Fishing Where The Fish Are

During the quiet time the Christmas-New Year period usually brings, I decided to spend some time working on my business rather than in it. I looked at where I earned my writing income last year and found that 40% of my income was derived teaching my online writing and getting published courses as well as tutoring. That left 60%, or the majority of my income, to come from my writing efforts on the web.

Although not as good as in previous years, 8.5% of my annual income was derived from Adsense. Spread over a couple of dozen web sites with maybe four or five actually producing any income, the Adsense money trickles in and basically just covers the costs of hosting the web sites the ads live on and a few domain name renewals.

Book sales accounted for 15% of total income but I have to pay royalties to authors I publish and distribute for, but at least it was good to see book sales growing again. They had fallen dramatically in previous years when my then marketing partner found himself otherwise distracted and the regular traffic building work he did so well at first simply ceased. I had switched to a ‘hands-off’ approach via Amazon and other distributors and while getting a third less per sale, at least I didn’t have to worry about delivering the product, handling the problems and so on.

I earned a little less, 14% for my ghostwriting and a little more for my blog and web site content creation, 16.5%. Together these two areas took in nearly a third of my annual income. Editing services covered the remaining 7%. Now that I had the data to study, what did it tell me?

First of all I knew how and where each client came to me and that told me a mix of networking and referrals got me through the year. I did some marketing to get new clients, in fact 66% of my clientele for 2012 were new, first timers. Most of them were billed more than twice so there was repeat business and that is a good sign. Never forget your existing and former clients but never stop looking for new cheese, as they say.

I enjoyed the ghostwriting but it did take up huge chunks of time and focus for relatively little return, given how long the books took to get written and finished. The same for editing; not a lot of return for a lot of time and brain drain, after all you must be as close to perfect as possible and check every typed character and space! Web content creation was good but often debilitating. Writing over a hundred 300 word articles on the same topic really stretches you. You tend to spend so much time searching for new material and inspiration that eventually it takes far longer to write them than what they pay.

So what was the most lucrative area and what should I focus on this year? Obviously the teaching is worth keeping on as it provides a nice amount of cash for little outlay. I would like more ghostwriting jobs as they provide nice chunks of cash at the end and I can schedule them fairly easily. Web content keeps bubbling along but the place I plan to focus most is the book sales. I have quite a good title list now and they need promoting and marketing and if I do that then sales will increase. The mechanics of selling them and getting the money is all taken care of. All I need to do is invest the time and effort promoting them and that means one thing.

Social media. I must invest the time to really come to grips with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and make them work for me. There is no avoiding this new marketing tool. It is here to stay and will only get more complex and necessary this coming year and the one after that. Watch this space for more about my move into social media in a big way!

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