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Goal-Setting for Freelance Writers: A Crash Course

Carol Tice

Goal-Setting for Freelance Writers: A Crash Course. Makealivingwriting.comWhen I talk to successful freelance writers, I find we all have one thing in common.

It’s pretty simple — we have goals. We’re following a game plan for what we want to do with our writing career.

When I take on new writers in my mentoring program, my first questions are:

What is your goal for your freelance writing career? (Or, if you’re a blogger — what’s the goal of your blog?)

I find that lack of goals creates lack of momentum. The big problem with freelance writing is there’s no ‘boss’ standing over you saying, “Get 40 cold calls done this month!”

So you don’t.

Without goals, it’s easy to give in to fears about whether your writing cuts it, and not send that query letter, or make those business calls.

There’s also the chance to dither endlessly about what direction you plan to take. Will you only write for magazines? Write a novel? Target legal businesses? Many writers are overwhelmed by all the options, so they write nothing — or nothing that pays.

The change that happens when you have goals

I find when you start setting goals, there’s a shift in your mentality. You start to view your freelance writing business like a business. Which is what you have to do if you want it to pay your bills.

Setting goals creates deadlines — something freelance writers understand. Start making your own deadlines your top priority, over any current deadlines you have for others. In the long run, they’re even more important.

Setting goals doesn’t mean carving anything in stone. I’m always on the lookout for new opportunities that crop up, that might change my direction. If you’ve been trying one approach a long time and nothing’s happening, it may be time to try a new angle.

Stay flexible — but have a game plan to start.

The most important goals

Here are the three questions I like to ask writers about goals:

Where would you like to see your freelance-writing business five years from now?

One year from now?

Next month?

You need a big picture and a near-term picture. Then it’s time to break it down into a to-do list for this month. What, specifically, do you think you could realistically get accomplished in the next 30 days that would move your writing career forward?

I find the one-month span allows you to avoid overwhelm — after all, it’s only 30 days, so you can only do so much. It frees you to find small steps you can take to try a new marketing angle, get a writing project finished, send a query.

Ultimately, that’s the most important step to take — break down your freelance-writing dream into some actionable, simple steps you can accomplish right away. Then next month, do that again.

Keep doing it until you’re earning what you want.

If you have trouble sticking to it, find a writer’s group, a friend, or a mentor who will hold you accountable for meeting your goals.

You know what’s coming next:

What’s your goal for this month for your freelance writing business? Leave a comment and let us know.