Monthly Assessment: May 2016

What I’m reading: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
What I’m listening to: Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen
CalculatorIt’s been one busy week. It’s not that there are a lot of projects, but that the projects I have are all due at the same time. I had wanted to go visit my dad for his birthday (June 1st he turned 82), but it will have to wait until Father’s Day.
Now that another Writers Worth Month is behind us, it’s time to concentrate on the business at hand. Well, it’s always time for that, but now I actually have time to look at my business activity from the past month.If you’re new to the blog, here’s the deal: I share the results of my month with you and you’re invited to do the same. You don’t need to go into dollar amounts — percentages will do. But it’s a time to look at marketing, results, projects, and particularly earnings.I do it for one reason: accountability. I’m accountable to you, which helps me keep my eye on my target. I can’t tell you how often I look mid-month at my results and think “Time to get more in.” Before monthly assessments, that didn’t happen.

So feel free to join in publicly, email me (or someone else) privately, or find some way to report your results in a way that keeps you always thinking ahead.

I’ll start.

I sent no queries in May. Instead, the assignments came to me. That’s a nice situation to be in, let me tell you. I can’t really count the assignments as queries, so I won’t.

I sent one or two, but no great push for them. The conference season is winding down, so now would be an ideal time (and it will be part of my summer marketing). I let the workload on my desk get in the way. It could be a mistake later on, but for now, I’m doing well with project flow. However, anyone who’s done this a while knows today’s client could be tomorrow’s memory. Time to get moving.

Social media:
Despite having some great conversations about possible projects back in March/April, nothing has come of it. One or two of the contacts went silent, an indication we weren’t a match either due to price or focus. Follow-ups weren’t answered, so I’ve put them on my calendar for future notes.

Job postings:
I don’t apply to job postings as a general rule. I’d much rather be dictating my own rate than accepting something that doesn’t quite fit. That said, I’m part of two groups that send regular vetted listings. So far, none have met my price requirement, so I don’t bother.

New clients:
I have one new client as of last week, and I’m excited. This one was a referral from a friend, and the work is interesting. The pay? Perfect. So I’m hoping the first project leads to several more.

Existing clients:
A newer client has me busy with projects here and there, as does a regular client who just sent a large project a few weeks into May. That one will wrap up in two weeks, so June is promising to be lucrative. Also, three other favorite clients handed over some smaller projects, so I was busy. Also, I reached out to about seven previous clients, and I’m hopeful with two of them that work will be coming soon.

I submitted to two journals in May, and I received a personal note from another journal. This one included the feedback from not just the editor, but the entire editorial team. While they didn’t publish the poem, I found the feedback to be the real gift. I’m also working on a few more poems, so I’ll be submitting this month.


Considering I was off for a week and a holiday interrupted things, I did okay. I’m at half my earnings goal — not ideal, but there’s one project that should have invoiced that would have pushed that total much closer.Bottom line:
Now is the time for me to start marketing to the conference crowd while the conference is still fresh on their minds. I’m hoping to pick up some media kit work, thought leadership stuff, or possibly some ongoing ghostwriting. Also, I’m looking to reconnect with past clients in hopes of getting back on their radar. Plus, I’m planning ways to gain a bit more impact through social media connections.How did you do last month? Were the results what you expected? 
What are you thinking to change?

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  • Joy Drohan June 3, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Billed 150% of my monthly minimum goal. I accomplished this by pushing hard to finish a book edit a few days early so I could count it for May, because I wouldn’t have met my earnings goal without this.

    Worked 151% of my minimum hourly goal, of which 90% were billable. Kids’ last day of school was May 27, but I have laid out a plan by which I hope I will be able to work at least a few hrs. each day even when they’re home with me, such as the 1st 3 weeks of June.

    Followed up with a contact who is checking on funding–still in process.

    Followed up by phone with 4 people after cold-emailing them earlier. Left messages for each of them. One person I cold-emailed fwd’d my email to the VP of communications.

    Signed up for & began working on a freelance marketing course. I figure it’s always good to refine and update marketing techniques and to learn from others.

    Emailed a guy I’ve worked with peripherally to offer my services. He said he'd refer me, but he is retiring in a month.

    About 8 new LI connections.

    Planning to attend the June Green Drinks in town to meet others in envir. field who might need my services.

  • Paula Hendrickson June 3, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Great month, Joy! And good timing on contacting the one guy before he retired, hopefully he'll be able to sign your praises to everyone he works with.

    Considering I had a guest puppy here for three weeks playing non-stop with my own puppy, causing havoc wherever they were, I did fairly well. But not on the marketing front.

    Queries/LOI – sent one idea to one of my many favorite editors. She assigned it and another idea of her own.

    Social Media – I made sure to tweet links to a few articles that ran in May, and gained a few new followers and some traction.

    Job Postings – zero

    New Client/Referral – started contributing blog posts to a new client. They're quick and easy, and I bill for 10 at a time. Client just said their website is being revamped and he wants me to write copy for that…we'll see if he understands that will be billed at a different rate than breezy blog posts.

    Existing Clients – really kept me busy. The editor I queried also assigned me a third article, but that didn't get turned in until June 2. Wrote four book entries for a short-term client (had to pass on the 5th due to time constrictions; the other pieces were done as fill-in work but my schedule is too full now to accommodate them). Sent a resume client her final copy. Wrote two columns.

    Earnings: If you look at what I actually invoiced out in May, I'm about $200 shy of my monthly goal. If you add up actual checks cashed and deposits made, I'm about $400 over my modest monthly goal. And I am currently working on, or ready to invoice, almost as much as I took in through all of May. But the other day I took a big hit when I learned a big-paying evergreen article I turned in back in October and revised in January (as a rush, no less) was killed in April. The editor (who was perhaps the most difficult and confusing editor I've ever worked with) didn't even bother to tell me! I found out when I asked her colleague when my story was going to run. The editor replied saying she thought I'd "been informed." By whom? She gave no reasons for axing it, either. I'm just glad it wasn't killed immediately, since that indicates it wasn't due to quality. The magazine was just sold, so perhaps the old owner didn't want to spend four-figures on a piece the new owner would get to use. Whatever. They said I'll get a kill fee, but didn't say how much it is (the contract doesn't specific the percent or an amount, either). And at least I'll never have to deal with that editor again.

    Bottom Line:
    I really need to market!

  • Lori Widmer June 3, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Joy, fantastic results! Congratulations. 🙂

    Paula, you've had one of those months where you feel like you've accomplished nothing…and then you see you've hit your target. Amen for hitting it!

  • Cathy Miller June 6, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Way to go, Joy! 90% billable – wow, great productivity. Busy month, Paula. Congrats on hitting target.

    May was my best month income-wise in 2016, although I don't know how. I have one major project and One I thought would be quick cash and turnaround where the clients are beyond dragging their feet and into comatose.

    I've received two queries that look hopeful to lead to work. Also had contact for something right up my alley but then found out their "remote" was employee not independent contractor. They contacted me and said they understood I didn't want to give up my business to return to employee status (*shudder*).

    Long-time clients continue to deliver the projects. 🙂 Next two months is a series of family visits. On top of recent Mom hospitalization, I am feeling very scattered. Need to focus.