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4 Ways to Analyze Your Writing Business to Maximize Your Income

Evan Tice

How is Your Freelance Writing Business?
By Carol Tice

With the half-year upon us, it’s time to look back on our progress in achieving our writing goals for 2010. We’re halfway there already! How’s it going? Have you achieved half of your small goals? Are you halfway to completing your major goals?

Besides reviewing your goals and possibly setting new ones, one thing I like to do at the half year is analyze the business I did in the first half. Here are some of the calculations I do to get a sense of who my best clients are, and how the year is going:

1. Multiply by two. First, add up all the income you received in the first half (you’re keeping a ledger, right?), and multiply the result by two. That is what you are likely to earn this year. React to that number — how do you feel? Good? Terrified? If it’s too low, what do you think you can do in the back half of the year to raise it?

Next, add up all the income you billed Jan.-June, and multiply by two. This gives you a more forward-looking forecast of the rest of the year’s income, as what you collected in January and possibly even February was likely billed the year before. The difference between the income received and income billed figures gives you your earning trend. If you billed more than you received, your forecast is for rising income; if it declined, your income is likely headed down.

2. Client totals. Now run down the ledger, and add up how much you earned from each client. Look at these totals together to see who your most valuable client is in terms of dollars. Also look at trends as the year progressed — do you have a client that’s tapered off recently that you could perhaps pitch some more ideas? Or is a client slowly fading away that needs to be replaced?

3. Client types. Next, look at the mix of client types you have. What do you think of the variety? Wish you had more blogging clients? More Web content? More print publications? Set some goals for adjusting your mix to keep it diverse.

4. Hourly rates. Hopefully, no matter whether you work on a per-word, per-article, per-project or per-hour basis, you are keeping track of your hours so you know what hourly rate you earn for each client. You might have a top client who seems great in terms of dollar volume, but when analyzed this way doesn’t look so hot. Maybe they’re sucking too much of your time, and you’d earn more and have more free time with a better-paying client.

Personally, I’m thrilled to have achieved some of my goals, and made progress on others. I’m on track to roughly equal what I made last year, which was my record earning year of my career, so that’s good (though I’m still hoping to break my record!). I recently became fully booked and can now take a brief break from relentlessly marketing my business.

My first ebook comes out in the fall, so it’s not factored into the projection and will hopefully add some revenue. I’m also happy that my mentee community continues to grow and mentees are seeing success (even though it’s not a huge part of my income, it’s gratifying!). Left on my writing to-do list — assignments from additional national magazine markets!

What does your half-year analysis tell you about your writing business? Leave a comment and let us know.

This post originally appeared on the WM Freelance Writer’s Connection.