My First Side Income Report for January 2018: How I Earned $9,322.89 on the Side of My Day Job (Oh Yeah, I Have One of Those Now)

Let’s start this off with some BIG NEWS!

For the first time in almost two years, I’m back to working a full-time job (gasp!).

I know, I know… I’ve always been such an outspoken advocate of building up your side income, for the primary purpose of being able to leave full-time employment for someone else in the rear-view mirror forever.

Trust me, I never thought I’d end up working full-time for another company again either…

So why did I go back to full-time employment?

For two reasons actually. Let’s dig into them real quick and then we’ll get to the good stuff.

1. Opportunity.

The #1 reason I decided to go back to full-time employment is because of who it’s with—the company and founder that turned into the best consulting client I’ve ever had… Close (the inside sales CRM for startups).

Over the course of the past year, Close.io grew into becoming about two thirds of my consulting work (and income). I was getting to know the CEO and founder, Steli Efti, much better and before I knew it, he’d turned into an incredible mentor for me.

Closeio Homepage on ryrob Ryan Robinson

Steli and the team at Close.io have built a SaaS (software as a service) business that’s become something much larger than themselves. After going through the famed startup accelerator, Y Combinator in 2013, they took a small round of funding from VC’s like SV Angel and Spark Capital. Since then, they’ve been completely self-funded and profitable.

This is something I aspire to accomplish one day soon, too.

Thus, the opportunity to keep doing work I love in the form of content marketing and launching fun side projects to grow the number of trial signups for our CRM, while learning more intensely from Steli… is a chance I really couldn’t pass up on.

Plus, we’re a fully remote company (of 30 incredibly awesome people), which means I get to keep everything pretty much as-is with my routine & style of work I’ve gotten used to over the past couple of years.

In December of 2017, we came up with a deal that made logistical and financial sense for me, and I started on January 1st.

Most importantly though, Steli’s a major proponent of employees working on side projects—something that’s naturally of immense importance to me. Not only is he supportive of it, but he’s actually been helping me further my own business goals through introductions, regular advice, sales coaching, and so much more.

So, I’m holding onto a few of my content marketing consulting clients, continuing my Side Hustle Project Podcast, keeping up with regular blog content to grow my affiliate income, making my way towards the book I want to write, and collaborating with a friend to build an MVP of what may become my first SaaS tool.

Still sounds like a lot… I know.

2. Time for change.

Another big reason I decided to take this job right now was because the second half of 2017 was a time of massive change for both my girlfriend and I.

We moved to Denver, Colorado. Mostly because neither of us had ever lived outside of California, and felt like a change of pace from the San Francisco lifestyle for a little while. Check us out—yeah we still hike 😉

If you’re in the Denver area, comment below and let’s meet up!

Things were also changing within my business last year.

I noticed that I was starting to do more work with fewer clients.

Close.io had stepped up to become the majority of my work, and (for various reasons) I’d started eliminating smaller clients that consumed more of my time than they were really worth at the end of the day.

My cushy contract consulting with LinkedIn’s ProFinder team ran out after literally everyone I was working with transferred teams or left the company as a result of being acquired by Microsoft.

Another big client of mine decided to hire someone in-house to run their content marketing, rather than outsourcing it to me.

It’s a little scary as a freelancer relying on just 2-3 main clients, especially when I’d been at 6 at the beginning of 2017.

When we started preparing for our move to Denver, I recognized that so much more of my time was now going toward outreach, pitching, and having sales calls to bring on more clients (so I wouldn’t be relying on so few clients, despite my income staying pretty steady).

This always seems to go in cycles, and I actually get a lot of great inbound leads for my consulting business that cuts down on the need for outreach, but I came to the realization that I was getting kind of tired of frequently pitching my services.

Close.io came as a welcome opportunity to take a break from that side of my business I’d grown a little tired of.

So, now I’m back to doing some limited freelancing on the side of my day job.

And aside from just the changes on the freelance side of things, my blog traffic was down about 35% last year (from my all-time high of 225,000 monthly sessions at the end of 2016), so my passive income from affiliate commissions was also down. Turning this ship back around and growing both traffic & affiliate income is a major focus of 2018.

I had a great year with selling my own online courses in 2017, generating $23,000 in sales. However, as a one-man shop, it was incredibly time-consuming working one-on-one with all the awesome people who joined, to make sure I did everything in my power to help them be successful & get real results.

After feeling first-hand how draining that experience of working with 250+ course students at a time was becoming for me (surprise, courses can be a lot of work), I decided to put new enrollments on hold for now. After I decide how I want to restructure my involvement in my courses, I’ll slowly start re-opening some and perhaps begin working on a new one I’ve been wanting to create for freelancers.

My biggest motivation for publicly sharing all of this is pretty simple really…

I want to start 2018 with radical transparency to you.

I hate 99% of the income reports I see because they come across as an off-handed attempt to brag about how much money people making—and that is not at all why I’m doing this.

In fact, I didn’t do income reports for years for this exact reason… but more and more of you have been asking me to share the real numbers behind my blog. So, that’s what I’ll be doing from now on (even when those numbers aren’t so pretty).

This year is all about building stronger connections with each of you (my readers). Showing you behind the scenes of what’s working and what’s not in my business.

I want to show you exactly what I’m doing to grow my business—and when I fuck up, which will happen, I’m going to tell you about that too.

I’ll be answering more specific questions you have through useful content, rather than only chasing SEO traffic gains.

I’m also publishing this to hold myself accountable to growing these numbers. So that I can look back at this month’s report in January of 2019 and hopefully see meaningful growth in all categories.

But most of all, I’m sharing everything here because I want to challenge you to join me.

If you’ve been wanting to start freelancing, build a blog, sell online courses, or start a podcast, then LET’S DO IT TOGETHER.

This is your call to take action.

Observe what’s working for me, gather insights to apply in your unique situation, and start executing today.

Now, enough about my why. Let’s talk about the fun stuff…

Side Income Report for January 2018:  $9,322.89

In these monthly reports, I’ll be tracking my total side income every month, each individual source of that income, and associated expenses with running my side business.

Next, I’ll break down the traffic to my blog which heavily impacts my side income, including what’s performing best and how I’m working to drive in more readers. This’ll also cover an update on how many email subscribers I have & what that growth trajectory looks like.

Then we’ll talk about my podcast download numbers for the month, and which episodes performed well (and why).

Finally, I’ll cover updates on other side projects I’m working on.

Want my side income reports delivered straight to your inbox?

Join me today and I’ll send you my weekly tips, strategies, and detailed insights on growing a profitable side business.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Now, let’s do this!

1. Side Income Breakdown for January 2018

Gross Income

$9,322.89

3 x Content Marketing Clients

    $8,220.00     

Affiliate Earnings

   Udemy
   CreativeLive
   Amazon.com (Business Books)
   Adobe
   Shopify
   ConvertKit
   Treehouse
   Hostgator
   Skillshare
   Teachable
   Freshbooks
   Docusign
   Contena
   Visme

     $914.98    

        $164.29
          $72.18
          $162.19
          $12.74
          $29.00
          $26.10
            $3.00
            $0.00
            $30.00
            $199.50
            $15.00
            $15.00
            $34.48
            $151.50

Carbon Ads (on the Blog)

    $187.91     

Podcast Sponsorships (Side Hustle Project)

    $0.00     

 

Expenses Breakdown

Total Expenses

$5,555.18

Web Services – Hosting and Storage

   WP Engine
   Dreamhost
   Google Drive
   Amazon Web Services

     $322.25    

        $249.00
        $62.75
          $9.99
          $.51

Online Tools & Subscriptions

   ConvertKit Email Marketing
   Adobe Creative Cloud
   Edgar Social Media Mgmt (Pre-Paid Annual)
   Narrow.io (Twitter Engagement Tool)
   AddThis
   Calendly
   Quickbooks
   Zoom.us (Video Conferencing)
   Apple App Store (Mac App Renewals)

     $460.51    

        $319.00
        $49.99
        $0
        $19.00
        $12.00
        $10.00
        $10.00
        $14.99
        $25.53

Professional Services

   Freelance Writers (for Client Work)
   Office Rent (Backyard on Blake in Denver, CO)
   Podcast Producer (Xavi at Branded Pod)
   Business Insurance

     $3,588.66    

       $2,678.00
        $175.00
        $699.00
        $36.66

Advertising

   Quuu Promote (Pre-Paid Annual)

      $0.00  

        $0.00

Travel, Office Supplies & Misc

   Office Supplies
   iPhone X Payment Plan
   AT&T Service Plan (iPhone)
   Health Insurance
   Transaction Fees (from Int’l Payments)
   Home Office Internet (Comcast 👎)

      $1,183.76  

        $498.38
        $56.16
        $100.17
        $251.54
        $145.25
        $132.26

 

Net Profit Breakdown

Net Profit

$3,767.68

 

An expensive ass month.

As you can see, January was a pretty expense-heavy month for my side businesses.

Almost half of the month’s expenses came from talented freelance writers I’ve been partnering with (like the incredible Jory MacKay) alone—but without them, my side income would’ve actually been down a lot.

Since starting my full-time gig with Close.io this month, I decided I’d have to get much more serious about outsourcing the majority of the first drafts for the actual writing work I’d booked for the month (with the handful of freelance clients I kept on).

I’m transitioning over to being more of an editor (and promoter) with the content for my freelance clients, so… if you know any talented freelance writers who love writing about business, productivity, and startups… please send them my way!

My “free hours” have gotten much more limited since starting this job, and I found myself wanting to divert as much time as possible to creating content here, booking more exciting podcast guests, and working to monetize the more passive sources of income that my blog generates (largely from affiliates).

So, this was one of those cases where I’d have to spend money to keep making money and take the hit to my margins—because at the end of the day, the income now flowing in from my full-time job more than makes up the difference when everything is added up.

The good thing is that all of my side income is a nice-to-have.

It goes towards investments, travel, a few big upcoming purchases, and the rest gets re-invested into my businesses.

What to expect in February…

Freelance income… My freelance income should be about the same, and it looks like I may book another freelance content marketing client that came by word-of-mouth referral from a past client at $5,000/mo.

As much as I’d like to get back to retaining 100% of the side income I generate from my freelance clients, it’s not going to be doable anytime soon, so I’m coming to terms with my lower margins.

Since I’m scaling my freelance business into a mini-agency, this is just the way it has to be for now. I’m setting the goal of landing one more big client for that side business in February.

Blog income… My blog income should increase marginally, as traffic has been trending upward since the first of the new year, and I’ve been investing a lot of time into keeping that momentum going with SEO tweaks, pitching more guest posts, and signing on with new publications (Fast Company and GoBankingRates to name a couple).

Not anticipating any large spikes, but we’ll see what happens—steady growth in traffic to my posts on motivational quotes, business ideas, and the best business books are expected.

Podcast sponsorship… Nada for January. This was mostly a function of having literally zero time to pitch new sponsors in the last couple months of 2017, and none of the inbound requests I got ended up being a good fit.

In February, I’m signing a contract to work with a friend who goes out and books sponsorships for podcasters—while she takes a cut of every deal, the consistency and reduction of personal work on my end make it a no-brainer right now. I’m really only looking to breakeven with the podcast, as it’s been an incredible tool for meeting amazing people & eventually turning a few of those conversations into paid client relationships.

A brand new side project… I’m hoping to launch the MVP of a new tool for content marketers that my friend Mubs is building with me.

It’s doubtful that this’ll generate any revenue during the month of February—since that’s not the goal yet.

I’ll be sending the tool around to other content marketers I know, gathering feedback, testing, and making tweaks to get it to a point where it’d warrant the possibility of being a paid tool for my target market for this.

We’ll see how this new side project starts to evolve… and yes, I’ll of course be documenting it’s progress in a new blog series, don’t worry 😊

2. Blog Stats for January 2018: 160,031 Sessions and 39,394 Total Email Subscribers

2018-01 ryrob Blog Traffic January of 2018

I’m back to over 200,000 monthly pageviews!

It’s been a long road to recovery, but traffic has been trending upward the past few months.

Still, I’m way off my highs of a getting the consistent 225,000 sessions/mo that I was seeing toward the end of 2016.

During 2017, I got hit pretty hard from competitors that are MUCH larger than me (sites like Entrepreneur, Inc, and TheBalance) on my highest trafficked posts.

I still live and die by organic traffic…

Side Income Report Jan 2018 traffic sources

This makes me prone to pretty big swings in monthly traffic, depending upon where major search engines rank my content for the extremely competitive search terms I’m going after.

I’m talking about terms like these (that bring me the most traffic):

Part of the reason traffic declined a good deal last year, was because I diverted a lot of my time and attention to (attempting to) diversify my traffic sources.

Relying so heavily on organic traffic (or any single source for that matter) isn’t smart.

While organic still represented 61% of my traffic for January, at this time last year, it was more like 85-90% (yikes).

My social and direct traffic have grown significantly, which I’d like to keep going.

Email Subscribers.

2018-01 ryrob Email Subscribers for January 2018 Ryan Robinson

At the end of 2017, I did my annual purge and removed A LOT of email subscribers from my community (in ConvertKit) who hadn’t opened an email from me in over 2 months.

January saw the addition of 3,129 subscribers to my community.

Which brings me up to 39,394 total subscribers.

Why I deleted a ton of subscribers… I’ve noticed that over time, people get busy, shift their focus, change goals, or just plain lose interest in following along with my blog—that’s been a consistent theme since I’ve started blogging.

Part of that is just natural churn, but I have no illusions that my content is going to be perfect for everybody.

And it’s never been my goal to be just another email sitting in your inbox.

Which is why this year I’m doubling down on writing more content that explores deeper, more meaningful topics to me (as opposed to mostly just top-of-the-funnel keyword-optimized shit).

My goal is having higher quality relationships with fewer subscribers.

And to that end, I’ll be regularly deleting inactive subscribers from my community this year.

(If you’ve made it this far, don’t worry—you’re one of my favorites 😉)

3. Podcast Downloads for January 2018: 16,425 Downloads

2018-01 SHP Downloads

The end of January marks the 7th month (and 45th episode!) of my podcast, The Side Hustle Project.

With a total of 16,425 downloads, this was my best month yet and it’s grown consistently just about every month.

I’m consistently publishing one episode per week now, and here are the ones that went live this month:

This month brings my total download numbers for the show up to 77,877 downloads already, which I’m pretty damn excited about—since this was only meant to be a little side project that I never had any real business goals for.

Still, I’ll definitely be throwing a little party when I cross the 100,000 download mark here soon.

Oh! And check this out… the tool I use for publishing & tracking stats for my podcast, Simplecast, just launched an awesome new feature that lets podcasters see where their listeners are tuning in from…

Podcast Listener Map January 2018

Special shoutout to all of you in New York City where I had the most listeners (276 downloads) in January!

But seriously, I am fucking amazed that people from every continent in the world are listening to my podcast.

This completely blows my mind and is incredibly humbling.

If you’re a listener… THANK YOU SO MUCH 🙏

And if you’re not a listener yet, give it a try right here 🙂

That’s it for my first since income report.

What do you think? Is this helpful to you or is it a waste of my time?

If I continued doing these, would you tune in every month?

If so, what would you like to see more of?

Here are some ideas:

1. I could go into more detail about how I’m generating traffic

or

2. I could dive deeper into how I’m monetizing that traffic

3. The ways I’m landing freelance clients

4. How I’m getting podcast listeners

or something else entirely…

Can you do me a favor and comment below telling me what you think?

I’d seriously love your feedback!

And if you’d like to share, here’s an image optimized for all that Pinterest traffic I’m chasing 😊

In January, I earned a total of $9,322.89 in side income. I saw 160,000+ blog readers, crossed the 39,000 email subscriber mark, and more. This is my first installment of what I plan on being monthly side income reports, now that I'm back to working a full-time job for the first time in almost 2 years.

Hi I'm Ryan Robinson

Full-time blogger, podcaster and side project aficionado. Join me here, on ryrob.com to learn how to start a blog, make money blogging and grow a profitable side business. I also write for publications like Fast Company, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, Business Insider and more. Let’s chat on Twitter about business and side projects.

Jump into the conversation

Leave a Reply:

44 replies to “My First Side Income Report for January 2018: How I Earned $9,322.89 on the Side of My Day Job (Oh Yeah, I Have One of Those Now)”

  1. Love it Ryan.

    As an income report aficionado (I’ve looked at probably 2,000 of them as part of some research a while back), I sincerely approve of your first.

    Great format sparing us the copy/paste “how to make money blogging” paragraphs, and thanks for including expenses as well!

    (I’d also be super curious to have you on my own podcast and chat specifically about the “client content with freelancer first drafts” arbitrage. Super interested in this).

    Ciao!

    Reply
    • Nice! Thanks for the feedback, that’s great to hear. I’d love to start drilling into more depth around the blog metrics, per post traffic breakdowns, where spikes/dips can be attributed, keyword rankings and all those topics too… any interest in seeing more on that front?

      I’d love to come on and chat about the freelance arbitrage! Though, I will say I haven’t removed myself from the equation completely by any means—just starting to remove my involvement in the most time-consuming step 😊

      Shoot me an email to ryan@ryrob.com and let’s make it happen!

      Reply
  2. In a way is great that you’ve been asked to join a company full time as their Content Marketing Officer. It’s proof that businesses are taking much more seriously the need for qualified and experienced people in the field. I suppose in the not so long future that’s going to be the trend and people in those positions will value the work and will have a better understanding of what freelancers can do for growth. Kudos to you Ryan!!!!

    Reply
  3. Hi Ryan,

    I always enjoy reading your blog posts. If it helps for stats, I found your blog last year through your “101 side hustles” post – I was looking for ideas. I actually cannot remember why I signed up to receive email updates from you.

    Regarding email updates, I like the fact that you send out really useful emails and they aren’t too frequent.

    Thanks for sharing your reports with us.

    Ada

    Reply
  4. Nice post Ryan, I’m a big fan of the documenting process.

    I’m about to do the similar thing in 2018 for my business growth (an agency I set up to help digital agencies in the UK).

    And as for a side project, I wanted to do a zero to full-time journey – starting to build up my music as a product (I’m a singer songwriter, but not pushed this out since having kids).

    Thanks for sharing, and would be interested in supporting your journey as a pair of keen eyes each update 🙂

    Good luck, and congrats on the new role! it makes sense to take that whilst this was on offer with such a key person who you know.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Thank you very much, Robin! Please share a link when you start documenting your journey in music production 🙂

      Looking forward to keeping up with your happenings as well!

      Reply
  5. Congrats Ryan and Great move for taking a FT gig, and keep your side hustle ON.
    I enjoy your posts, keep them coming.

    Cheers.

    Reply
  6. Hey Ryan,

    Congrats on the new role! I’ve been following you since your first podcast. I’ve love to get more insight on how you generate traffic and land freelance clients.

    Thanks for sharing the breakdown of your report!!

    Reply
  7. Ryan,
    I really enjoyed reading the blog post today. I have recently started consulting of years of working mini-side jobs designing equipment for small businesses. 2018 is the year I decided to invest more time into learning more about the business and how to attract more customers.

    I completely understand the need for a full-time job while trying to grow your side hustle. If anyone out there needs a CAD expert, mentor or product designer, I can help.

    Make it a great day.

    Reply
  8. There is one thing that usually draws me to your blog. You always give an in-depth analysis of any topic you write about. So, I am not surprised to read this very rich blog income and statistics report. I believe that this is the quality that drew your new full-time employer to you. I cherish your openness and sincerity. Keep the fire burning.

    Reply
  9. Ryan…you didn’t fail at all, you have the best of both worlds, which is my goal! Plus the opportunity found you, and you are doing something you enjoy, that’s the main thing 🙂
    Your income report is interesting, and I’m glad you included your expenses, but what about tax under your expenses? Depressing I know, but I was taught to budget for that so it’s not a big shock at the end of the year 🙁
    I welcome transparency!

    Reply
    • It’s taken me a while to come around to this way of thinking, but I think you’re right Grace! Thanks for the words of encouragement 🙂

      Taxes: Great question! I pay quarterly estimates, so on my March side income report you’ll see a nice big bill for that. At the end of each month though, I do move money from my business checking into my business savings to “account” for upcoming taxes. Typically that figure ends up being 35%-40% of the month’s gross income just to be safe, and ends up needing to be a little bit less at the end of the day factoring in my expenses/write-offs.

      Reply
  10. Hi Ryan,

    Really liked the post. Radical transparency is something not many organizations practice, and I agree that most posts like this are more promotional (“look how successful this site is, you should trust us and by or products”) than transparent in a meaningful sense. I really like the detail you’re including here, particularly regarding which affiliate networks you are part of and outside services you are using. Gives me some good ideas of what to do on my end to keep improving.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the kind words, Josh! Glad you got that sense from reading the report—I went back and forth quite a bit on publishing this for that reason, so it’s good to hear it’s not coming off as a self-promotional tactics.

      Is vertical switch your primary side project? Looks like you’ve been working on the site for a while. Keep the hustle going!

      Reply
  11. Hi Ryan, I have been reading your blog for some time and congratulations on your result!
    Such a great job and I am also so impressed with your podcast results! I think your income report is really interesting (doesn’t come across as bragging at all!) and gives great insight to those who are thinking of getting into blogging themselves. I hope you’ll keep it up!

    Reply
  12. Also, I would like to ask – how do you even find time to work full-time, freelance and run a blog?
    You must have some good productivity secrets 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the kind words, Aggie! Glad to hear you got something out of this report 🙂

      How I find the time for it all… this is going to be the subject of an upcoming essay here on the blog (when I find the time to get to it later this week 😉 ). In short though, nothing is ever in perfect equilibrium… I try and remain hyper-aware of which area of my life needs more attention when things are feeling “off” so I’ll course-correct in that direction. My relationship always sits first in line, and then work factors in around that. Starting with that as my #1 priority gives me a lot more clarity about how I can afford to spend my days in terms of distribution between FT work and “side” work.

      To that end, FT work with Close.io now comes first. Then staying on top of my freelance client projects. And last on the lineup for now is the blog. My podcast is on relative autopilot and outsourcing the production/editing has been a major win in terms of taking TONS of time I would’ve otherwise spent there off my plate. Trading dollars for time is something I’m trying to leverage more and more moving forward so that I can free up more time to work on the blog.

      Reply
  13. Congratulations Ryan. I signed up last year but have not been able to read all the emails. I’m not sure what got me reading this one this morning. I guess I’m always looking for that one honest person telling all the ups AND downs, ins and outs of crafting an enjoyable life – thinking I could mimic it. But at this late stage of life, I’m just going to have to give in to the predestination theory because nothing is working for me. It’s been a struggle and apparently always will be a struggle, and I’m tired. But anyway, what I meant to be saying is that I enjoyed the breakdown and the analysis. A little overwhelming for my feeble brain, but fascinating and informative. Thank you for taking the time and effort to put it out here for us to see!

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading along, Carol!

      What kinds of side projects have you tried building over the past couple of years? I’d be curious to hear about the kinds of road blocks you see yourself being held back at.

      Reply
      • Thanks for answering Ryan…how & where do you find the time?! Really kind of you. I haven’t tried building that many, for lack of resources, knowledge, trying to maintain a main income (single woman/parent, no inheritance, alimony or windfall!) I’m not sure what ‘trying’ means anymore, there are so many definitions of “trying to”. I have been an amateur photographer for over half my life, wanting & trying for that to be a side project. Now with iphones and GoPros, everyone is a photog! Thinking of coding, but can’t afford classes. I’m a part time farmer, in exchange for food (too old to do that solo). But really into the good food movement. My road blocks are: money, not having a partner to do the essentials that would save me time (meal prep/cleanup, laundry, house cleaning, clothes shopping, car maintenance, etc.), lack of knowledge, deteriorating eyesight, lack of time, consistent failure as opposed to consistent success that creates fear of the risk of being absolutely destitute, lack of engaging personality or looks to draw people in (we are all attracted to beauty). I’ll be very honest, I’m terrified by my past history of almost anything I attempt to do being a failure. I don’t know how to start. I don’t know what the steps to begin to do…sorry, I run out of coherent sentences – what’s in my head often can’t get out on paper or in words! But I appreciate all you’re doing.

        Reply
  14. 1. Congrats!
    2. Yes keep doing the reports. Love it, so helpful.
    3. Would LOVE to learn more about affiliate marketing. Do you have a post on this yet (starting an affiliate marketing business)?
    4. Excited to meet you on Thursday!!!

    Reply
  15. Hi Ryan,

    Congratulations! I used Close.io with one of my consulting clients and was a fan 🙂

    I love your transparency — and I love that you didn’t get so stuck in your “brand” of working for yourself that you didn’t seize an opportunity that would support you in living the life you want!

    I did a similar thing three years ago when I accepted my first full-time job (essentially as a content marketer, though I didn’t even know what the term meant at the time, ha!). After 5 years of working for myself, this was no small decision, but I was really clear about the impact I wanted to have, and like you, I felt like I was wasting too much of my precious energy on The Hustle part of the equation: pitching myself and my services to new clients, getting to and from speaking gigs, etc.

    It definitely helped that I had a practice of regularly checking in with myself around whether the goals I had set for myself still made sense, and if so, whether I was actually hitting them. (I wrote about the questions I asked myself to find work that would be most fulfilling – as an employee or a freelancer – here: https://elizabethu.com/2017/03/02/4-questions-that-will-lead-you-to-work-youll-love-or-how-i-ended-up-at-xero/)

    Re topics I’d love to hear more about: work/life balance, setting boundaries when you work for yourself or have a side gig… and even more detail re why you’ve decided to keep up the side stuff when “change of pace” seems to be one of your family’s current priorities. Being able to consolidate my work efforts to focus on my personal life was a huge part of why I sought out a job, particularly one in an office, though sometimes I wonder if it might ultimately feel MORE balanced if I also had my own side things running at the same time. And I’m sure you have really interesting reasons (other than just the money) for keeping your side income efforts going 🙂

    Cheers,
    Elizabeth

    Reply
    • Wow! Sounds like we’re kindred spirits here 🙂

      I LOVE the topic suggestions you offered up. I think the work/life balance one is particularly important to me as of late, and especially when managing a lot of the context-switching that is having *multiple side businesses outside of the FT workday.

      My answer for you right now (re: why I’m keeping my side projects)—I’d say my reasons are something that do change and evolve over time to some degree… but I’ve found the deepest reason that’s stuck around for years and years now is a pretty straightforward one: a lot of my own self-worth, personal confidence, fulfillment (for me these three are all intertwined) is derived from having something that’s wholly my own to build, launch, grow and shape the direction of. Reflecting on it, ever since I graduated college and started my first FT job, this craving kicked in pretty much instantly… the feelings I had at first when I realized I was slipping into a routine of waking up at 7:30am, getting to the office at 8:30am, working until 6:00pm and then going home with just enough time to have dinner, MAYBE exercise, watch an hour of tv with my friends, and go to bed just to do it all over again was a pretty shitty realization.

      It wasn’t that I absolutely hated my job, but side projects were my way of creating more purpose in my life. And over the years, some have stuck (most haven’t 🙂 ), but the consistent benefit I experience is that I feel like I’m challenging myself in new and fun ways. And from that… I grow.

      So, in short—I have a hard time imagining myself NOT going crazy if I didn’t have side projects in my life.

      Reply
  16. Hi Ryan!

    So first off – I love that you’re working with Close.io. My previous company built an integration with the platform so I think it’s awesome that you joined their team! (Plus – Steli is dope).

    I’ve since decided to go cold turkey and start my own company helping technical founders of early-stage startups build their marketing engines – but without the overhead.

    The total transparency – even down to your income breakdown – is perfectly eye opening for me. I would definitely read those all day.

    I’m more curious about your early distribution channels and how you built traffic in the early days (marketers always want to know what other marketers are doing / have done). And then of course, how you’re landing clients!

    Best,
    Asia

    Reply
    • Nice! Thanks for sharing, and awesome to hear from you after a while Asia 🙂

      I can definitely put together a breakdown on growing a blog from say… 0 to 10,000 monthly readers? It’d be even more fun to do a public challenge with accomplishing that goal in a month or two. Would you tune in to something like that?

      Reply
      • Haha – wasn’t sure if you’d remember me! That sounds AWESOME. Yes – I’d definitely tune in. I would also probably low-key join this challenge with you. 🙂

        Reply
  17. Hey Ryan! It’s been a while since our Panther days at Chapman! I am in a similar position – full-time gig while also freelance writing on the side. Love the transparency of this post. I too also grow tired of pitching my services, and would love to see content about how to balance the business development side while also making time for your existing clients and 9-5 job!

    Reply
    • Emily! So awesome hearing from you, love the pieces of yours I saw on the Zapier blog 💪

      I’ll say I’ve been super lucky with having a consistent stream of inbound leads that come from my blog here, or see my writing on one of the publications I contribute to—and selecting mostly from either that pool of leads OR from referrals that come my way from existing/former customers I’ve been able to stay pretty busy. I’ve done some cold outreach campaigns though, that have turned around some pretty solid results.. here’s that “guide” on the blog: https://www.ryrob.com/cold-email/

      P.S. I’m going to shoot you an email right now—we have to catch up soon.

      Reply