It’s that time of year again – well, let me be honest, I actually made my pie chart of income sources at the very first possible moment, on January 1st. I love a good tradition and I was particularly intrigued this time round to really get that overall picture of where my income had come from during the unusualness of 2020.
(If you want to see previous years:
Self-employment and diversification
If you look at this and at all my previous pie charts, you’ll definitely know one thing for certain: my income comes from a diverse array of clients and kinds of work. Even within each category it can be diverse – “workshops” here includes three different core clients, and even “uni teaching” involves different kinds of contracts: tutoring, coordinator a unit, rewriting a unit. You know I love variety, and I embrace variety!
Never before has that been more important than 2020. I can still remember the moment when I realised a whole bunch of my work was about to be cancelled. I had walked into my son’s school to pick him up one afternoon in March, and my phone rang as I walked – it was the convenor of a conference I was due to speak at the following week, telling me that unfortunately they were having to postpone the conference indefinitely. Ouch – that was a quite chunky speaker’s fee that I ultimately never saw. I got home from that school pick up to an email cancelling some of my public talks in libraries. The following week, UWA Extension closed down, just before I would present a podcasting workshop. Even as I type all this now, I feel a bit ill, remembering how stressful that was.
But – don’t give me any sympathy – because it was all okay. For a start, here in Perth, we have been (so far, everything crossed) extraordinarily lucky and some of this work came back relatively quickly (and uni teaching went back to face-to-face for me by second semester, and it is so much better to have my delightful students in the same room as me!).
Finding new ways to work
Additionally, and this is part of the key to my confidence for the future, I was quickly able to figure out some new work. One of the fabulous librarians I often work with was open to some ideas for online “talks”, and I created a bunch of those. I “pivoted” (yes, an overused word of 2020) some of my consulting work to actually teach people how to run workshops over Zoom. And of course, I shifted a bunch of my work – mastermind sessions, consulting and more – onto Zoom. I remember that first week or two, doing a fair bit of hand-holding to get everyone using Zoom okay, and now it seems like a skill as common as sending a text message.
So as it turned out, I actually still met my income goals for the year, which were a bit higher than 2019, and I also managed to do some travel-related work and write a travel-related book. The year turned out massively better than I thought it might at that moment in March.
Planning for 2021
If I look specifically at my pie chart, then there are a few things I want to change for 2021. Most importantly, I want the “travel” section to be much chunkier. Obviously it was a tricky year to try to sell sponsorship on a travel podcast, and previous ad and affiliate revenue from my travel blog dropped significantly. But I have plans for 2021 and I hope that this time next year that piece of the pie will be much larger. I also want to bump up my speaking income again, but I’m not beating myself up about it being lower in 2020, that’s for sure.
You’ll also see that for 2020 “uni teaching” was a pretty significant chunk. That’s largely because I took on a fair bit of extra work there while the lecturer I teach with is on maternity leave – and also because the opportunity to take on the work came up in right when Covid was at its scariest, so I said yes to everything! I learnt that being a unit coordinator is not really my zone of genius, as the attention to detail of doing that kind of admin isn’t my strong suit, but it’s been useful to learn more about the whole process – but really, I love the teaching part the most. (And I really love the teaching, a lot!)
I know quite a few of my friends have already done their own pie charts on income sources after I shared mine on the first day of the year, and I just love that I can encourage others to think about where their income comes from, and what they might want to change about it. If you make your own, let me know!