Monthly Assessment: January 2014

What’s on the iPod: Jumper by Third Eye Blind

You’re getting a lot of posts out of me this week. That’s because there seems to be a lot to talk about. Snow, more snow, and work are piling up. I got a last-minute article request on Tuesday for a short sidebar piece and right now I’m buried to my neck in writing. Two articles due a day apart next week — should be interesting.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I had electricity? Alas, it went out yesterday around 4 am, and at this writing, I’m sitting at the local McDonald’s, which seems to be one of few places around that still has power. Right now, 183K of 220K in the area are in the dark. So I hope I’ll be back today, but who knows? I’m lucky to find any connection.

In the flurry of snow, rain, and total disconnect (even the 4G on the phone wouldn’t work), I nearly forgot my monthly assessment. Alas, I’m not letting myself off the hook (nor you, for that matter). Here’s how January looked:

I kept threatening to send more, but I sent just one. It was accepted. Hence, the deadline.

I sent 31 in January. The trade show is coming in April, and I wanted to reach out. The result — I finished one project for a new client, three projects for another new client, and I had a few “we may need you at some point” responses. There’s also a call with another new client next week.

Existing clients
I had work from regulars, but it was a pretty quiet bunch this past month otherwise. A few small projects came in and were finished quickly. I’m getting that feeling — you know, the one where everything is about to come in at once.

New clients
Despite losing the bulk of a project from a new client, I did pick up those other two new clients. January seems to be a good time to tap people on the shoulder and get the projects started.

Social media
I’ve made it a point to contact five new people via LinkedIn every week. So in January I was able to contact 15 people (didn’t make the decision until the second week, so…). Of those, there are a few who are interested in further conversations.

It was a slow start to the month, but by the end I was on track and earning. I missed my target by $1,500.

Bottom Line
It was a good month, but not great. So the plan is to push more, follow up more, query more, communicate more, and look into some new areas I’ve been considering. I’ve just reconnected with a favorite editor who’s now at another publication. That adds one more client to the roster and one more platform for name recognition in the industry. Amen.

How was your January?
What surprised you? What didn’t?
Did you reach your income target?

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  • Cathy Miller February 6, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    My January started slow, too, but finished with a bang, which I hope carries over to this month.

    LOIs – I sure did not match your volume, Lori. Wow. I did a combination of LOIs and warm emails (emails to contacts I know). I sent a total of 10. One LOI later had an ad on LI that I stumbled across & we have exchanged 4 emails since. It's looking good for multiple projects. Yay!

    Existing clients – I'm happy to say they finally seem to be coming out of the vacation hold. One delivered blog posting contract, another a resource document project, and another 2 articles for a newsletter. Another existing client has an ongoing blog project.

    New clients A former client (from 3 years ago) returned for a small project. I have one prospect I started talking to in January who I am fairly certain will deliver work this month.

    Social media I always touch base with my LI contacts at the start of a new year. Just a Happy New Year type of message-nothing else. It tends to help remind them what I do. Had a few follow-up conversations so we'll see if anything comes from it.

    Earnings As I said, the month ended strong. I fell only $500 short of target (ack-one more project). 🙂

    Bottom line-I am relieved to be getting back on track and hope to keep building on my progress.

  • Paula February 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I hope your power is restored soon, Lori. It's hard to keep a house warm without it – even with a fireplace.

    My January started with a crawl. I had tons of assignments, but almost no one I needed to interview was back from the holidays until mid-January! I was also fighting a cold/flu that seemed to last forever thanks to shoveling snow in the bitter cold. I know I'm not alone in that!

    Queries: Only sent two. My editor replied quickly to note they already had very similar stories in progress – she'd been at a photo shoot for one of those stories earlier that same day. But she kindly noted the were great ideas and I was right on target.

    LOIs and "warm emails" (I love that phrase, Cathy): After one of my other favorite editors changed careers in January, I sent an LOI to his replacement. She said she would have assignments for me soon. I also sent some "warm emails" wishing a happy new year to editors I worked with last year but hadn't been in contact with for a few months.

    Existing Clients: Turned in two columns, three articles and 36 executive bios to three separate clients. Have 5 articles currently in progress for three clients.

    New Clients/Referrals: A former resumé client referred one of her relatives my way. And while it's not a paying gig, I was invited to speak at a local writers' meeting about the ins and outs of freelance writing.

    Social Media: I haven't really tracked it, but I added a couple new LinkedIn connections in January and have made an effort to engage in more discussions there. I'm toying with joining Tumblr…anyone have pros or cons to share?

    Earnings: While my January income was a hair more than my 2013 monthly goal, it was about 10% under my new 2014 monthly goal.

    Bottom Line: I need to focus on marketing despite having five articles all due by the end of the month.

  • Lori Widmer February 6, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Cathy, I set the LOI goal high for a reason — two a day (or ten a week) because the show is coming and it's my money-making opportunity every year. Otherwise, I'd probably send just one or two a week.

    Congrats on being so close to your target! I'm hoping once I get power back (sitting in Burger King today — hooray for free WiFi!), I'll be able to take on more work. As it is, this ice storm has taken a chunk out of my marketing and projects.

    Paula, not a bad start to your January, actually. I think you probably felt less productive than the numbers suggest. 🙂

    Maybe no power until Saturday or Sunday, so I'm on another quest — to drag wood in, dry it out best I can, and keep the fire going. Oh, and running out now and then to recharge the phone and Surface. 🙂

  • Paula February 6, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    That long without power? In winter? Be sure to leave a faucet or two trickling so your pipes don't freeze!

  • Lori Widmer February 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    So far, the pipes have been fine. The bathtub drips constantly anyway, so there's that. 🙂

    I have found some solace in a Starbucks that was well designed –An outlet every three feet. Miracles! This place is packed, too. Took me 30 minutes to get four miles away because most of the roads are closed thanks to downed trees and power lines. The main highway is bumper-to-bumper and going very slooooow…..