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Keeping Track of Your Stuff

There is a rather addictive aspect to freelance writing that has very little to do with writing; its called keeping track.

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You wake up, turn on your computer and check your visitor stats. Then you go to your various and assorted earning pages of the several affiliates that you belong to to check those earnings. Then you go to the various sites you write for and check the page stats for each and every site and associated earnings. Sometimes you have to check back several times a day because the earnings haven’t updated at the appropriate time (I hate when that happens). Depending on the over all trend, you have a good day or a bad day.

If the numbers are up, it’s obvious that you know what you’re doing. You are the king or queen of the internet and life is good. If the numbers are down, you start to wonder, am I wasting my time? Will I ever learn SEO? Should I practice “Do you want fries with that order, sir?”

Come on. I know I’m not the only person that goes through this.

A Possible SolutionSpreadsheet

I’ve found that looking at the big picture helps. However, in order to see a true digitally correct image of the big picture, you have to accumulate your pixels. Here’s what I mean.

Try do disassociate yourself from your stats until they’re part of the big picture. The big picture in my book is an Excel spreadsheet that’s about as tall and as wide as I am. Apparently back in my techno geek days I didn’t bother to spend time learning about database software programs such as Access so my daily, monthly and annual earnings and page views are contained in a spreadsheet the size of a city block rather than an easily manipulateable database.

By inserting the daily numbers (once a day) into the spreadsheet, I can truly see the big picture. While today’s numbers may look abysmal, when I compare them to the same period of time a week ago, a month ago or even a year ago, I see that I’m moving in the right direction.

Here’s a snapshot of my numbers for October of 2007:

October 2007

What this image doesn’t tell you is that this October page is only one page of the spreadsheet. In the spreadsheet I have a page for each month and an associated expense page for each month. The formulas tally each entry to give me daily totals and daily averages.

I also have a final summary page that summarizes the entire year automatically. On the summary page I calculate my earnings per year, month, week, day, hour, minute. I draw the line at calculating how much IPhoto by: Simona Dumitru earn per second (Oops, I think the anal retentive part of my personality is showing).

Making a Blue day Sunny

When I look at my daily numbers and think that I’m having a rotten day, all I have to do is look at some earlier time and my blue day becomes sunny.

I’m curious, how do you track your earnings?

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Shannon December 18, 2008, 10:20 am

    This seems like a crucial skill that many writers do not possess. Writing professionally is a business. Any successful business owner should engage in some form of statistical analysis — how else can you determine which endeavors are the most profitable?

  • Jessie Ann Heekin December 18, 2008, 9:37 am

    Thanks for sharing. Will retweet. Very valuable perspective to have!

    Jessie Ann Heekins last blog post..Writing Spirit

  • Julie December 18, 2008, 4:02 pm

    Felicia, I do the exact same thing! I check my stats daily – first thing – and I track my daily earnings in a huge spreadsheet. I also check in with various affiliates daily. My husband calls it “running my traps”.

    Thanks for sharing! BTW, how is blogging for Today.com going?

    Julies last blog post..eHow Article Template vs. Word

  • Felicia December 18, 2008, 5:03 pm

    Hi Julie,

    Today.com is coming along. It’s only been a week so it’s really too soon to say. Blogs take a little while to mature so I’m going to give it some time.

  • Alina Bradford December 20, 2008, 12:48 am

    I do the same thing every morning: check, check, check! I keep a running tally in my head, though. I also run the numbers. If I made x ammount last month and this month I have made y this month by the 15th, multiply that by two…so I’m behind (or ahead) z ammount. Yep, the 15th is a red letter day every month, lol.

    Alina Bradfords last blog post..Making Money Through Bukisa

  • Felicia December 20, 2008, 7:39 am

    Glad to know I’m in good company when it comes to stat checking. 🙂

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