Monthly Assessment: February 2013

What’s on the iPod: Beg, Steal or Borrow by Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs


Happy March. May it be coming in like a lamb for you wherever you are.

For those of you new to the blog (welcome!), it’s that time once again to put a little accountability into our actions or lack thereof. That’s right –we’re about to bare our souls to each other on how we managed the ol’ career this month. I do this every month, and you’re free to join in.

So let’s look at the damage. Altogether not a bad month, though not exactly the rousing start to 2013 that I’d hoped for. Here are the details:

Two went out to magazines that are new to me. One actually responded (no thanks), but did allude to having a full calendar, so I’ll check back in a few months.

It was a busy month for letters of introduction. Because I attend a conference every year (which has proven to be my bread-and-butter work for the entire year), I send out LOIs in advance and set up meetings. This month, I sent 51 LOIs. That netted a phone call and a “Your timing couldn’t be better – we’re desperate for help” note. No projects yet, but definite interest.

Existing clients:
This is what sustained me this month. One retainer plus a few extra projects made up the bulk of my monthly income. One article, two different projects, and some retainer work (and additional beyond-the-retainer work) has added up nicely. I have had a few regular clients go silent, and that has me a little puzzled. So I’ll be getting back in touch next week.

New clients:
It pays to get chatty on social media. One client came to me via LinkedIn — specifically from a forum he’d seen me on. I did a fairly quick project for him, and I hope to do more. He’s a nice guy.

I didn’t think I would, but I exceeded my monthly earnings target. Only just, but the last invoice I sent pushed me over the top, amen. March may be interesting as all of these promised, much-talked-about projects are still in limbo. Hopefully they won’t appear at once, but I guarantee you the minute I book my flight for the conference, the clients will be coming out of the woodwork.

Bottom line:
I’m not pushing the conference marketing as hard, but then again, my goal is to remain working steadily while I market. Last year I made the mistake of putting all my efforts into marketing, which meant I had two lean months. Not horrible, but lean enough to notice it. Marketing will continue for both the conference and the day-to-day.

The current few clients who have gone off the radar are my top priority. They like my work. I like working with them. I think I’ll propose an arrangement or a few projects to get the conversation going again.

How was February? Did the shorter month affect your earnings? What were some of the surprises for you this month?

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  • Devon Ellington March 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    TErrible earnings, late payers, obstacles all the way around, especially because casting hell cut into my earning time. Bad month.

  • Cathy Miller March 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    LOIs I've been busy with LOIs in the 1st 2 months of this year. I've had decent returns in terms of replies, but no confirmed projects yet. Two probably won't work out because they can't (or won't) meet my fees.

    Existing clients I took a major hit at the end of last year that trickled into 2013 when 1 of my largest contributors to my income was downsized, another was acquired, and a 3rd is struggling with no new sales.

    Another existing client is going steady and has one of those "promised" projects from another department within the company. And another existing client has had a project for me each month that keeps me hanging on.

    New clients I have one old/new client who has several "promised" projects. It's a public entity and the process is between slow & slower. No, make that slooooowest. It's just the way they work. I've been waiting for the contract since Jan.

    I have other "promised" projects from two new clients.

    Earnings I would exceed targeted earnings for the month if I had payment on all my invoices. I don't count the $ until it is in my hot, little hand. Especially since the latest fad is slow payments. I feel your pain, Devon.

    Like you, Lori, March will be very busy IF all the talked-about projects get under way.

  • Lori March 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks, ladies. Devon, sorry it was a lousy month. I suspect with your plays about to be underway, March and April should improve.

    Cathy, like you I saw a large retainer evaporate in December (it was contracted for five months and that was the last month). Replacing that in December is NOT easy.

    What have you in the pipeline? Are you finding things a bit slower these days?

  • Cathy Miller March 1, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    I have a 12-14 page marketing brochure, web copy pages for 2 different clients, a ghostwritten article, and 3 ghostwritten blog posts in the pipeline.

    It's definitely slower and one new targeted market has totally surprised me with the lack of activity.

  • Paula March 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Retainers? Lori, I think you just came up with a new monthly topic: How to land clients who pay by retainer.

    Okay, here we go again….

    Queries: Sent a big batch to Favorite Editor who is busy assigning the biggest issue of the year. A couple of my ideas were assigned along with some of their own.

    LOIs: Only sent one LOI, but got a positive response. Fingers crossed.

    Job Listings: I saw three that were great fits. No word as yet.

    Existing Clients: They're keeping me busy! Turned in three of six pieces to Favorite Editor, wrote two columns, and accepted new assignments from two long-time clients. Turned in four articles to a new client (already published, already paid!) A former résumé client also hired me to write a cover letter.

    New Clients: A custom publisher I started courting last summer finally offered up two short assignments. I'm writing copy for their client's website. If all goes well, they might have ongoing assignments.

    Earnings: Like Cathy, I don't count earnings until I have cash in hand. That said, I was about $400 under my new monthly goal, but this week alone I've already sent an invoice totaling more than half my monthly goal and am currently working on projects totaling way more than that.

    Bottom line: Persistence pays off!

  • Lori March 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Interesting, isn't it Cathy? I'm not seeing a lot of activity now, either. Not in my regular market anyway. It could be due to the sequester, but I think it's more that companies are re-evaluating their workloads and budgets.

    Paula, that's hardly "under" your goal! Good job! Feels pretty good, doesn't it? 🙂

  • Kimberly Ben March 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    February was SO much better for me than January. I started working with two new clients – the result of marketing toward the end of 2012. I also received extra money from a client that I didn't know I was due thanks to my own miscalculation. Kind of scary, so I've changed my invoicing process to help me better track payments due.