Freelance Marketing in 2016: Short-term and Long-term Goal Setting

What I’m listening to: Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey

Here we are — the second full week of January. By now, plenty of New Year’s resolutions have been forgotten, and you’re looking at more of the same kind of business-as-usual as you had last year. As you wait for that one client who will make your earnings dreams come true, hope replaces planning.

Not anymore. Not on this blog, at least.

Continuing our Freelance Marketing in 2016 series, let’s look at one of the real reasons your resolutions get you nowhere. It’s a simple reason, and one that’s just as simple to remedy.

Planning, or rather lack of planning.

No big surprise, right? Sure, you wanted to earn $100,000 this year, but January isn’t the right time, you say. And February, well, clients are busy catching up on other work. March, they’re probably starting to attend conferences, and April….

There’s an excuse for every month, isn’t there? It’s that kind of excuse-making that keeps struggling writers struggling.

Stop it right now.

Here’s the five-minute, easy-to-tackle method for setting goals. As you’re writing, jot down every idea that comes to mind. We’re brainstorming. You can self-edit later.

  1. Get a piece of paper or open a fresh Word document.
  2. Write down what you want your business to achieve over the next year (don’t let the calendar stymie you — today is your New Year’s day). Dream big. You want to push beyond the status quo, not simply repeat it.
  3. Next, write down a list of things you need to do in order to do that. What’s most important right now? Is it creating brand awareness? Reaching a new customer segment? Positioning yourself as a go-to source in your chosen specialty? 
  4. Now write down what you need to do monthly in order to achieve your annual goal. How much marketing? How much client research? How many client prospects do you need to touch base with each month? How many existing clients will you reach out to, and how often?
  5. Now take those monthly action items and create a goal around them. “I need to talk with six new clients and sell to one existing client every month.” Okay, so that means you need to contact new people every week by email, phone, letter, social media… you choose. Decide how many times per week you’ll do this.
  6. Open your calendar. Schedule these things. In fact, most calendar apps should have the ability to set recurring appointments. Use it. Make sure to set the reminder so you won’t forget.
  7. Don’t forget to review your rates. How much are you charging? Is it enough to help you reach your annual goal? Do some math — if your goal is to get that $100K in one year, you’re not going to do it charging $50 an hour. Also, is your rate in line with your target client? Are they going to take you seriously or are you trying to sell to bargain hunters who can’t possibly pay what you’re charging? Maybe your client isn’t the one you think it is. Go back and define your target client again.

Also, do revisit this process whenever you feel your business going stale. Maybe your goals were too ambitious, or maybe you’ve put a plan in place that leaves no time for actual writing. If something isn’t working, try again.

Writers, do you set annual goals?
How does your process differ?
What would you say is the most important aspect of reaching long-term goals? Short-term goals?

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