Smutlancer Revenue Report: June 2021
As of June 4, I lost the vast majority of my freelance income. I’d seen this on the horizon for weeks, especially when half the work was cut in May. When everything but a small vanilla job I do for this client was cut at the beginning of the month, I didn’t have the luxury of panicking because the message came through as family arrived in town (the first visit in more than a year!). That had all of my focus, and by the time they left, all I wanted to do was figure out what I was going to do to get myself out of this mess.
Maybe because I never took the time to panic, my emotions are all over the place these days. Sometimes I feel lost and simply pull the covers over my head. Other times, I feel excited and focused, ready to make some dreams a reality. Mostly, I’m in a constant existential crisis because how can something so scary (losing approximately 75 percent of my revenue and 90 percent of the income needed to pay my bills) feel so right?
At the beginning of the year, I talked about balancing the revenue scales and not relying so much on a single source of income. This is why it’s important. But I also feel like this is an opportunity to rebuild my income the way I want — and to do the work that matters to me. I’m still flailing a bit, even a month later, but I’m also driven, ambitious, and filled with a sense of purpose. (Not gonna lie, I also feel completely clueless but I felt that way when I became a freelancer in 2014, and that turned out okay.)
Okay, so let’s look at the
devastation numbers for June…
Kayla Lords, Sex Writer
This may be the last month you see freelance revenue. Not because the opportunities aren’t there, but because I’m not pursuing them (at least not yet).
Freelance sex writing: $275.00
Self-published erotica: $11.78
Blog sponsorships: $350.00
The freelance amount you see is because I prorated my fee based on the days in June I continued to work for that client. Will that invoice be paid? Sadly, I’m not holding my breath. But since this is revenue (and not income), I rightly earned it in June. One pleasant surprise that happened last month is that legitimate content sponsorship offers began trickling in. Without the client work to exhaust and distract me, I read and replied to emails faster and negotiated a few things. Knowing what I’m in the process of negotiating for July gives me a bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, I can increase revenue/income without the grueling freelance load I once carried.
P.S. Yes, the total number is shocking and slightly scary after literal years of earning a liveable wage off freelance work.
As Loving BDSM, we generate revenue in multiple ways: Patreon, affiliate sales, podcast and blog sponsorships, and more. This section may change from month to month based on available revenue opportunities.
Affiliate sales: $66.58
Workbook sales: $29.84
YouTube AdSense: $23.53
Blog Sponsorship: $125.00
Redbubble Merch: $3.69
In deciding where to put my energy to rebuild revenue/income, Loving BDSM is at the top of the list — tied with the Kinkery. It’s much easier to grow what’s already there rather than start from zero. We’ve made a concerted effort to be honest with our audience (letting them know we’re now full-time content creators *gulp*) without resorting to begging for their money. In order for this income to grow and be sustainable long-term, we need to keep being who we are while also focusing on available monetization opportunities.
Right now, we’re focusing on creating more content that’s helpful for our audience. The idea is that if we reach more people in a helpful way, some percentage of them will become a patron, buy a product, or otherwise support the brand — and we’ll grow. But we’re also trying to be strategic in how we do that. We polled our Patreon community to ask what other kinds of content they’d like to see from us and we’re incorporating some of that into our content plan. With the extra time on my hands in June, I took the time to make a six-month content creation plan for Loving BDSM — with wiggle room for additions and changes. I don’t expect overnight results, and slow growth is the norm, but I won’t be unhappy if the process speeds up just a bit.
The Kinkery is John Brownstone’s shop for his BDSM products. As his business partner, life partner, as well as the Chief Operating Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and Shipping Department, I have a clear vested interest in the growth of this source of revenue. I’m also working in his shop with him two days a week to help make products, so I can add the title Shop Elf to my job description.
Product sales: $727.88
Two issues brought sales down this month: the summer slump (which is typical) and a shipping error that I feel certain probably cost us a few sales. That error is now fixed, thankfully. But we know the summer is slow for most retailers, especially non-essential products like paddles and canes. This number isn’t bad, but we need it to be better so we can pay the bills. I’m not panicking about June’s sales, though — it’s still better than anything we did under the previous brand (that wasn’t really a brand).
As with Loving BDSM, we’re trying to be strategic in our efforts to grow our sales and to prepare for the future. We’re already planning for 4th quarter (the holidays) because we know that’s when revenue will increase the most. While we don’t know what to expect this year, we’re doing our best to get ready for it: stocking up on old faves, increasing minimum inventory levels, planning holiday marketing, getting our supplies together, etc, etc, etc. The hardest part is that for a retail store (online or IRL), you have to spend money in order to make money. So while we can cut back on some supplies or find less expensive alternatives, we still have expenditures that we can’t avoid, even now when money is tight.
Molly and I technically “split” this revenue. If we chose to pay ourselves, we would each receive half after all fees and expenses. Currently, the only income the Smutlancers produces is from our Patreon community. We hold onto that money to pay our contributors and pay Obscene Ideas expenses. Eventually, we hope Obscene Ideas will make enough money to cover its own expenses.
Again, Molly and I technically “split” the revenue from Obscene Ideas and would pay ourselves half after fees and expenses if we actually paid ourselves. But we don’t.
Erotic Fiction: $15.00
As I mentioned last month, I have a lot of thoughts about Smutlancers and Obscene Ideas, thoughts that demand answers now that I need to focus on earning enough to pay the bills. No decisions have been made, and no changes are planned for right now. But I’m thinking…a lot.
But now, let’s total it up and then get our graph and chart kink on.
Total June 2021 Revenue: $2,784.33
Yeah, that’s rough. That doesn’t even total my living expenses, let alone our business expenses. It’s going to be tough around here until it isn’t. I need to believe it’ll ultimately be worth it, though, as this is the stepping stone to where I want to be as a smutlancer.
Get Your Graph Kink On
Somehow I was fairly certain the percentages would look better although I definitely want the totals to be higher, lol. Again, I’d rather my top three (Loving BDSM, my personal brand, and the Kinkery) were more evenly distributed but this is closer to the goal than it’s ever been. Too bad it took the loss of a lot of work to make it happen.
Here’s a painful (but realistic) monthly comparison:
OUCH. I’d been feeling this all month, but seeing it like this brings it all home. I’m not going to panic, but pulling the covers over my head doesn’t too bad right now, either.
This is a very real thing that happens when you work for yourself. No matter how long you’ve worked with a client or even how great you are at what you do, it can change in an instant. This is why it was so important to me to increase revenue across the board so I wasn’t reliant on a single source. I also think I saw this coming and either didn’t want to or couldn’t admit it to myself. The really great client became a really mediocre client in 2020 and earlier this year. But I didn’t feel like I had the luxury to fire them. Sometimes the decisions make themselves, I guess.
As stressful as the numbers are, I feel really hopeful about the future. Yes, drastic budget cuts have been made around here. Yes, we (John Brownstone and I) sometimes wonder, “What are we going to do?” But also, we’re feeling energized and focused. We genuinely believe in our goals — now just have to reach them.