It’s only the end of September, yet so far, 2018 has been a very interesting year for me – in life, in love, and in finances. A few years ago, like most people, I worked full-time and had one income, but this year so far, I’ve earned income from several different sources – six to be exact. Today I’ll share with you these six ways I’ve made money this year.
First, let me take you back to last year, 2017 – where I lay the foundations for where I am today. Let’s go in quarters, shall we?
Jan – March 2017
I was working full-time, earning the NZ median salary. In my spare time I’d learned how to make candles. I gifted a few to friends, who loved them so much they asked immediately if I could make them more, and were happy to pay for them. I was surprised and very flattered. Although I hadn’t planned to earn an income off my new passion, I said yes and made candles for them, pretty much at cost (earning literally a dollar or two). Honestly, candlemaking was a way for me to relax, de-stress, and create something beautiful. As I wasn’t earning a profit, this time was an opportunity for me to practise and perfect my skills.
It was during this time that I shot my first engagement! I did it for fun and experience, and fortunately both the clients and I loved my work. This added to one or two photoshoots I’d already done as early as 2014. Photography had been an on & off passion for me.
April – June 2017
Ah, three of the most blissful months of my life. I spent these three months job seeking, pursuing minimalism, making more candles, reading, aaand getting paid for a graduation photoshoot!
(I had been paid well for a graduation before, by one of my best friends, actually! But understandably I was excited about being paid by a ‘real client’ – someone who wasn’t a friend or referred by one.)
July – September 2017
I got a part-time job, and excitedly got a volunteering job for my other days. My dream had come true: to work part-time and volunteer. It was so simple yet so life-changing – easily one of the best decisions of my life.
October – December 2017
Still working part-time and volunteering every week, I’d photographed another graduation for ‘real money’. My partner and I are also friends with a lovely couple who’d just had a super cute baby, so I asked if I could do a photoshoot for him – honestly, I wanted to! I appreciated that they bought some candles to say thank you.
I also shot a beautiful wedding for a full day, and some of the photos are my favourite photos I have ever taken. They are stunning, colourful, and gorgeously vibrant – and added value to my experience & portfolio. The bride was incredibly lovely too. I’m now confident not only in the photography aspect but in the self-employed, business aspect: the realities of working on your feet from 8am – 9pm and what I’m comfortable charging for my work, travel, & time.
I started 2018 by quitting my job. It was a toxic workplace where the health and humanity of everyone there suffered. Some of them, I know, are stuck in a bad relationship with The Most Unethical & Unhealthy Bank in the World but aren’t leaving. Why? Because like a lot of people who stay in bad relationships way past their expiry date, it’s comfortable, it’s what they know, and they don’t believe that they’ll find anything better or are deserving of true love, joy and happiness. (Want to know the truth? You are.)
I moved on to making money in six ways – a mix of consistent, stable income; regular-but-variable income; and one-off income.
In 2017, I was excited about firsts in my photography career, including first ‘real clients’. In 2018, I had several!
I started by writing up a classified on Trade Me Services, thinking that the advertising fee was worth paying to see how well it’d do in 3 months. So far, it has been well worth it! I’ve been lucky enough to shoot several birthday celebrations – a joyful & worthwhile job by nature. What people don’t see is the hours I spend editing after, but this part of the job, while it can be tiring & time consuming, can at least be done at home or a coffee shop. A perk of freelance work.
This year I set up my very own ETSY SHOP! Etsy is the perfect place to buy & sell amazing, unique, handmade items. I love that everything is created with artistic talent & creativity.
Setting up my own Etsy shop was easy in theory, but in reality, it took a lot of work. I remember some nights when I would sit in my bedroom, by candlelight and meditative music, and just write. Write about what each candle means to me. Write about why and how I created each candle. Write about how I would describe the scent and what I love about it. Write about what I aim to do with my work: to spread love & light, and inspire people to live authentically.
Then I dug deep and found my favourite quotes from all the books and literature I’ve ever read, and designed labels that were original and meaningful. I took some time designing these labels; they didn’t just happen! I then saved up and paid hundreds of dollars to buy all the labels. That’s 100 labels for 9 candles in my collection (so far). Of course, I also stocked up on beautiful satin frosted glass jars, gold lids, wax, wicks, fragrance oils, warning labels, boxes, etc..
…The result is Rosy Co Boutique, an extension of myself and an expression of love for cosy, mini scented flames.
The income from my Etsy shop? Not much, as I haven’t promoted. The income from friends and friends of friends who love my candles and buy them through word of mouth? Considerably more. For example, one time, I personally delivered some candles to a friend’s office, and the receptionists simply smelt my candles and ordered some the same day (how sweet)!
3. Rent / Board
Perhaps I should touch on my most reliable, stable source of income: I own a house and live with two people who pay board. My partner and I share a spacious bedroom, and his best friend occupies the other.
What do I charge for rent? According to Tenancy Services, less than the lowest rent in my suburb. As for what my partner pays? What he chose to. In fact, when I tried to pay tax on my rental income, I was told that what they pay is under the threshold and there is no need. YAAAASSSSS.
4. Two Part Time Jobs
That’s right, I know I talked about working part time and volunteering, but I actually have two part time jobs. One of them is personal (no, I don’t work in the sex industry or anything fraudulent), so I’ll just address the other. It’s a fashionable retail job, where I’m a casual. The least I’ve worked is 4 hours in a week (what’s up Tim Ferriss), the most I’ve worked is 21 hours in a week.
The fact that two years ago, I worked 75 hours a fortnight and now work a maximum of 42 hours a fortnight – outside of my own ‘side hustles’ – means everything to me. It’s an indicator of healthy work/life balance, has done wonders for my mental health, and reduces the chance of high stress & burnout. I used to take annual leave for a day or two, here and there, just so I could savour mental health days and take care of myself. Now there is no need for annual leave for this reason as I have 3-5 free days every week.
Did I mention volunteering is also great for mental health? It has definitely helped my existential “what is my purpose?” crisis a bit.
5. Paid Research
Lastly.. I signed up for paid research! Chances are, what you like – whether it’s your choice in food, entertainment, shopping, etc – is valuable to researchers and marketers.
Disclaimer: just because you sign up to a paid research panel doesn’t mean you will be selected. Each research invitation comes with a survey on your household income, friends & family, frequency that you buy a certain product etc. I didn’t meet the criteria for a panel on subscription TV, even though I watch Netflix fairly often, because I don’t personally pay for it.
I was selected for a paid research panel on wine, thanks to my love for rosé & sparkling wine and general knowledge of wine brands. Haha!
If you are comfortable actively participating in research panels, where you have to share & articulate your opinions, do sign up! I’ve contributed to two panels, and each one paid $70-80 for approx. two hours of my time and thoughts.
So there you go – the six ways I earned income this year. While money is a factor, the most valuable thing to me is that I have gained more free time and breathing space. In all honesty, I appreciate that there is good to both lifestyles I have lived.
One is the stability and security of going to work every day and sitting in my own personalised, decorated desk with a cup of tea, surrounded by the same friendly colleagues I saw every day. The other is a lifestyle of work where no week is the same, which offers variety & flexibility, and having entire days to read books, write, do grocery shopping, run errands, create art, and organise and enjoy my life. (I do occasionally miss the former – a lot! As with opportunity cost and sacrifices though, you can’t have everything.)
The traditional 9-5 is fading away as millennials pursue meaning over money and purpose over profit. We have multiple interests, areas of knowledge, talents and skills – and because of this, ‘side hustles’ & self-employment are more attainable than ever. I truly believe that if you’re determined, you can switch the 9-5 for a work lifestyle of your own – and faster than I did, at that!
To read more about how I manifested my current lifestyle, check out my other blog here.
What lifestyle are YOU pursuing? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or you can leave me a message here.