Process Goals for Freelancers: What Are You Doing to Win?

Evan Jensen

You’ve got BIG goals as a freelance writer…Big, dreamy goals to make a lot of money and live the freelance life. But what about process goals?

Process goals? Ya, I didn’t really understand the concept either.

A lifetime ago, I was sitting in my newspaper office when the old high school basketball coach walked in.

He was a charismatic guy. Still fit and sharp at 60-plus, and sometimes filled in at practice.

His coaching strategies were legendary…even a little unorthodox.

We chatted for a few minutes, and then he said something that made me uncomfortable:

“You’re not gonna work here forever, are you? What’s your goal? Everybody should have a goal and a plan to get there.”

I didn’t really have an answer. I fumbled around, made something up…and he was on his way.

There’s nothing wrong with BIG freelance writing goals like:

  • Match your day-job income with freelance work
  • Make $100K a year
  • Land your dream clients

But if you don’t readily achieve these goals (win contracts, score new clients, make piles of money), it doesn’t take long to feel like a FAILURE…even if you’re working hard.

So how do you measure freelance success?

Process goals. If you’ve already got a game plan to move up and earn more, tell us about it in the comments.👇👇

If it’s a foreign concept, here’s what you need to know about PROCESS GOALS to win at freelancing…

Use process goals to measure success

The old basketball coach understood this principle.

Sure…winning games and scoring points is thrilling.

But that’s not the stuff that helps you go from GOOD to GREAT.

It’s the daily process goals like showing up, practice, and consistency that help you win.

If you want to live the freelance life, it’s great to have a vision for what that looks like.

The BIG goals for freelance writers are almost always related to:

But if your BIG freelance writing goals feel impossible, you’re not alone. Why?

  • You can’t make an editor or marketing director open your email or respond
  • You can’t always negotiate how much a client is going to pay
  • Or you might be hustling freelance work and a J-O-B for longer than you thought

Does that make you a freelance writing failure?


You just need a better way to measure success.

  • What do your freelance writing goals and daily habits look like? Tell us about it in the comments. 👇👇

Goal-setting lessons from my double life

Your BIG freelance writing goals still matter. But process goals serve to help you measure your effort and track your progress.

In my double life as a personal trainer and ultramarathon runner, there seems to be a similar problem with goals.

A lot of athletes like to focus on things like:

  • Mile pace
  • Finish times
  • Podium wins
  • Weight loss
  • Body composition
  • One-rep max lifts

But these aren’t process goals. They’re a lot like your BIG freelance writing goals and dreams.

It’s the daily actions and habits you take that help you achieve success, NOT the one-and-done wins.

  • What are you doing every day, week or month to move up and earn more as a freelancer? Tell us about it in the comments. 👇👇

Track the freelance actions you can control

Like a million years ago on the Interweb, freelance writer Nicole Dieker showed me the difference between dreamy freelance goals and process goals.

She published an income report, using a detailed spreadsheet that opened my eyes to the power of PROCESS GOALS.

Process Goals for Writers

Process goals are daily actions and metrics you can measure that help you get closer to your big freelance writing goals.

Like what?

Here are some examples:

  • Time it takes to complete assignments
  • Hourly rate
  • Per word rate
  • # of pitches or LOIs (letter of introduction) you send out
  • Response rate for pitches and LOIs (yes, no, maybe)
  • Time spent on marketing, writing, admin
  • Time spent on courses, training & development
  • # of posts or comments you make on LinkedIn or engage in private groups

At first, keeping track of stuff like this might seem like a lot of busy work.

But you can turn these into daily process goals you can track and measure. Then they become metrics and outcomes you can control.

A weight-loss tracking lesson for freelance writers

Does tracking your daily habits as a freelancer really make a difference?

Here’s an example from my niche writing for health and wellness clients…

  • In a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers followed about 1,700 overweight or obese people for six months.
  • Everyone in the study had access to weekly trainings on diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits to lose weight.
  • Participants were also invited to keep a food diary, tracking everything they ate. But it was voluntary.
  • The results…The people who consistently tracked their eating habits lost twice as much weight as the people who didn’t track their diet.

The lesson: As a freelance writer, process goals force you to be more mindful of your choices, time, types of clients you’re reaching out to, and more.

  • What process goals are you tracking to be a better freelancer? Tell us about it in the comments. 👇👇

This process goal will TRANSFORM your freelance writing career

IMO…if there’s ONE process goal for freelance writers that matters more than anything else (HINT: it’s the same thing personal trainers tell clients), this is it:

REPETITION: Set a process goal for sending pitches and LOIs

  • Pick your poison…daily, weekly, monthly.
  • Make it a stretch goal. The late copywriting coach Chris Marlow pushed freelance writers to send out 400 to 500 pitches to launch or get fully booked.
  • If that sounds like a crazy-high number, fine. Pick a number for sending pitches that will push you.
  • Then track your efforts and results.

Using this PROCESS GOAL is one of the most powerful ways to reach more prospects, book more calls, land more assignments, and make money writing.

You’re 100% in control of your effort. You can do this.

What freelance-writing process goals do you recommend? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Evan Jensen is the blog editor for Make a Living Writing. When he’s not on a writing deadline or catching up on emails, he’s training to run another 100-mile ultramarathon.

Grow Your Writing Income.

Gifts for Young Writers

If you are a young writer looking for gift ideas to give your family and friends, or a seasoned writer wondering what the young people like these days, you've come to the right place. If a young writer aspires to write as a hobby or even a career, this list will help...

Book Formatting Services

Book Formatting Services

"Formatting" a book refers to designing the interior of the book. The font, indentations, scene breaks, chapter headings, illustrations like the maps you'll see at the beginning of fantasy books, and other inside elements are all things that are handled with interior...