On January 1st, you’ll find me curled up under a blanket with a mug of tea and a notebook, plotting a course for freelance domination. For me, the annual resolution-setting ritual is a cherished part of the New Year.
Because it’s an annual tradition, I follow a few simple rules: Resolutions fall into four categories: career, personal, financial and growth/development. I choose three resolutions for each of the categories, which equals one resolution to tackle per month.
My resolutions for 2014 include: securing a book contract, expanding my workshop/coaching offerings, starting a beehive, volunteering with a local animal shelter and establishing a regular yoga practice.
I think there are four goals every writer needs to set in 2014:
An income goal: It doesn’t matter whether you want to make $10,000 or $100,000 from freelancing, setting a goal matters. Obviously, a financial goal gives you something to strive for but it also guides your decisions about setting rates and accepting/declining assignments.
A financial goal helps keep me on track (I know when to ramp up marketing efforts by looking at the numbers). It also brings out my inner competitor: Can I earn more this month than last? Can I meet a monthly income goal writing for a single client? Yes, I’m easily entertained! J
Diversify: It’s tempting to roll into the New Year hoping that regular clients from 2013 will keep calling with work. Even if those assignments continue rolling in, it’s a good idea to target new markets (better safe than sorry, right)?
Here is my approach: I choose three new target markets. Picking specific magazines I want to break into makes it easier to keep up with their editorial coverage and develop specific ideas that are a good fit. I also aim for a diverse mix of magazines. In 2014, I’ll be targeting a custom publisher, a trade magazine and a glossy newsstand publication. My goal is to turn these target markets into regular clients before the end of the year.
Professional development: At first glance, freelancing seems like a pretty basic business. We research ideas, write queries, interview experts and submit articles. Rinse, repeat. But publishing is changing and there is always something new to learn.
Consider attending a conference on custom publishing to expand your freelance business, signing up for a creative writing workshop or taking a class in social media. (That last one is a biggie for me. I may even end up on Twitter in 2014).
Join a creative community: Writing is a solitary profession. Finding a community of like-minded writers can provide much-needed connection. If you don’t have the support of other writers (either as part of a local writing group or a member of an online community like FreelanceSuccess.com) you could miss out on the opportunity to celebrate successes and lament struggles with other writers. A community of writers is also valuable to keep you informed about the daily realities of the writing life from new leads and editor job changes to avoiding magazines with troubles meeting their freelance payrolls.