New Year, New Goals

Almost everyone makes a list of resolutions for the new year, and every  freelancer takes some time to set goals for the new year. It is after all the ultimate clean slate, the chance for us to actually put into words the hopes and dreams that a new beginning brings. While it’s easy to write down our goals and resolutions, the hard part is achieving them. In 2009, I was lucky and far surpassed my goals. I can only hope that 2010 will be as good!

Here are my freelance goals for 2010. Some are pretty hefty, some are simple and hopefully all will be met.

  1. Double my monthly income.
  2. Pitch to two to three magazines per month.
  3. Get at least three magazine articles published.
  4. Market myself to more local companies.
  5. Take on more regular (monthly) clients.
  6. Continue the wonderful working relationship I have with my current clients.
  7. Improve my writing through classes, workshops, webinars and creative exercises.
  8. Network more with other writers and work to create a more recognizable online profile.
  9. Improve traffic to this blog.
  10. Update my professional web site monthly with new clips.

And a few personal goals that I have set as well:

  1. Become more frugal.
  2. Live more environmentally conscious.
  3. Take better care of my body through healthy eating and plenty of exercise.
  4. Make more time for family and friends.
  5. Be true to myself and live 2010 to its fullest.

Happy New Year’s and here’s to hoping that all of your hopes and dreams come true in 2010! Cheers!

Writing Reflections

As 2009 comes to an end, and the beginning of a new year is looming just a few days away, many people begin thinking about goals and resolutions for their fresh start.

But for me, this time of year would not be complete without remembering how far I’ve come. So today, before I write out my goals for 2010 I want to remember the past year. I remember waking up the first day of 2009 and thinking that I needed to change my life in a drastic way. I had told my husband that with the purchase of a laptop, I would find a way for it to pay for itself. I was going to get back to my roots and follow my dreams to freelance writing. At the time, I was thinking I would begin pitching to magazines again. After all, that was what I had done in the past. I never in a million years thought that by the end of the year I would be a full-time freelance writer.

As my husband sat around New Years day watching football, I typed into Google freelance writing and up on the screen popped a million sites. I spent hours that day researching and reading what knowledge and experiences others had to share. It was my first time learning anything about online writing. That same day, I signed up for Blogger and created my first blog (which I erased a few months later). A few days later, my research led me to sign up for Associated Content. I can’t tell you the thrill I got when my first story got bought. So I wrote more and at some point realized that I was never going to make a living there.

A few weeks went by and I stumbled upon Demand Studios. I signed up and had my first article published. Now that was better money. I became obsessed with writing for them and finding other online sources of revenue. I worked most nights late into the night after working a full day at my full-time job. A few months later, I started this blog. I began fantasying about quitting my job and those dreams started to look within reach when I landed my first private client. In July, I finally quit my job and went full time to freelance writing. By August, I was working for myself.

Today, I am proud to say that I have many private clients on a regular basis and many more one time projects sprinkled in a month. I am proud of what I have accomplished this year. It hasn’t all been easy. I’ve had to learn about accounting, contracts, technology, confidence in myself and more. But I have loved every single minute of it. I have many writers from around the world that I would now call friends and hope to someday meet in person. For the first time in my adult life I am living the life I always imagined for myself.

Without being too sappy, I want to thank all the people that I have met through writing this year that have hired me, given me advice or just lent me an ear to vent. I truly could not have made my dreams into a reality without such a warm and sharing community that freelance writers all over the world have created.

My goals will be coming soon, but for now, I just want to be proud of and thankful for how far I’ve come. What are you most proud of this year?

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

If I had my choice, I would never leave my comfort zone – that place where I can work happily along every day without ever having to feel the least bit nervous or awkward. But, nothing is ever that easy. Over the past year, freelance writing has really pushed me to step out of my comfort zone on a daily basis and while going there is often nerve racking to say the least, going there is essential to improving myself as a writer and businesswomen. Here are five ways I’ve had to step outside of my comfort zone:

Talking about money. I hate discussing rates and giving quotes. I am always worried that I will quote a client too high and they will run for the hills never to be heard from again, or I will quote too low and then I’ll be unsatisfied with what I’m making. Either way, talking about money is terrifying to me, but in this career it’s completely unavoidable.

Following up. A close second to discussing money and rates is following up. This I find myself doing for a few different reasons.

  • First (and I’m lucky, I’ve only had this happen once or twice) is following up to get paid. You know those clients who you do the work for and then wait weeks to get paid. To me following up to ask for money is almost as bad as quoting my rates. It’s awkward, but completely unavoidable.
  • The second scenario is when I have to follow up after quoting my rates or when I do work on spec and hear nothing back. This too is awkward, but if I have learned nothing else, I have learned that persistence is a key to success in this field.

Cold calling/emailing. I know that I won’t get work unless I put myself out there in many different ways. That being said, cold calling makes me nervous, I’m always worried about saying the wrong thing or sounding stupid. When I cold call or cold email a business I always try to think to myself: What’s the worst that can happen? So they might say no, but they could also say yes. Or they could say no, but remember me a few months down the road when they need a writer. Or they could just say no and I can move on to someone else. No big deal

Saying no. Okay, this one probably sounds weird, but I am a yes person. I don’t like disappointing people. However, I have come across some really bad offers while looking for writing gigs. A potential client offering to pay me a whopping $2 per 500 word blog post – no way will I even consider that, but it’s still awkward saying no.

Writing on topics I have no experience in. I like a challenge, so I tend to take on challenging work and often that means stepping out of my comfort zone. If I’m not experienced in a topic, I’m always afraid that I’ll come off seeming like I don’t know what I’m talking about. But you know what? That has never happened. With good research, I’m learning I can write on almost anything. Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous with the unknown.

Like it or not, I can’t deny the fact that most of what I’ve learned has come from stepping out of my comfort zone. The comforting part is that the more I step out my comfort zone, the easier these things become, and while I may not ever be completely comfortable discussing rates or asking for payment, it is getting easier. I know that no matter how nervous or awkward I feel, it’s worth it in the end.

When do you step out of your comfort zone?

A High School Reunion and Big Accomplishments

My 10 year high school reunion is on Saturday and I have been looking through my senior yearbook. It’s funny, I’m quoted in there as saying I wanted to be a writer when I “grew up”. Hah, guess I did know myself a little bit back then. I wonder if I’m one of the only ones who actually knew what I wanted to do with my life and who is actually doing it.

I’m feeling very indifferent about the reunion. Actually, my first thought was “Am I old enough to have a 10 year reunion?”  Followed closely by “Great, I’ll get to explain to a whole bunch of people what I do and they won’t get it.”

I have a few very good friends from high school that I have kept in touch with, but other than that, I really don’t talk to or think about anyone from those days. So much has happened in life and high school just wasn’t that important to me.

However, to celebrate how far I have evolved in life over the last 10 years and to give myself a little pat on the back, I want to highlight my 10 biggest accomplishments since high school. Here we go:

  1. I earned a college degree – yes in journalism, just like I predicted.
  2. I got married to a wonderful and kind man.
  3. We bought a house together.
  4. I had a successful career in marketing that gave me the foundations I needed to go into business for myself.
  5. I had a successful career in event planning where I gained valuable contacts that have helped me go into business for myself.
  6. I remembered/realized that writing was my true passion in life.
  7. I found the courage to leave a secure job to pursue my dreams of being a freelance writer.
  8. I got my first private client, and then another one, and then another one – well, you get the idea.
  9. I helped my mom battle breast cancer and we won!
  10. I have learned who I am, what I want out of life and most importantly, I have learned that I still have a lot to learn!

Wow, I can’t believe I‘ve done so much in the last 10 years. I have to say, looking at that list I’m very excited to see what the next 10 years will bring.