- Kathryn Bailey
Then & Now – A Candid Look at the Real Figures of an Online Business Over a 3 Year Period (Part 2)
Updated: Oct 27, 2022
Then & Now – A Candid Look at the Real Figures of an Online Business Over a 3 Year Period
I first wrote about how I started a Freelance Writing Business from scratch, working online with a baby in tow a few years ago. It covered a month by month run down of my financial revenue, the steps I took to achieve it and the mistakes and highlights of my first year in business. You can read about that here:
I thought it was high time I did a review of how my business operates now so let’s dive in and take a look at my latest stats. I did just over $100,000 in the most recent budget year although I should mention that it’s probably not the most accurate reflection of my income since I took most of May off. If I’d stayed at work, it would have been quite a bit higher. I also only worked an average of 4 days a week the rest of them – so again, if I’d done the typical 9-5, five day a week thing it would be higher again. Honestly, I don’t really care. I really needed the downtime because I have a tendency to be a work-a-holic if left to my own devices and despite the fact that I can now call myself ‘a six figure entrepreneur’ which seems to be all the rage at the moment, it did come at a personal cost. After a hectic 2016, I needed 2017 to slow down and smell the roses.
Some big things happened this year as I branched my resume business out so let’s take a walk through them.
I quit writing criteria.
I’d previously offered a selection criteria service because HEAPS of people wanted criteria and I always had a very steady stream of customers. The thing is, writing selection criteria is heaps tricky and takes 3 X as long. I was fortunate enough that I had enough customers that I didn’t need to write criteria anymore, so I stopped.
I bundled my criteria into a DIY Package:
I’d written thousands of criteria over the years and I really didn’t want to waste all my work, so I bundled together some of my best examples into an E-Book and sold it on Amazon. It makes me a small amount of passive income each month in royalties. I also created an online training video series teaching people to write their own criteria and packaged this with a set of ‘fill in the blank’ templates that I sold on my website for $19. Again, it makes a small amount of money in passive income.
I partnered with an Affiliate:
One of the best moves (and it was totally accidental) was partnering with another selection criteria writer. Since I wasn’t writing criteria anymore, I now have someone that I can refer my clients towards, who does a great job and who I receive a small commission for every-time someone I refer purchases from him. It’s led to around an extra $5000 in the bank at the end of the year which sounds small but is completely passive from my end – so really the money is free.
I upgraded my accounting system to Xero:
My Accountant was having a heart-attack over my scrambled paperwork so on his advice I switched to using Xero to run my books. Best decision ever. Takes a few minutes a week to update and makes tax time a breeze.
I ran into trouble with the GST:
In Australia we have this pesky additional tax business owners have to pay once they reach a certain threshold – I think it’s $75,000. So basically, it’s an extra 10% of everything you sell. I really struggled with this for most of 2016/2017. I didn’t want to raise my prices by 10% but I HATED losing 10% of my income. Also, I didn’t really understand the impact that losing 10% of my income would have on my finances since it didn’t really sound like much. So for the first half of the year I just sucked it up but in the end I raised my prices by 10% (terrifying for me) and managed to still maintain my customer base so my only issue is that I didn’t do it at the start.
I created an online writer course:
I’ve lost count of how many people have asked me to help them set up their own writing business over the years so I decided it was time I did something about helping everyone else that was asking. This led to the creation of ‘ Writer Business School’. I’ve been writing for ages now and while I still enjoy it, I’d love to scale it back and branch out to some other areas. One of these areas is the training and development of new writers. In it I teach aspiring writers everything from marketing to the actual writing itself. The last writer I trained has now quit her job and successfully runs her own business and it’s something I’m super passionate about so I’ll definitely be doing more of this moving forward.
I cancelled 17 Hats:
I was using 17 Hats for a long time to run my business. It allowed me to automatically send questionnaires, invoices and everything else under the sun to my clients on auto pilot and keep a database of their contact info. I still believe that 17 Hats is helpful but two things made me move away from it.
1st – I kept running into system bugs every so often when it would send payment reminders to clients that didn’t need reminding. This really frustrated me and sometimes them.
2nd – I lose my business credit card at least twice a year and need to cancel it and get a new one. 17 Hats freezes incoming payments as soon as the old credit card bounces immediately. So with any other system I use – they send you an email before freezing so you have time to fix the issue and give you the option of fixing it straight away and unfreezing the account. With 17 hats there is no warning and it takes around 1-2 days to come back online after you have fixed the issue your end. 1-2 days is a long time in my world when you have frustrated customers trying to contact you.
I’ve switched everything over to the Shopify Platform now and for the 4 months that I’ve been running it – I’m very happy with the results.
I updated my Website:
It’s embarrassing to admit but it’s taken me a good 3 years to really understand Wordpress! I finally bit the bullet and updated my site again after leaving it in the same style since 2015 – it probably took me 3 solid days to do but I’m really happy with the results. I would still recommend that if you are just starting out and have never built a website before that you stick with something simple like www.webs.com or www.wix.com for your first six months. A new business is enough of a learning curve – why compound it with a technical nightmare!
Work Isn’t Everything:
Honestly the most important thing to come out of the last few years is that work isn’t everything. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to run my own online business but in 2016 I pushed it way too hard. I became obsessed with growing which worked but came at a personal cost. I got divorced (I don’t blame my business but my inability to relax during the growth phase helped it along). I had it in my head that I had to ‘make it’ like everyone else seemed to be around me in the online world and lost myself in the process. I thought about work from the moment I woke up till the moment I went to bed. In 2017 I took a step back and slowed things down. I’m in a much better place personally now and instead of getting stressed out over public holidays impacting on my bottom line – I go fishing or camping instead which is actually HEAPS more fun. Has it impacted my bottom line? A little. Am I actually living my life? Yes!
I turned down what could have been a major opportunity:
At the end of 2017 I was contacted by another company. I work with some recruiters to help put together their client resumes so originally, I thought it was the same sort of thing. Basically, it was to ghost write under someone else’s business. My brain was literally ‘Hell Yes’ about the idea because it paid really well but once the contract came through and the meetings were finalised I realised it was going to be a lot of extra pressure and I wouldn’t have the flexibility or control over either my work or my time schedule. At first, I told myself it didn’t matter – it would increase my profits but every-time I thought about it I would start feeling physically ill. In the end I cancelled before the contract was signed and felt the biggest rush of relief. It would be a great opportunity for someone but I’m trying to scale down on work pressure – not built it up – money or not.
So that’s pretty much a wrap for me. If you have any questions – please let me know. Happy to answer them.
PPS: If you enjoyed this article, you can use the social media icons to share in your networks. It would mean so much for me and really help the people I vibe with and myself to connect.