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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monthly Assessment - September

Here we go again - another month, another assessment of the marketing and business plan. And once again, I invite you to share your own results, be they good or be they not so good.

It was a bit of a transitional month for me. I had just returned from vacation two weeks prior and was tied up with a deadline on a large project, so my absence and lack of marketing in that time showed. Not much new going on at all until this week, when I was contacted for a new ongoing gig.

I sent out six targeted magazine queries, none of which has garnered a response even to the follow-up email. I'm tempted to return to snail mail in hopes that someone will have the decency to at least send back a "No thanks" in the SASE. Since I shifted my focus from magazine work a few months back, this wasn't my primary marketing area anyway but damn, why can't editors at least say "No thanks" in email?

Job postings:
I applied for only those jobs that passed my stink test: no language that indicated low pay, no hiring "writers", no low-paying gigs, no high volume. That left just a handful, and of those only a select few were interesting or challenging enough. In all, I applied to four job postings. No results yet, either. No surprise.

Existing clients:
I lost a client by choice, and I don't regret it. Having freed up that time, I soon scored that ongoing job through a contact I'd worked with in the past. This has some decent earning potential, which is going to help next month's total look that much sweeter. Also, an ongoing client gig has seen an upturn in projects, so I was able to invoice a bit more this month than the last three. Thank God. I was beginning to wonder if the mall was hiring.

I contacted about five clients each week to say hello, to ask if there's help needed, to send along a news item, etc. The goal is to stay in front of them and top-of-mind should a project come up. Also this week, a small note on my availability I'd left on LinkedIn prompted a long-ago contact to reach out and say he'd be in touch. That's using social networking effectively!

I don't have the heart to tally it, but I can say it's dismal. In my head, I'm seeing half my targeted amount, which has been on par with other months post-recession. I won't use the recession as an excuse, however. It isn't one.

Bottom line:
I'm once more revamping my marketing approach. What isn't working will be cut back. What is will be stepped up. With three ongoing gigs, I'm less inclined to spin my wheels with magazines until their budgets return (if ever).

How was your September? What did you do that worked? What didn't?


stephanerd said...

I love that you post this detailed assessment, Lori. It's always interesting to see what tactics other freelancers are using to drum up work, and how they're working. It also gives me a kick in the butt to keep up my own pace. Many thanks for being so open!

Katharine Swan said...

I had a rough September. I got really sick, got kicked by my horse, and when all was said and done didn't quite have the energy to market. I only did the work that came at me on my own, and as a result my earnings were only a little more than half what they were last month. Yuck. Better luck in October -- I hope!

Katharine Swan said...

On its own, I meant.

Devon Ellington said...

My only goals were the Prague trip and the following Cape trip -- accomplished.

I've got a slew of articles to write, and a few things came in while I was away.

Although September's tally was dismal, it was expected, and October is tightly booked. However, the material that will come out of September will pay off, creatively and financially, for literally years to come.

Worth the trade off.

Gabriella F. said...

Thanks again, Lori.

Just like every other month this year, I'm lower than my average month last year, but I'm still doing well enough to pay bills and save a good chunk of money. I'll take it.

And though I keep saying I should get back into marketing, I simply haven't. Very bad news!

The cause? I've been totally burned out. During the past month (or two, to be honest), I've done only what's necessary to meet the deadlines in front of me and nothing more. Just can't make myself be proactive right now.

I need a vacation!

Kimberly Ben said...

September has not been my best moth either. It started off strong, but ended on a sad note. Like you I'm not blaming the economy. I'm in the midst of ramping up my marketing campaign (which I neglected over the summer) and it's slow going. Finding time to fit in client work, marketing and my other responsibilities has been really challenging.

Paula said...

My September was busy, with two new markets (one magazine, one website) which both show signs of possibly becoming regular, or at least semi-regular, clients. Overall, I turned in three major articles, three sidebars, and three columns.

I admit I didn't put much effort into marketing this month. I sent a batch of ideas to one of my regular editors, which nabbed me two assignments; got in touch with four more editors, one of whom asked for ideas on a specific topic and said he'll be assigning soon; replied to just one job ad that seemed tailored to my very skills (no response so far).

Income-wise, I brought in $1,100 more than last month's so-so income (but the mail isn't here yet - I have several invoices out, so more could arrive today). I have $1100 of invoices pending, plus several hundred dollars more to invoice this week for the two articles I just finished. The magazine that just assigned me the two new short articles pays fast, so that will be about another $700 by the end of October.

So not a bad month, but there's always room for improvement.

Lori said...

That's the goal, stephanerd - to remind you to look at your own business and see what's been happening/not happening. And it's accountability. I'm accountable to all of you each month. It keeps me on task knowing I have to report in each month. :)

Your horse kicked you, Katharine? Ouch! That's one mighty powerful punch! Hope it didn't break anything.

Devon, you're prolific. I'd love to follow you around for a day and see how you operate. Congrats on all the upcoming articles and payoff!

So Gabriella, take a vacation! Seriously. Your body's telling you something. You can't be on top of your game if you're worn out.

Kimberly, I hear you. I kick-started marketing again, sticking to my plan (the one I forgot about until a few weeks ago). Already, one new gig and the promise of two more from serious clients. Amen.

Paula, sounds like things are ramping up for you! Great! I realized as I worked my marketing plan the other day that it's just simple math - the more people you contact, the better your chances of securing the next project.

Amie said...

It's been a good month for me, but only because one client has kept me busy full-time for several months . . . it's hard to say what would be happening if it weren't for them.

Devon Ellington said...

I put up my info on the Goals Dreams and Resolutions site, where a group of us work through our lists together:

It's more about looking ahead, but usually there's an end of month assessment and then a fresh look ahead.

Paula said...

My update: One more (smallish) check came in on the 30th, but so did two more assignments from that editor who said he'd be assigning soon!

Irreverent Freelancer said...

I just wrapped up invoicing for September and I did quite well. In fact, it may have been my best month this year. Good thing too after my very weak August. As of right now, October is not very well booked, so I doubt I'll repeat September's performance. However, I do have a few referrals I'm in the process of negotiating with that could turn into profitable and ongoing relationships. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Katharine Swan said...

Nothing broken, Lori -- thankfully! Though it did take me at least twice as long to do ANYTHING for several days. The kick landed right above my knee, and the swelling made the movement of my knee quite painful and difficult for a few days.

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