I am the first to admit that I have never been a fan of spreadsheets. As a writer, my comfort has always sat firmly with words rather than with numbers. But in December last year I decided to try something new.
How an excel spreadsheet dramatically increased my monthly income
I (well, my partner) created a monthly income spreadsheet. While I’ve had a pitching spreadsheet for ages, which tracks the queries I send to editors as well as their responses, I’ve never really tracked my finances.
As the sole income earner this year, I wanted to set myself a monthly income target.
I didn’t want anything too complicated, but the spreadsheet did need to take into account that I do a variety of writing work – I write for magazines, newspapers and websites, as well as doing research work and corporate writing. Sometimes I get paid by the word, sometimes by the hour and sometimes I receive a flat fee.
I’ve mocked up an example (with random figures) so you can see what my spreadsheet looks like. I put in my monthly target and then as I add in my projects, I can see the difference between my target and my commissioned income for that month.
DOWNLOAD: Writers have asked me for a copy of the spreadsheet so I’ve made it available for download here.
In December I decided to try it out. I put a target of $8,000 in the spreadsheet. Ridiculous, I thought. I’ve never made even close to that when I’ve previously freelanced. But I had also built up my client base over the previous months so I thought I might get within 2 or 3K.
But I made my target. In fact I made it with $12 over.
I credit this simple spreadsheet as a key part of dramatically increasing my monthly income. As I was nearing my target, I realised I just needed to be commissioned for one more feature article and that would get me over the line. If I hadn’t been tracking my monthly income target I don’t think I would have bothered to pitch.
Now that I am two months in to using this spreadsheet, I am realising there is a difference between commissioned work each month and monthly income. For example, this month I got commissioned for a piece that I won’t get paid for for a few more months, but I also got paid for a piece I submitted in April 2016.
So as I build up a steady client base and continue with my marketing efforts each day, it looks as if my income will smooth out.
I’ve never really been exciting about opening a spreadsheet, but this simple tool has changed the game for me.
Do you have a monthly target? How do you monitor and manage your targets?