Your Annual Freelance Writing Business Review

What’s on the iPod: I’m a Mess by Ed Sheeran

It’s nearly Christmas — time for your annual business review.

I know — you’re way too busy preparing for the holiday onslaught to think about your business. But in the waning days post-Christmas and pre-2016, there’s a good chance you’ll have a spare hour to think about your 2015 business results.

Take it.

Here’s a quick freelance business review template to help you see how you fared this year:

Add up your earnings. Find your annual revenue first, then break it down. How much did that net you each month? If you’ve set monthly targets and have tracked your earnings every month, look at each month individually — what did you earn each month? Write it down. Move to the next month, etc. Now that you have the figures lined up per month, look at each month. What was going on in the months you weren’t hitting your targets? What about in those months where you met or exceeded your goals? Where did that money and those clients come from?  Under each month, list the clients who hired you, what you earned, and if you’re still in contact with those clients.

List where you fell a little short. Either you had too much time off (intentionally or unintentionally), too little success with your marketing, no real marketing plan to speak of, or (if you’re being honest with yourself) no serious commitment to bringing in the work. Is Candy Crush your nemesis? Twitter? Facebook? Incessant email checking? Lack of followup? Find your weaknesses, be they time sinks, missed opportunities or personality traits, and list them.

Identify your favorite projects. What did you love most this year? Was it that annual report or that investigative article? A book revision or a series of marketing pieces? Which of these do you want to do more of in the future? Now take a snapshot view of the clients who provided those projects. How can you attract more of the same?

List the work you’d rather not be doing. Another resume? Really? If you see the same projects coming in and you groan, put that on your list of Projects to Avoid. We’re freelance writers — we don’t have to take everything that comes our way just because it’s a job. Take jobs that give you joy or a sense of accomplishment (ideally both).

Note where clients found you. This is an easy measure of where you can start with your marketing in 2016. Where did you find your clients and how did you approach them? What worked? Now flip that — what didn’t work? Where did you spend time that didn’t net you anything or so little it didn’t equal the time you spent? Write it all down.

This isn’t a complete list of the ways in which you can examine your results, but it does get you thinking about your activities at a deeper level than merely looking at the final figures and thinking either “Yes!” or “What the hell?”

Writers, what do you include in your year-end review?
What would you suggest for writers who are struggling? How can they use a review to get back on track?

About the author




  • Paula Hendrickson December 26, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Great advice, Lori. This year I actually have to work between Christmas and the new year, but it's on projects I enjoy.

    Over Christmas a cousin (a very talented graphic designer like my sister) and I were discussing how she's created a business to sell customizable versions of her designs online. Prices are far lower than custom clients would pay, but the sheer number of sales she's made makes up the difference. I might try something similar for selling my own knit and crochet patterns… I'd love to set something up so I'll have a passive revenue stream, even if it starts small.

    I hope you and everyone in this community of writers has a happy, successful, and prosperous 2016!