How I Make My Money

I’m going for the radical transparency route on this because I think there’s way too much secrecy about finances in our society.

How I Make My Money
Photo by micheile henderson / Unsplash

Last week’s newsletter was part 1 of a series I'm calling Making It Happen. I shared a bit of my hard-fought wisdom about how I get my work done as a solopreneur. Today I’m turning to a juicier, and more taboo topic: how I make my money. I’m going for the radical transparency route on this because I think there’s way too much secrecy about finances in our society, which often holds women in particular back. When we don’t know anything about others’ finances it can stop us from asking for raises, charging higher rates, and effectively valuing our time. But if I’m honest, the topic makes me uncomfortable as well, because money goes so hand in hand with privilege, of which I have plenty. For starters, I have an extremely supportive husband with a full-time job that provides health insurance, which has been crucial in giving me the stability to take some professional risks. I’m also diving into this because I know you all are curious about money topics. When Angela and I aired the Double Shift episode two years ago called “Business Ladies” which was about the finances of the podcast and our own finances to some extent, y’all loved it. Plus, it's tax season! Everyone's tallying earnings and thinking about personal finances right now.

First, some personal history: As I touched on last week with business goals, this is the first year since my last full-time employment 7 years ago that I have a sustainable, achievable financial plan for this year. Yay! Here’s a synopsis of how things have gone for me in the past: 2016-2018 was a hodgepodge of various freelancing, teaching, and a year long, well-paid fellowship, media consulting and career coaching. Looking back on it, probably a charitable description of my business finances would be “winging it.” 2019-2021 my entire work life revolved around the podcast, and because I had several people on the payroll, my primary focus and driving fear of keeping me up at night was making sure I’d have enough money to pay them. 2022 was a transition year, planning what was next for me, including relaunching this newsletter and community. And 2023 feels like I might actually know what I’m doing, which feels great, considering how often I would cry in front of QuickBooks back in 2018. For 2023, projecting that I'll make more money than I did during the podcast years, but less than I did at my last full-time corporate job.

Here’s a bar graph of percentages of how I’m projecting my 2023 revenue compared to my 2022 actuals.

Also, note that only 2023 equals 100% because I’m aiming to grow my total revenue for this year.

One of the interesting realities looking at this bar graph is that I consider myself first and foremost a journalist, but in reality, I’ll likely make a very nominal sum writing for news outlets this year. A funny misconception some people have about writers is that if they’ve read your work or seen your name in prominent places that means you are famous and also must make good money. This is not true at all! The economics of journalism is so tough, it keeps getting worse, and I don’t know of anyone who can make anything approaching a living as a freelance writer for news outlets unless they are also doing some kind of corporate copywriting work, or teaching, or have some other kind of revenue stream. For full-time positions, good journalism jobs are often a flash in the pan before an organization goes under, scales back or has layoffs. I've watched that movie way too many times. Speaking and consulting were nascent revenue streams for me in 2022, which I’m planning to grow this year, and starting a course would be a brand-new venture for me.

I’m also not planning on taking any advertising this year, now that I’m no longer doing the podcast. I don’t think it makes sense for the current size of my mailing list and I really like that when I make recommendations you all 100% know it's genuine. I’m basically the only person on the internet not trying to sell you something you don’t need. Sometimes I think no one cares about this other than me, but at least it helps me feel like what I do isn’t being “an influencer” for products in our capitalist hellscape.

This all sums up why I love the Double Shift membership model, because I no longer have to rely on corporate media or advertising to make the kind of content and want and build the kind of community that’s valuable to our members. My business is not dependent on dancing for the Instagram algorithm or following instructions from Elon Musk.  The Double Shift is able to exist solely because our members feel it’s worth paying for. I treasure that I only answer to you, dear readers. Membership is also the bedrock of my revenue projections for 2023. In order to meet my goals, I need a net growth of 100 new paying members to join this year. If you value this newsletter and want to support its continued existence, please become a member. It starts at $7/mo. If you already are a member, and are able to upgrade to contribute at $14 or $30 a month, that helps even more! I continue to make the Wednesday newsletter available to all because I want my ideas to reach as many people as possible. I also hope the newsletter will be a “gateway” to my work and eventually to membership. I hate saying it’s “free” because I feel that it discounts the effort I put into it weekly and the years of expertise I’ve built up covering issues facing moms and caregivers. Those who are able to pay for it with membership are the reason I’m able to devote the time to it. Plus, membership is where I’m able to experiment with doing some of the work I’m most passionate about: community building. Members get an audio version of the newsletter, members-only threads (which are THE BEST comment threads on the internet, IMO. Nine months in and I’ve never had to delete a shitty comment. Amazing.) We also have a blast with virtual and IRL hangouts. It’s a lot of fun and you get to be a part of something important.

I hope this series has been somewhat illuminating in understanding how at least one person is Making It Happen. I hope this also is motivating to not just to support The Double Shift but I also inspires you to contribute to other independent journalists, newsletter writers, authors (buy their books!) and media outlets doing good work. It makes a huge difference in a very tough landscape.

In tomorrow’s members-only thread, I’ll be asking, what are some money topics you wish people talked about more? What have you felt alone about with regards to money that you could use some community and honesty on?

April Member Hangout: Adult Friendships

Tuesday April 25th 1PM EST

In this month’s virtual member hangout, I want to talk about one of adulthood’s biggest puzzles: how do you make friends after the age of 25? The pandemic made making new friends even harder, even as many of us have gone through big transitions like moves to new cities, new careers and new children. Join me for an interactive discussion where I’ll be sharing ideas but also asking for YOU ALL to share what’s worked. We’ll also do some breakout rooms to give you all a chance to forge some virtual connections. It will be fun! This is one of the perks of membership. Become a member to join in on the fun.

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