2011 has been a year of huge growth for me. We relaunched Blissfully Domestic to 100% paid content and staff as a high-quality women’s magazine site. I had both this site and Untrained Housewife professionally redesigned by Becky Bayne and both my personal career, and the path of Untrained Housewife have taken off. I spoke at 5 conferences this year and attended SOBCon as an attendee only (a first for me and a lovely treat). I helped Kelby establish the Social Ebook Library at TypeAParent.com and reworked/expanded one-third of my Make Money Blogging, Moving Beyond Banner Ad Sales ebook into a separate title – 30 Days to Make and Sell a Fabulous Ebook.
And now I’m incorporating myself as Angela England Media. Because of the level of growth I’ve experienced and the amount of contractor work I’m both doing, and hiring out, it was time. Past time. With my new job as Remote Manager with Cambrick Yard, I’m officially bringing in a full-time income.
It’s odd to think about how my original goal was $250 a month to keep my son out of daycare and be able to afford some guilt-free pizza nights. Now, I’m crunching numbers and looking at the possibility of hiring a virtual assistant for myself and column managers for Untrained Housewife. Now I’m paying others who are where I was three years ago. It’s an amazing feeling!
How did it happen? I’m still asking myself that sometimes, but here are ten things I’ve learned along the way if you are seeking to make the transition from freelance tidbits, to full-time income.
1. Multiple Baskets
Don’t put all your money eggs in one basket. There was a time when Suite101, for example, was paying enough to cover my mortgage. Google Panda killed that revenue stream for me (and many others) and I’m making less than $1 a day in the past month. OUCH! Thankfully by the time that happened I had ebooks, SEO consulting jobs, was working at Blissfully Domestic, etc. I never had just one single source of revenue. It’s all inter-related now (See #6 below) however, it’s not all completely dependent on a single client or website.
2. Enlist the Help of Your Family
I have an amazing support system in place with my husband and children. My kids are getting to the place where my weekly conference calls are part of the routine and they KNOW they cannot come into the office during that 30-45 minute time span. It’s the one time I close my door and they are learning that means business – and my husband is there on the other side to help herd them into other areas of the house.
Conversely, I never take on another large task without discussing it over with my husband. When a book publisher asked me to send in a book proposal and Table of Contents we talked it over. Here are the potential benefits, the building of my brand, exposure, advance potential, etc. Here are the time commitments and what that means…I won’t be able to teach the kids’ homeschool every day – can you handle that task on your days off? Could we hire someone in to deep-clean the house twice a month and here’s what that would cost and here’s the number of hours that would free up for me.
And we decided TOGETHER. So when things get stressful in the middle of a huge project and I’m going insane, he knows that we knew this would happen and had agreed to it together. Sometimes he says no. He’s always right too, darn him, but usually he says yes and he’s right then too.
3. Surround Yourself With Amazing People
There is no way I would be where I am now without the colleagues and friends who are in my life. Sometimes these were people who read my blog and commented and we connected through a personalized consultation they purchased. For example, Prerna is one of these and she’s now moved on into not only freelance writing on a full-time basis and branching into a new venture for her clients, Social Media Direct. Carmen Grant was one of my original writers at Untrained Housewife and also someone who did a consultation with me. Now she is not only blogger even more successfully than ever, but also running SpouseSprite Media dedicated to blogger outreach for the latina and military spouse communities. Alli Worthington recently published a post on Babble Voices about the importance of mentoring.
4. Up Your Professional Game – The Legalities
Maybe half-way was good enough before. But now that you’re big league you need to be considering things like creating a corporation to protect your family assets, making sure you keep your business finances and personal finances from “co-mingling”, and that you’re paying your taxes properly. This means you might have to rely on some outside help. Like professionals do
Maybe you don’t have the exact background that is “ideal” for a position you’re applying for. That’s ok. Make them see why you ARE a good fit for the job. Example – I was applying for a management job. My educational background is not in management. It’s in music education and theatre arts. (Because one degree plan is never enough!)
So I explained how directing a choir or putting on a play requires someone who can manage multiple personalities successfully. You have to be able to create a common goal and common vision without squelching the individuality. And it was received successfully.
6. Focus on Your Strengths
I used to do it all. No really….I actually did IT ALL. I was a this, and a that, and oh yeah, did that on the side. Massage therapy, bookkeeping for my mom’s business, whatever little things came my way.
While I still have a lot on my plate, the focus has narrowed so much more and it’s refreshing. I’ve pruned out so many things that are no longer relevant to my interests, my strengths or my passions. I feel like I’ve really come to a place of peace being able to focus almost 100% on the things that are so interesting to me. Remember when we talked about focus through elimination? Yeah, that.
7. Outsource the Stuff You Don’t Have to Do
It’s tough when you’re starting out because you don’t always have the funds to outsource the mundane tasks. But once you get to a certain point, there is a huge benefit to investing in yourself. Take that pizza-night money and new shoe money and reinvest it into your business. A professional design, a virtual assistant, an editor….whatever you need to do to free up your time where it’s most valuable. If you’re getting $50 an hour for a contract job, and can pay someone $10 an hour to do the laundry and deep-clean your house, that’s kind of a no-brainer. Right?
8. Invest in Yourself – Educate Yourself
I’ve been to between three-five conferences per year for the last three years. They’ve been worth every cent. If you aren’t able to get away from home and travel to a conference, you should still take part in some of the home conference offerings. BlogWorld Expo Virtual Ticket and Small Business Success Summit are two great ones that I recommend. See upcoming blog conferences for 2012 at Blog Conference Newbie.
9. Create a Set Space
If you’re moving to a full-time income, even in the odd hours from your own home, you need to create a set, dedicated space. This means time space. And this means physical space as well. Not all businesses require an actual office building but once I got a dedicated desk of my own it made it much easier to manage my work-related clutter compared to the non-work-related clutter.
And let’s talk about time for a minute, shall we? Full-time doesn’t mean all-the-time. Every business person who is truly successful has a time where they turn off. Unplug. REST. Sound counter-intuitive? It definitely goes against the grain of my High-I, Type-A personality for sure.
Here are two resources I’ve found incredibly helpful. Brene Brown, author of several books including, “The Gifts of Imperfection” who touts the importance of play. In a post about Nesting and Play she shares this quote
Brian Sutton-Smith writes, “The opposite of play is not work; it’s depression.”
and I love it! It is so, so true. She reminds us that the properties of play include having no set focus or purpose, losing track of time, etc. When is the last time you added THAT to your to-do list? Yeah. Me too.
The second resource I recommend checking out is this fabulous and eye-opening video by Tony Schwartz on The Myth of the Overworked Creative. It’s worth the 30 minute listen. Take it into consideration when you’re creating your time schedule.
10. Organize and Evaluate
You do have a business plan right? I’ve written a couple times about the need for a personal plan in your business. A specific, long-term action plan. Having a plan in place allows you to evaluate your business on a regular basis as it grows.
Organizing your business storage space and your organize your business time as well. I’ve been using a great time management (aka priority management) app on my iPhone called To-Do Matrix. Between this and my dayplanner, I am just a touch more organized than I used to be. Which is a good thing because I’m working harder than ever before, juggling multiple clients and accounts. And it feels great.
Yes – this is a hugely long post. But this transition has been a long one for me and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I hope that others who are moving to full-time goals for their businessess will find something useful in these ten steps!