The Side Hustle Report #4

Side hustles are hard guys! One of my goals this year as outlined in my initial side hustle post was to write every day and see if I can get traction by publishing short stories online.

I was doing a great job with this through March but then warm weather arrived, I got a little bit ill and suddenly writing wasn’t on the forefront of my mind.

I found myself enjoying it less and less as I moved into mid-April and the daily grind of forcing one hour of writing onto the page began to get to me. On top of that I had the additional time needed to format the stories for publishing via KDP or on Nook or wherever(I publish to five different places and each one requires a slightly different format) and suddenly I was spending an average of 1.5 hrs every single day on writing.

That’s hard to maintain when one works a full time job and I found myself enjoying life a bit less because I barely had any free time for myself during the week. I recently got promoted at work to a more managerial position and that meant a bit more responsibility there(and a bit more enjoyment in my work as well which is great), but it also means less time for myself.

I’d wake up early to exercise a bit, walk the dog, shower, make breakfast then run off to work. I’d get back around 5, cook dinner, walk the dog and suddenly it’s 6:30 and my girlfriend’s home. Now that it’s starting to get warm and sunny, we might want to take a walk but even if we don’t, we have to eat dinner and it’s 7 P.M. and I now have to get my hour of writing in which doesn’t leave me a lot of time to do anything for myself considering I generally get in bed by 9:30 and yes I’m aware that makes me sound like an old man, I like my sleep!

It also cut into the quality time I spend with my girlfriend as I’d lock myself in my office for an hour plus writing every night instead of spending it with her. It was a big drag to be honest.

I started this process looking forward to my nightly ritual of writing but by mid April, I was dreading it because I’d much rather spend time with my girlfriend or play a game, or read a book or go for a walk and I couldn’t do that due to this limit I placed on myself.

I found myself stressing about writing rather than enjoying it. Many days, I had to force an hour of crap onto the page because I had run out of ideas and writing those days just wasn’t all that fun anymore. I’m an anxious person in general and my anxiety seemed to amp up during this period and I just started feeling crappy because of this internal pressure I was putting on myself. It was just no fun anymore.

I started to resent it and I didn’t like how it was making me feel so I decided to make a change.

In short, I have failed my goal to write every day.

I haven’t written a word since April 10th and while part of that was due to a vacation I took last week, a lot of it was due to how quickly I burned out with this.

It’s interesting to see how much you don’t value something as simple as an hour every day until it’s taken away from you. I found that I just couldn’t give up that time on a daily basis and still live my life the way I wanted to so I decided to change that.

Does that mean the side hustle experiment has failed? Yes, in a sense although I think there’s still long term potential here and I certainly plan to continue even if it’s in a more limited capacity.

I know that daily writing is key to making money in the short story arena since it’s all about visibility and publishing as many things as you can. That means not writing daily really limits my earning potential but that’s OK.

I don’t plan to quit writing all together. I just plan to make a change so that I’ll only write on the weekends and have my weekdays free to relax and enjoy my time with my girlfriend. If the mood to write happens to strike me during the week or I have a particularly good idea then I’ll certainly write then as well.

That means I still plan to write and I still plan to publish but it also means that my publishing schedule will be a lot less frequent which also likely means less frequent side hustle updates.

The plan is to move away from short stories which require volume and into novella/novels which require quality and I’ve already started on that path. I’ll still dabble in short stories here and there but they won’t be as frequent as they were in the past.

I did set a second goal which was to earn at least $100 after expenses from my writing this year($1000 is the stretch goal) and I still plan to target that this year. This means that I’m not giving up on writing all together, I’m just pivoting to a more sustainable schedule that allows me free time during weekdays and doesn’t drain me and stress me like the daily writing schedule did.

I have a huge appreciation for the people who grind out a 2nd business while working a full time job but that sort of lifestyle just isn’t for me. Hell, I couldn’t handle an extra 90 minutes per day, not to mention a full second business.

I value my free time quite a bit and want to make sure that I enjoy the things I do during that time. I enjoy writing but I didn’t enjoy forcing myself to do it on a daily basis. I don’t plan to give up on it but I am re-assessing where I want to devote my time even if it means the side-hustle will likely earn me less money.

It’s very important to maintain a high quality of life and I’m not opposed to changing things that aren’t working and/or cutting out stressful elements from my life. We only have one life to live and time is the most important resource we have so I want to make sure I’m not wasting it on something that could cause me to hate something I otherwise enjoy. It’s important for me to have a good balance in my life when it comes to all aspects and that includes my hobbies and money earning endeavors.

The unfortunate thing is that I did start seeing an uptick in sales in March which has already fallen off in April as my writing and publishing slowed down.

Let’s take a look at the March data.

The Data
March was still a solid month for my writing as I continued to hustle on before taking a major step back in April. I also saw a pretty big uptick in sales this month as I published more stories and got a lot more visibility around my catalog.

After February, I had 26 titles up on the various websites so let’s see where I ended up after March.

My pace this month was similar to last month as I published 4 new releases and wrote almost the same words/hr.

The constant publishing is a must in the short story arena because that’s what drives visibility and drives people to your older stories. That means that my reduction in writing hours going forward will likely severely cut into my earnings potential. Oh, well, at least I’ll still be writing and getting a catalog for when I can quit my 9 to 5 job and focus on this versus doing it as a side gig after being tired from a full day at work.

Let’s take a look at where sales fell this month. In February, I sold 17 copies generating $33.60 in earnings or $9.60 after expenses.

I went from 17 sales to 37 this month! My earnings/royalties more that doubled growing to $74.25 which is awesome to see.

I did spend a lot more money this month as I bought 200 stock photos(100 photos for $39 deal) from a stock photo website I use. This was an amazing deal that I couldn’t pass up and pretty much will mean I’m set for quite some time when it comes to cover photos.

The expense really hits my net income for the month as that was a loss of $21.75 and brings my overall net income for this endeavor to a loss of $11.25.

That’s a bit off my $100 net profit goal for the year but my expenses will be far lower going forward so hopefully that’s still within reach.

It’s clear from the March numbers that I was gaining momentum as my earnings doubled and I really lost it by stopping the writing in April.

I feel like that change was best for my mental health. I don’t want to take something I enjoy(writing) and turn it to something I hate because I’m forcing myself to write every single day. I know that a lot of people feel that way about a side-hustle or business and maybe I’m a quitter for changing my tune and writing only on weekends but it’s a personal choice and I feel like it’s the right one for me.

As I said before, I still plan to write and I still plan to earn money with this even if the switch to less writing means less potential money. I already have two stories that are nearly done and have been recently editing a novel that I started a while back that’s already blossomed to 35000 words and hope to publish that in the next few months. The publishing pace and earnings pace will slow as will the side hustle posts but I certainly will keep you all updated on my progress.

Thanks for reading. Have you ever had any side-hustles that turned out to be more than you could handle?

One thought on “The Side Hustle Report #4

  1. Thanks for sharing TITM. As I was reading your article, I was reminded of the old saying, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It's important to take a break every now and again. There's nothing wrong with modifying your goals to primarily writing on the weekends instead of everyday, especially since you have a full-time job and a girlfriend.

    I'm not much of a writer, but I went through a similar phase with my blog. Initially, I felt I had lots to talk about and then I struggled to find topics to discuss. Also, I wanted to produce more posts more frequently but I also had a full time job that got in the way. Life happens and you just have to deal with it as it comes. The fact is that you're still continuing to write and that's important.

    Finally, although you reported a minor loss, that's ok. As you stated, you're expenses will be less in the future. You clearly have a plan. Stick with it.

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