I’ve been blogging on and off for the last five years. And over that time I’ve signed up to many other bloggers, writers and adventurers mailing lists and read thousands of articles on travel, adventure and work.
Why do so few people talk about money? How can we become Adventurers, or build a business and life we love? One way to explore this is the world of online income reports.
For those of you that don’t know, Income Reports are usually monthly blog posts outlining how much money someone has made that month.
It usually breaks down how much money that they have made either through advertising, affiliate links or selling their own products such as books and courses. In short, its a fascinating look into the potential of how much money can be earned online.
However, there are also lots of what I call ‘blogger scams’ out there. Bloggers who work with Multi-Level Marketing companies (essentially pyramid schemes claiming to earn you thousands per month…. with an investment of course). Or those that solely make money through recommended online courses you enroll in to make more money (confusing right!)
Also, to confuse things even more, many bloggers don’t share the amount of time they spend on their blog or the expenses that occur with running the business.
Yes, it’s great if you earn £10,000 a month – but not if you spend £9,000 doing so and you are working 12 hour days!
That is NOT what I want to do with my income reports.
In my reports, I want to I want to outline exactly how much money I make every month, and the steps I have taken to get there. I hope that this can then be used by other people to inspire them to get out there and take financial control.
I want to show what I am spending every month and how much time I dedicate to each project as well. We all need a certain amount of money to keep a roof over our heads and pay the bills. We also need to have a healthy work balance so that we can enjoy our lives!
My Previous Financial Situation
While we all need money to live, taking control of our financial life involves a lot more than making more money.
It’s about making good decisions with the money and resources that we have, changing our habits and living deliberately. All of which sounds quite easy, but isn’t.
In my early twenties, I was in a lot of debt. £20,000 worth of debt. My article about how I got out of debt (which by the way, took nearly a decade) has been one of my most popular blog posts.
The lessons I learned getting out of debt have helped me create good habits and save a lot of money. In fact, a year after becoming debt free, I had saved £15,000 which I then used to travel overland for ten months between the UK and Bhutan.
I’m now back in the U.K having spent that money and starting, debt free, from the beginning again.
Why I haven’t applied for a job.
If money was my only motivation then I would have started applying for job roles when I got home. However, like many people, I want to spend my time doing things I am passionate about.
I believe that time is our most precious commodity, so we should spend it doing things that matter to us.
“There is a myth that time is money. In fact, time is more precious than money. It’s a nonrenewable resource. Once you’ve spent it, and if you’ve spent it badly, it’s gone forever” Neil. A. Foire
For most of us, this is a combination of fulfilling work, spending time with people we care about and doing things we enjoy.
To earn the money I needed to go away last year I worked in a freelance capacity for a Creative agency. I also worked on Stag & Raven in my spare time, worked weekends in the shop and took on some extra freelance projects. My days often started at 7 am and finished at 9 pm.
It allowed me to save the money I needed to go away but was not a sustainable way to live. And while I enjoyed the work and the people I worked with – it was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my Adult life.
I want to spend my life doing things that really matter to me. Don’t we all?
Which is why I have decided to dedicate my time and energy building two businesses that I love, betternotstop and Stag & Raven. I also want to make sure I have time to travel and spend time with my family and friends.
I’d love to share the journey in how I am doing that with you.
Firstly, Let’s Acknowledge my Circumstances.
It’s important to look at the place of privilege I am starting from.
I am white, educated to degree level (just!) and born in the UK. This means I have access to free healthcare and benefits should I ever need them, as able to enter the UK Job market with a decades work experience.
I have no dependents (or children), have a supportive partner and loving family. If the *worst* were to happen to me and I could not afford to pay my bills, I would have a family member who would take me in as I got back up on my feet.
I have been through some incredibly difficult situations emotionally, financially and health-wise which have given me a perspective on life that many people may not have.
For example, my Dad died when I was in my early twenties and I had always struggled to build a relationship with him since my parent’s divorce. I loved my Dad and he loved me – but his early death took away our opportunity to really grow and build our relationship.
He was unable to achieve many of his dreams before he died. It has taught me the lesson that there is no better time to try and change things than today.
I have had cancer and undergone several major surgeries. I have short-term memory difficulties as a result of a bike crash and have scoliosis (a double curvature of the spine). My scoliosis means I have to do 90 minutes physio a day, wear a permanent back brace and have constant chronic pain.
This has taught me to never take my health for granted and that even when things seem impossible and too hard, you can find another way.
I have managed to get out of £20,000 debt and am now debt free. I have over a decades experience of being financially independent and working for myself. There is a wealth of information and knowledge I have gained from that. I’ve taught myself to be resourceful and to always keep learning.
These, surprisingly bring a level of privilege. I can truly say with conviction when I say ‘It does get better’ when it may all seem lost.
Being financially successful is not just a function of hard work – ask anyone who works a minimum wage job.
Working hard to succeed is not always the answer, so I want to acknowledge the lucky position I am in at the start of this journey.
It’s also important to note that I have physical resources. I have my own laptop computer, internet at home and a monthly phone contract. I own an iPhone 8 and can use Phil’s camera and GoPro for any creative projects I want to work on.
In addition, I got a new bike for my birthday which means I am able to easily travel to and from work for free.
All of these things put me in a situation that is much easier and better than a lot of other people. And for that I am grateful.
My Current Living Situation.
Phil and I have recently moved to Salford, just outside Manchester.
After returning from traveling we needed to live somewhere where we were both able to work and find work. As I already had an existing business (Stag & Raven has a shop in Manchester City Centre) as well as friends here, it seemed a perfect choice.
Phil works full time as a Production Manager and Technician, and while he works away a lot, Manchester is also a great place for him to find work.
One of the decisions to live in Salford was that we were able to rent a modest, two bedroom house for the same price as a small city centre flat.
Our cheapest available option available, which would have been a small one bed flat or in a shared house at least 20 miles outside the city centre.
We able to spend a few hundred pounds more on rent and have got the benefit of being able to live alone, more space and being able to walk or cycle easily into the city centre.
As many of you already know, I am a Minimalist – and moved in with just a few bags. The house was only part furnished and Phil has been able to provide things that I simply didn’t have – like furniture and homeware.
My Monthly Household Expenses
I’ve always been completely financially independent, even when paying back my debts. So I find the idea of relying on someone else extremely hard.
Being in a relationship, I have had to consider how my financial situation affects Phil. We wanted to live together but I am not earning enough to pay for my half of the bills. So we had to figure out a way that worked for us.
While Phil covers the £800 rent of our house, I am responsible for covering all the other bills (Council Tax, Utilities, TV Licence, Internet, and Food). These come to £400 a month.
In this situation, it means that every month, I still owe Phil £200 towards the household expenses.
Our plan is that within the next six months I will increase my income so that I can start paying £600 a month, which covers my ‘half’ of the expenses.
I will then pay back Phil any ‘back rent’ owed from the months I have been paying £200 a month less. I am very lucky that Phil is able (and willing) to do this, as it also enables me to feel some financial control within the situation.
Additional Monthly Expenses
Running a creative business has its own costs. This is already quite a lengthy article, so I’ll go over these costs for each business briefly for now.
betternotstop : £200 monthly costs (with a £975 investment)
For anyone that read my Patreon article, you know that there are costs already with running this ‘passion project’. On a monthly basis, I spend £100 towards running this business. This breaks down into:
- £10 Hosting & Domain (Read ‘How To Start a Successful Blog’ Here)
- £23 Email List Manager
- £6 Gmail Email Manager
- £7 We Blog North Membership
- £15 Protect My Bubble Work Insurance for Computer and iPhone
- £28 Coschedule Account
- £9 Canva for Business Account
- TOTAL: £98.00
betternotstop has always been a creative endeavor of mine – so I have never felt unhappy in the past spending money to allow it to exist or to spend on courses on improving my content. I’ve also been earning enough money working in events to pay for this. For me to fully invest in both betternotstop and Stag & Raven – I won’t have time to do any freelance event work as well.
I have registered betternotstop as an LTD Company and opened a business bank account to manage the costs and associated upcoming expenses involved with it. I have put £300, the last of my savings, into this bank account.
This also means I now need to cover Insurance and Accountancy costs for this business, which are likely to be around another £100 a month.
I also have already spent money on flights, accommodation and my ticket to TBEX Ostrava, a week-long travel conference in the Czech Republic in July.
I’ve also already bought a ticket to another conference, Travel Con in America, but currently don’t have the money to buy my flights or accommodation. I’ll be outlining these expenses when we get to them.
- £100 TBEX Ostrava Ticket
- £250 Travel Con Ticket
- £125 Return Flights to the Czech Republic
- £200 Accommodation Costs for Ostrava
- TOTAL: £675.00
Therefore it would be realistic to say that if you disregard all previous costs and just look at the money I have spent on upcoming trips and the starting bank balance my investment already in this business is £975.00
Stag & Raven: £3000 monthly costs (with around £4,500 outstanding loan and £900 Investment)
As for Stag & Raven, this business has also been a passion project for many years. While I was traveling last year, Kate worked full time on the business while taking a very small wage. Now that she has decided to leave, I am going to take over her role and start paying myself the same monthly wage of £600 a month.
Currently, the business costs of running Stag & Raven, including a monthly wage is around £3,000. This covers everything from the shop rent, loan repayments, supplier and wholesale costs, marketing, insurance, accounts, website hosting and maintenance, apps and so on.
With last years turnover being around £38,000 this is a business that currently is only just making enough money. This needs to become a business that not only turns a profit but also grows in size to be successful.
So how much money exactly do I need to bring home each month?
So, in conclusion, the wage I am achieving with Stag & Raven is just enough to pay my bills and expenses. But it’s not a sustainable model for several reasons:
- I will be increasing my debt with Phil by £200 every month.
- I have to work in the Stag & Raven shop five days a week. The wage I am paying myself would not even cover minimum wage for a retail assistant.
- betternotstop is costing £200 a month to run with no income.
- There is no free time to travel and go on adventures! Evenings and weekends will need to be spent creating content and running both businesses.
- I will be saving no money for the future or investing in a pension.
- I will have less time to spend with friends and family.
- If I get ill or am unable to work – I have no way of supporting myself.
How much money do I plan to make by 2019?
betternotstop – £500 monthly income
My income goal for this year is to make £3000 after expenses. I plan to do this through a mixture of Patreon support, two new books, and paid for events and workshops to help other people gain the confidence to create a life they love.
I have gained so much purpose and meaning from adventure, travel, work, and minimalism and I believe other people could gain so much from these things too. There are already free resources on the blog and want to keep adding to these.
Investing time in betternotstop will create real value for other people. I want to produce more good quality work and insight on my blog and continue to build a useful, free information for people to enjoy.
Stag & Raven – £1,000 monthly income (Plus a potential £1000 more)
My income goal for this year is to increase my take home wage to £1,000. This is a 60% wage increase!
To do this I will have to increase the turnover and the profit of the company enough to ensure this a sustainable business model. Ideally, I also want to be able to employ a full-time person to help me run the business so that I have more time to spend on betternotstop and also to travel.
Sharing my honest income and costs with you has been hard.
Do I think people will be interested?
Am I aware this exposes me to judgment and criticism?
Yes to both.
Could I have made better or different decisions in the past to improve my current situation? Perhaps I could have.
The reality is that this IS my reality. This is my current situation and this is how I am choosing to manage it.
I want to share it because I think there is a benefit in learning more about the reality of running a business and choosing to create a life which works for you.
The reality is I am an Adventurer and a Business Owner. And if either of those things interest you then hopefully you will benefit from reading these reports.
Having goals is important, but so is being realistic. As I mentioned before, I am well aware the lucky position I am in to be able to attempt in even achieving this.
For me, it would be wonderful to achieve my goals by the end of the year and I would be delighted if you followed my story. I will detail the steps that I take each month, my income and most importantly how much time I have to spend doing the work.
If there are any questions you have or things you think you would be interested in me talking about within my income reports please let me know – either through private message or the comments below.
Let’s do this!
Also published on Medium.