Spill It: Is All Your Work Created Equal?

Somebody help! I have no money left for books!

I have to be honest with you guys.

I haven’t made that much money this year.

I know. I suck.

When I first realized how horrifyingly, dismally low my income was for the first half of 2012, I immediately announced to my husband that I had failed at life, and that — from now on — I was going to be a housewife. I would sweep the floors. Dust the furniture. Scrub the countertops. Frolic with the cats.

Then my husband reminded me that we were about to be juggling two mortgages, plus paying for fertility treatments, and perhaps even springing for my yoga teacher training certification. He basically told me to get a grip.

Then, this week, people started throwing money at me.

In addition to the book I was already ghostwriting, I was suddenly asked to copyedit a manuscript, draw up proposals to manage two social media campaigns for two separate clients, and take on another coaching client. Suddenly, I had well-paying work coming out my hoo-ha.


It’s a relief to be sure, but I have to say… when I think back to the preceding six months, I can’t really say that the work that’s rolling in now is any more important to me than the work I was doing before.

Because I was working, you guys. By the state of my bank account, you might think that all I did in 2012 was sit on the couch, watch Girls and Criminal Minds on HBO GO and Netflix, and make snow cones with my new snow cone machine.

But Big Stuff was happening.

Advice for beginning freelancers always stresses the importance of those small tasks that don’t bring in immediate financial gain: invoicing… filing… marketing + promotion… networking networking networking.

But what about those larger tasks? Those massive, time-consuming tasks that don’t bring immediate financial reward, but which act as building blocks for future dreams and goals? What about those tasks that contribute to your business and your life sloooooowly, so slowly it’s excruciating, in ways you might not see for a really long time?

Like my Starter Kit. I spent a lot of time on that mofo, and even got a professional designer to make it all pretty for me. And then I released it… for free! I didn’t make a dime on the copies my beloved readers downloaded, but I did triple my mailing list.

Or my book! I’ve been working on my book — and my book proposal — since last summer. This despite the fact that books aren’t the biggest moneymakers in the world. But that’s not what’s important to me. In fact, signing with an agent and receiving so much fantastic and positive feedback from publishers has been worth more to me than every penny I’ve earned since becoming a full-time freelancer. And I hope that as I continue to work on it, it will eventually find its audience.

Or the panel I did for ASJA, after which I was accepted to the organization as a member. Or being voted into my local Toastmasters club. Or getting called in to interview with Girls Write Now.

Or the plans I’ve been developing for wordnerdnetworking.com. It’s not set up to bring in any money right now, but it will be eventually. More importantly, I’m hoping it will grow into an active, close-knit word nerd community.

Do these not count, because they didn’t add to my bank account? Was it a mistake to devote so much of my time to these things?

Maybe I could have done a bit better in terms of balance, but still…

Spill It: Do you make time for these larger, long-term reward labors of love?

Related: How to Let Go of Having It All, How to Handle a Career Setback with Finesse, Inch By Inch: How Small Steps Lead to Big Success


  1. You? Suck? Hardly!

    Ah, you notice the correlation between the “must have money” and the increase in workload? I’m going to bet you started marketing like a fiend, didn’t you?

    Careful with that hoo-ha, girl. Sounds dangerous! LOL

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