A la mode

Remember this post from 2011 about pie and difficult things wherein I started a journey into an improvised income map? Now, nearly 2 years later, I’m surfacing to report that it’s been quite a ride. 

Yes, I have succeeded in paying my half of the bills working full-time on this project plus additional food writing and food-based educational opps (speaking and classes), though not without long days where working on multiple projects simultaneously and often until 10 or 11pm is unavoidable to keep all the balls in the air. Thus is the life of a freelancer and it’s rarely as glamorous as it gets portrayed, the pajamas-clad luxury of working from home or working amongst the avant garde, hipster-glasses-wearing peeps at the coffee shop. It’s more like running inside a wheel, where you run and run and run. You don’t rest when you’ve accomplished some distance or hurdle or hill because, if you don’t keep going, your wheel doesn’t move. (Ah, work-life balance is so important for the self-employed.)

Alas, this is not a woe-is-me post, just some insight from my experience of the realities of running a small business and where I’m going from here.

I need to expand beyond meeting my barest, still-very-budget lifestyle needs; I need to increase revenue. I’ve achieved my goal of creating a business that is self-sustaining, but I want to start saving for a future that includes more than just four-legged children, somewhere to live for more than one or two years, and continue where I left off 8 years ago in putting money away for retirement. 

To start, my half-time job at the county extension office will help me transition into a more sustainable business plan. We also made a family decision to rent out our spare room for short stints to help offset the cost of our bills. We are a household of two freelancers who are actively making our businesses sustainable and profitable; we can use some help here and there with saving/repaying.

So, this shift in my business plan includes three things to help bring this project into a revenue-generating and life-passion-turned enterprise. Firstly, turning my classes into periodic, though not sustaining portions of my revenue. I’m working with my wife and a fellow educator and collaborator on turning classes into segmented online offerings so more of you can participate and so that a fluke incident of a busy Saturday around town doesn’t erase all the effort I’ve put into planning, hosting and executing a class.

Secondly, something that will affect you, and hopefully not drastically. I’m laying the groundwork for taking my website and blog to the next level with a wider audience base (traffic has nearly doubled since my book release in April 2011). I was invited into AOL’s Homesessive Curator Network, which has a number of income-generating components and one non-revenue, traffic-boosting component (where they share posts of mine on their network and link back to my site). The two revenue bases include the ad network you now see above my blog header and in the right sidebar. The ads that appear here are part of AOL’s home and lifestyle ad network. The other revenue portion includes my crafting posts or videos specifically for their site.

The third way I’m proposing generating revenue is by offering up blog and newsletter sponsorship opportunities. (Yes, the hip tricks will return soon!) These sponsors are curated by me and selected based on my values and the companies I personally support. These sponsors will appear in the right sidebar below the ad network box. They will be sold in full panels (as currently shown by Squarespace’s sponsorship) or in half-panels. I’ll be creating a page with information on how to become a sponsor in the coming month, stay tuned.

I wanted to share all this with you because I want you to see where I’m coming from, see what things are influencing my decisions, some of which you’ll invariably notice as you continue to visit the blog. Maybe some of you are dealing with similar things in your life/businesses right now, too? Most of all, I want to thank you for being a part of this community; I hope we can grow together and continue to kick ass in our homes and kitchens and life pursuits!