month one

About a month ago I quit my job and decided to try and make a living entirely on the internet. Here’s a quick update on how that project is going.

Stress: Mostly nonexistent. 

Well, you know, other than the constant background radiation of COVID and Trump and the sort of anxieties about how to find time for writing and relaxing that have plagued me for decades. I would like to get back into WoW or play more D&D, but I just can’t let myself relax like that until I’ve either paid off my credit card and car or am earning enough to put a good amount of cash into savings every month. 

But I have so little stress outside of that. 

I work on developing new classes wherever I happen to be sitting. I make videos. I build GoogleSlides. I find sources and write guides. Then I just post whatever I want to teach to OutSchool. Ten minutes before it’s time to teach, I make sure that I look presentable, open my laptop, and log in to school. I get a bathroom break every hour. I can adjust my schedule as needed, with only the pressures of the market to tell me when I have to go to work. 

Money: Tolerable, but needs work. 

I basically took a 30% pay cut to quit teaching, plus have to pay more for insurance. I’ve had a few expenses come up with repairing my camper and setting up my workspace, but I’ve mostly managed to contain my spending. I’m going to have to be careful next month, but I’m heading in the right direction. 

In addition to teaching, I’m working on setting up an Etsy store and earning some money doing consulting. I have several months before I will even need to touch my savings (hopefully), and I could live off my my savings alone for almost a year, so I’m not worried yet. 

Work: Finding my Passions

Except for a small consulting fee for helping evaluate a new ebook website and one pottery sale, I’ve made most of my money since quitting public school teaching chess, D&D, and photography on OutSchool. I worry it won’t last, post-COVID, but I also have been getting more and more home schooled students, so that market should remain steady even after public schools begin to reopen. My photography classes have been slowly but surely growing.

The hardest part about making money from gaming and photography has been accepting that, yes, I am allowed to make my money this way. For so long I’ve felt like I had to justify my existence by helping students pass standardized tests. The specter of admin looking over my shoulder at lesson plans, as well as the struggle of implementing an experimental plan for 25-32 kids, kept me from trying anything especially innovative. 

And so I am having to retrain myself to be creative. And having to remind myself that tens of thousands of people make a living by entertaining people, building models for films, or selling art. It’s not an easy career path, but it’s just as valid as any other. 

So what next?

I’m going to spend October getting myself organized and launching my Maker brand. I’ve got a growing stock of pottery which multiple people tell me will sell for a decent amount. I don’t need to make a lot at pottery, just making a profit and getting a few hundred views on my videos would be enough to call it a worthwhile revenue stream. I’m also making videos of all of my woodworking and repair projects (or was until I accidentally deleted five of them… gotta work on that data pipeline). The YouTube space is crowded these days, but even if all I do is use it as a personal journal of projects, it’ll still be useful for practicing my editing skills and I’ll have fun doing the projects. Again, if I eventually break even on the cost of supplies, I’ll be a total win. 

I’m also working on a few writing projects. I have two novels begging for attention. I am laying the framework for In Such Times, a dramatic fiction project based on old family stories. I’m working with a couple of acquaintances to launch a writers’ support group, with plans of growing it into a literary magazine. 

So there you have it: Teaching, Making, and Writing. I’m less stressed and generally in a great mood, the madness of 2020 aside.

Let’s see how October goes.