November 2017 Earnings and Reflection

I’m writing this before November has officially ended, but I’m fairly certain I know how this month is going to shake out.

I had the following money hit my account:

And I earned the following, though it won’t hit my accounts until later:

All amounts are pre-tax, and the Upwork numbers are from after Upwork’s fees are subtracted (which are substantial).

From $14.84 last month to $148.00 this month, who would’ve expected a x10 increase?

I learned a lot this month.

First, while Rev is straightforward (and even kind of fun sometimes), it’s not what I want to be doing full time. Upwork (and freelancing generally) is a whole new world, and I am just barely dipping my toes into it.

In order to increase my odds of landing clients so I can build reputation on Upwork, I undercharged severely versus what I get paid at my day job. I tracked most (but not all) of my time, and that totaled to be 14.75 hours. Roughly $10.03/hr.

Though if you add in the time I didn’t track, like the time spent searching for jobs and sending proposals, time spent emailing/messaging clients, and any time I forgot to log while working on projects, I’m sure things would end up looking worse. Let’s guess it ended up at 20 hours, that’s $7.40/hr. The minimum wage where I live is $10/hr, so that’s not so great.

However, this is just the beginning. I’ve already gotten my first repeat customer. I’m deliberately undercharging. I’m deliberately choosing small jobs so that I’m certain I can complete them in my off hours. And going through Upwork means I lose 20% of what the customer pays (with certain caveats that can make it drop lower, though none of those apply to me so far).

All this to say that there’s lots of room for growth.

One random fun fact about Upwork: My proposal-to-acceptance ratio seems to be about 5-to-1. I’m not sure how that is compared to others, and I’m not sure what room for improvement there is. A 20% conversion rate sounds pretty good though, and I hope it would improve over time.

All this said, I’ve made a decision this month at my day job that I oscillate between enjoying and regretting. My boss is trying to get some new stuff off the ground and he’s paying me a bonus to work more hours to get it done.

This pays a lot better than this stuff I’m doing on the side, and with Christmas coming up as well as my wife and I looking to buy a house in the future, I appreciate the extra income.

At the same time, this decision means that just as my brain and actions started to kick into gear on actually getting my own stuff going on the side, I make a decision that moves my time, energy, and focus back to my day job.

Hopefully when this period passes in 2-3 months I’ll be able to recapture the state of mind I felt.

Two closing thoughts.

First, it’s empowering to learn that I can go up to strangers on the internet, tell them I can solve their problem, actually solve it, and then get paid for that. That’s an awesome feedback loop and it feels great.

As I look to expand to further opportunities (my dream goal being developing and selling a product or service with more predictable income and fewer fees than Upwork), I think figuring out how to keep that feedback loop front and center will be key. As a software developer, it’s easy for me to get caught up in purely technical considerations. If I want to succeed my eyes need to say fixed on what problems my customers need solved.

Second, I received some money I didn’t mention above. $100.14 from YouTube. it’s not much, and it’s due to efforts I made roughly 7 years ago to create a channel called Man With Code. I haven’t done anything with the channel in forever. Google only sends money when they owe you over $100 and it’s been years since they’ve sent me anything.

It’s oddly fitting that in this time of trying to figure out how to earn some extra money on the side, an echo of past work would catch up with me. Right now I’m looking at YouTube more as an advertising and content hosting platform rather than as a way I’d like to try to earn a living, but perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something.

It’s exciting times, and with all my dreaming and all my fears I’m amazed that I am where I am. It’s great to finally see motion.

With the holidays upon us and work eating my life, I’m guessing December will be pretty quiet. But I hope in my heart of hearts that I’ll find a way to take things to the next level. Or at least move them forward.

We’ll see.