Being self-employed offers a ton of flexibility and freedom. You can take off when you want, work from your couch or the coffee shop, and run errands in the middle of the day.
That’s the good part.
However, you’re also your marketing, accounting, and business development departments. Which means, you wear a lot of hats and it’s up to you to do periodic assessments so you know if you’re hitting your goals.
When I first started out in my freelance writing business, my goal was simple: Get paying projects. Maybe you can relate.
However, fast-forward a few years and I realized my goals have shifted. While getting paid is still important, I now have more multifaceted criteria which I’ll share below.
Though, I really hadn’t even thought about it until a recent conversation with a couple of fellow freelancers got me thinking. One of them asked, “How do you evaluate whether or not you take on a project?”
The question gave me pause. As I sought for an intelligent-sounding answer, the other freelancer rattled off criteria I’d rarely considered.
However, over the next day or two as I mulled it over, I realized we have entirely different approaches to business.
Not bad, just different.
Allow me to explain. A lot of people start their freelance writing business with a primary goal of making some money. Nothing wrong with that, you are running a business and that does need to be a focal point. However, over time, you’ll gain experience and your criteria may become more nuanced.
As you can see, it’s all about being strategic and businesslike as you gain skills and experience.
Let’s take a closer look.
Assess Your Current Business
As they say in yoga, the only place you can start is where you are, so let’s apply this to business.
Whether you’ve just landed your first client, or your 100th, or you’re still thinking about hanging out your shingle, it helps to evaluate where you are now and where you want to be over the next 3-12 months. It’s easy to make grandiose 3-5-year plans, but I’ve found it more helpful to plan 3-6 months out.
That’s enough time for me to identify target clients, and reach out to them using a mix of cold and warm email and LinkedIn targeting, and land a few projects.
But before you can implement marketing activities, it’s important to know what type of business you want.
- Are you strictly offering writing services in exchange for payment?
- Are you starting a Money-Making Website where you plan to make affiliate income?
- Are you looking for investment opportunities where you’ll exchange your skills for a percentage of sales?
There are many ways to run your business and when you’re clear on yours, you’ll find it easier to evaluate your next projects.
Currently, I’m running a “writer for hire” business and I seek out opportunities with companies who have lots of regular writing needs that suit my skills and background. To that end, I’m very clear about the type of client I’m looking to work with. I’m also looking for clients and projects that may open doors to other projects.
But my friend is running an entirely different kind of business. He’s looking for a certain type of entrepreneur who’d love to have a killer copywriter partner on projects and cut him in on a percentage of sales.
Talk with Others
Running a freelance writing business can be isolating. Friends and family may not understand what you’re doing. You need to be able to speak with other professional freelance business owners and exchange ideas.
Join Facebook Groups like B2B Writing Success for support and camaraderie. Don’t be afraid to ask business questions. Everyone can benefit from hearing different perspectives. You never know where someone’s experience may lead you.
Assess Your Personal Needs
Another writer friend said she adjusts her business according to her life at that time, when her kids were little she worked around their schedules. Now, they’re approaching the college years and she’s focused on projects/clients with the greatest financial benefit.
Another friend said she evaluates whether the client’s mission and values align with hers. Others said they evaluate if the project is likely to lead to something bigger.
Only you know your lifestyle and needs. The beauty of running a freelance writing business is that you can adjust it to suit you.
When you’re first starting out, building a freelance writing business can seem overwhelming. There’s so much to know and do. However, all you have to do is pick a path and do a little bit every day to make progress. That’s how businesses are built.
And if it shifts over time? That’s okay. I first learned online marketing with a Money-Making Website where I gave out dog treat recipes and started my freelancing career offering social media services for small businesses.
Now, I’ve moved on and my business has shifted into content marketing for B2B pets and travel. I write for clients I was terrified to approach a few years ago.
When you assess the reality of your current skill set, connections, and commitment to your business, you can design a business that works for where you are now and where you want to be.