It’s perfectly normal at the fag end of the old year to reflect upon what has happened over the previous twelve months and look forward to the new year with vague (perhaps even precise) resolutions to do everything better than you did before. In the books I have probably overused the phrase “or is it just me?” but in this case I’m sure it’s not just me. Almost everyone indulges in a bit of self-analysis on December 31st. By the end of January however we are back into the grind of our jobs and lives… Life usually hasn’t changed radically. We are still fundamentally the same person doing the same things with the same people and actually, that’s not a bad thing. It’s human nature not to deal well with revolution and to focus on a bit of gradual evolution instead. Or is it just me? There I go again…
However, as 2014 draws to a close and 2015 lurks ominously around the corner, my own life is about to experience more revolution than evolution. If you have made it to this second paragraph you are no doubt one of my more avid blog readers so most of you will be aware of my plans for the next year. Officially at least, today is my final day as an employee. As a teacher (I can still say that, just) I finished work a few days before Christmas of course but today I have been paid for the final time (yes, I’ve checked and they haven’t docked my salary for skimping on the book marking last term…). When midnight strikes I will become a self-employed person eking out a living that is entirely proportional to the effort I put into my labour. (Scurrilous thoughts run through my mind that actually, this isn’t always the case as a teacher but I won’t dwell upon that…) That’s more than just a little unsettling and something that I have never done before. I am in the process of easing this transition from ’employed’ to ‘self-employed’ by disposing of the thing that has over the last ten years creamed off a significant proportion of my salary: my flat. All my fingers are crossed and they are taking every opportunity to touch passing pieces of wood that this will be a seamless process culminating in a deposit of cash* into my bank account in a few weeks time. A buyer is in place but I do feel very vulnerable both to his whims and also those of the solicitors. But let’s assume that this does all go to plan, that I am soon unburdened of the money pit and that the rest of my plans can fall into place. My monetary requirements will be much reduced and the move into self-employment be somewhat cushioned.
So, what will that ‘self-employment’ consist of? Well the modest income from the books – probably about half the amount you have in mind, and for you sir, about a quarter! – will keep me fed and watered. It’s over three years since I received the first payment from selling books and only once has the monthly total come anywhere close to rivalling the money an experienced secondary school teacher can earn. So how can I supplement this? Well I could just sell more books. Ha! ‘Just!’ If only that were so easy. (If you haven’t yet invested, what are you waiting for?! You may need to ignore the two reviews posted on December 30th by ‘Andy’ who is no fan of teachers by the sounds of it. Perhaps I will go up in his estimation at midnight tonight…).
This website is perhaps something I should exploit more. It has provided a very small and erratic income of late but nothing to write home about. I’ve found that content is king when it comes to the website attracting more people so there is clearly a balance to be made between becoming blatantly commercial (and losing visitors) and creating engaging and useful content (and hopefully gaining them). I’m not too sure whether this end-of-year expression of my thoughts, plans and fears for 2015 is ticking the latter option or not.
Then there’s the paid speaking engagements. I did a small handful of these in the run up to the arrival of the Tour de France in Yorkshire earlier in 2014. It is an art that I don’t think I have yet cracked but as a teacher I have plenty of experience of standing up in front of hostile crowds and trying to get them to listen. As with the website, content is all important and I do have some tales to tell. Something to work on and exploit.
Yesterday I answered some questions for an article about my change of employment situation for the Bikebiz.com website. I was asked whether I would be writing for newspapers and magazines. Well, why not? Not something I have ever done apart from a couple of opinion pieces for the Reading Cycle Campaign newsletter but it would be fun to see if that could be a source of income. How do you start? Is it better to write something and submit it or better to wait to be commissioned to do the same. If you have any advice to offer here I’d be interested in knowing what you think.
So, my sources of income (current and potential) are the books, the website, speaking and writing for others. If you had asked me four years ago whether I could make any money from the book writing I would have sniggered at the prospect. Well I now do and I’m not laughing off my chances of generating regular income from the other sources as well.
There is, of course, one final backstop to all this ‘cycling’ stuff. The teaching. Although, yes, I’m no longer paid as a teacher from the strike of midnight tonight, I’m still a qualified and very experienced teacher. I have already signed up with a supply teaching agency to work as from next week (yes, next week!) but it remains to be seen if that will provide any income so soon. Savings and today’s salary will keep me going for a while if the supply teaching doesn’t materialise while I’m still in Reading until the flat sells.
Then what? Well, then it’s to Spain for a couple of months to learn some Spanish (with a view to being ale to teach it at a beginners level in addition to the French once back in the UK) before heading off on the epic cycle from Tarifa to Nordkapp. Will all that scupper my plans to exploit the website, speaking and other writing opportunities? Well, yes, to a greater extent I think it might in the shorter term although in this linked up world in which we now live, it’s certainly not impossible.
The reality of all this revolution in my life is that longer term I don’t really want to stop doing anything; I simply desire to lead a more balanced life where the teaching exists to supplement my life doing (dare I say this?) more interesting things elsewhere. A part-time teaching job taking two or three days a week (or supply teaching for the equivalent amount of time) leaving me with a very long ‘weekend’ in which to do the rest. I’ve now got 365 days in which to make this a reality. Wish me luck!
*By no means will this be a life-changing sum of money. As an owner of only a minority share in my ‘key worker’ property, it will provide security but not the excuse to lay back and do nothing over the next few months. Once settled in Yorkshire later in 2015 it will be useful to use it as a deposit for a new money pit…