On January 1st, 2015 I made one and only one resolution for the New Year – to stop accepting “broke” as my personal status quo.
I could no longer rely on my frugal savvy alone. Even with a bare bones cost of living, my income of twenty grand(ish) was never going to push me far enough from the edge of broke to feel secure. I had to commit to earning more.
In the spirit of true transformation I decided to go big with my 2015 target – setting out to triple my income.
To put my theoretical resolution of breaking broke in tangible terms I started with a number, $60,000 – which I then broke down into a relative monthly target of $5,000/month.
Having earned an average of one to two thousand dollars a month for the first seven years of my career, the challenge of making a full $5,000 every thirty days was simultaneously daunting and exhilarating. But with the numbers on paper and my resolution plastered around the internet, I felt instantly accountable – and so I set out on my journey of breaking broke.
Today, nearly twelve months later, I’m beyond thrilled to report – I DID IT! I tripled my income!
In the spirit of the New Year and my somewhat audacious goal to re-triple my income revenue in 2016, I thought I’d share the details and takeaways from the journey – the wins, the failures and the many lessons learned along the way.
Goal Setting Takeaways
- Focus is critical. If you’re in the habit of setting multiple goals each year, continually falling short, try setting one and only one goal in 2016. The momentum created through a strong, singular focus will positively permeate most things you do.
- Put your goal in tangible terms. “I don’t want to be broke anymore” is a great sentiment, but a lousy goal. If you’re serious about savings or debt pay off or any other financial target, put a number and a date on it.
- Get specific. Not only do numbers ground your goals in reality, numbers can also be broken down into manageable and measurable interim goals to help track and maintain your progress.
- Create accountability. You don’t need to broadcast the specifics of your resolutions to everyone, but you should share enough details with enough people to generate a sense of urgency and accountability around what you want to achieve.
Month 1: Momentum
I charged into the New Year with a surge of forward momentum. The show I performed in over Christmas had just wrapped, kicking off my New Year with a paycheck. A rush of delayed holiday payments from freelance clients also came in, and my book, The Broke and Beautiful Life, was released, launching an entirely new income stream. If all that weren’t enough, I got a sweet industrial gig doing promo work in conjunction with the Super Bowl.
Before I knew it, I had hit my new monthly income target. A number that had seemed impossibly daunting just 30 days before had suddenly become achievable, but the ease with which it happened scared me. What if it was all a fluke?
Month 1 Takeaways
- Diversify your income. I made about half of my income in January from performing and the rest from freelance writing and book sales. Diversifying my income enabled my greater earnings.
- Momentum matters. Prior to setting my 2015 resolution, I spent two years building the online platform, my blog, that made the mere idea of tripling my income possible. Don’t underestimate the value of building a strong foundation first.
- Related Reading: How to Start a Blog That Will Change Your Life
- There is power declaration. I don’t want to get overly “secret”, “law of attraction” on you, but it’s pretty remarkable that the first month I committed myself to thinking and achieving bigger, opportunities for making more money arose. Say your goals aloud, write them down and let people know about them – there is power in public commitment.
Month 2: Epiphany
While stressing over whether my January income was a fluke, I got a call from a new potential client. They wanted me to write one long form piece each month at $2,000 a pop.
With a former rate of $100-200 per post, that offer rocked my world – not just money wise but mindset wise. It made me realize that greater earnings opportunities were available, waiting to be seized, and I was missing out because I was working at a price point that monopolized all of my time and energy.
At the risk of losing critical income, I started dropping my lower paying clients, creating the time and space necessary to find new, big-ticket clients.
Month 2 Takeaways
- Scale! To make $5,000 per month at a rate of $100 per post, I’d need to write 50 posts per month. It was not a sustainable business model – not for me at least.
The offer I got in February shook me out of the mindset of having to do more to earn more and challenged me to think about scaling my business sustainably. Anyone looking to substantially increase their earnings should do the same.
I could have kept my current clients while shopping around for new, larger scale clients, but I knew that the time and energy of keeping up with my existing workload would deplete the resources I needed to commit to new client acquisition – so I took the leap.
Month 3: Slow Down
My $2,000 client was working out splendidly, but a single big-ticket project per month does not a success make. While relentlessly seeking out more large-scale opportunities, my income started to slump in the absence of my former clientele.
Month 3 Takeaway
- Don’t expect smooth sailing. I was spoiled by the relative ease of achieving my January and February income targets. March was an important reminder that early wins are not a promise of ongoing success.
Month 4: The Big Blow
I lost my big-ticket client.
Yeah, the one who totally rocked my world and prompted me to let go of nearly all my former clients. In addition to the painful loss of income, I started questioning my entire approach.
My existential business crisis was met with a couple of major wins later in the month. First, a paid speaking gig! Second, my first national television appearance on The Dr. Oz Show! While my income was still falling short of the 5k mark, I knew I was headed in the right direction.
Month 4 Takeaway
- Not all wins are financial. I didn’t get paid to appear on national television, but I was able build my brand and reputation using the platform. Don’t discount opportunities that build momentum, even if they don’t provide an immediate monetary reward.
Month 5: Opportunity
In my ongoing quest to secure a few big-time clients I doubled down on my efforts – sending out pitches, posting on LinkedIn and maintaining my portfolio on Contently, a content site I’d been introduced to the previous September.
After six months of consistent Contently posting with no signs of interest, I was finally offered an opportunity to write a content sample for a major Fortune 500 company. The rate was more than a $1/ word for the sample alone.
It was exactly the kind of client I’d been searching for!
Month 5 Takeaway
- Plant seeds – then keep planting. Don’t get into the habit of taking action, then waiting around for a result. The more actions you take, the more seeds you plant, the better your chances that one of those seeds will sprout, grow and bear some fruit.
Keep moving forward, trying new approaches and planting new seeds. And when you do spot a sprout, tend to it better than anyone has ever tended to any sprout that ever was!
Month 6: Breakthrough
I got the gig! After submitting my content sample, I was offered the full five-figure project – a far cry from the $100 per post gigs I started the year with and more than enough to compensate for my income backslide in the spring.
Not only that, I secured another big-ticket client!
Month 6 Takeaway
- Persistence pays. I’m glad I didn’t resort to lowering my rates in the months of uncertainty just before the big breakthrough. Persistence paid off. At the six-month mark, I’d made just about half of my 2015 income goal.
Months 7 and 8: Reinvestment
With a bit of breathing room from my big project and the slow down of summer, I made another leap – reinvestment. I took my earnings and poured them into private coaching in the hopes that my start of summer breakthrough would be the first of many professional bounds forward.
Months 7 and 8 Takeaway
- Growth doesn’t stop with success. A flash of success is a moment to seize – it opens up more opportunities for future growth.
Months 9 and 10: Playing the Long Game
Having completed my five figure project in July and reinvested most of those earnings back into coaching, my income was back on the backslide come Fall. I didn’t mind as much though, as I’d changed my approach dramatically. With the help of my coach, I realized that my goal wasn’t just how much money I could make, but also, how I made it.
Sure, I could sit behind my computer writing copy all day, every day for big-ticket clients, but that wasn’t the picture of a future that made my heart sing. I wanted to be out on the ground, face to face with people, listening to their needs and providing meaningful solutions.
In order to do that, I had to take a step back from my immediate income goals to play the long game in September and October – cultivating new relationships, exploring new mediums and building even greater momentum.
Months 9 and 10 Takeaway
- Make sure you’re growing in the right direction. “It’s better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than at the top of one you don’t.” Check in with yourself often and don’t be afraid to take a step back and readjust in the right direction.
Month 11: Unprecedented Success… and Stress
November was a gratifying culmination of all the work, adjustment and investment I’d made over the course of 2015. I got to do a ton of things I truly loved and I got paid well for doing them.
I once again seized those moments of success to reinvest in my business. Unfortunately, the timing of the financials made it one of the most stressful months of my career, teaching me a few critical lessons in entrepreneurship and leaving me nearly $10,000 in the red at the end of the month -$15,000 from my monthly target income of $5,000.
Month 11 Takeaway
- Success Isn’t Linear (Period)
Month 12: Success!
Luckily, my expected paychecks arrived in December, catching me up on my fall deficit and pushing me past my $60,000 revenue goal in the knick of time.
Even in the short span of a year, within the concentrated focus of a single goal, I’m struck by the amount of ups, downs, backwards and sideways that squeezed themselves in between points A and B.
Yes, I tripled my income and I’m proud of it, but what I celebrate more is the journey and lessons learned. Those are the things that will take me into 2016 with the momentum I need to re-triple my income revenue, those are the things that will allow me to better serve a greater audience, and those are the things that will help me affect meaningful, positive change on a scale that far surpasses anything I originally set out to achieve when I started this journey of breaking broke.
Thanks to all of you who were part of it. Happy New Year!
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