Monthly Assessment: November 2012

What’s on the iPod: Act on Impulse by We Were Promised Jetpacks

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Ah, the end of another month. In what is typical a slow period for freelancing, it’s tough sometimes to look at the bottom line. However, if you keep track of your efforts, you’ll soon be able to see some areas of improvement, and that’s the key to making every month lucrative. And when you share your results with other writers, that makes you doubly aware of the effort you’re making. Accountability is a good thing.

So let’s look at how I did this month:

I was about to send one when an editor got in touch with an assignment. So I sent none, but I got work. I wish I could bottle that!

I sent no new ones, but followed up on some previous ones. Sad news back from one contact–most of her department was laid off the week before I’d gotten in touch. I expressed my condolences, and I offered to keep in touch. She must be stinging from the layoff still — no response at all. Can’t blame her. That’s a tough position. 

Existing clients:
Once again this was where the bulk of my work came from. I’m getting a little nervous that there aren’t new clients being added to the mix, so I’m ramping up the LOI and query machine in December. Since most magazine budgets are history by now, I’m shooting for January assignments. One editor got in touch this week with one of those January assignments, so I know there’s a check coming in February. Between the two retainer clients, the marketing firm work, and the magazine work, I’ve been pretty busy.

New clients:
Oddly, one today came from a temp agency I’d signed with seven years ago. The recruiter “found” my updated information on LinkedIn and called. I may have some offsite work coming in for December, so that’s promising. If not, I’m going to be plenty busy thanks to the current clients, plus a magazine article due in a few weeks.

I had a few, but nothing that fit.

Amen for retainers in the slow months! I’m fortunate to be doing quite well — surpassing my new target by 15 percent. 

Bottom line:
Call me crazy, but I get nervous when things are going well. I feel I should be increasing my marketing efforts and trying to secure projects four to six months out. I don’t want to get complacent with the few clients I have now, and retainers do make one feel too secure. I know one retainer is about to expire, so I’m looking to replace or extend that income stream for January.

How was it for you in November? Did you meet your goals? What’s working? What isn’t?

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  • Devon Ellington November 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Financially, it sucked. I need to clean house with several clients to make room for other ones who don't bounce checks and pay on time.

    Creatively, it was great, on long-term projects, but I need some quick-turnaround, quick-pay assignments to save December.

  • Anne Wayman November 30, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    My November was good, best month in a long time, plus a solid lead on a book ghostwriting job I'd love to do… meditation and gratitude seem to be working for me.

  • Lori November 30, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Devon, if anyone can make it work, you can. Good idea on cleaning house!

    Anne, that's great news! Love that meditation/gratitude has something to do with it.

  • Paula November 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    I love the idea of a retainer…but it might make me slack up on the marketing…

    Here's my month:

    Queries – two batches to Favorite Editor, resulting in three assignments.

    LOIs – four LOIs and one follow up, which was encouraging.

    Job listings – none.

    Existing clients – four columns, and one article each to three regular markets.

    New clients – zero. (I need to focus on that area, too, Lori.)

    Referrals – zero.

    Earnings – despite Late Payer's best efforts (and skill at evading my inquiries), I only fell about $400 shy of my modest monthly goal. Had Late payer paid, I would be about the same amount over said goal.

    Bottom line – Not only do I need better-paying clients, I need more clients that pay on time.

  • Cathy Miller December 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    This has got to be the strangest year yet. Like I posted previously, I came out blazing & then the stars got knocked way out of alignment – clients leaving companies, maternity leave (for a client – not me – ha!), two eye surgeries on top of being gone 2 weeks in November and a missed opportunity because of that.

    Earnings are down for the month – slow-paying client still has not paid. Prospects – met with two while in San Diego – one promises new work in 1Q 2013 (we'll see), 2nd made no solid commitment, but hope springs eternal.

    Client who left company is interviewing and I know she'll seek me out if she lands a new job (she's done that twice now) and I am going to follow up with her old company (to see if I can retain them -? = CEO not big on marketing).

    I'm anxious to get the craziness behind me and move on.

  • Paula December 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Wow, Cathy. What kind of self-respecting CEO doesn't see the value of marketing?

  • AnnaLisa December 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Much of the month was as usual–work from long-term clients–and productive.

    I've had a couple of referrals, one of which produced a few fun, offbeat short-term projects.

    Beginning to think I should invest more time in queries, maybe try to expand into new territory. I've had the same long-term clients for a while, and I love them to death, but I sort of feel like I might be getting stale. Those few projects that were off the beaten path made me stretch my brain in a new direction!