Side Hustle

The Side Hustle Report #3 – self publishing

Welcome back to the side hustle report! If you haven’t read this before, the side hustle I’m trying this year is writing or self publishing short stories. It’s something I did back in 2013 and am trying it again in 2017.

I’m looking at February data here. It’s crazy to think that March is almost over and spring weather will be upon us soon.

As a recap, January was a $11.34 gain after expenses on $29.34 in earnings.

There isn’t a huge market for short stories. I’m not expecting this to be a huge earner. However, there’s no harm in earning a little bit of extra cash while practicing my writing.

You can read the first two reports for my strategy and discussions around expenses. I won’t repeat myself here but I do I notice that my writing is improving as I go through this process. I have written almost every day with the exception of a few days early in March due to illness.

January had a ton of stuff published. That’s due to all the writing I did in December. That has slowed in February and March as I don’t have that extra lean-in anymore like I did from December. Now, I have to spend more time writing and editing.

I will say that 50 minutes per day writing is not a lot of time to get stuff done. Editing takes a huge chunk out of that.

I will also say that finding 50 minutes per day to write every single day is a struggle sometimes. I’m already tired after I get home from work. I only really have about three to four hours of free time during a weekday. In that time, I walk and play with the dog, cook, spend time with my girlfriend, watch TV, play video games, read or take a walk so taking an hour out of that is certainly a challenge.

It does help that I enjoy writing although some days I’d rather be doing anything. That’s why it’s key to do it every single day or I’ll fall out of it like I did in 2013.

My TV watching has suffered the most as the result of this revival of my hobby/side-hustle. I really only watch TV on the weekends now because I don’t have time for it on weekdays. Maybe that’s a good thing.

It’s an interesting change in my life but I think it’s a good one. I’m now spending that time on something productive that will help me grow instead of just vegging out on the couch.

I do sometimes think about bringing a personal laptop to work and just writing a bit in a conference room. Whether during downtime.  or during lunch. That’s something I might consider from time to time during slow season.

I’m glad I’m still sticking with this. The numbers right now aren’t all that impressive, I’m excited to see what happens to the royalties and net income from self-publishing if I stick with it for the full year.

Let’s take a look at the February Data.

The Data

December really set up January as a solid publishing month because of the head start I got there. Most months going forward will be a lot less impressive in terms of number of titles published.

At the end of January, I had 21 published titles with one bundle so let’s see where I am after February.

self publishing

I had 7 new releases last month. That number drops to 4 in February. I think that might be a sustainable pace for the rest of the year. March has a similar production level.

I wrote over 55000 words in December, 25000 words in January and now am down to 22214 words. February was a shorter month so that drives the drop. I think ~25k words per month will be a sustainable pace going forward as well. I spend about half my time editing and that words/hr pace reflects that.

My pace is close to 2000 words/hr when just writing. However, editing takes up half my writing sessions so that lowers the number. I think I’ll be in that 950/hr words each month as well due to the editing process cutting into my actual writing time.

Most of my stories fall into the 5000-10000 word range right now.  I’m writing anywhere from 2-5 stories per month at this pace depending on length. Hopefully, I can continue that throughout the year because then my catalog could grow to around 60 titles which would be pretty cool.

The short story game is all about getting eyeballs on your work and having a ton of stories out there helps with that.

Let’s take a look at the earnings for this month.

Last month, I had $29.34 in earnings or $11.34 in net income after expenses.

February clocks in with $33.60 in earnings which is a bump over last month but a lower net income of $9.60 due to higher expenses.

Still, it’s cool to see earnings grow again even if net income drops.There isn’t a ton of growth in the various sales channels as most were about the same as last month.

All of my expenses here are using fiverr to get covers designed. That will be pretty much the case throughout the year. That means my expenses are going to be pretty limited as each cover costs about $6.

March will be different since I picked up 200 stock photos from a stock photo website. It was a great deal that I couldn’t pass up. This will set me up well for future writing. I now have access to near unlimited stock photos for pretty much anything I want to publish.

Earnings didn’t go up much despite publishing 7 stories in January and 4 more in February which shows the limited income potential here. There is an earnings drag to self-publishing. Stories I published late in February likely will get most of their earnings in March and so on.

There is also a rather long lag from when you start publishing to when earnings actually start to pick up. I experienced the same thing in 2013 as the first few months were a slow trickle until it started to pick up later as your catalog fills out. That gives you more visibility on amazon and the various websites with also bought categories and cross links.

I am already seeing some of that towards the end of March and I hope that continues. As an example, I had 3 sales on Amazon from March 1st to March 17th and have gotten 9 since then in a period of 8 days so that’s pretty cool!

March might actually be back to a negative net income. My expenses were a lot higher due to the stock photo purchase. However, it is tracking for a much bigger bump in actual earnings.

It’d be pretty cool to see that number grow each month through the year. I’m excited to see the data once the year is complete so I can figure out where I ended up.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of the weekend! Anyone out there have a side hustle that they’re growing and hoping to turn into something more down the line?

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