Monthly Assessment: January 2016

What I’m listening to: Starman by David Bowie

For someone who was away for two weeks, I jumped right back into work with little effort. Since I’m still on UK/Netherlands time, I was up early and got busy. By noon on Monday, I’d finished a draft and a revision, then on to a call in the afternoon.

It caught up with me to some extent yesterday. I was still up early (5:30 this time), but could not for the life of me get writing. So I spent 20 minutes cleaning my desk, filing accounts paid/received, and thinking of next steps on a new project. That helped. I started writing at 10 am and managed to get the project organized on paper, plus some of the transcribing done. Today, more of the same.

Since I was away, my monthly assessment is a tad late. However, that doesn’t mean I’m skipping it. Nope, I’ve skipped one in the last what? Three years? The only way to push yourself to reaching your goals is to keep yourself accountable.

So let’s account for our time last month. I’ll start:

I sent one. No response at all. Not unusual as this editor likes to call when she has a minute instead of responding in email. I’m hopeful.

I scaled back on these recently — for reasons I’ll explain in a minute — so I sent seven. No word from any of them, and follow-up notes will go out this week.

Social media:
January was a case of clients coming to me, in particular via social media. I had two new clients contact me  — one through LinkedIn and the other through a Referral Key account I nearly deleted two weeks prior. The first will be talking with me tomorrow and the second is aligning her priorities and budget before coming back around.

Job postings:
No, I don’t browse the job listings, but I include it anyway. Sometimes a job listing will show something that I apply for, but it’s so rare these days (one or two a year at best). Instead, I’d rather make direct contact and nurture the relationship.

I had three referrals last month. Only one wasn’t a good fit, and I’m currently getting agreements in place with one client and have ideas in front of the other client.

Existing clients:
There was plenty of work from existing clients the minute the calendar page turned. I invoiced three of them in January with one other client still on the fence with revisions (so that invoice is delayed).

I sent one submission out. I’m being much more selective, so the number of submissions that went out last month reflects that. I received a rejection from two I’d sent back in November, so onward with other poems.

Had I been able to invoice that on-the-fence client, I’d have surpassed my goal by $2K. As it is, I hit the goal nearly exactly. Not a bad start to the year.

Bottom line:
Word of mouth and referrals are beginning to pay off quite well. My social media presence is also benefiting me in terms of how many new client prospects are reaching out. While not all of them are buying, the fact that they’re the ones reaching out shows that half the battle is simply showing up.

While I haven’t put too much attention toward LOIs, it’s time to pick that up again. The conference is in a few months. I may not be going thanks to a lack of hotel space (which has been a problem with this conference for the last three years), but I can still make the connections and build the relationships.

Marketing, while it’s not at the forefront of my efforts these days, will continue at a more relaxed pace. I have a few marketing ideas to put into play. If they work out, I’ll write a post explaining what I did and what the results were.

Writers, what were your results for January?
What’s working? What isn’t?
How are you intending to improve your results for February?

About the author




  • Paula Hendrickson February 10, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    January was busy, but you wouldn't know it by my bank account.

    Queries – sent one, it was assigned. Also received a couple of assignments from past queries.

    LOIs – none, but I followed up with an editor again. The one who hasn't responsed to any emails since my first article for her ran, which is weird since she was trying to get me to take on more assignments before I'd finished the first one. No response. Next time I might call.

    Social Media – no concerted effort, but a few of my recent articles have made the circuit.

    Job postings – I actually replied to three. Two were dog related, no response. The other was tangentially related to my area of specialty, and they responded. Not sure what they need or if they'll even be close to offering my rates, but we'll see.

    Referrals – none.

    Existing Clients – completed four articles for Favorite Editor (and am currently working on three more); wrote three columns; finished article for a long-time client; continued with revisions for a new client (the one who emailed about a week before the revision was due and said she needed it the next day – ARGH. Somehow got it done, and all I've heard since is "got it.")

    New Clients – not exactly new, but it's been 10 years since I've heard from them. But a university press from the UK contacted me about reprint rights to one of my old article that they previously had used in teaching materials. They're even converting the payment to USD so I won't get a bank fee when depositing the check.

    Earnings – counting actual dollars received, I barely exceeded 1/4 of my new monthly goal. But I turned in work that far exceeded the new 2016 monthly goal.

    Bottom line – I'm also currently working on assignments (all due by March 1) that will exceed the new monthly goal. Gotta keep up the pace!

  • Lori Widmer February 11, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Paula, that's fantastic about exceeding the new goal! Good for you.

    I've been having similar issues with people not answering emails, particularly people who have hired me. It's strange because right now, it's three clients I'm having to check back with and wait…and wait….

    Must be something in the air.

  • Paula Hendrickson February 11, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    The thing with this particular editor is two other writers I know have no problem hearing back from her! If she doesn't want to work with me again she should at least be courteous enough to tell me — and tell me WHY, since she only made minimal edits to my copy — so I can stop wasting my time on her.

    Ever get the feeling that some people think silence is better than simply telling someone No?

  • Lori Widmer February 12, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Paula, I agree. It's bad form to ignore someone. She should find a tactful way to say so and, as you say, why. I'd say ask her, but you might be better off letting it go. If she's still interested in working with you, asking her why she's ignoring you might make her think you're pouting (and you never pout!).

    I do get that feeling. I had an editor go stone-cold silent on me. I reviewed my last project for her — it was solid. And I continue to scratch my head. However, I know she had a baby right after that project and her life got hectic. It could be she's removed herself from responding to freelancers, too.

  • Paula Hendrickson February 12, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Ha! One of my childhood nicknames (along with Patient Paula) was Pouty Paula. I guess I have Pouty Resting Face, LOL.

    The editor in question isn't in my main field, so I don't really care that much – assignments from her would be a nice change of pace, but it's not like they pay enough to make a really big difference. What I can't understand is why two other writers hear back from her fairly regularly, but never me. Inconsistency + rudeness = better off without that market.

  • Damaria Senne February 17, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Hi Lori. January started out slow for me. It's been very hot, with temperatures going as high as 45 degrees. It was very debilitating.

    As for business, I barely collected two-thirds of my target. Marketing involved:
    3 LOIs, one panned out
    2 Speeches at events. Some delegates said something about work. Nothing firm yet. I'm following up.
    A publisher reached out asking for some stories. We flew through edits and are going into illustrations now.
    I didn't apply for gigs on job boards. The local ones have an occasional gem, so I do check just in case.
    A fellow-freelancer reached out and suggested we partner for her projects in my city. We've worked together before, so I'm happy to partner.
    An old client I hadn't heard from in more than a year emailed work. He simply dropped the audios, stated the usual parameters applied and asked if I was available. My response was to do the job and send the documents with an invoice and a note saying, "more please?" Got paid that very night. Haven't heard from him since, but I'm glad he re-established contact and am hopeful he'll send more work.

    I definitely need to do a lot more marketing to meet my monthly financial goal.

  • Lori Widmer February 17, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Damaria, sometimes January can be tough. Hard to say why, but there's this lag time between the start of a new year and the projects actually getting off the ground.

    Sounds like your existing client appreciates your work! Glad he made the connection, too.