The Side Hustle Report #2

Welcome back to the side hustle report! It’s month one of actually publishing stuff and I’m hopeful that positive results follow.

Last time I talked about my writing process and laid out the baseline as well as my earnings for the month.

As a recap, December was a loss of $10.44 after expenses since I spent some money preparing covers for January.

I’m writing mainly short stories which don’t sell that well so the cap on my earnings here is pretty low but I’m trying to use this as an opportunity to learn as a writer and earn a tiny bit of money on the side while I work up to full-length novels later on in life.

My expenses here are limited which is what makes this a nice side hustle. The risk in writing like this is pretty low since the main expenses are covers and stock photos for those covers. I use fiverr for my covers to keep expenses low and had a stock photo subscription a few years ago that I still have a lot of stock photos from.

There are other ways to go about this as well. I’m doing it the cheap way but professional cover services, editing and promotional ads can cost quite a bit of money for those who want to go all in on self-publishing. I may get there someday when and if I start writing longer works but the money just isn’t there in short stories so I have no interest in making big investments in this right now.

I do however find that my stock photo collection is lacking a little bit and am considering purchasing a stock photo bundle that allows me X images for X dollars for a year to help me out with some on demand cover variety. Right now, I often find myself having to use a cover that doesn’t quite fit the narrative because I have it and I’m cheap which can cost me sales in the long run.

I talked about how I pulled a lot of my KDP select stuff to publish wide in the last update. I think that has had mixed results and while I intend to keep all those stories wide for now, I did publish my latest story on KDP Select(Amazon only) just to get more visibility on my author name which will hopefully help improve amazon sales. Those were slow in January and continue to be slow in February.

I’ve continued to write or edit every day which is awesome and I’m starting to feel like some of the things I’m writing show a lot of progress which is the goal with this whole process. I’m barely two months in so I have a long way to go since I committed myself to this for the full year but I’m still having fun with it and will hopefully make a little bit of money from it as well.

Let’s take a look at the January info and see how it looks.

The Data
I spent a lot of time writing in December with the goal of publishing a lot in January which means my words written totals would likely drop off a cliff here since I had to spend my time editing.
Let’s take a look at how much I produced this month and where my totals stand at after January.
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I wrote a ton last month and that led to 7 new releases this month! That brings my total # of stories published to 22 which I’m quite happy with. These were all new stories in various genres that will help me create some bundles later on for additional income.
I wrote over 55000 words last month and that dropped off this month as a lot of my writing time was spent editing. That means that the words/hr calculation really isn’t accurate since a lot of those hours were spent editing. It’s more like words/hr spent on writing/editing but that’s too wordy for the table!
I actually think that my February numbers will be a bit worse since I spent even more time editing than I did in January in order to get as many stories out there as possible. I spend about 50 minutes a day doing some sort of writing or editing and that really isn’t a ton of time when it comes to writing or editing so it limits my production.
I do think that if I had to do this as a full time job, I could potentially manage to pump out a story or even a short novella once every other day(or even daily) since my natural writing pace is about 1800 words/hr. The problem with that is that I don’t know if I could sustain that across a full day and would also likely need time to recharge and plot out new stories ideas.
Still, I’m very happy with the number of stories published this month and would be more than thrilled if I could maintain that pace through the year. I think that’s unlikely because I had such a head start with all the writing I did in December.
Let’s take a look to see if any of this production transferred into earnings.
There is a waterfall effect to these earnings as a lot of these stories were published throughout the month and some towards the tail end of January so most of the earnings from those(#7 was published January 31st for example) would fall into February. Also, do note that some of my stories simply don’t sell at all so just publishing a new story doesn’t guarantee any sales. I could publish 7 stories and get 0 sales from any of them in the first month(it does happen).
I am also not currently doing any promotion. I am not active on social media and am not putting a ton of money or effort into getting visibility which is important in self-publishing(I do put some effort into making sure the writing is at least decent). I just don’t have the time for that right now since I am still working full-time and won’t to have a few free hours a day beyond just work and writing.
They always say you gotta spend money to make money and that’s true in self-publishing as well.
The harsh truth is that I’m not where I want to be as a writer right now so I don’t see a need to pump money into this beyond the small expenses I have for cheap covers and possibly stock photos.
I am not expecting to make a ton off this but do find it super enjoyable to track all these things and can’t help to get excited when someone buys one of my stories or leaves a good review. That’s really what I’m doing it for but the extra earnings will certainly be welcome if this is a slightly profitable venture.
The earnings for this month are as follows.

 

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I am rich! I lost money last month and am in the green this month after expenses.
My gross income went from $10.56 last month to $29.34 this month. I spent more on covers last month which meant I was in the negatives for net income(-$10.44) but that loss is offset by the $11.34 I made this month after expenses.
That means that I’m 90 cents up so far! Time to retire!
Amazon was still my best seller this month but all the other outlets combined for 9 sales which was higher than Amazon. This is good but I’m a bit bummed about my Amazon sales being that low since it’s by far the biggest kid on the block so low sales there means I’m getting no exposure there.
That’s why my latest story was published in KDP Select(Amazon only). I want to be able to take advantage of some of the tools that offers like free borrows for kindle unlimited members and the ability to make the story free for everyone for up to 5 days once every 90 days to get some more exposure to my work.
Some of that decision was driven by the fact that February isn’t that much different from January right now in terms of sales which means a lot of the new things I’m publishing just aren’t getting a ton of traction and I’m hoping KDP Select can help with that. KDP Select does lock your story to Amazon only for 90 days but I can always opt out after that and publish it wide.
I may opt in for KDP select every few stories just to get some more eyeballs on my stuff on Amazon.
I’m also trying to get Amazon to price match a few of my stories that are free on other websites so that readers who are interested in some of my work can try it for free and hopefully buy some stuff down the line.
Hopefully some of that works but a lot of those results won’t be seen until March at the earliest. Still, I’m already profitable(90 cents!) after one month which is cool to see. I am thinking about spending some money to get a stock photo subscription for a year. It’s probably in the $100 range to get a certain number of photos which will kill my profit margins for a while if I’m earning $10/month!
That’s it for this update. I’ll be back in a month with the February update but also have the dividend income update for February coming next weekend. February is another slow month but I’m already excited for March which should be the first good dividend month for the year and hopefully a solid passive income month from my self-publishing!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend gang! Then it’s back to work for those of us still grinding away so good week to all!

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