Thursday, January 5, 2012

Identifying Patterns in Freelance Writing

2011 was a very rough year for me emotionally. I was not at all sad to see it end. Ironically it was one my best years as a freelancer. I haven’t actually sat down to crunch any numbers yet, but I’m tempted to say it was my best.

What did I do differently this year from last year? I’ve been pondering this question since reading Lori Widmer’s post “Seeing Patterns.” I spent some time reflecting to see if I there were any patterns that jumped out at me. I spent a good part of the year traveling between two states to help care for my father. Then there was the stress of relocating, finding a house to rent and being forced to become a “reluctant landlord” and rent our own home. To say I spent the better part of 2011 in a state of stress is a serious understatement.

I did market, but not very consistently. I forced myself to continue working on some personal writing projects (which resulted in my extended absence here), and managed a steady flow of client projects while helping my family adjust to our new city. With my head and priorities so all over the place, how was it that I stayed busy through the end of the year, met all of my financial obligations and currently have work lined up through March 2012?

That’s when I recognized that there were two things I did repeatedly during this time:

  • I turned down projects. My energy level was not in a very good place while my father was sick and especially after he died. As an only child, my husband and I are now responsible for the care and well-being now of my mother as well as our four children. Any shred of patience I had left was primarily reserved for them. I had zero patience for dealing with prospects who didn’t want to pay my rates, wanted to haggle over contract terms, or bring any other work-related drama into my world. If I so much as sensed that a project was going to turn complicated, or require too much effort on my end, I simply said no to the job and kept it moving. This helped keep my sanity intact.

  • I followed up with clients I’d worked well with previously. I already knew how these clients worked and what they expected of me, and they trusted me and gave me the space I needed to complete their projects on time. Reconnecting with past clients resulted in more projects (a couple of long-term ones) than I would have expected. I’ll definitely continue doing this.

Even though this is what seemed to work for me in 2011, I know that I need to make so many more improvements in my business operations to meet my goals for 2012. I will commit to marketing consistently. This is usually my biggest challenge, but I can’t argue with facts: it’s what brings in business. I also need to get organized. I’m simultaneously working on various client projects as well as some personal projects. My personal projects are going well, I’m glad I stuck with them. I intend to commit time each week to working on them, so being organized is essential.

What patterns (good or bad) did you recognize in the way you operated your business in 2011?


Yuwanda Black said...

Excellent post Kimberly.

If I were in your shoes, I woudn't have been sorry to see 2011 end either.

In answer to your question, "What patterns (good or bad) did you recognize in the way you operated your business in 2011?", I developed a habit -- for the most part -- of time blocking my days. It helped me immensely to achieve almost all of my freelance writing goals last year.

Hope all is better now and that this year is even better than last for you -- personally and professionally! :-)

Kimberly Ben said...

Hi Yuwanda! Yes, I definitely released a big breath of relief at the end of this year.I'm encouraged by my progress. I know some of it may have been about being in the right place at the right time, but the majority of it was hard work and the determination to just keep going.

I plan to implement your idea of time blocking. I kind of do it already (or nothing would ever get done), but I definitely need to get organized (My natural tendency is to be all over the place doing several things at once). I've set some pretty challenging goals for my business this year, and I need to get focused.

I hope 2012 brings you even more success!

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