Monthly Assessment: February 2016

What I’m listening to: Downtown by Macklemore


It’s amazing what a little organization can do for the productivity. I sat down yesterday around 8 am and by noon, I’d finished (and invoiced) three projects. The fourth was finished by 3 pm, and I finalized a new client contract, plus another contract from an existing client.

I needed it. The list I was looking at was long.

On that list was sending invoices. That’s always a happy time, isn’t it? It was my first look at my totals, too. While I had an idea of where I was in my earnings for the month, it was a surprise to see I was wrong.

Despite being away the first week of the month, I surpassed my earnings goal.

Here’s my accountability for the month. New blog readers (and those of you who are regulars), feel free to share your account in the comments.

Queries:
I sent one and boom! It was assigned immediately. The editor and I have worked together numerous times over the years, and we’ve talked every year at the trade show. I know his magazine and he knows my work — a good combination.

LOIs:
Not a one was sent. I didn’t have time, and while that’s no excuse, I really didn’t have time for any more work that might come of the effort. I may not be attending the conference this year, so they become less necessary. Besides, I’m getting much more response through…

Social media:
I’m serious — one contact found me via a Twitter chat I attended two months ago. She sent a note via LinkedIn (gotta love social media!), and we’ve talked twice since. She’s about to come back around with her project calendar (I expect it this week or next), and I’ll be busy yet again.

Job postings:
Zero. Again. It’s so much better (and eventually pays off much more) to source your own clients through networking, marketing, and meet-and-greets when you can. Can you find good work through job postings? Occasionally, yes. However, you’re competing with way too many people.

Referrals:
I cleaned house in the referral department. There were three referrals (four, but I’ve yet to hear from the client). Of those, two became assignments. One will be an ongoing relationship.

New clients:
Besides the two clients I received through referrals, I did pick up two more – one mentioned above via social media, and the other a cold call. The client found me through an old series of articles I’d written.

Existing clients:
Five of my clients sent work my way last month, which didn’t hurt the earnings one bit. (One was the magazine and it was my pitch, but I consider them an existing client, so I felt I should mention it here.) Their work, in fact, makes up much of my earnings last month.

Poetry:
I submitted nothing last month. However, I’ve written a ton. I expect to be sending out some next week (or later this week should the workload ease some).

Earnings:
I surpassed the target by $400. It would have been much more, but there are client projects that are stuck in the usual state of limbo with this particular client. I’m hopeful that the client will be able to get back to the project this month so I can invoice.

Bottom line:
Social media contact is working. I’m playing it smart — showing up and getting noticed. Also, the career is to the point where I’m seeing more clients finding me. Plus, other writers are referring work to me that fits — it pays to have friends!

I’m going to continue to make good use of social media and my blogs. Plus, the LOIs will go out this month to those attending the conference. I want to introduce myself to them at least, even though I probably won’t be there this time.

Writers, how did that career in writing going for you this past month?
What freelance marketing methods did you use? What worked? What didn’t?

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Comments

  • Paula Hendrickson March 1, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    It's been a really busy month here, too, Lori. Last week I cranked out an article per day and had to take Friday easy to recuperate. Hoping to match that pace this week.

    Queries/LOI – none that I recall

    Social Media – when I have time I should try to join a few Twitter chats and visit some of my LinkedIn groups.

    Job Postings – replied to one which is a good fit for me, and within a couple days they asked for additional information. Haven't heard back yet.

    Referrals – a photographer referred me to one of his clients, a guy who publishes glossy coffee table books about various cities. My city is next on his list. He said it's a mix of actual editorial copy and advertorial profiles of local business (the advertorials pay for the book). The rate isn't great, but I said I'd be interested in doing some quick pieces that don't have much legwork, things I can fit between my higher paying assignments. Next day he tried assigning me three things that he needed right away – without any explanation of what he wanted other than the word counts. He said he wanted me to call to chat about the details. No. I don't have time to chat – not even if he were paying for the time. I said my schedule was too busy for a chat, but I prefer getting things in writing anyway so there's no confusion on my part. I asked how many sources he expected per article and what rights he was buying. I was floored when he replied with, "I don't know." I sent a more detailed message…and never heard back.

    New Clients – none. But I did pick up two assignments from a new editor at one of the publications I write for.

    Existing Clients – Turned in six articles for three regular clients. Only wrote two columns. Every time I turned something in another assignment or two popped up. Right now I'm working on four articles for two of those clients.

    Earnings – Counting actual invoices that have been paid, I was about $600 shy of my monthly goal. However, my current projects and soon-to-be-paid invoices total more than my monthly goal.

    I also have an outstanding invoice for an article that appears to have been bumped back a few issues (or possibly axed). That publication's contract says it pays withing 45 days "of acceptance," but doesn't define what "acceptance" is. It's a big check, so I don't want to risk pushing so hard they decide to scrap something instead of running it in a later issue. The thing is, this was for an editor who is horrible when it comes to communicating, so I'm thinking no news is good news. It was one of the worst working experiences I've ever had, simply because the editor was so indecisive. (She's the one who needed me to revise the article because two sources weren't expert enough, and another was a "spokesperson" and she wanted someone in R&D. Not only had she approved my sources before I contacted them….she's the one who referred me to the sources she said weren't expert enough! You can't make this stuff up!) I know she won't update me as to the article's status, but if they aren't going to use it they need to pay the kill fee sooner than later.

    Bottom Line: I need to knock these four articles out this week so I can take a breather! Oh yeah, and get my taxes done. Ugh.

    Reply
  • Lori Widmer March 2, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Four articles. In one week. Wow, do you sleep?

    Taxes. I can't stand it. I know I owe. I just don't want to know how much.

    Reply
  • Paula Hendrickson March 2, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    I was lucky that all of the sources for one multi-source article were available for one conference call instead of three separate calls. That helped. Two of them were single-source pieces. The other was three separate interviews, but a quick write.

    I finally pulled together my receipts and stuff. This weekend I'll do a dry run with the tax software to see what I'm missing. By the time I'm done some of my invoices should be paid, which is good since I know I'll owe, too. I've only had refunds twice, and I immediately applied them to the next year's taxes.

    Reply