, how things will work out. If all goes as planned and this system works, I should be making at least $6,000 a month by the end of August. Yes, a month. But my ultimate goal as a 6-month plan is to make more than that. Probably more like $9,000-$10,000 per month. This is completely doable, because I’ve seen people do it before, and I know what I need to know to make it work. 

But I haven’t done it before because I was too scared. Let’s just be honest. Querying and doing real freelance work is scary stuff, because you have no guarantee that you’ll make anything off it. (Well, statistically you have some guarantee of making at least 33% of what you pitch, but you see my point.) At least when you do the small, non-sustainable, bidding and content mill work you know you’re going to make SOMEthing. 

But that kind of mindset isn’t going to help you truly flourish and succeed. Period. 

One of the girls I follow on YouTube, Fat2FitonFRUIT, said in one of her videos that the realization of all our dreams is on the other side of fear. I completely agree. 

So, I’m taking the plunge. I was afraid to get a part-time job, thinking I was admitting failure in my writing business. But that didn’t turn out to be the case. I thought I would feel constricted, but that isn’t so much the case, either. I thought I would be miserable again having to check in and out of a job, but it feels nothing like that, and I’m so happy every day when I go to and leave work. I love my part-time job, I love having the security of having my bills and essentials covered so I can pursue the writing work I want, and it all worked out swimmingly. 

So here’s to the next three months. I’ll let you all know how it goes. 

Let us know, though…have you ever done something you were afraid to do and had it work out better than you planned? Talk about it in the comments!

Until next time, happy writing!

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