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. The idea is to see if I can get traction by publishing short stories online.
I was doing a great job with this through March. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Even if we don’t, we have to eat dinner and it’s 7 P.M. I now have to get my hour of writing in which doesn’t leave me a lot of time to do anything for myself. 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. When writing, 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. By mid April, I was dreading it. I’d much rather spend time with my girlfriend or play a game, or read a book or go for a walk. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Writing is enjoyable 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. That’s even if it means the side-hustle will likely earn me less money.
It’s very important to maintain a high quality of life. 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. 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.
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. 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. This has the potential to be an area of focus when I quit my job in the future.
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. It was a 100 photos for $39 deal from a stock photo website I use. This was an amazing deal that I couldn’t pass up. It’ll pretty much 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. My earnings doubled and I’ll lose that 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. It’s easy to do that if 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. Maybe I’m a quitter for changing my tune and writing only on weekends but it’s a personal choice. 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. That’s even if the switch to less writing means less potential money. I already have two stories that are nearly done. On top of that, I have been recently editing a novel that I started a while back. That one has blossomed to 35000 words and I 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?
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.