I want to start this post by saying that I am a fan of big goals. I want you to set ‘big-hairy-audacious-goals’ for your career and in other areas of your life. I have huge goals related to what I want to accomplish with my freelance career and my business. To make those big goals a reality you have to set smaller goals along the way. I have found that I get overwhelmed and start feeling defeated if I do not have a way to measure my progress in smaller increments along the way.
I wrote a blog recently about how long it took me to make my first $1,000 in a month writing online. Reaching that milestone was a big deal for me. Now, I regularly make $1,000 in a week with my freelance income. My next big goal is to have a $1,000 day. I’m still working on how to make that a reality, but I know from my experience increasing my writing income over time that there is a way.
I did not go from making zero dollars to a thousand dollars a month overnight. Nor did I jump from a thousand dollars a month to making that amount weekly without some effort. What I did do was set incremental goals and work toward them systematically.
If you are just starting your writing career it may seem impossible to figure out how to make $100,000 a year writing online. Landing your first paid writing gig, however, is not quite as overwhelming.
So, what are some realistic goals for a freelance writer who’s just starting out?
- Build a portfolio.
Building a portfolio should be your first goal as an aspiring freelance writer. You can do this by writing for free on your own blog or volunteering to write for a business owner you know or a group you are a part of such as a civic organization or your church. Building a portfolio will give you something to show potential employers when you apply for work. I go into much more detail about this process in the freebie I created The 1st Step You Should Take if You Want to Get Paid to Write Online.
- Land your first paying gig.
Landing my first paying gig provided me with a huge boost. It was not for much money ($35 if I remember correctly) but the amount didn’t matter. I received a ton of validation from the fact that someone was willing to pay for what I wrote. It gave me confidence and made me feel like I could actually make something of my dream to be a writer. Until I got that first paying job I still doubted whether or not my work was good enough. If you need help deciding where to look for paid work, check out my blog post on the topic.
- Invest in quality training.
When I started out, I did not invest much time or any money in training. I regret that more than anything else because I think it would have accelerated my career and earning potential. Now I make investing in training a regular practice. Set a goal to invest your time and potentially your money in quality training. It will help you move toward your big goals much more quickly.
- Start producing.
When you are a freelance writer – or a creator of any type – you do not get paid for just showing up. You get paid for producing. The better you get a producing the more money you will make in the long-run. The more you practice writing the better and faster you will get. Part of the reason I can make $1,000 in one week writing is because I am really fast and regularly write for those clients.
- Work backward from your earning goals.
Over the weekend my husband and I sat down and looked at my numbers for the year. I doubled my freelance income over the past year and was very excited about it. I achieved that by working more and finding higher paying clients. Then, my husband made me an excel sheet and showed me how I can double my income again next year. He started with the big number and worked backward to show me exactly what I needed to do each week to reach my goal.
For a freelance writer who is just starting – I think reaching the milestone of $1,000 in one month is a good place to start. It is ambitious but not so overwhelming that you will get discouraged. The first client I picked up paid me $35 per piece and wanted two pieces per month. Then I added a client who paid $50 per piece and wanted one per week. After about a month I picked up work with a marketing agency. It paid $25 per piece – lower than the other two – but there was way more work available. The combination of these clients pushed me over the $1,000 per month mark. If that is your goal, you can achieve it with one client or with several clients. Keep your earning goal in mind as you look for work. It will help you decide which projects are worth your time.
I was listening to a book recently by Brian Tracy. He asked the question, ‘what if you don’t reach the goal you set for yourself?’ His answer was, ‘give yourself more time – clearly you miscalculated when you set the original goal.’ (I’m paraphrasing.) It was a simple statement, but it took me by surprise. Generally, when I do not reach a goal I consider it a failure. I have been thinking about that a lot and working to re-frame how I feel when something doesn’t turn out exactly as I planned.
Because the reality is that feeling like a failure slows you down.
Set some big goals for your writing career. Set some small goals for your writing career. And remember that there is a lot of trail and error involved when you start anything new.
I’d love to hear about the goals you have as a new freelance writer. Send me an email or hit me up on social media to share your goals big and small. If you are looking for more help, check out my training guide.
If you are ready to get serious about writing online, check out my training program The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Writing Online and Getting Paid. In this guide, I go over everything you need to know to get started building a career writing online. To get the latest on this and other projects, sign up for the email list and I will keep in touch.