If you’ve read this blog for a little while, you know that I am a planner addict. I have lived my life making lists and taking notes on little slips of paper. I’ve used planners, notebooks, 3×5 cards, Post-It notes, you name it, to organize my thoughts. I’ve tried digital and analog tools. I spend way too much money in the stationery aisle of any store!
Thing is, none of those tools and trinkets are worth a dime if they aren’t helping me to focus, get things done, or plan for the future.
Generally, this time of year, folks are making resolutions of one sort or another. I don’t make New Years Resolutions. But I do plan for the future. I schedule my time. I create content calendars for myself. And I analyze the previous year so that I can make intelligent decisions for the next. Here are my top three New Year planning tips for freelance writers.
3 New Year Planning Tips for Freelance Writers
Analyze Your Prior Year
The other night I sat up until the wee hours sorting all my invoices. (Yes, I still keep paper copies.) Then, I added each one up according to the category or client they represented. I do this because it helps me to see where my money comes from. And, I can tell you, it’s always an eye-opening exercise.
For instance, this year I realized that I made more money selling reprint articles than I thought. I also saw that one client made up half my income for the year. These are the kinds of things that help me plan for next year.
Schedule What You Can
Once I saw that I made more money selling reprints than I expected, without even trying, I made an editorial calendar of all my articles available as a reprint. I then wrote in my 2018 planner to schedule reprint submissions on the first Tuesday of each month. I use an add-on to my Gmail account called Boomerang that schedules emails. This tool makes it so that I can schedule submissions to my reprint markets all on one day.
Another thing that I put in my new 2018 planner is deadlines. I write regular columns for several magazines, so I put the deadlines for those stories on my monthly view. On my master editorial calendar, I put the topics for each of those stories. I also noted where those topics could be written for the reprint markets I submit to, allowing me to get as much mileage from one story idea as possible.
I’m at a growth point in my freelance career—meaning I need to make more money. So part of my analysis helped me to see how much money I can count on for next year, and how much more I need to make.
For instance, that client that made up half my income for 2017, I know I won’t have that much work from him next year. But, I secured two new clients for 2018 and I know approximately how much money I will make from them. Also, since I saw how much I made from reprints without even trying, I plan to up my game in that department and triple that income. Make sense?
This thinking shows me how much marketing I need to do. And, of course, marketing day gets penciled in each week in my new planner.
Some folks like to take a weekend in December or January to plan the new year. Personally, I like to set aside a day or evening a week throughout December. Spreading it out gives me thinking time along the way. How do you like to plan for the new year?