I can’t believe it’s December. It seems like we’ve been living with the smell for months now, when it’s probably been just a few weeks. The sewer folks were in – confirmed my suspicions. This is a dead thing somewhere in the walls, the ceiling, under the sink. I’m happy to report that the smell has dissipated to some extent. We opened the door to the powder room on Friday and no one gagged. Progress.
So this is officially the start of what we freelancers like to call the famine stage. December is, by most accounts, pretty slow. Work opportunities are lean at the beginning and dry up completely by mid-month. Good time to plan for 2009, don’t you think?
Everyone has their own version of goal setting, but here’s mine. You can use it verbatim or modify it to suit you.
1. Decide how much money you want to earn. Seriously. Get a number in your head. Write it down. Don’t be shy – this is a goal, even if it’s a six-figure goal.
2. Figure out how much per hour you need to make in order to reach that goal. I’ve often planned how much per month I need to earn – whatever works for you. Just decide over the course of the next 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days what your billing rate needs to be so that you can reach that goal without killing yourself in the process.
3. Reality check – really decide if the goal and the billable amount are going to work. It’s okay to say “I want to earn $500K this year.” It’s quite another to actually be able to by charging $100 an hour. For as you know, we don’t always have the luxury of working 8-hour days every day of the year.
4. Modify the goal or the figure in order to match reality. I can say “Hey, this is my million-dollar year!”, but am I really going to be able to earn $2,800 a day in order to get there?
5. Set monthly benchmarks. This is easier for me because I don’t have time to watch my Quicken charts every week (I’m busy earning it!). I set a monthly goal, which is easy to run through the invoices to see if I’ve reached it. Most of us know what we’ve earned in a month. We should. And do we check to see if we’ve reached them? Hmmm?
6. If you don’t earn enough in a month, do something about it. We set the goals just fine. What we don’t do is look at our process for finding work if we miss those earnings goals. Think about where your work has come from. Same old places? Some new ones that didn’t quite measure up? Then why aren’t you expanding into new areas? Why aren’t you looking for clients in different industries or at new publications?
7. Search for more (and better) revenue sources. Start with existing clients. It’s okay to raise your rates once in a while, you know. If you charge them $50 an hour and everyone else is charging $100 an hour, what, are you crazy? Raise your rates! Yes, you may lose a client or two, but I’ve found that higher rates doesn’t just scare off the low-price shoppers – it brings in the serious buyers.
How do you keep aligned with your goals? What’s your process? Do you have a process?