I realized as I was working on my taxes this past weekend that I turned a corner in 2015 and earned more than I ever did as a reporter. It wasn’t a little jump, either. In 2014, I made a little under my best-earning year as a newspaper reporter. Then last year, my income made a good solid jump forward to be my best year yet.
Wanting to continue that this year, I started trying to figure out what I did right. Here’s what I came up with.
The tip at the top of my list for earning more would have to be learn to work harder. In the past, if something took me outside my comfort zone, I tended to put it off, which led to me dawdling on some important things. I didn’t have a boss looking over my shoulder so things tended not to get done. I did a lot less dawdling last year. This led to more-productive work time.
I use benchmarks in my work, which give me short-term targets that I could work toward. This includes having a weekly word count. This has worked out so well that I am actually getting ahead on a lot of my articles and making faster progress on my books. Another benchmark is my monthly sales goals. If I saw that my sales were lagging in a given month last year, I would kick up my efforts to sell books or get a new article assignment.
Nothing beats making sure to work day after day in order to earn more. On my daily to-do list, I include all of the articles that I have coming due in the next couple months. I make sure that I do at least a little bit on the project each day. Little steps forward are still steps forward. It also gives me variety in my day. I’ll write one article, conduct interviews for another, and research another one. The jumping around keeps me from running up against writer’s block so I can keep moving all of the projects forward.
Even with improving my work efficiency, there’s only so much I can do because I am limited by the number of hours in a day. When you are someone else’s employee, you may get paid by the hour so your income will be limited by the eight-hour workday. My books offer me unlimited income. I have done the work to write the book and it can continue to generate me income for the rest of my life and even beyond that for my family. Each year, I continue as a freelancer, I write more books. This means my scalable income continues to grow and build upon itself.
I became a writer to write not to market myself. However, marketing is part of the job no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel. It has taken me awhile to realize this. I’m a slow learner, I guess. Last year, I just decided that I needed to embrace the marketing side of the work as something that I need to do. I did a lot more speaking and festivals in 2015 than I did in 2014. I also started doing some advertising and building my e-mail list, which is something that I wish I had started when I started writing my books. I saw immediate results with some of the items. Others are still in the process of building up to the point where they are effective for me.
I’ve only got January to go by for 2016 so far and January is a low retail month. However, my income for the month is up 14 percent and my book sales are up 31 percent. I think that is a pretty good start and I plan to keep it going.