The income octopus

Brendan van Son is a travel journalist-turned-photographer/digital nomad. He’s also one of the poet’s favourite vloggers. AND he’s one I’ll watch too.

One of the things we like about him is his honesty. Until recently, my own particular favourite of his was his monthly income octopus. He’s decided to finish doing this for now and is replacing it with another financial topic. But all of the income octopus videos are still on his YouTube channel for anyone who wants to learn more.

Basically, he likes to run his business with at least eight streams of income, and he uses the octopus to bundle them all together into suppliers or types of supplier.

It’s pretty much the same as not keeping your eggs in one basket, which is something I’ve always strived to do and, until very recently, was very successful at. Up until the middle of last year I had at least four regular clients and had dropped the job boards from my routine.

Then my work for the one client – my favourite client, fortunately – erupted into madness, which was wonderful. The client isn’t just an editing client, they’re also a proofreading client and now they’re a writing client too.

And so my four regular clients dropped down to just one because I didn’t have the time to chase for other work or juggle multiple regular contracts.

This past month or so I’ve given myself a bit of a kick up the bum again. I’ve worked really hard to catch up on backlog of work due to various issues during December. And in between, I resurrected my job board account – and won a job immediately, for which I was also paid a bonus.

While I don’t have four regular clients any more, I do, however, have more than eight streams of income. I bunched a couple together and came up with the following:

  1. main client work (including editing, proofreading and writing fees)
  2. jobs board
  3. advances for books and novels
  4. editorial (including short stories, articles, readers’ letters, fillers)
  5. PLR & royalties (including ALCS)
  6. online surveys
  7. competitions
  8. miscellaneous

So far this year, since I started this income octopus, number 1 above has been my top earner. My second biggest earner has been number 8, miscellaneous, and it includes income that doesn’t slot in anywhere else.

The areas I want to concentrate most on in the coming months are numbers 3 and 4, aka my own writing. If I can keep everything else chugging in – or those things I have any control over, such as the editing, proofreading and job boards – it’ll be great.

Brendan van Son needed to earn $2,000 a month from these eight sources when he started with the income octopus, and he reasoned it should be relatively easy enough to earn at least $250 from each. That’s a good way to look at it and, psychologically, an easy enough target to achieve.

I don’t need to earn that much each month (apx £1,400), but I think it’s a great idea and, as I have a picture of a cartoon octopus on my spreadsheet, it’s a fun way to keep track of things too.

If you had an income octopus, where would your eight streams of income come from? Answers below, and thank you for reading.

7 thoughts on “The income octopus

  1. carol warham says:

    An interesting idea. Fortunately, being a doddering old soul, my pensions keep me going! Anything extra for writing etc is a bonus and a great boost to the ego!

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  2. Michelle Higgs says:

    Thanks for a really interesting post, Diane, and for reminding me about this idea. I’ve been meaning to look at my income in this way for some time but never got round to it. A recent magazine closure has exposed the lack of tentacles I have – my octopus would be very lopsided! I agree that it’s vital as a freelancer to have numerous streams of income, ideally from a wide range of sources.

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    • Diane says:

      When we’re very busy, it’s something we easily forget to worry about. I’m sorry to see you’ve had a market fold. Good luck replacing it – and any other tentacles you need! 😀

      Nice to see you. 😉

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      • Michelle Higgs says:

        Thanks – you too! I haven’t explored editing as an income stream yet so I was thinking of approaching P&S about that. I already write for them but are they good to work for on the editing side?

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        • Diane says:

          I love ’em. They started me on proofreading, which is a way in. Also consider PeoplePerHour and Upwork, though. I don’t get on with PPH, but I know folk who do. The job boards will add yet more tentacles! Writing *and* proofreading/editing. Go in at a decent rate, don’t undercut yourself and you’ll enjoy it.

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  3. Michelle Higgs says:

    Thanks for the advice – much appreciated! I’ll ask my commissioning editor if he knows whether there’s a need for more editors and/or proofreaders at the mo, or if they already have enough. I tried PPH years ago but never seemed to get much from it. I haven’t heard of Upwork before so I’ll check it out now you’ve mentioned it. Not long until the ALCS payment now…

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