(It’s about to get real up in here!)
I’ve been thinking about this question as it to relates to my own freelance/online business for the last several weeks and months.
And while I’m not sure that I’ve quite landed on an answer, I’m getting a bit closer every day.
Some Online Business Backstory
If you’ve been following along, you might remember that Horkey HandBook started as a place to showcase my sweet writing skillz – a place to house my writing samples and display my portfolio. I had no idea what to write about, so I wrote about “businessy things.”
It worked out and naturally evolved into writing and talking about freelance writing topics. Or, what I was learning at the time.
(Side note: Teaching what you know and what you’re learning is one of the best ways to build an audience.)
From there, I ventured into virtual assistance work and not too much later started writing my first online course, 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success (which I’m currently revising – version 3.0 comes out mid-September, whoop!).
And I was suddenly in the products business.
I had little to no expectations for my first course. I wanted to connect with others, help them navigate the process of building a viable freelance writing business from scratch and make a little money in the process.
It wasn’t my intention to start selling online. I had just left a position in sales after all.
And I totally get that freelancing is in its own way sales. You’re selling yourself – trading your skills for money. But that felt different then selling investments and insurance products as a financial advisor.
Fast forward another year and a half and I have multiple products and services on the market – three courses, a VA matchmaking service, a paid mastermind group, writing and VA services and coaching.
What the hell happened?
And how do I keep up with all of this?
I also had almost $10,000 in EXPENSES each and every month. What the what?!
What Was I Trying to Achieve?
I kept telling myself that in order to continue growing, I needed to continue expanding my team.
I had no more capacity personally. And I already felt guilty about going to the gym after work, because my husband’s been home with our two toddlers all day long.
I’d outlined my primary and secondary goals at the beginning of the year. But were they still accurate?
One thing I did realize, is that a gross income goal isn’t worth much. I.e. my goal was to gross $250,000 from my online business in 2016. But if I spent half (or more) of that to get there, was I really as profitable as I thought?
And was the extra effort, hustle and stress worth it?
So I revised my goals and now shoot for a minimum of $10,000 in net income every month. That’s going to sound like a lot of money to some of you and a drop in the bucket to others.
Regardless, it’s the level I feel comfortable with and what will enable us to achieve our family’s financial goals (which aren’t extravagant mind you, one of them is to payoff our land loan and others include paying all of our regular bills on time, including our almost $1,000 per month, $15,000 deductible health insurance policy).
What I’m Doing about It
So now that I’ve realized that I don’t necessarily want to build an empire, what am I doing about it?
One of the things I’ve done recently is go through all of my expenses and cut where I can. Most of them ended up being on the services side and that kind of breaks my heart – I <3 the people I contract with (and hope they feel the same about me!).
But by decreasing my expenses, I decrease my own stress (hustling to support my own family is fine, but having others depend on me to support theirs is serious!) and slow down overall.
Because it’s not a race.
And I’ve always taken pride in valuing quality over quantity. But when you don’t have a lot of time and you have a mile long to do list, guess what starts to happen?
Quality tends to slip.
With the changes I’ve recently made, over the next few months my expenses should be almost cut in half. This will allow me to take the pedal off the metal and not have to strive to earn as much income.
And I might even get to work a little less! (Right now I’m working between 40-50 hour weeks, which isn’t crazy, but it’s been challenging to take time off or really indulge while on vacation. Wah, wah, I know!)
I’ve also put a kibosh on new projects. (Which is funny as I’m currently in the midst of some pretty major ones, including the course rewrite, writing an ebook and preparing to speak at my first conference in September!)
But everything else – every new idea, partnership inquiry, etc. is going in a “future projects” file. Again, it’s NOT a race!
Changing My Focus
The other thing I’m trying to do is become less self-focused.
This is a tough one for me. I’ll be the first to admit that I have very selfish tendencies. Not the “push a pregnant woman out of the way to get a good seat” type, but I’m just wired to focus on my emotions, my needs and all that jazz before I think about others (the truth hurts!).
So I want to instead focus on serving others.
Giving back. Making other people’s lives better, one small way at a time.
Part of that is doing things like launching the preschool fundraising campaign (we still desperately need your help BTW). Part of it is trying to authentically interact with course students and my audience at large. And part of it will be slowing down so I have more time to serve others in general.
Because what’s the point of a lifestyle business if you’re just grinding away and not taking advantage of the benefits of time freedom. Can I get an AMEN? 😉
I don’t know.
Don’t ask me that question! (Oh, right I kinda asked myself…) 😉
For the first time, I don’t have a plan. I have that whole $10k/month net income goal thing going on, but I don’t have specific plans in place to reach it. I want to start doing more of what feels good and less of what isn’t super fun, but generates income. (Thanks Sarah!)
Because again, what’s the point?
And since I <3 to leave you with some sort of action step, I STRONGLY encourage you to go out and buy this book from my boy Derek Sivers (who I don’t actually know in person, but would like to meet someday). It’s an affiliate link (but I never actually make money via Amazon’s affiliate program) and I bought it on recommendation from one of my VA clients.
I opted for the audio book and listened to it in ONE WEEKEND while painting my new office. It’s all about defining your own kind of business and I bet you’ll fall in entrepreneur love with Derek just like I did. If you buy it, read/listen to it and don’t, hit me up via email and I’ll PayPal you your money back.
So what kind of freelance business do you want? Do you want to build an empire? Have a small shop or remain a solopreneur?
Did this post resonate with you? If so, leave a comment – even a simple “yes” will let me know you dig it. Danka!