It’s not an easy thing to be self-employed. If you’re reading this, you more than likely are as well so kudos to you for toughing it out. I grew up in a household where my dad was a self-employed mechanical design consultant and my mom was a housewife/supermom. My dad worked at home from the time I was about 3 years old and still does today.
He would get up at 4:30 every morning to get a jump on the work day as the rest of the house slept. He did this for a few reasons, one of which I imagine was because that’s the quietest part of the day. The other main reason was that he wanted to fit a whole work day in by dinner time so that he could take the rest of the night off and spend it with family.
I have fond memories of my little brother and I running into my parents’ bedroom after dinner to “play on the bed”. This consisted of either my brother or I jumping up and down while my dad laid on his back and balanced the other on his feet and zoomed us around like an airplane. Now I think about my poor mom in the kitchen cleaning up all by herself! I also think about how hard it is as a self-employed individual “switching off” when your office is just in the other room. These were also the days of no cell phones, where we’re effectively always expected to be on the clock if we’re technically able to receive messages. Having your office in the same building as you always has a tendency of feeling like that.
So I tell this story to give perspective. I, like my dad, want to be able to switch off when I want to and spend time with my family. But I’m also not willing to get up at 4:30 in the morning! Sorry dad; sticking with the 8am wake-ups to my alarm clock, AKA my dog’s tongue on my face.
Today, the work I do with photographers through my company, New Skin Media, makes up about 80% of my income. Last year I made about $45,000; a fair amount less than the year before which I blame on time spent buying a house, getting married, going on a honeymoon, and a couple family medical emergencies thrown in for good measure. Enough to live on, for sure. I owe that all to the 14 1 Day Build Sessions I ran. Without them, I never would have made it through the year.
Out of the about $36,000 I took in from my New Skin Media clients over the year, nearly $16,000 of it was from 1 Day Build Sessions. Doing the math, 45% of my NSM income, or 35% of my total income for the year was brought in by 14 client sessions. That means I made over a third of my entire year’s income with only 14 days of work! When you crunch those numbers the only thing you ask yourself is, why isn’t this all I do?
To be fair, even though each session only takes 8 hours, there’s probably a couple extra hours per client of making the sale, going over on the session time, and answering questions before and after the session, but for 10 hours of work it’s not bad.
So how do I get the business? I’m lucky enough to have a partnership with a company like SmugMug who sends me referrals, so that conduit plus search engine traffic due to my very specific niche brings me all the inquiries I need. What I’ve found is that if you specialize, you don’t need to spend nearly as much time selling your client on yourself. You already come with the level of qualification they need to feel satisfied that you are qualified enough to do the job.
Since I don’t have to spend too much time selling the things that bring in the most money, I have the ability to focus the majority of my time on other things I enjoy doing. The same could be true for you. What would you do if you didn’t have to work 40 hours a week, or feel like you had to?
For me, those things include running WIMP, which is what I consider to be my volunteer work. I organize events, spend time moderating the online community and working on growing the organization. I also get to work with a good friend doing design work for his consulting business. I also helped start another business venture with him and my husband (who I also met through WIMP!) building websites for small wineries. Wine & The Web (wineandtheweb.com) is starting to take off, and I’m lucky enough to have the flexibility in my schedule to accommodate the extra work. I’ve also begun to build a Pen Pal Mentoring program called Dreamer Connect (dreamerconnect.com) which I hope to turn into a full-blown nonprofit this year.
Throw in cooking dinner almost nightly, spending time with friends and family, keeping up the house, taking the dog for a walk, traveling (random day trips and longer excursions included), photography and writing this book for good measure and you get a pretty fulfilling lifestyle. My friends often ask me how I have time for it all. The answer to that question is very simply, because of 1 Day Build Sessions. It’s pretty cool to think that you could have the time to do all the stuff you love and still make a living doing something you enjoy.