2019 Side-Income Report

God, I’m cringing a lot as I write this, because the impostor syndrome is STRONG. The side-income isn’t really enough to be an actual income, and one half of my brain is just eye-rolling the other half for even thinking this is worth writing.

So while we're at it, let me list why I do want to write this:

  1. The side-money can pay for more than half of my sister's semester at college. It's a pretty big deal for me.
  2. I've always loved reading these financial breakdown posts, but the ones I came across were from big names with crazy figures, or from people doing it full-time. I've always wanted to read a more “messy middle” income post.
  3. A hundred dollars means one thing in the US, and it means another in the Philippines. It's always mattered that I've only read these things from people who weren't from my side of the world.

So, this is ultimately me putting out the type of content that I wanted to read. And hopefully, you find something valuable in this as well!

Disclosure: I'm only sharing the total money made, but it's been rounded off. I also rounded the numbers that went into deciding the percentages. I'm comfortable enough to talk about all this, but not enough to talk about the very last cent!

Side-Income Breakdown

In 2019, I made a total of about $1200, from two sources, Redbubble and my enamel pins. Both pay out in USD, and conversion rates change all the time, but it's about 60,000 Philippine peso (PHP).

I had been tracking the Redbubble sales all throughout the year, but I was genuinely surprised to see the tally for the enamel pins. I had just been tracking overall profit, and I only knew that I ended 2019 at about a $50 loss.

So I calculated the total for the first time compiling this report, and I was genuinely surprised the pins took 22%. I mean, I started it in September, and I only publicly promoted it, like, for a hot second. So for it to take that much of a chunk despite all of that? Mind = blown.

I'm gonna get sappier about it later, but I'm definitely going to restructure my reports for the pin sales. I currently only have an overall profit calculator prominently displayed. As in, it's currently formatted as a big banner on top of a page, and wow, who would have thought that doing that would prevent me from feeling grateful? 🙃

EDIT: In the first version of this, I forgot to point out: I don't have client work at all. I've always felt very invalid, in that I can't even get someone interested in hiring me. And I'm slowly making peace that I can make money from doing the things that I currently enjoy doing.

Enamel Pins Breakdown

My poor Grow Up bby got completely overshadowed by the Milk Tea enamel pin. Which I was expecting to happen anyway, considering how it was created from such a personal idea. I wasn't even doing so well mentally when I decided to take the plunge and try something new, and I'm still so sentimental and thankful that working on this little thing got me through that time.

I might work on promoting it a little more in 2020, or working on a price change? I definitely want to test different things and see if people like it, just not at how it's currently valued. And I definitely have new pins in mind, but before that, I gotta work on my product photography. I haven't even photographed the pins on the backing cards at all!

Redbubble Breakdown

So if you follow me at all, you're probably a little confused by this category, because it's something I never talk about. Here's the story.

When I was in high school, I started blogging about books because I didn't really have any friends who liked books. I got into lettering around then, and at some point in my last year of high school, I got the idea to use a print-on-demand site called Redbubble.

How does it work? I upload my design, and when someone places an order, they handle the manufacturing, shipping, and customer service, if it comes down to it. So I get a smaller cut of the profits that if I did all those things by myself, which is fine by me.

And when I just started, I thought it was just amazing. I could just make some money while going through high school and college! And it still makes me money today.

So I got two stores set up: the first is the book blog one, and the second one was made when I had a study Tumblr for a hot second. I normally run on sales from people finding me on search (SEO, basically), but this year, Redbubble featured one of my designs on their homepage, and it just blew up. I think I had over a 1,000 sticker orders this year for that one design, which is huuuuge. So that explains the 96% there.

It's pretty unrelated from a lot of what I do now, so I don't really talk about it. But it makes up a big chunk, so here we are.

A big reason why I wanted to about all of this is that there's a lot of flashy talk about money and lifestyles on Instagram, but no one really talks about how the smallest things matter at the start. It was a big deal when I made my first dollar, especially even more so when you take into account one dollar was 50 PHP.

I slowly started to be able to afford resources and courses, and I could do enamel pins because I had this safety net on the side. And this year, I could pay for more than 50% of my sister's tuition from the money that trickled in throughout the year, and that means so much to me.

I've honestly never been intentional with Redbubble. I've always somehow done well enough on search to provide extra pocket money that I could use to buy things like games, without feeling guilty. So the fact that the side-money got to a point where it's able to provide for someone other than me, even if partially, is just . . . it's a lot.

One thing I want to do in 2020 is continue providing for other people, or things. With the Australian bushfires or the recent eruption of Taal volcano in the Philippines, I know that all of that is going to affect rising ocean levels. That, in turn, affects typhoons, and I'm scared about how this is going to affect my home in the future.

There's a part of me that's wants to put the brakes on the idea of donating; I'm not even in a stable position to even really fund everything I want to do. But, shush, brain, we're doing better and better every year, we can fund a few trees! I'm trying my best to learn about the best organizations for doing so, especially when there's actually a lot of stuff that goes into tree-planting: selecting non-invasive species, planting in the right season, etc.

Before I end, I really want to stress how important it is to start. Things don't happen if you don't start them, and it doesn't take much to start small. Like, I started my first Redbubble store to be consistent about creating work and talking about it. The artwork on my store is some of the worst work that I publicly have, but Redbubble liked one of them enough to feature on their homepage. 😲

And I was so nervous about enamel pins! There are wayyy more risks. What if nothing sold, what if shipping went wrong? But I slowly worked on it, for months, until I was ready to launch. And while yeah, things don't sell, it's not the end of the world! I've learned so much from starting things, even as a way to learn something new, and I can't imagine my life without having something to work on. It's a bonus that sometimes, those projects make money.

So if you've read this far, thank you! I really appreciate that, and if you got any questions, you can always send an email.