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What I’ve Learned from the Last 6 Years of Freelance Goal Setting
I think I’ll do so from now on out because as I look back over the years, it allows me to see a trajectory of my career. I can see successes, failures, where I got off track and what I did to get back on track. It’s really like a mirror you can hold up to your career to see what’s been going on in your life overall.
In the last part of this post, we discuss four areas to assess to help you set some concrete, achievable goals this year.
Goals are really just your hopes, fears and dreams.
One thing that stood out to me clearly over the last few years is that I’ve been working hard to get away from writing mostly for clients, and into writing mostly for myself. I realize this is because my deepest professional fear in life is not being able to support myself in the lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed.
I’ve been part of an organization that was reorganized 6 times in 10 years. Each time, scores of co-workers lost their jobs and I remember the panic some of them had — kids to support, making rent/paying the mortgage in an expensive city like New York, etc.
I was let go from the last job I had in 2007 because of the economic crisis at that time. As I detail in the post, Freelancing & Catching Up on Retirement Savings at 50: This S**t Just Got Real!, it was a very scary time.
I never want to feel that way again, so I think part of me realized then that I’d have to do my own thing. That meant making freelancing work. Back then that meant writing for clients. But as I learned more about marketing online and avenues for self-publishing opened up, it hit me – you need to create your own line of products.
These Days, I Write Mostly for Myself
This meant my income would be wholly dependent on me – not clients. So it’s meant writing for myself, eg, ebooks and e-classes.
This is a relief because it’s allowed me to raise my freelance writing rates to take on only those projects that pay well enough to make it worth my time to be away from my own work.
What are You Willing to Sacrifice to Reach Your Freelance Goals?
Nothing in life worth having is without sacrifice, so let me throw in a little caveat here – when you make a decision to steer your freelance ship in a different direction (eg, do more of your own thing and less writing for clients), your income may take a hit.
In 2010, when I was going through my numbers at the end of the year, I realized that over half my income was coming from my own products – and I wasn’t even aware of it.
So I said to myself, “What if you spent more time producing more of your own products? What if you made your stuff your priority?”
And, that’s what I did – spending 2011 writing, revising and uploading 50 ebooks to Amazon.
Over these last few years, I haven’t earned as much as I could have earned because I’ve turned down gigs to be able to spend more time on my own projects.
It’s because I’ve had a goal of being able to be wholly independent as a writer (ie, write only for myself), for some time now.
It’s one of the reasons I choose to live live in Jamaica for the time being, where the cost of living is lower overall (even with their high tax rate; a flat fee of about 35%) than the U.S., where I plan to move back to in 2020.
I just didn’t want you to think that it’s been an easy journey. It hasn’t. But with my goals front and center, the sacrifices have been worth the progress I’ve made.
2016 Freelance Writing Goals: How I Fared
Following is what my 2016 goals were, and how I fared.
I didn’t get clear on the business model for it until late November, so I kept having to go back and revise/revamp the business plan and the marketing material.
Now that I’m clear about these, I’ll be officially launching the site in January 2017.
(ii) Revamp My SEO Writing Company’s Site (NewMediaWords.biz): I accomplished this goal; completed the site update on 3/24/2016.
(iii) Update Non-Fiction Line: Completed updates of four ebooks. I still have two that I want to update.
(iv) Add to Fiction Line: My goal was to publish one romance novella per month, but I only completed three for the year. I got bogged down with my internet marketing site.
Lessons from 2016 Goal List
1. Goal Overload: I overloaded my plate yet again. I have a bad habit of doing this that I’m trying desperately to break.
2. Uncertainty: As a hybrid freelance writer, I have a lot of balls in the air on any given day. So that already means I have to be super-organized. I got bogged down in the details of my internet marketing site because I was unsure about how I wanted it to work.
I was also anxious to launch it, but every time I thought I was ready, a little voice said to me, “No, this isn’t it. This is not what you had envisioned.”
One thing I realized I had to do was pull back to see how I wanted this piece of the puzzle to fit into my overall business. Once I did that, I realized that I was rushing it because I was so anxious. But I wanted to do it right.
$100,000 per Month in Affiliate Income?
I’ve wanted to be more successful at affiliate marketing for a long time, but I never took the time to study it to learn why some make money at it, and some don’t. So that’s what I did. I took a course from an affiliate marketer who earns over $100,000 per month on the regular. I learned a ton.
Then, I took what I’d learned, created a business plan for this arm of my freelance business, and set about writing the marketing material. And that’s where I am now – still creating the marketing material. It’s a lot of work, but this is the foundation of my internet marketing business. So I’m taking my time and laying it right so that when I start marketing it, it’s built on solid ground.
3. Failure Doesn’t Exist: As I look back over my list, from 2016, on the surface, I didn’t fare so well. I only totally completed one of the four goals I’d outlined. However, I’m still pleased because I accomplished something that wasn’t on the list — redesigning this site to make it mobile friendly, and to reflect its new mission, which is to make money writing … for yourself and for others.
This was huge, and falls in line with my business goals moving forward, which GetaMobileCareer.com — my internet marketing site — is a big part of. So I see now that there truly is no such thing as failure.
Stopping and taking stock of what how I wanted to build out the affiliate marketing part of my freelance business was huge for me. Usually, I get an idea and just dive right in. And although I could have launched the site months ago, I realized it wouldn’t have been right. And more than ever, I’m trying to get things right these days from the get go.
This was a growth point in my self-discipline this year, something I want to build on. With that being said, following are my …
2017 Freelance Business Goals
1. Transfer old books to new site: I’ve learned where my “profit centers” are with my books. Four of them account for most of my sales, so I won’t be updating a lot of my older titles. They still have plenty of good info in them though, so I’ll be transferring them to a site that I’m going to deem a “bargain basement bin.”
Goal: March 31st.
UPDATE 4/1/2017: New date — April 30th. I’ve decided to create an “e-bargain basement bin” right here on this site, creating a new catetory on the Shop page.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that trying to update too many sites gets to be too much work. I have this blog and SeoWritingJobs.com, which I don’t update regularly anymore because I want one home on the web — and this site is it as it all the info pertains to “making money writing” … whether it’s for yourself (eg, self-publishing/affiliate marketing and blogging), or for others as a freelance writer.
2. Blog Analytics: One thing I’ve been remiss in doing is digging into my website numbers. Taking that affiliate marketing class made me realize that I need to get on this. If you don’t know where your site traffic is coming from, it’s like marketing in the dark.
I always have an idea of my sites’ overall performance, but once I installed Google Analytics on my site and really dug into which pages were bringing the most traffic, I came across some real surprises.
It gave me ideas for new products to develop that have a chance of being successful, where to concentrate my marketing efforts, and what I could stop talking about because obviously, no one was listening. LOL! 🙂
Goal: Ongoing throughout the year.
3. Write 4 New Romance Novellas: I’ve been earning between $200 and $400 per month on my non-fiction (romance) titles and haven’t prolifically published since 2015. And each time I publish one, sales of the other ones go up. So I’m going to keep adding to this line.
To be honest, I hope to write more than four, but I really want to spend 2017 giving my internet marketing site my all, so am being conservative with this. I’ve learned my lesson about overloading my plate.
Goal: Publish one each quarter — March 31st UPDATE 4/1/2017: May 15th (new date), June 30th, August 30th and December 31st.
4. Create Email Course: The outline for that is already done. Now, it’s just actually pulling all the material together.
Goal: 2/14/2017. UPDATE 2/27: Completed this on Friday, 2/24.
5. Finish Uploading Fiction Novellas to All Platforms: This was a goal left over from 2015. I have about 15 titles of the 42 or so I’ve published that still need to be uploaded to Draft2Digital and GoogleBooks.
I’m just gonna spend a couple of weekends once my IM site is up and the e-course is done to just knock this out. It’s costing me money by not having all titles everywhere, and it’s so easy to do.
Goal: 2/28/2017. UPDATE 4/1: New Date — Friday, April 28th.
6. $10,000/Month in Affiliate Marketing Income. A lofty goal, but with the business plan I put together, I feel pretty confident in reaching it by year’s end. I figure if someone can earn $100,000 per moth, I can certainly do a tenth of that.
Right now, I earn a couple of hundred bucks per month on auto pilot in affiliate marketing income. But I don’t actively promote affiliate products. Usually when I am promoting, I’m promoting my own stuff. Again, with the business plan I’ve put in place, this will change.
I just want to add one more thing before I wrap this post up …
Warning: Be Careful Not to Do This as You Pursue Your Freelance Goals in 2017
One thing I kept in mind as I composed my freelance goals for this year is how does it fit into my overall life plan. IMO, everyone should have one of these, because it keeps you from straying too far off course.
For example, one of my life goals is to be able to support myself via a mobile business that runs basically on autopilot because I don’t want to be tied down to and/or dependent on a location or a client/client deadlines.
I’m almost there; I have a mobile business, but it still requires a lot of hands-on work (eg, writing new books, writing for clients). I’m working on growing income streams that are more more passive. For me, that’s affiliate marketing.
Does Your Freelance Business Plan Fit Your Overall Life Plan?
One thing that keeps popping up for me is coaching. I read about many successful online entrepreneurs doing this and I’m asked by freelance writers if I offer the service all the time. In my gut, I know it’s not the right career move for me – because it makes me accountable to someone directly, something that I just don’t want to do, at least not right now because I’m simply too busy.
Even though this is a particular profit center that could fit nicely in with my business plan, it doesn’t fit my overall life plan. That may change as I achieve some goals and have more room in my schedule, but right now it’s not something I have the desire or time for.
So just keep this in mind as you go about setting goals. Sometimes, something can look great on paper; it may even seem like a “natural” step. But if it doesn’t fit your life goals – which is where your happiness resides – then you may want to rethink it (or, rethink your life goals).
Your freelance business plan and your life plan should be perfectly in sync. If they’re not, you won’t be – and that’s not a recipe for success.
In the “life plan” post linked to above, I wrote that I wanted the option of retirement at 55. That was seven years ago. Now, at 50, I realize that I’m still on track to achieve that. I was kind of surprised to see this because I’ve veered off course a few times and have had some bumps in the road along the way.
However, I think it’s because I’ve had a life plan for a long time and set business goals most years that I’ve been consciously and unconsciously working towards that goal. And that’s yet another reason to set goals – and keep them front and center.
They keep you motivated and on track — even when you don’t realize it.
4 Areas to Assess to Create Your Freelance Writing Goals This Year
1. Life Plan: Where do you want to be personally in three or five years? Answering this question gives you an idea of what you want your life to look like overall. Get specific. Do you want to be able to work from home; take your kids to and from school, be in bed by 11 pm?
Plan out what you want your days to look like. This is your life — a microscopic look at your overall life plan.
2. Finances: How much do you need to earn to meet your financial obligations? This will help you determine how you plan to make money writing — and what you’ll charge.
Will you just write for clients? Or, will you diversify your income streams, eg, write and self-publish books; do some affiliate marketing? Will you specialize in a niche? Which one? What services will you offer?
3. Skills: Assess where your skills are. Do you have the skills you need to achieve your goals? If not, how do you plan to address this? Perhaps one of your goals this year would be to take a class, a seminar, a webinar, or invest in personal coaching.
If you do have the skills you need already, then it’s time to move on to the next area.
4. Up-and-Going Plan: Perhaps one of your goals could be to create this plan, eg, set a date for completing your writing samples, deciding on your service offerings, getting a website, researching and setting your freelance writing rates, etc.
As you can see, your goals can be as broad or narroow as you want. However, as previously stated, take care to ensure that be sure that they’re in sync with your life/personal goals.
What are Your Freelance Writing Goals in 2017?
I’d love to know. Please share in the comments section below.
Here’s to the New Year. I hope it’s a very happy, prosperous one for you … because 2018 is literally just around the corner. 🙂
Next Post (Wed, Jan 4th): Freelance Writers: Bring in Money Fast! How to Launch a Simple & Fast Marketing Campaign When You Need Some Dough
Get the training you need to start a successful online writing career. The class is discounted to the lowest price it will ever be until tomorrow, January 2nd.
P.P.S.: Register Early to Get A Discount on the Upcoming “Create and Sell Your Own Email Course.”
E-courses are a great way to diversify your freelance writing income, and you can earn basically on auto-pilot for years once the course is created.
Let 2017 be the year you finally put your writing skills to use — for yourself!