Rogue Ink

July 7, 2008

Introducing The Money Talks

Filed under: Entrepreneurship — Tei @ 1:33 am
Tags: , , ,

There are a few things that are considered off-limits for social conversation. Politics, sex, and religion for a start, though the lesser-known impolite topics include the possible carnage four velociraptors could wreak on a hospital ward, the precise shade of red in someone’s blush (comparisons to a slab of raw liver are thought to be particularly offensive and can actually get you beheaded in certain African provinces), and keychain collections.

Now, if you’re very clever, the heading of this post tipped you off to the conversation taboo we’re going to be dissecting. I will give you a hint: it is not introductions, or talking. Both of those are actually considered wise to use in a social situation, especially in tandem. Very difficult to introduce someone by blinking rapidly in Morse code.

The Money Talks

Rogues laugh in the face of social taboos. Usually we just do it for a lark, but this shunning has purpose, yea, and reason too. Don’t get used to it; we think those damned monkey assassins put something in our chai again.

The Money Talks are going to be a week-long series on the dollars behind running a freelance business. We will use real numbers and set real goals. We will not shun away from stating actual dollar figures, as is usual, because the Rogue has noted that blogs that attempt to discuss money without actually, you know, discussing money, generally succeed in providing no useful information to new freelancers other than the sole thing they already knew, which is: You’re on your own, kid.

The Rogue reasons that most freelancers have figured that bit out, and are just looking for a useful equation to help them along. We can do that. The Money Talks will attempt to help new freelancers (and old ones) figure out how much money they should be making, how much they should be charging, and what to do with the money once you’ve earned it. We will try not to get too off-topic so as to be easy to follow along. We cannot promise there will be no ninja jokes, though. We are hilarious, after all.

The Money Talks shall be held at The Lusty Weevil, the official pub at which the Rogue spins out these regular rants of demi-relevance. Pints all round are on the house for all participants. Debate is welcome; trolls will be shot on sight. Cupcakes are also welcome, but they better have real frosting.

The Reason for The Money Talks

Money is a topic frequently raised by bloggers – freelancers, writers, marketing folk – anyone and everyone who could offer useful information on money has blogged about it. Most of the time they’re not useful, and I’ve figured out why this is. They’re too damned polite.

Politeness keeps most bloggers from actually discussing numbers. (I don’t usually discuss numbers either, but it is out of fear of the numbers themselves. Mathematicians are going to bring the apocalypse, you mark my words.) Most blog posts on money go something like this: I can’t really tell you how much I make, or how much I charge, or how I figured it out. Politeness has bound me, and I don’t want to tell you about my finances, and besides, it’s all based on the individual. I learned the hard way, so should you. Tra-la!

They don’t do this out of unkindness. They do it out of fear. Most freelancers I’ve met are actually pretty happy with how much they make and how they arrived at their numbers. They’re not willing to share how they did their calculations because they fear that someone else, some evil internet person out there, will descend upon them and say, “You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, those rates are too low, and it’s unprofessional to suggest otherwise. Also, your business is a sham and I heard that you keep Care Bears hostage in your pantry. You bastard.” Then their blog would be the subject of much misdirected anger, involving pitchforks and townsfolk, and all because they made the enormous mistake of discussing money.

I have considered the possibility of the townsfolk and pitchforks actually appearing, and I find it is a valid threat. However, seeing as my home is more or less an arsenal of medieval weaponry, I feel it is worth the risk. I shall go forth into the tempest, bare my little roguish soul, and take my chances with the beast.

(I like how you all tried to hold me back there. Very touching, that. You’re probably going to forget my birthday too.)

Never fear, my denizens. I shall take precautions. Here they are.

Precautionary Measures for the Money Talks

We’re going to be discussing my theoretical income. This income may actually become my real income at some point in the future, all going according to plan. Not discussing real numbers is what we do when we’re ashamed to admit our income or would prefer that others not judge us on it. I intend to circumnavigate this by being just revolutionary enough to discuss my actual ambitions, and just ashamed enough to not admit what precisely the gap is between those ambitions and my current income. It is a fine line, and I walk it like an Olympic gymnast, my friends.

So when we discuss how to calculate your financial goals tomorrow (yes, tomorrow, this is a long post already), we will be discussing my personal financial goals. They will be real. They will involve numbers. You are free to change those numbers according to your personal goals, capabilities, and religion (ooh, looky there, I mentioned religion too. Taboos are going out the window today).

In order to calculate my personal financial goals, I will be using actual numbers from my personal budget. They’ll include things like my rent, my food budget, and how much I spend regularly on meerschaum pipes (yes, this is a big enough expenditure that it warrants mention in a budget. You can substitute whatever you like in this category, no matter how weird. That’s me working for you. You’re welcome). These are numbers which should surprise no one and that I’m more than happy to put forward. They’ll also (hopefully) make my calculations for a proposed income pretty darn accurate, and then I’ll have blogged and balanced my budget, and we call that multitasking.

Yes, I’m using you as an excuse to calibrate my finances. I’m sorry if that makes you feel dirty and wronged. I will try to be funny while I do it, if that makes you feel any better, but I will totally still be using you.

Things I shall not be discussing are how much money I made last year, or last month, or this week, or ever. The past is in the past, people. That’s why they call it that. We look forward to the future, where the money is. At least, that’s what the leprechaun told me.

Remember How I Told You Rogue Ink Wasn’t a Business Blog?

It is also not a formal ball. We are not at a long table with the King fore and the Queen aft. There is no china on the table and there are no gold-rimmed wineglasses. It is not sixteenth-century Versailles and there will not be courtly dancing later, and I note an extraordinary absence of pompadours. There is no reason we should confine ourselves to discussions that would be appropriate in those circumstances, especially when breaking those rules could give our fellow freelancers a leg-up on a difficult project. We are the denizens of the Lusty Weevil, people, and we say it with pride. We are a rowdy crew and there is no limit to what can be talked about over a pint of Guiness and a game of pool.

Propriety is dead at the Lusty Weevil, denizens. Join us tomorrow for The Money Talks.

If you subscribe, I’ll tell you how much I spend on kumquats.



  1. “though the lesser-known impolite topics include the possible carnage four velociraptors could wreak on a hospital ward”

    I protest that that is hardly inappropriate. In fact, I propose a new law which states that (much like the Australian law concerning tomato sauce making ANYTHING taste better when added in sufficient quantity) any conversation can be perked up by discussing the possibility of Velociraptor attack in an urban environment. All those in favour? The ayes have it.

    Will there be any indication from those participating as to which industry they are working within? I’d imagine (in my naivity [I _hate_ trying to spell that word]) that there would be some differences between say, writing for the fashion industry or for the gardening one, or sports, or scientific journals, or anteater owners. I guess that’ll all come out in the wash (:

    Lookin’ forward to it!

    Comment by toothsoup — July 7, 2008 @ 3:11 am | Reply

  2. My preparatory disclaimer to the series. I am going to thoroughly love it, be intensely interested, and most likely disagree with you strongly on many points that you’ll bring up or certain strategies you may have.

    This is not because I don’t love you (I do. Will you marry me?) but because a few years’ experience has proven many a freelance financial adviser quite wrong (The “never accept less than $50 per insanely short post!” theory comes to mind.)

    I promise to remain polite and Canadian (no, we don’t discuss our rates either) and debate in our cultural beauty (the English way, not the French way. That would just be disaster.) I will, however, be on the lookout for the arTEESTe that so quickly tends to slip into the conversation when discussing money matters. 🙂

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with, chiquita.

    Comment by James Chartrand - Men with Pens — July 7, 2008 @ 12:10 pm | Reply

  3. Totally interested and totally excited about the no-holds-barred thing. My kind of discussion. Looking forward to it!

    Comment by Steph — July 7, 2008 @ 2:16 pm | Reply

  4. “… and I note an extraordinary absence of pompadours.”

    What, there’s no rockabilly on the Lusty Weevil’s jukebox?

    Very much looking forward to the series, Tei.

    Comment by Mark V. McDonnell — July 7, 2008 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  5. Wow a proposal at the pub. Over finances. *shutters*

    James, dear, that was horribly unromantic. You can NOT propose anywhere near numbers. I believe that is somewhat like proposing in the bathroom.

    Tei, Other than the fact that you will be talking about numbers, which I loathe,this will be very interesting to me and I will be here first thing in the morning after coffee. I made the mistake of coming here BC this morning and had to leave. Couldn’t comment about numbers on a non-caffinated stomach so I had to come back later.

    Comment by wendikelly — July 7, 2008 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

  6. Sounds exciting; talk about a perfect time to drop in.

    I’ll warn you, I’m very, very new to this business, and as a result, I will probably be asking a lot of questions. And then a few more. And could you clarify this point, please? Short version: Brace yourself.

    Comment by Ravyn — July 7, 2008 @ 8:45 pm | Reply

  7. @ Wendi – The day I honestly, seriously and wholeheartedly ask someone to marry me, it will be done the right way, with all the proper requirements and be forever.


    Comment by James Chartrand - Men with Pens — July 7, 2008 @ 10:11 pm | Reply

  8. James: Boooring! Do it while gaming with your character. Lot to be said about online “indirect” tension. Readers love it. Interesting story to tell later, rather than the traditional one that’s complete with proper requirements. And I never figured you for a “right way” guy! 🙂

    Toujours, however: very romantic.

    Comment by Steph — July 7, 2008 @ 10:57 pm | Reply

  9. James,

    I believe you. 🙂

    Comment by wendikelly — July 8, 2008 @ 11:48 am | Reply

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