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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Monthly Assessment

What's on the iPod: Bleeding Out by The Lone Bellow

writing, freelance, marketing
Windy! Jeez Louise it's windy out. Remember Hurricane Sandy? More than that. See, in Sandy, it went over us. Here, we have the cold air hitting the warm air. It was 66 degrees yesterday. Today it's going to 28 with snow. No wonder I can't get over this sinus infection.

Good day yesterday with work. I have a short deadline on a new article project -- two weeks -- and I was able to line up three interview subjects, two of whom I'll be talking with today. Love when things line up when they need to!

So, happy January 31st. It's now the end of the month you started with resolutions and promises to yourself about doing better at your career. Okay, so January may not be the month to increase income necessarily, but if you've worked toward the goal, good for you. If not, start now.

Me, I'm chugging along under my evaluate-every-month plan. I knew this month would be short on projects (and cash), so no surprises on this side. However, some of these on-hold projects that I was presented with at the start of January better start coming to fruition in February if I'm to meet that monthly goal. I'm not waiting, mind you. That's foolish to wait for promised work unless there's a set start date. Without it, get in line.

So, let's see how this month measured up:

I sent a few to some existing clients, which resulted in "on hold" projects. However, I sent one query with three article ideas to a favorite editor, and he said yes to two of them.

'Tis the season. My conference is the end of April, so now is the time to get meetings lined up and work started for those interested. I sent out somewhere around 20 LOIs, then got stalled working on other projects. Back to it today.

Existing clients:
Here's the bulk of my work this month. One retainer client and two editors gave me the work I needed to pay the bills plus change, and a blog client is a steady source. And the existing clients have given me the "holding pattern" I'm in presently. I'm not a fan of holding patterns, let me just say.

New clients:
There have been discussions with a few prospective clients, and one will be getting an informal proposal today. He came to me via LinkedIn, so I continue to be impressed with how well it works to interact with people on social media.

I'm off the mark this month, as expected. Had the projects all come in, I'd have been rolling in it. As it is, I'm more or less stepping in it (pun intended). I'm about 30 percent off my goal. Not great, but definitely expected. Where I didn't sit idle at all in December, I had some slow days this month.

Bottom line:
I have more marketing to get done on top of the marketing for the conference. Last year I put conference marketing as a priority, which eventually netted me (doubled my income), but it left me wanting for a month or so at the beginning of the year. This year I intend to balance the marketing a little more so that I'm working as I'm lining up things for the conference.

I did expect things to be lighter financially this month, but I'm not thrilled about it. I could have marketed harder this month and December, but since December is when everyone (and their budgets) disappear, I was hard-pressed to find anything new beyond what is coming. And December was when one set of projects ended (as did the gorgeous monthly check). Now it's up to the clients to get back to me on the next set of projects. I don't wait, though. Relying on anything in our business is bad for business. So I'm pressing on with marketing.

How has January treated you?


Cathy Miller said...

January has been the month of long on promise and short on delivery - at least in the income department.

On the good news side, I heard from four prospects from marketing campaigns I have done and had another query from an old client. No signed contracts yet although the old client has committed to a big project and is starting the contracting process. This is a public entity so that means it is a loooong process.Last time it took 6 weeks to get a fully executed contract + the deposit.

Of the four prospects, two look very positive and one I am dying to hook up with so fingers crossed.

I have an ongoing blogging project with an existing client and an article for another regular, and a resource document for a long-time client.

It's been a strange couple of months, but hope springs eternal.

Devon Ellington said...

Up and down, but definitely better, financially, than December was. Still trying to recover from the bounced check, and the play is demanding more for me in non-writing terms than expected, which sucked energy out of some of the writing.

Mostly, I'm just feeling tired and burned out, but there's a lot that needs to get done in the next few weeks.

Gabriella F. said...

Yeah, my January was about the same as yours. It was short on work and pay, but it was also expected. It didn't help either of us that we got sick, sick, sick, no?

My February, however, is gangbusters, with so much work that I'm in that "how-will-I-get-it-all-done?" zone. But things always get done. Hooray for that.

I had one client ask me for my rates on project-managing several pubs from start to finish, but I haven't heard back. It'd be nice if those came through, but I'm not counting on it.

Another client also had a staffer leave, and I'm taking on her weekly newsletter work indefinitely. Not crazy about the project, but I can do the work, and it's a nice regular gig.

No formal marketing right now since I seem to be doing really well (I can hear you saying that's a bad idea!)

But I have started lunching with two other writers and a graphic designer, and we share ideas on work, contacts, etc. I'm finding that personal contact helpful. No business, but still worth it.

Paula said...

It's been an eventful month. The biggest news is I finally got LatePayer to pay and immediately dumped them from my client roster. One weight lifted, but another fell: I needed to make up the $3k per year I used to (slowly) earn from LatePayer.

The minute I decided to dump LatePayer once he paid, three potential clients seemed to come out of nowhere. One was a job listing I sort of replied to. (Instead of replying as directed, I got the editor's attention with an LOI.)

Queries: Sent several ideas to Favorite Editor (resulting in four assignments), and one to the editor I sent the LOI to. He immediately wanted to assign my idea, but it fell through when the photo shoot couldn't be coordinated in time for their schedule - and the topic couldn't be pushed to the next issue. Drat.

LOIs: In addition to the LOI above, I followed up on the LOIs I sent in December.

Existing Clients: Turned in two articles to Favorite Editor and am working on those four new pieces. Wrote two columns. Had another long-time editor ask if I'd be open to more work this year.

New Clients: Although my first pitch fell through, the new editor asked me to keep sending ideas. I'm also wrapping up my first batch of four short articles for a new local client that's running 10 special issues this year.

Referrals: I actually had referrals! Three, in fact. Two people referred me to the local editor I mentioned above. And my sister referred me to one of her clients who just launched a new business. No work there yet, but it sounds promising.

Earnings: I should have a payment from Favorite Editor soon for the two pieces I turned in this month. If that arrives today I'll be over last year's monthly goal, but a couple hundred dollars shy of my new monthly goal.

Bottom Line: I'm currently working on projects that easily surpass my new monthly goal. With any luck there are no late payers in the bunch! But the marketing must continue.

anne wayman said...

January is ending well for me... some surprise money, one good new client and the start of a query on a booklet that if they don't buy I'll do myself.

Our weather has been strange, but promised wind hasn't' hit us.

Lori said...

Cathy, hope is what drives this little engine. :)

Devon, it's that time of year. Burned out is kind of normal in January/February, right? Hang in there.

You feeling better yet, Gabriella? I'm starting to thanks to penicillin, amen. LOVE that you lunch with creatives! What a great way to network.

Paula, glad you finally got that money! Sounds to me like losing the loser isn't going to hurt at all. Three referrals? Super!

Anne, it doesn't hurt that we're getting our ducks in a row on the forum projects, either. :) Glad January was good to you.

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