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?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

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. FreelanceWritersDen.com

28 Comments

  1. Judi Shimel

    I’m glad I read this. It’s very down to earth. Now I feel more like a mere mortal can do this.

    I especially liked the part about the weight loss study, because I’ve done a couple of them (not studies, per se, but weight loss campaigns). I suspect most people could relate to that.

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      Hi Judi. Good to see you here again. And glad you found this helpful. -Evan

      Reply
  2. Preston Park

    I learned about process goals a little differently: “Policies plus procedures equals systems and sanity.” (Legal Talk Network, https://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/un-billable-hour/2018/01/systems-keep-you-sane/)

    A policy is a rule that you think will get you to your goal if you follow it. For example, “I want more referral sources. So, my policy is to attend 2 networking events per month.”

    A procedure is a written checklist or list of steps that you repeat on a schedule to implement a rule. For example:

    1. Go to [named networking event]
    2. Collect at least 5 business cards
    3. Send follow up notes to everyone who gave me one

    Your “process goal” is to do your scheduled procedures. Scheduled procedues quickly become habits.

    Weight loss example:

    I want to lose weight. To lose weight, I need to eat healthy. So, my policy is to eat healthy.

    To implement my “Eat Healthy” policy, I need meal planning, grocery buying, and meal tracking procedures.

    Meal Planning Procedure (X calories)

    Every Sunday from 3:00-3:30 p.m.
    1. Go to [meal planning site]
    2. Look up meals that will get me to X calories
    3. Create grocery list

    etc.

    Your “Eat Healthy” policies and procedures are your weight loss system. The best systems are the ones you create yourself.

    This is mine: https://medium.com/in-fitness-and-in-health/easily-shed-25-pounds-in-90-days-with-a-friendly-dog-a-free-spreadsheet-and-a-magic-horse-f2dbb8c35376

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      You’ve got the idea. Any goal-setting strategy or method works best when you make it your own. Keep going!

      Reply
  3. Syed Tariq Muneer Jafry

    Thanks for your pop-up message and mind-grabbing write-up. Not to be offended, I have seen a lot of these contents.

    At the end of the day, they ask to join a training course start-up with a $100-$200, a fee which in itself a special offer, not will be given again. This is your last chance.

    The other way round you will be wandering here and there, as at present you are! You will jeopardize your career. You will waste a lot of your precious time, seeking the viable opportunity, so on and so forth.

    So, don’t lose this generous proposition, offered once in a lifetime.

    The same is the reflection of your write-up.

    What would be the case if I haven’t got a dime to spend. Most probably, I won’t hear your feedback.

    Anyhow, thank you very much for your due concern.
    Regards

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      Hi Syed. How’s it going? Everybody starts somewhere, and that’s just fine. It seems almost counterintuitive, but taking action, even small steps, when you might feel like you might not really know what you’re doing, creates momentum to help you learn and keep moving forward. In most cases, a course, coaching, or mentorship helps you get from where you are to where you want to be faster. But it’s not a requirement. Sometimes we need to do our own thing, hustle some work the hard way, make some money, build confidence, and then reinvest to keep learning and growing. My suggestion: Check out the FREE resources here…https://makealivingwriting.com/how-to-become-a-freelance-writer/

      Reply
  4. Willi Morris

    I do think process goals are easier to achieve and celebrate. Thank you so much. I needed to read this. Today I’m celebrating that I posted on LinkedIn twice this week and one post is getting some traction among my connections.

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      Hi Willi. Always great to hear from you. Glad you found this helpful. And nice work posting on LinkedIn. Honestly, one of the best place to spend time marketing, networking, and connecting with people in your niche. Keep up the good work!

      Reply
  5. Jennifer copeland

    Good day .just waiting for that day .iam feeling energize. Who is going to ask .i am not an expert..but i need the opportunity. To give. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Farmanullah khan

    I’m much passionate about freelance writing and securing some projects …but whenever, the matter comes to adopt this profession in practical ..I do not understand two things;
    1. How to start freelance writing and
    2. What to start: I mean what are the types of freelance writings.
    3. And if would start freelance writing how I would be able to assess it standard whether it is acceptable or not.
    I have lots of more questions for I really need a mentor to encourage me, but yet, I have no one who guide me properly and how can help to launch my freelance writing career. So I need a counselor who can evaluate my my and encourage me to start up my career in this arena…
    Really looking forward.

    Reply
  7. Julia Tell

    This was just what I have been trying to get myself to do this year. Get the structure and habits going that will help me reach those big goals. Thanks for the inspirations to continue and try to find a way to write down and track my smaller actions that will contribute to the bigger successes. Great article!

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      Awesome! It’s easy to set those BIG goals, stop there, and then feel like a failure when you don’t see success right away. Lots of resources out there that remind us to break down big goals into smaller goals. That’s the idea here. Keep going!

      Reply
  8. Mary Morris

    Very helpful article! Thanks for the reminder/encouragement to set the TYPE of goals that make sense.

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      Hi Mary. Glad you found this helpful. It’s a great strategy, and still effective whether you’re just starting out or been freelancing for a while. Keep up the good work.

      Reply
  9. Julie+Ann+Trentin

    Still no niche to write about or to use as my freelance expertise; although, I find it fun to write about bugs in our food!! Lol
    Having difficult time here as I feel outdated. But I love your advice. Maybe one day I can get started and be apart of my dream job?? Thanks for the great advice and keep it coming!! 🙂
    JulieAnn.

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      Hi JulieAnn. Writing about food is totally a niche! Tons of food-related magazines and sites that pay writers. And lots of food-related businesses out there that work with copywriters. Why wait around though? Some good resources here to help you start taking action now. https://makealivingwriting.com/how-to-become-a-freelance-writer/

      Reply
  10. Yvette Ward

    Great read, love the example process goal for pitches. Wonderful idea.

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      Hi Yvette. Awesome. Glad you found this helpful.

      Reply
  11. Bernadette Turriettam

    I Bernadette Turrietta do want to write from home and earn a income . I need to be trained on how and what style will be needed to be successful.
    So I will need simple to the point visual and audio directions . Thank You

    Reply
  12. Aneezah Hadad

    For me the goal is to have fixed customers who continue providing projects on constant premise and having a group of few co-freelancers who will do the work for me now and then.

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      YES! Those are the best kind of writing clients. I’ve got a few clients I’ve been working with for 5+ years with projects every month! Keep marketing, pitching, connecting, and reaching out, until you’re fully booked with the type of clients you want to work with.

      Reply
  13. Mary

    This was really helpful. I heard about that food-logging study and that’s a great analogy. Going to start tracking LOIs.

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      Hi Mary. That’s awesome. Set a stretch goal for sending LOIs. Keep track of how many you’re sending out + the response (yes, no, maybe, or crickets). Aim for doing this for at least a solid month. And you’ll have some good data on how many LOIs you’re actually sending, along with your response rate. In the perfect world, tracking like this gets you to the point where you know how many LOIs it takes to land a new client. Keep going!

      Reply
  14. Otieno Maurice

    Thanks Evan.
    Please tell me what I need to do to get honest and fair clients.
    I had to stop writing when the first two clients I got disappointed me.
    The first, just vanished after I submitted six well researched IT articles.
    The second offered to pay me $ 10 for three quality articles and I told her to keep that pay.
    Where and How do I find a client or clients to help me grow?
    Have a look at a sample of my work and without any reservations, tell me where to improve.
    Be blessed Sir.

    Reply

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