Friday, June 6, 2008

Business decisions – influencing income and mindset

I have written before about working to build enough steady income writing from home to continue doing it. My current primary source of freelance income is a weekly column I write for a local paper. I have been doing this since April 2007 and it seemed a good time to evaluate how it’s going and is it paying off at least financially for this post since I have addressed its influence on my writing in the past.

Lorna Brewer at Freelance Parent back on May 21 asked readers a question:

“What business decision did you make in the last year that resulted in the biggest increase in revenue?”

I thought this was a good question to research about my own business; however, at the time she asked I had neither the time to answer nor to look up the information although I suspected what it might be.

Since then I have looked through my invoice archives for the first quarter and analyzing why they are more substantial than previous quarters. I found three things contributing to my current income which is a significant increase from my base compensation. I have listed them in the order of influence on my income.

1) Photographs: I have been taking and submitting many more photographs that are being published. I have always tried to get at least one photo with each column so I was getting between 4 and 7 photos published. Since the beginning of the year the number has increased to 16 published last month. This development persuaded me that investing in a better second-hand camera was a prudent move.

2) Source cultivation: I have been more aggressive assertive about finding new sources for stories and tracking down leads. Covering more stories has opened more opportunities to propose feature columns, which is another source of additional revenue.

3) Records: More complete recordkeeping for potential tax write-offs so I can keep more of my income.

Sometimes building a business can be discouraging because it always seems that money goes one way – out. So this has been a rebalancing exercise in that it highlighted that money does in fact come in and there are specific things I have been doing to increase what comes in.

So, what other ways has this influenced how I manage my business? One way has been about labeling. Just as I found myself in a more powerful position by using the label freelance reporter instead of “the little columnist” when approaching sources and leads; I am finding that using the term photographer is more powerful that telling a source that “I can take a few pictures.” While titles may not be everything, they aren’t “nothing” either and a well applied and accurate title can open a door that might have been closed by default. That doesn’t mean it guarantees work or income but I get to make a pitch.

I'd like to rephrase Lorna's question just a tad since not everyone is building a full-fledged business but many dabble in moonlighting sidelines. If you have a home-based income stream, whether you sell Avon, or teach your neighbors to quilt, or make jewelry you sell at a consignment shop, or even some type of writing venture; have you experienced an increase in income? Can you track that increase to a business decision you have made? How can that influence your future revenue potential?

Please share in comments or a post of your own.

7 comments:

Sylvia C. said...

Deb,

It looks like things are going good for you! Congrats!

You pose a lot of great questions, and I could really use some of that personal reflection, too.

I need to get a bit more organized on paper (i feel perfectly organized in my head!).

Sorry it's been so long since I've visited.
:0
Sylvia C.

7sky said...

I think what you're seeing is a natural progression of yourself as a professional -- you're definitely a reporter/photographer -- not a little columnist or someone who can take a few pictures.

Now that you've realized that, you'll continue to build your "rep" with every article and every photo.

Keep it up -- and yes, the accounting part of the business is a total drag if you don't have a feel for it.

Congratulations and keep going!

Paul

G's Cottage said...

@Sylvia - You've got to go with the get organized on paper. It's a small pain now but will be a big pain later.

@7sky - Nice to see you back. Thanks for your comments. You more than anyone else know how I can walk in circles and get know where. You've been watching this performance on and off for what 35 years now. Wow, where does the time go?

7sky said...

Yeah, it's 35 years...but who's counting? Always nice to be part of the family.

Paul

G's Cottage said...

Oh good grief; that should be "nowhere" not know where. I don't know where that came from.

Melissa Donovan said...

Two words: repeat customers.

I like to call them ongoing clients. I realized that actively seeking projects that would go on and on (like a blog) could not only increase my income, it could create a little stability.

There are still peaks and valleys but I am always on the hunt for the next long term gig!

Melissa Donovan at Writing Forward

lornadoone said...

I love the way you took this so seriously and came up with three reasons instead of just the one.