Written By Alexandra Romanov

5 Ways to Boost Your Writing Career, Right Now.

Happy New Year to all of you! If you want to have a great 2015, now is the time to get started. I’m about to share with you some very practical ways to get the most out of your writing career this year. These strategies will help improve your productivity, lower your stress and help you have a successful year as a freelance writer.

Conduct a Performance Review

For those who hail from the corporate world a yearly performance review is nothing new. It’s also probably one of the things that you are glad to be rid of in your life as a freelancer. You might want to rethink that position and continue conducting an annual review.

It’s basically the same as in the corporate world. You will look at the hours worked, the amounts paid and any client feedback that you received throughout the year. Assess yourself and your career honestly, even brutally. Look at yourself as your employee and be ruthless. Rip apart every aspect of your writing career and how you have done in the last year.

After you have made mincemeat out of yourself you are in a position to find ways to improve the areas that need improving. Did you discover that you spent so many hours on research that you often lost money? Then you may need to change your niche, improve your research skills, or maybe you just need to increase your rates. Whatever the deficits, a yearly performance review will help you find them and once you recognize them for what they are you can begin to resolve the issues and improve your freelance writing career.

Set Goals

This is probably the single most important thing people can do for themselves. January, being the start of the year, is traditionally the time for New Year’s Resolutions. I happen to loathe “resolutions.” I find them pointless and ultimately detrimental to the vast majority of people. Most people have the trifecta of “lose weight, make more money, and stop smoking” as their resolutions. By the time you read this most people will have already dumped their resolutions. Set goals instead.

The difference is that goals are far more detailed, specific and useful. Goals help you stay focused, give you a direction to take when you feel overwhelmed and give you an incredible sense of accomplishment. There is a catch though and that catch is you need to set goals correctly. Goals need three things to work for most people:

  • They need to be specific
  • There need to be milestones
  • They need to be realistic

The single most common goal for freelance writers is to make more money. That doesn’t meet any of the necessary criteria because if you earn even $1 more you have technically met the goal. A better goal is to set a monthly income amount. Instead of saying that you want to make more money, set your goal at a specific amount. By the end of the year (or whatever time frame you set up) you want to be earning $4,000 a month. Spend some time each month looking over the past month and make any necessary changes. Get into detail on how you will meet this goal. How many new clients do you need? Where are you going to get them?

Setting goals that are specific, have milestones so you can track progress and are realistic will improve your writing by keeping you focused and making you feel great when you reach each milestone. One other thing about goals that makes them superior to resolutions: When you make a mistake you just regroup and go on toward the goal.

Formulate a Marketing Plan

January is the best time to devise your marketing and promotional plan for the year. For most freelance writers out there now there are two aspects to their careers: The freelance work they do for others and the projects they do for themselves.

If you are like most freelance writers you are probably also working on a book or two of your own. This is a great time of year to decide on a marketing plan for all of your writing projects for the year.

Most marketing plans are essentially the same, no matter what the material happens to be. Once the overall plan is in place you can quickly and easily adapt it to suit the particular project. You will save time and energy not to mention you will not feel overwhelmed by being rushed to get a promotional plan in place on the fly.

The marketing aspects include marketing your services as a freelance writer. This is the time to seek out new clients, revise your email contact list and the email marketing letters that you send out.

We’ve published  several articles about finding new clients. Now is the time to put those tips into action and land some new clients.

Examine your Productivity

This is probably the biggest reason freelance writers fail and return to the corporate world. To be a successful freelance writer you must have self-discipline. There is simply no way around this issue. Landing clients, being able to write well and marketing all only work if you actually sit down and write. No, hanging out on Facebook for 12 hours a day playing Farmville does not count as working. If you aren’t making money from the activity then you aren’t working. The upside here is that you can almost always set your own schedule as far as what hours you actually do the work. It’s also important to remember that because writing is creative you simply can’t do it non-stop for 8-10 hours a day straight. You need more breaks and time away from it to let your brain rest.

Most people work better with some sort of schedule. Creating your own schedule and forcing yourself to stick to it is the secret to being a successful freelance writer.

Update Social Media Sites

While you need to update your samples on your website every few months, the entire site should be updated each year. This is true of all social media sites. Consider your yearly updating to be akin to a good deep cleaning. Eliminate what isn’t working, revise and improve what is working. Add new material and consider using a new template or theme for your website. On social media sites you will want to update your profiles and graphics where applicable. You want to keep things fresh and new.

Finally, with the exception of marketing plans, there are plenty on apps available to help with goal setting and tracking as well as productivity. I use Evernote to jot down ideas for books and articles and Jorte is a great calendar where projects and deadlines can be housed. We here at Freedom with Writing use Trello to keep projects organized. Setting these things up now, when you have plenty of downtime, will save you a lot of time and stress later in the year when you are hopefully swamped with work.

Happy Writing!


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