I am used to work speeding up on the approach to Christmas, but it’s usually November when things start to get really hectic. I feel like November came a couple of weeks early this year and by the end of October, I had invoiced for a crazy amount and had an unbelievable amount of work commissioned. And never in my wildest dreams did I expect that I would be $5K off hitting my income target for the year by the end of the month.
October – my highest monthly income ever
For most freelancers I know, October has been manic.
As one freelance friend said to me, “It’s like everyone hitting the ‘shit it’s almost Christmas’ panic button and is commissioning like crazy.”
I deliberately didn’t pitch too much in October because I had set aside time to work on a project related to this blog that I want to launch next year (scroll to the bottom of this post to read more), but despite that, work still rolled in.
I know I say this at least once a month, but if you prioritise building strong connections with editors and clients, you will rarely be out of work.
In terms of feature articles for magazines and newspapers, this month I:
Pitched: 3 (this includes re-pitching ideas that have been rejected)
Commissions from pitches or query letters: 2*
Offers: 3 (where an editor approached me with a commission)
(One of these commissions was from a pitch sent months and months ago)
In terms of feature articles for corporate and B2B clients: (I don’t pitch these)
Offers: 34 (28 of these were 500-word articles offered in two batches by the same corporate client)
Filed: 42 (22 of these were 500-word articles)
Lowlights of October
I decided that I wanted to pitch a big name international publication (after seeing a callout on Pitchwiz) and thought I had a solid pitch.
Quite stupidly, I had already imagined what my byline might look like next to that well-known logo.
Well, you know what happened don’t you?
I got a lovely reply from the editor, but he gently reproached me for the subject area, saying they’d covered it comprehensively before and my idea didn’t really add anything new. He did encourage me to pitch again and I may well do so once I have recovered from my embarrassment.
This is always a lesson for me to not count my chickens – and yes, to indulge my fantasy of writing for particular publications by pitching to them, but never to get too confident in my ideas.
I think last month I mentioned that I was offered some sponsored content writing work for a well-known newspaper’s digital site, but I turned it down because I was on a family holiday.
Happily the editor got back in touch with me and asked me to write three pieces for her.
One was a travel piece. So far so good.
But after I filed the travel article I received some rather scathing feedback from the client who noted to the editor, “It’s like your writer has never been here.”
Um, I haven’t.
Because it is sponsored content there was no imperative for me to have actually travelled to the destination I was writing about, but it was still cringe-worthy to get that feedback.
Even though I did lots of desktop research about the location, I missed the mark.
So I rewrote it and thankfully the client (and the editor) are happy.
But again, it’s never easy (or great for one’s confidence) to receive that kind of feedback, is it?!
In my quest to become a more well rounded travel writer I bought an online course in photography at the start of the month. But do you think I have started it? Nope.
I haven’t even opened it.
I’m usually pretty good with the courses I buy in terms of working my way through the content, but for some reason I haven’t touched this one. I think because I feel as though gaining photography skills is going to be such a big leap for me and I’m putting off getting started.
Highlights of October
I had lots of highlights this month. I filed my second article for an international travel magazine and a few days later the editor in chief emailed and asked if I’d write some sponsored content for a supplement they’re printing for their next issue.
I also had an editor I haven’t worked with for nearly 8 months reach out to me and commission me to write two articles (this might be the kind of ‘oh shit it’s nearly Christmas’ commission my friend was talking about).
They are on fascinating topics, so it’s a real pleasure to research and write them.
I was reading my local paper the other day and saw an article about a travel writer who had recently moved to town. She used to be the president of the ASTW (Australian Society of Travel Writers), so I emailed her and asked if she’d like to catch up for a coffee.
I have to say, I am not an extrovert at all, nor am I someone who loves small talk, but by and large I have found that it’s great to meet up with other writers.
Despite feeling awed by her achievements (hello multi-award winning freelance travel writer) it was absolutely lovely to meet her. She’s even suggested that we look at running a travel writing course together in our town some time in the future. As long as it’s not travel writing sponsored content 🙂
I’ve also been loving my coaching sessions with some fab writers – it’s such a privilege to speak with people, hear about their joys but also their struggles with freelancing and come up with possible ways forward.
I really loved this feedback from one of the writers I coached:
“I felt that the work you’d put in before the session meant you were able to provide extremely valuable insights. It’s great to have someone to talk to about these things. A big thank you! You’re very inspiring, practical and insightful.”
How nice is that? I do feel like I have the best job in the world.
One of the highlights (and to be honest, quite unexpected) was that I had a huge month income wise.
Income report for October
I set my income target at $8,000 for this month.
That was mostly because I did the calculations and realised I could hit $100K in commissioned work for 2018 if for the last three months of the year I made $8K each month.
As you know, setting an income target was super important for me last year when I went full time, but this year I’ve been freelancing part time and have been much less focused on a particular dollar amount.
When I did my business plan at the start of the year I said I would be thrilled if I hit $80-100K for 2018.
So I’m sure you can imagine my disbelief when I kept getting more and more work commissioned this month.
By the end of October I was commissioned $17,964
How mad is that? That’s nearly $10K over my target
I invoiced for $20,021
I’m now about $5K away from hitting $100K for the year.
Even though I made over $100K last year, I was working full time and never really expected that I’d hit a similar figure in 2018.
I know that for some people that it might be disheartening to see those figures above … and you all know by now that I’m not sharing them to boast or to brag, but there’s so little transparency in the world (particularly in freelancing) that I think it’s important to be upfront.
Yes, it’s a helluva lot of money.
But no, I’m not selling my soul nor working 70 hour weeks (I work 3.5 – 4 days a week).
It’s great to have this kind of income, but there are so many other things that I love about freelancing. The flexibility. The people I meet. The ability to pursue stories that I care about and that really matter to the people involved.
Next month I have quite a big birthday milestone coming up (eek) and it’s made me really reflect on what’s important.
I’m part of a Facebook group where a member shared this blog about her friend who has terminal cancer. It is so beautifully written and really quite devastating … her words stayed with me for days.
Suddenly my $18K month didn’t mean so much at all.
As Rebecca Weber said in her latest podcast money is neutral – it really doesn’t have any inherent meaning – for good or bad, we give it meaning.
For me, making money is about being able to have the freedom and flexibility to spend time with my family. To travel. To be paid for doing the work I love. To avoid endless meetings and workplace bureaucracy. The list goes on.
So many writers I coach aren’t earning the money they deserve. They can write. They work hard. But they’re tired from the hustle and they don’t know where these high-paying gigs are hiding.
Next year I’m launching an online course for freelance writers that systematically works through practical strategies, tools and habits they need earn a great living from freelance writing.
I’m writing the course at the moment, but am looking for some people who are keen to do the launch version of the course. At this stage it’ll be a six week course with group coaching sessions.
Send me an email – lindy [at] lindyalexander.net
There’s no obligation – if you say you’re interested now and later decide it’s not for you, that’s totally fine. I’m just keen to get a list started of people who are interested in ramping up their earnings in 2019.
How was your October? Are things speeding up or slowing down for you? Have you thought about what you want 2019 to look like?