As a freelancer, your talent and skillset offer tons of value to your clients.
But it’s very easy to get caught up the work you do—you, the freelance designer, marketer, developer, or writer—and not think about the other work you need to do as you, the ‘business owner’.
Focusing on making your work the best it can be is just one piece of the puzzle.
If you want to build a business that can sustain itself over the long-term, you need to look beyond the work you’re doing and consider how you are running your business.
The best-paid freelancers are evolving with the market and adding value to the services they provide. These same leaders also manage their tasks and goals like a well-functioning organization would.
How are you approaching a stable freelancing career? How do you plan to grow what you’ve built? Let’s discuss the business goals and practices that make freelancers uber successful.
Setting realistic career & financial goals
Setting realistic goals sounds like it’s an underachieving mentality, but it’s one of the biggest reasons for success, regardless of your industry.
As a freelancer, you likely juggling multiple projects across multiple clients. As optimistic as you may be, you need to set clear goals that have actionable tasks and defined milestones. You need to be upfront with yourself about what has to be achieved to amount to completion of a bigger goal. Your milestones allow you to chart your progress as you’ve defined it.
Setting clear goals is a practice that heavily impacts your day-to-day but also drives long-term expectations, specifically around your career and finances. It’s difficult to accelerate from having no portfolio to a client list of industry heavyweights, in a matter of weeks.
It’s all about setting realistic goals that lead you to a sustainable and active freelancing career. How are you planning to reach that desired rate you know your skills deserve? How do you create a consistent inbound funnel of clients? The goals you set for yourself should amount to these desired returns.
Start with the math. How many inbound leads or referrals do you need each month to reach the annual income goal you’ve set for yourself? Then think about what kind of tactics you need to implement in order to reach these numbers, so that even if you don’t hit them every month, you’re building the habits that set you on the right track.
You must hold yourself accountable
Keeping a solid system for productivity and organization is vital to scaling your success as a freelancer. It’s inevitable that you will have to define some system for staying on track and holding yourself accountable.
What daily schedule fits you best to keep yourself ahead of deadlines to produce your highest quality work? If you write better in the morning and would rather leave strategy focused projects for the afternoon, then structure your day that way.
Outside of setting a routine that makes you the most efficient, leverage online tools to help you take notes across your devices, manage projects with actionable tasks, and overall enhance your organization to get more done.
Measuring progress and client expectations
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
– Napoleon Hill
Without defining each goal, your only measuring stick is the project deadline. This doesn’t bode well for you or your client, and it’s an area that all freelancers can continue to improve upon.
How do you measure your progress and how often are you checking in with these counterparts?
1. Define your goals in detail
We all want to make more money this year but how much of an increase are you striving for? Describing your goals in detail will help you determine the action plan needed to get there. Do you want to write for three top-tier publications? Which three lead the industry for your niche? Being general can pave a path that deters you from your end game.
2. Create an action plan and set milestones to measure progress
An action plan breaks down the tasks needed to make your goal come to fruition. Pair this with reasonable milestones. Milestones are determined before the project begins, giving you reference points to chart progress. For example, if you’re writing an e-book, an expected milestone would be the completion of an outline and the first two chapters by the two-week mark.
Coordinating this progress with your clients is a philosophy that varies, but it should always help either side become more informed. Whether it’s allowing the freelancer get more familiar with the direction of the client or the client asking for an update on a project timeline, providing information in a timely and constructive manner will help mould loyal customers.
Resetting goals for better results
Like most freelancers, I always feel pressed to accomplish more. This feeling of urgency is common among solopreneurs, but it’s also important to understand how to set new goals that help your career progress beyond the short-term. So, where do you see yourself in three months? In three years?
How you approach these short and long-term goals should also align with where you intend to steer your career. All businesses and entrepreneurs should stick to one rule: Don’t abandon what’s working. If you’ve been successful in helping tech companies with their content strategy, set new goals that will scale this kind of work. If you’ve found more success creating social media content, set new goals that will broaden your reach with this service to offer.
As you measure what’s realistic, always strive to push yourself to continue expanding your network and career at an increasing rate.