By Ken Walker
I led two workshops at PENCON last May, including one focused on planning your work daily on a spreadsheet. I’m still a big believer in this. It helps keep me focused on priorities, and lets me know when it’s time to put a particular project aside to move on to other paying tasks.
Still, there is a wild card in our earnest efforts to follow businesslike procedures and efficient time management: God.
I don’t say this flippantly. Nearly two months into 2020, when I finally found time to review last year’s results, I was surprised by what I discovered. It’s always interesting to pause and look back at which accounts produced the most revenue during a 12-month period. As usual, my top five income-generating clients accounted for 62 percent of my revenue. The bottom 10 on the list only generated about 12 percent. Yet, I needed every dollar produced by this lower tier.
What surprised me was how much income came from unexpected books, blog writing or editing, and other work.
The project that ranked fifth overall involved a book that suddenly appeared in the fall. After the author took three stabs at drafting chapter 1, I said, “Let me try it.” Even when he liked my work well enough to start sending regular payments, I doubted it would go anywhere other than a modest self-published volume. I was wrong about the book. It was so good I asked an editor at a publishing house I have worked with previously if she would look at a few chapters.
I warned that the author was retired and had no social media presence, speaking engagements, or other platforms publishers want. I had expected a polite “thanks anyway,” so her response: “Send the first 10 chapters,” was somewhat shocking.
But then, God has a way of doing that.
I saw that when I checked off how much of my 2019 revenue came from projects that, on Jan. 1, I had no idea would materialize.
The total: 53 percent.
This is relevant information to anyone seeking to make a living in the erratic, unpredictable, and sometimes maddening world of freelancing. You have to resolve in your mind that no matter how bad it looks, no matter how thin the accounts receivable file, and no matter what client just took an unexpected hiatus or threw a temper tantrum and stopped working on the book, God is still in control.
He’s got you covered. I know because in January of 2020, I had $1,000 vanish from my projected monthly revenue. An author halted his book because of a financial pinch, while an article assignment got postponed. In its place came $1,100 from unexpected editing work. Similar events occurred in February, which left my bottom line for the month near the goal I had hoped to reach.
James 4:14 tells us. I would add: or today, for that matter. Even when you plan for it.
Experienced. Award-winning. Skilled. For years, Ken Walker has been shaping stories—thousands of them—for books and articles in various venues. He uses his writing and editing talent now to help edit and refine authors’ material, as well as coaching bloggers and other writers on how they can improve their material. In recent years Ken has co-authored or edited more than a dozen health-oriented books. This specialty began with co-authoring Winning the Food Fight, a book that emerged from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, an Emmy-Award-winning mini-series on ABC.