A constant complain I hear from Memoir Professionals is that they believe they can’t earn a living from memoir work. “Your problem is,” I tell them, “you do not target your memoir earnings.”
This is true if you treat your work as a hobby, but it clearly not true if you treat your memoir work as a business. A starting point is to chart how much you earn in the time you devote to working. All businesses must turn profits! As a business owner, you must target your memoir earnings.
Do you know what your actual hourly wage is and how to improve that figure? The fact is many—and perhaps most—Memoir Professionals have no idea how much they are making per hour not much about how to improve that income. Do you?
To Better Target Your Memoir Earnings, Let’s Look At The Numbers.
Most people set a figure they hope to earn for every contact hour—not hours worked but time with clients. Let’s say you set $80 per hour. The reality is…
You will earn half of that amount per contact hour—the other half of your work time will go to outreach, material, incidentals, VA fees, etc. Can you afford this time investment?
At $80 per contact hour, you are probably actually earning $40 per memoir-work hour. If you have 10 hours of contact per week, then you can presume to be working at your memoir business for at least 20 hours. At $40/ per hour, that would reap you a $800 week.
The viability of your business is premised on your total hourly earnings—not on your contact hours. So…
A. Paying attention to your actual hours of work is important.
Your workshop tuition, your coaching fee/editing/ghostwriting fee is not your income. You must first factor in the cost of delivery before you can arrive at whether your memoir work is financially viable—as you are currently conducting it.
What you will do as a result of this post is analyze where you income drains are and how to fix them.
B. Focus on Knowing and Enhancing Your Memoir Earnings
Cost of services includes:
- Outreach time. This includes anything and everything you do to acquire a client. It can include writing a blog post, speaking at a library, appearing on a podcast. All necessary and all time consuming. Phone time with prospects is also outreach time. (You can develop a sixth sense about when someone is trying to get info our of you and will never actually become a client.)
- Preparation and set up time. For instance, the telephone calls you make to a workshop venue or a blog owner, the retooling of your website for a new offering and the adaptation of a press release or blog post must be accounted for. This ought to include any time speaking with prospective clients, writing notes (these should all be from templates!), reviewing hand-out materials.
- Delivery time. This includes the time you spend doing whatever you are doing with clients as well as the time it takes to
- travel to a venue (in the case of a workshop: traveling one hour each way cuts deeply into your profits unless you have a voice-to-text program and use your time to produce text)
- impromptu consultations before and after programs or coaching sessions. (If you end up spending time after service talking to writers (in person or on the phone), you will need to factor this time in. How much of this time delivering services do you actually bill?
- in-person visits to your office by prospective clients are a huge drain.
- Wrap up time. This is time spent with the venue director or anyone else evaluating the results of a program. It can also include more phone calls with the prospect or client who has “just one more question” and spend 40 minutes on the phone. (I offer a five minute check-in call. After that, I ask if the caller wants to have more time and if so, we can start the clock. This response takes some getting used to for Memoir Professionals who tend to be “Feelers” but it is effective in saving you time!)
Cost of goods includes (this is especially focused on workshop delivery):
- Your purchase price of books and memory binders for resale.
- The cost of transportation. This will certainly include gas and tolls.
- The materials that went into any handout.
Your income will depend on:
- The tuition or service fees collected,
- The profit from reselling materials,
- Other sales.
While it may seem a good idea to entice more workshoppers or service clients by offering extra features like a longer contact, it will mean that you will have to factor this into your income potential by raising it or by accepting a lower per-hour take which in some circumstances can be appropriate.
Action Step to Target Your Memoir Earnings
- Create a time sheet to jot down all the time you invest in your work (lawyers record every second they speak to you!). Over the space of several weeks and months, you will record both your hours and your income
- If you are dissatisfied with your income, there are several things you can set into motion to target your memoir earnings:
- Increase the fee per client while keeping everything else the same.
- Keep the fees at the same level but increase the maximum numbers of participants you will take in—in coaching this means group coaching. If you hit your higher number, you will increase your income and per-hour take.
- Keep the tuition and numbers the same but decrease the number of hours you offer the workshop or group coaching (this allows you to offer another series and collect additional tuition for that new one, but it may lead to client deissartisfaction).
As a business person, you must necessarily be concerned with earning your target hourly wage.
Target your memoir earnings.
It’s your choice whether you earn enough or not. Don’t forget… You may not always pay attention to details, but the details will always pay attention to you!