August 2017 Earnings – let’s look at a month of misery!

Summary: personal post about $$. I thought August would become my highest earning month, but after a series of misevents, I only got +$631,26. Ouch! 

Life happens. Keep drawing. Make sure to have some cash buffer. 

Reading time: 4 minutes of personal blog blahblah. 🙂

Rejected sketch for Aviary Games, Alchemy!


August was… interesting. I got some bad luck, gave away a bunch of discounts and the biggest invoice out there doesn’t have to be paid for another four months. I’m sure you’ve heard about the ups and downs of freelancing. My August earnings make for a good example of that!

Is this turning into a “doom and gloom” blog yet? I’ll make sure to be more positive in the next post 😉

First of all, I only had ~65 hours of pen to paper this month. Nope, that’s not the hours per week, that’s all the hours for all of August… of personal drawings and work combined.

1. Personal life getting in the way of drawing

What happened? Personal injuries! The main one is a shoulder dislocation (…again).

I’ve got a very crappy shoulder, messed up by a doctor back in 2008. So I sat down to draw, stretched my arms and my shoulder popped out. After getting it back in, I passed out for an hour and then went to get ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is unintentionally becoming my staple food! The pain and reduced mobility lasted a while.

I’ve also hurt some other body parts but technically only the shoulder held me back from drawing. Except for the coffee maybe, because I had to clean the floor, desk, electronics, chair, etc. Guys, I managed to get second degree burns from spilling coffee. Who the heck does that?

Then we had lots of moving around – long story short, no US green card so I hopped back to Belgium. I heard something about the president not liking illegal immigrants? It being tourist season and me not booking beforehand, I had to switch locations often. For September, I’m skipping that hassle and am staying at my parents’ place.

Lastly, I also had 10 days scheduled as vacation time because I hadn’t seen my husband in 3 months 🙂 More bad luck: flight delays! Lost luggage! Both of those took a good chunk of my time. Here’s me drawing while queuing:

With grumpy ladies driving their cart in your back and no power nearby, 10 minute sketches take a whole lot longer…

Now this is important: I also procrastinated. I can give an array of excuses – tired from juggling the moving around and physical injuries, burned out from trying to start a second business and commodity trading, … But it’s simple: I have procrastinated. Just like you, I have 100% control over my actions and sometimes I choose to browse the interwebs or play WoW.

Life happens. Keep drawing.

So that’s it for my personal side.

2. Clients getting in the way of other clients

Now onto the client side.

At the beginning of August, I thought this would be  my best earning month! What’s the end result? About $600 arrived in my bank account. To be fair, there are still 2 unpaid invoices for a total of €1.646,64 ($1.953,66). I only look at money that’s been paid already, because you never know what’s gonna come in between you and those unpaid invoices. You can agree or disagree, but I don’t have that money so I won’t count it as earnings.

August started with 6 projects lined up, spanning until the month of October. First of all, the biggest project (5 figures!!) got cancelled and postponed to January. A different project moved it’s deadline from September to early August, so I had to push back the others.

With everything under control again and me at the airport ready for a 10-day leave, a client replied to me: “What about the other drawings from the document?”.

What document? Uh-oh.

Turned out I had another 42 drawings lined up that I did not know about. Due date? The day before.

That was fun! Another round of pushing more clients back and cramming in an airline seat:

In the end, I made 53 drawings during my holiday.

Late deadline? The Client gets a DISCOUNT

The clients that are pushed back get a discount from me, usually that’s 20% to 30%. This time, I went up to a 60% discount. Yes, quite a pay cut for me.

It’s worth it in the long run. I screwed up. The client is not responsible for my shoulder dislocation or another client moving his deadlines. By me taking the burden, I hope to maintain a long-term relationship 🙂

The “whoops, there’s 50+ more drawings”-project has cost me money due to those discounts, and its invoices are only due by 2018/01/01. Since it’s the first time working with this client, I have no idea whether they’ll pay next month or the very last day of December. So that’s $1.953,66 just floating in the ether right now.

The clients that did pay, all went through Paypal. After Paypal taking a ~5% cut from me I had +$631,26.

This is still pre-tax. My business is located in Belgium, a country pretty crazy about taxes (for example: you pay a “tourist tax” for staying in a hotel, separate from the taxes already included in your room price).

Freelancing? Get some savings first and keep a cash buffer.

$631,26 could be pretty awesome depending on which country you live in. It was not that awesome for me. My flight tickets alone were $2300. Freelancing has expenses, some small like paying for a custom domain (I grabbed, some big like a laptop/pc, software and tablets.

So get an emergency fund. Usually 3 months of buffer is fine, but for a freelancing artist… 6 months of living expenses sounds better. I drew on it heavily this month, and earlier I’ve needed it to buy an emergency computer ($1000) when my laptop refused to cooperate and to pay an unexpected hospital bill ($1900).

The post ends here. I’m just adding an overview of earnings below, including non-art experiments.


Crop of a card for Aviary Games, Alchemy!

Mentorship: +$123,09

Illustration: +$107,25

Concept Art: +$400,92

Total: +$631,26


Internet Marketing

IM: -$154

Officially this is a new business, but it’s just an umbrella for everything I do online that involves money, like this blog, Reddit give-aways or writing articles. Regardless, it sits at a loss because I paid -$67 in wages and spent -$87.87 on the Reddit L2D give-away.

This does not include charity or donations.


Long-term investing: +$9.04

Day trading: -$630

I started trading as a hobby. Just like with art, I will only count money that arrives in my bank account as earnings. Mid-August I went for a market maker scalping strategy trading crude oil CFDs. I deposited another $630 to increase my margin.

So I call this a -$630 loss because that’s what left my bank account. If you want to see my actual performance, check out my trading profile: Iris Hopp.

Oh noes, that’s in the negative too D:

In the long-term investments I got a €7.64 AAPL dividend ($9.04).

That was it for the ookiespooky cautionary tale. Happy drawing!

*EUR to USD conversion as of 01sept2017

3 thoughts on “August 2017 Earnings – let’s look at a month of misery!”

  1. Hey Iris, just want to let you know that your blog informs and inspires me a lot. I’m applying to FZD in like several months and still fretting over my portfolio (attending another school, gotta drop out soon tho), and reading about your experiences really helps hold my ground. Thanks for that and keep being awesome!

    Best wishes,

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