Monthly Assessment: July and August 2015

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What’s on the iPod: The Loneliness and the Scream by Frightened Rabbit

This week’s marathon is nearly complete. I have one deadline today, another new-client call, and revisions on a project from another new client. Plus I want to get an outline started for a project due at the end of the month for yet another new client. I’m hoping for a little breathing room next week, but I don’t think it will happen.

It’s all good, though. The work keeps me earning, and the clients are paying my rate without question. That makes for a happy writer.

Because the work never really let up since May, I completely missed reporting in on July’s earnings. I’ll keep this short:

July 2015 — $329 off my target.

August 2015 — $720 off my target. 

To be honest, July surprised me. It felt like I hadn’t earned much, even though I was printing invoices every week. August is decidedly busier, but the projects will bill this month (and one will bill in October).

Because July is a blur, I’m going to break down August’s activities.

One. That one got me two gigs, but one fell through as the interview subjects changed their minds. Can’t profile people who decide they don’t want to be profiled.

For the first time ever, I sent none. I hope that doesn’t bite me later, but I know I couldn’t take on one more thing this past month.

Social media
I was a bit absent on social media — work again. I was on Twitter to promote the free webinar Jake Poinier and I have going on this month (and if you’re interested in the next free one, sign up at the link above). Beyond that, just a few interactions with contacts on various LinkedIn forums.

Job postings
There was one that appealed, but I didn’t apply as the requirements were way too long and my time was way too short. I don’t typically look on job boards unless it’s All Indie Writers or eByline. Even the latter has little to offer, but occasionally a good one will appear.

Existing clients
I picked up a new client three months ago. Since then he’s kept me busy with fun, interesting projects. He’s a great person to collaborate with, and he’s friendly. Much of my work in July was for him, and he’s filled August with plenty for me to do. Also, a failed project with another client two months ago (their client’s fault) led to not one, but three replacement projects from them. I like these people — their company owns a few of the magazines I work with. And one of those magazines has been funneling work to me quite a lot. Plus a favorite editorial team called and handed me some work based of a query of mine.

New clients
I just picked up a new client last week, and that project won’t be billed for a while. But the good news is I’m already enjoying the work. Then the company mentioned above has connected me with three of their clients, so I’m counting them as “new” clients since the work is new and the personalities are new to me.

I made five submissions. One rejected within a week. The rest are still out there.

Just $720 off the target. Not bad, especially since summers are never this good for me. I’m more than a little nervous about how much work may come in this month and next. But if I price it right and organize my hours, I should be fine.

Bottom line
Despite being insanely busy, I’m about to kick up the marketing again. The short hiatus is over, and it’s time to get more work in through the end of the year. When what was supposed to be a long-term, well-paid retainer dried up, it was quickly replaced with three projects, one of which goes through December. Having established good relationships with a few people in the company was a huge help to getting these jobs.

Writers, how has the summer been for you?
Are you seeing more work, less work, or the same?
When is your peak work cycle? Your slow period?

About the author




  • Cathy Miller September 3, 2015 at 11:29 am

    The summer started off slower but has picked up. August was my 2nd highest income month for the year so far.

    I've had one prospect who keeps assuring me she has work for me but I can't get her off the mark. She travels extensively but this has been going on for 3 months. Another couldn't pay my rate for a specific project but indicates he may have other work. Again, getting them to move has been a challenge.

    My contact for my best client is going on maternity leave this month but she has lined up projects through the end of the year. I also get along well with her manager. Last time she took maternity leave, her backup was not so attentive and it snowballed into the worst quarter of my career. So, naturally I was a bit leery of another maternity leave. 😉

    I've been working on 2016 strategy and trying to close this year strong. If I could stop the blasted computer and site problems, I'd be able to get more done.

  • Lori Widmer September 3, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Cathy, sounds like you're covering your bases well! I hear you on computer problems (my site, for the moment, is behaving). I installed Windows 10. It sucked up all but 44 GB of my hard drive space, so now everything runs so freaking slow. I've cleaned files, deleted stuff I never use, moved all files to the cloud… nada. Still hangs up.

    Would love to hear your 2016 strategy sometime.

  • Paula Hendrickson September 3, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    April-September is usually my busiest time.

    Why? Emmy nomination forms go out in the late spring and the ballots go out in June, so every TV publication is running stories (if not special issues) about likely nominees, nominees, and the awards themselves. Add in fall's pre-season hype in August. Then add in it's also the time of year a lot of publications do their Top 100 type listings. So far I've written entries for the Women's Impact Report, Hot 100 in cable, most influential minorities in cable, and the Youth Impact Report, and yesterday an editor asked if I'd be able to work on their annual listing of the most powerful women in cable.

    August was a challenging month for me, since my dear Doggie Lily died August 16. But I learned how kind my editors are. They all helped me stay busy enough without being overwhelmed. Some scaled back assignments, one extended a deadline, another pushed something back a month, and one told me to take as much time as I needed, and when I said I'd turn it in on the 21st, she told me to invoice it on the 20th so I'd be paid right away and not have to wait another month.

    Here's how August stacked up:

    Queries: Sent five, so far one has been assigned. I did snag a double assignment from a query I sent a couple months ago, too.

    LOIs: Sent zero, followed up on one. Looks promising for work in the new year.

    Job Listings: Responded to three. One replied. That's when I learned they essentially expected writers to crank out 750 words per hour, at $11 per hour. For 10 hours a week. That's worse than mill rates. Worse yet? They never answered when I asked how and where the "product descriptions" would be used.

    Social Media: Made new connections, shared clips. But all in all didn't spend a lot of time on it.

    Existing Clients: Thank God. They kept me sane, and working. Completed three assignments for one of my longtime clients and picked up three more (from three different editors there). Did small copywriting job for my sister's company. Wrote one column. Finished an article for another client and was able to spin sources for one upcoming article into an assignment from another editor.

    New Clients: Started my first slideshow for a new client. My contact there has already asked if I'd like to do two more.

    Earnings: My actual income was only about $200 shy of my modest monthly goal, but I've invoiced a LOT. The only catch is the majority of work was for the client with the slow payment system. So I won't see a dime for any of this work until mid-October (that will be a nice 4-digit check, though), and some not until mid-November.

    Bottom Line: I can work through grief. While September's income will be low, right now I am either working on or have already invoiced almost double my monthly goal.

  • Cathy Miller September 3, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Lori, one suggestion for Windows 10 that I read, if you are sure you are not going to go back to Windows 8, you can delete those folders that take up a lot of space. They're only kept in the event you want to go back to Windows 8. There are "how-tos" online

    I haven't installed Windows 10 yet. After replacing my 6-month-old desktop's operating system, I simply could not handle any more computer garbage. >:(

  • Lori Widmer September 3, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Paula, looks like you had a good month despite the grief of losing Lily. I hope things are improving for you.

    Cathy, thanks but I did delete the older versions of Windows (I was still on 7). I'm simply out of space — I spent the afternoon deleting old programs, what I hope are unnecessary setup/installation files, and plenty of emails. I have 50 GB free now, but that's not enough if I open a few windows. Ugh. Probably looking at another hard drive.

  • Cathy Miller September 3, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    That's one good thing about my new computer. I have 930GB (only using 58GB).

  • Lori Widmer September 4, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I never thought I'd say this to another woman, but I'm SO jealous of your hard drive space!

  • Eileen September 4, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    I had an unexpectedly good summer and heading into a good fall. A fun, creative project landed in my lap in July and August, and billings on it were high even though the work was fast and easy. Summers can be slow, so that was good. Then a long-time client signed two contracts with me to produce two videos (one short, one long), and write the accompanying scripts and sales copy as well. I've just begun the video work, and it will keep me pretty much fully booked through December. No 2016 strategy for me yet; I guess I should start thinking about that!

  • Lori Widmer September 8, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Wow, you're on fire, Eileen! Sounds like a great way to end the last quarter of the year.