Day 1: Setting Your Goals

You can leap into marketing, hand out business cards like crazy and try out every new tip. Sometimes it will get you new business and bring in additional income. More likely, though, is that you won’t really be sure if it’s done any good. The problem is that without a clear idea of your goals, as well as a plan to reach them, it’s hard to tell if your marketing efforts are working. That makes setting your goals a crucial first step.

Goals Fit for a Writer

As a freelance writer, you’re in luck: it’s surprisingly easy to set concrete goals and even to figure out a course of action that will get you where you want to go.

Financial Goals: We’re writing for a living here. We need to make sure that we’re bringing home the necessary level of bacon. I’m willing to bet that you’ve already got a good idea of just how much money you need to make in a month in order to be able to pay your bills. That number right there is a minimum goal — some of us are still struggling to reach that number consistently. For others, goals may be a little more ambitious. Either way, you need to write down the amount you want to earn each week, at least for the next couple of months. You can, and should, revise that number upwards as soon as you’re hitting it consistently.

Why weekly? It’s easy to tell yourself that you can catch up at the end of the month, but that tends to turn into just another form of procrastination — the same thing happens when you set yourself a goal like completing an entire novel in one month. On the other hand, if you focus too much on what you want to earn every day, it’s easy to get discouraged if an off day trips you up.

Client Goals: Setting goals about your clientele goes beyond just increasing the number of clients you work with. Instead, it’s a matter of deciding what kind of clients you want — perhaps you want to focus on copy writing and building up your clientele in that area. There’s also a question of quality — if you’ve got a couple of low-paying clients on your plate, it’s time to consider whether you can trade up to some better paying projects. Think hard about the type of clients you want, and what kind of pay rates and projects would induce you to leave any of your existing clients.

Do you have a market you’d absolutely love to write for? Or perhaps a potential client you’d love to work with? Putting those ideal projects into your goals can provide you with an example to weigh other projects with, to help you decide if pursuing them matches your aims.

Project Goals: While having an idea of your project goals isn’t absolutely necessary to your overall marketing plan, it can make sense to include a general idea of what you want to accomplish — this sort of information can help you make sure that you aren’t spending too much time on marketing, or too little. For instance, I have a word count I try to meet every day. I’m okay with part of that word count going towards my marketing effort, such as writing a blog post, but it’s important to me to meet that goal consistently.

Your goals can include getting a certain number of articles published or completing a certain number of other writing projects. They can also include goals beyond working for a client, such as any efforts you’re making towards passive income.

Where Are You Now?

As you’re planning your goals, consider where you are now. In fact, it’s worth writing down where you are now, in terms of finances or clients and then writing down where you want to go. Putting goals like these into writing can make them concrete and give you a reminder to work towards them.

If you don’t have a very thorough understanding of where you are, you may need to create a baseline. If, for instance, you can’t tell me right now what your average hourly wage is from writing, it’s important to start tracking how you spend your time along with your income.

What are your goals? Do you have any goals beyond earning more money? Tell us where you want to be in terms of clients and projects.

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