How I plan to grow my business in the new year
As we approach the end of 2017, I thought I would take a page from Sophie Playle’s fabulous blog, so to speak, to reflect on my highs and lows for the year and think about my goals heading into 2018. I’m hoping that writing everything down will help me actually achieve my goals. (Right now I feel like I have a lot of abstract ideas floating around in my head.)
What went well in 2017?
I bought a new house!
I got married in 2016, and my husband and I purchased our first house this year. It was a very long, stressful process, but I’m so glad we stuck with it.
I updated my website!
Overall, my original website wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t great, either. I really wanted to start a blog and up my marketing efforts, so I switched my content over to a new WordPress theme. I’m pleased with how it turned out, and as a result . . .
I started a blog!
This was something I had wanted to do for awhile. I had tons of ideas for blog posts rattling around in my head, and I think it’s important for freelancers to share their knowledge to demonstrate their expertise. Sometimes I question whether I truly have anything relevant to say, and I definitely experience impostor syndrome. But writing and designing infographics is fun, and it gives me a break from my daily editing work.
I started publishing an e-newsletter!
In addition to developing my blog, I started publishing an e-newsletter geared toward other editorial professionals and those in the publishing industry. It has been a process of trial and error, but this is another aspect of my marketing plan I’m happy I invested time in.
I enjoyed my best year to date as a freelancer!
Even though I did endure some typical feast-or-famine cycles, 2017 was my most successful year to date in terms of my income and workload. I chalk this up to my intentional decision to slowly weed out lower-paying clients and aim high in terms of my rate. In the past, I tended to accept whatever rate was initially offered without negotiating with the client. Now I find I’m not shy about asking for a higher rate (within reason), and I am now MUCH more selective about who I work with. I have had lots of offers of work, but I’ve said “no” much more than I’ve said “yes” to projects.
What didn’t go well in 2017?
I lost clients
One of my biggest failures this year was losing clients due to poor communication and unclear expectations. I’m learning to address issues on a case-by-case basis with clients instead of applying rigid standards across the board. Overall, I’ve been very fortunate to have built up a great client roster, but it always stings when a relationship with a client doesn’t work out. I’ve beat myself up a lot over this, but I try to reframe it as these lost clients just paving the way for better ones down the road.
I had an uneven income
Because I lost some clients unexpectedly, my income has been a little uneven this year. My schedule usually stays pretty full, but I did have some gaps between projects. Hopefully next year I can maintain the great relationships I have with my clients so this doesn’t happen!
I devoted more time to marketing and less time to training
This year I put a lot of effort into increasing my marketing efforts, which has paid off. But this means that unfortunately I didn’t have enough room in my schedule to focus on training or learning a new skill. It’s important to me to always keep learning so that my skills stay relevant and I remain competitive as a freelancer, so I’d like to manage my time better in 2018.
Goals and Planning for the Year Ahead: Business
Maintain relationships with clients
As I mentioned before, I’m very fortunate to have a great client roster, and I really value these strong relationships with my clients. I’d like to continue this heading into 2018 and keep a steady, full schedule of editing work. I think managing my time effectively will be extremely important so I can focus on client work while still trying to achieve my other goals.
Look into passive income opportunities
I have a couple ideas for projects that would help generate passive income, but of course this requires a big investment of time and energy up front before I would start to see any significant gains. I’ve made some progress on these projects, but I’ll continue to work on them and think about how to market them on my website and among the freelance community. The money isn’t the real objective though—these are passion projects that help me develop my skills, and they could be very valuable to other editorial freelancers.
Get professional pictures taken
Right now I use my logo for everything since I don’t have any professional images of myself that I can use on social media and in my various profiles. I had some headshots taken awhile ago that I wasn’t happy with. This year I’m hoping to find a photographer to help me get some new pictures taken that look professional and natural.
Continue to develop newsletter and grow audience
I created a new template for my newsletter for 2018 that I’m really excited about. My goal is to reach 100 subscribers by the first half of the year (right now I’m at 52). That won’t happen, though, unless I have an attractive opt-in offer. This is another half-baked project that I’ve been working on. I need to get this finished so I can offer something to potential subscribers in return for signing up!
Stick to blogging schedule
I launched my blog with some fits and starts; I published content in May and June but then didn’t post anything new until October. We moved into our new house at the end of July and were pretty busy getting unpacked and organized. Now, though, I have all my ideas for blog posts written down and created an editorial calendar. I’d like to stick to the schedule and post something new every two weeks.
Learn a new skill
I started two online courses through Udemy on macro VBA programming in Microsoft Word, so I’d like to finish those up soon. I’ve worked with macros in the past, but this is giving me a much better understanding of how VBA works. Going forward, I’ll be able to create more complex and efficient macros in Word.
I’d also like to learn how to typeset documents using LaTeX and maybe start offering LaTeX typesetting and editing as part of my services.
These are the main goals I’ve set for myself, but there are other possibilities I continue to think about, such as:
- Attaining BELS certification
- Shifting to a bigger focus on editorial work (no composition/layout projects)
- Being more diligent about tracking my time (client work, marketing/social media, admin, etc.)
- Possibly teaching an online course on academic editing
- Being more diligent about setting aside money for taxes
- Saving up for and attending my first editing conference
Goals and Planning for the Year Ahead: Personal
In general, I’d really like to do better healthwise, just like everyone. I need to eat a healthier diet and exercise more. I think the key to this is to carve out a routine that works with my freelance lifestyle and stick to it. Easier said than done! It’s very easy for me to keep working and ignore chores and self-care (which I know is not good).
I also spend WAY too much time playing games on my smartphone or watching TV. According to my Goodreads app, I’ve read a total of four (four!) books in 2017. I used to be a voracious reader, but now I know I need to consciously set aside time to read and take a break from all the distractions.
Another thing I’ve been working on is keeping a consistent schedule. I’m a huge night owl, so it’s not uncommon for me to work until 4 or 5 a.m. and then sleep through the next day. This helps me be productive during the quiet of the early morning hours, but it’s costing me time with loved ones, and it’s hard to keep up with the demands of daily life if you’re sleeping through it all. In 2018, I hope to stick to a more consistent schedule—work from 8 or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (unless I have urgent deadlines) and then truly set work aside until the next day.
- Exercise for 30 to 40 minutes each morning before I start work
- Schedule regular doctor/dentist visits
- Don’t use electronic devices (including TV) after 9 p.m.
- Set a goal to read 10 books in 2018 for the Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge
- Continue organizing stuff in the new house (especially the basement)
- Save for and plan a proper vacation—take at least one week off from work
- Keep a regular schedule each day (only work from 9 to 5)
Wow—now that I have everything written down, it seems like a lot to try to achieve. I’m planning to circle back to do a midyear update in June/July. I’ll do my best to make at least some of these happen!
Readers, what about you? Do you want to achieve anything specific in 2018?