Monthly Assessment: December 2015

What I’m listening to: The Sound of Silence by Disturbed

Happy 2016! I hope your holiday season was nice and that the start of this year is a good one for you.

In true fashion around our house, we started 2016 deep in a new project. Two years ago, we hauled decorations down before the new year. Carpets came up and my husband and stepson got busy putting in new hardwood floors. This year, husband and I started nailing wood to the walls — we’re putting wainscoting in the foyer and up the stairs. He created the design, and it’s going to be gorgeous. A ton of work, but it will be worth it.

It may be 2016, but I can’t quite let go of 2015 — not until I look back at the freelance writing business last month.

It was a good one, too. Even though we freelancers are used to client work dropping off around Thanksgiving, nothing doing for me. December was busy, and the work was coming in even a few days before I took my holiday break (actually, I got a project while I was on vacation).

Not all of the projects have been invoiced yet (waiting on a few tweaks here and there), but it was a surprisingly good month.

I sent one. It resulted in an ongoing assignment that will pay more than the usual assignments– unexpected good news.

I didn’t send any out this past month despite my conviction to do so. I wanted to revisit my LOI approach before doing so.

Social media:
Two people reached out to me on social media regarding projects. I gave one guy my price and heard nothing more. I’ll check back once more, but I think the price deterred him, and that’s okay. Not every client fits.

Job postings:
None, amen. Didn’t even feel the need to browse them just for kicks. Job postings haven’t been my way of finding work in over ten years — that probably won’t change anytime soon.

No referrals last month.

New clients:
Well, not really new, but a new editor. My two favorite people are leaving a particular publication, but they’ve left me in good hands, and with the ongoing assignments referenced above.

Existing clients:
Plenty of work came in from my existing clients. While it amounted to just three projects, those three projects made up the bulk of my earnings.

No poetry submissions last month.

For a December in which I worked two and a half weeks, I did okay. I’m $1K off my monthly earnings target, which is the same for December as it is for any other month. That’s pretty damn good.

Bottom line:
Thanks to two projects being booked in December (one a planned effort, the other happenstance), I’m set up well for January. It’s just $3K in work, but remember I’ve not invoiced the few projects that I had last month, so I’ll still have decent cash rolling in on top of that. What worked — purposefully looking to get work assigned for January; putting the emphasis on current clients; finding new ways to use social media advantageously; and keeping the current clients satisfied.

What didn’t work — ignoring getting out the LOIs and the poetry submissions. LOIs are critical right now, and not having done that could be a problem in a few months.

How did you do in December? What worked? What didn’t?

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  • KeriLynn Engel January 5, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Love these monthly assessments, Lori – it's always great to see what other freelancers are up to 🙂

    I've been trying to focus more on sending out LOIs the past few months, and have just gotten a great new client from them! I'd love to hear about your re-evaluation of your own LOI strategy.

  • Paula Hendrickson January 5, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    I normally take the last two weeks of the year off, but this time I had a little work to do…but I kept it to the bare minimum.

    Queries – sent two ideas to Favorite Editor, both were assigned. They also assigned me two more articles that I hadn't pitched. (Something tells me they liked the homemade toffee I sent!)

    No LOIs.

    Social Media – Can't say anything great happened via social media. Added a few followers here and there, and tried reaching out to a potential source on LinkedIn, who probably isn't even going to see it until this week.

    Job Postings – Replied to two. No word. Maybe 2016 should be the year of ignoring job postings entirely, huh?

    No referrals.

    No new clients.

    Existing clients: Turned in two columns and one article, and proceeded with work on six articles and one revision.

    Earnings – Since I count actual checks received, December was probably my best month ever. Well over double my modest monthly goal. And I ended the year with two outstanding invoices that total more than half my monthly goal…and am working on projects that are slightly shy of half that goal.

    Bottle Line: I like starting the year with several projects. And knowing one of my main markets is adding another issue this year should mean a few more assignments!

  • Cathy Miller January 5, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    December was better than expected due to the acquisition of a new client. I am doing a small project to test the water but I am optimistic that this client will turn into one with ongoing projects throughout 2016. My earnings for the month were just under target – but close.

    I also received two queries in December (both generated from LinkedIn). I have corresponded back and forth with both. One looks more promising than the other but I will follow up in the next week if I don't receive a "final" word.

    I lost one existing client in December due to an acquisition by a bigger company. That being said, I just got off the phone with one of their Sr VPs who wants me to do some ghostwritten articles (and possible ongoing contributions to a site). The next step is him getting the green light from the powers that be. We'll see how that goes.

    The good news was once that existing client's contract ended, I had already started with the new client. That client found me through LinkedIn also. ☺ Assuming they like what I do with this 1st one, I could be set up nicely with ongoing work.

    The combination of the 3-Day Walk, some health issues for Mom (not serious-praise the Lord) ;-), and holiday madness has me lagging in my 2016 plans. Hmm…seems I recall that same problem last year at this time. I need to kick it into gear.

    Wishing you all a great year!

  • Lori Widmer January 5, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Keri, that's probably a post. In fact, I think it will be. 🙂

    Congrats on the LOI success! Paula introduced me to the idea, and I can't thank her enough. Until that point, I was just sending out random emails and brochures.

    Paula, 2016 seems like a good year to start avoiding those job postings, yes. 🙂 I get notices from eByline, and while they do send listings to me, they're usually way off the mark (I don't translate) or they pay way too little (as in 50 bucks for an ebook). If they're vetting, they're not going about it the right way. Jenn's list is much better — have you tried it?

    Cathy, congrats on a good month! I hear you on life's interruptions. It's tough to pull down the targeted earnings if your mind is elsewhere.