Fifty years old today. I guess it's as good an excuse as any for a perspective-style post. :-)
My work/financial side is finally back on an upward slope. That's what I wanted to talk about today.
It's been 19 months now since I voluntarily dropped my day-job (tech support/sales) hours in half, with the intent of transitioning back into eventual full self-employment. For the first half a year or so, I wasn't earning any self-employment income, as I tried a whole bunch of different business ideas, all to no avail. I wasn't too worried, as I hadn't planned on seeing money at first, but of course, it was still mildly frustrating. Despite tightening the belt, expenses still outweighed income, and of course, that's not sustainable forever.
I do still have visions of continuing with my long-term plan of developing AboutTh.is, but as my savings started to evaporate, I had to make a conscious decision to put that plan on hold until I could build a reasonable cushion and ongoing income stream again.
Two successful business models did finally appear this year, and the corresponding income is now starting to solidify. For now, both of these activities are still in the category of trading time for money. While that's not terrible, it also means that I'm ultimately just trading the day-job for a better "job" (or two), and so, for both models, I'm also working on ways to leverage the work into investments that can pay me back later over time.
So, what is working for me? The first business activity goes back to my original roots of software development. Starting this past January, I've been designing and maintaining a relational database and highly-customized back-end website for a small investment firm. While it's a ton of work, it's also been rather satisfying intellectually, which was the part that I had missed when I had made the decision to walk away from writing software about 17 years ago. I'm learning a lot about MySQL and database design, and I'm really liking it. :-) The project's grown to 25 tables and 35 relationships at the moment, and the complexity can be very engaging.
Our current contract only calls for one year of monthly payments, and I'm not entirely sure that I (or they) will want to renegotiate at the end of that period, so this single client does not equal longer-term stability by any means. Yes, I'm looking for other ways to leverage the relationship. (More about that in my signature below.)
The other activity is something that I'd toyed with for a while, but finally got serious with in October. So many of my day-job customers (and even supervisors) have told me that I should consider voice acting that I finally took the plunge and hung up a shingle on oDesk, (an outsourcing marketplace), to see what would happen. To my pleasant surprise, in the space of two months, I've been able to build up a voiceover business to the point where I'm actually running out of time in a day, and am slowly raising my rates to balance that situation accordingly. It's quite clear there's a demand for my services here.
In a very related vein, I'd like to see if I can realistically quit my day-job in the next few months. That'll be a scary step, of course, but I did it once before, (in 1998).
One wouldn't necessarily think that voiceover work could be anything other than trading time for money, (except for those seriously successful performers who can actually live on residuals), but even here, I'm finding that there's a chance for a longer-term income stream, in the form of audiobook royalties. I'm not putting a ton of eggs in this particular basket, but it's certainly interesting to explore. I already have two book contracts in place, through Amazon's ACX marketplace, and this just started. :-)
So, yeah, overall, life is (finally) looking good again. It's been a long time since I've been able to say that.
Here, enjoy one of my recent voiceovers, for a tour of the area where the Godfather movie was filmed: