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Setting Goals as a Freelance Writer

Yesterday I took some time off from writing to instead continue research and reading behind how to successfully run my freelancing career.  Starting off as a freelance writer is difficult, and it can quickly gnaw at your sense of self-worth and happiness if you don’t remind yourself that it takes some time to find success as a freelancer.  As someone who’s impatient by nature, this is a fact I have to remind myself of multiple times a day.  It’s been getting harder to, however, as without having much in my portfolio, it’s hard to attract potential clients and work, and finances are a very real issue for me right now.  But then I realized this has only been my second real week trying to make this work.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and by all accounts, I’m on track to making this career choice work.


One of the resources I’ve turned to a lot in my recent research into freelance writing is Carol Tice’s How to Make a Living Writing.  While Carol sells a lot of courses and lessons, most of her free posts are packed full of information for freelance writers of every caliber and has served as a major resource for me.  Yesterday, I stumbled upon The Truth About How Much Freelance Writers Make and found the second heading, “What is your earning goal?“, particularly interesting and thought-provoking.

“What is my earning goal?” I asked myself, realizing that coming up with that goal, and milestones before reaching it, would help me to not only realistically pace myself and my freelancing, but give me a goal to aim for.  Goals have always helped guide me to success; without them, it’s easy for me to get off-track or depressed with a perceived lack of progress.

Setting Goals as a Freelance Writer

Determining My Earning Goal

Allstate's Ridiculous Rate
An absolutely ridiculous rate for car insurance

As I wrote about in my last post, recent happenings in my life have driven me to follow my dream of making writing my career, which means my writing needs to be able to cover my bills and replenish my obliterated savings as well as help me to get back onto my feet after a brutal 2016.  Thankfully, I have the support of family (with a special shoutout to my brother, whose unceasing encouragement is sometimes the only thing that helps me believe in myself) and I’ve eliminated as many financial obligations as possible (looking at you, Allstate – but that’s another post for the future).  That leaves me with a relatively low required monthly earnings to work towards each month, an amount that’s definitely within the range of a fresh freelancer.

But that low number isn’t my earning goal.  It’s a number to keep me afloat, and if I were content with solely remaining afloat, I’d start working at a part-time job again.  The requirements to meet my earning goal are more varied than paying bills (because there’s far more to life than working to pay bills).  I want to:

  • Buy a house
  • Move out of Rhode Island (considering Texas)
  • Afford to travel (Romania, New Zealand, and Iceland are my three first choices)
  • Build a new PC (what can I say, I love my games)
  • Finish my tattoo sleeve
  • Live comfortably

The last bullet point has always been my biggest end-goal.  Growing up, my family was never wealthy; I had a great childhood, but money was a very real and consistent worry.  That hasn’t changed for me in my adult years.  I want to be able to make enough money to where it’s not a major concern of mine; my bills will always be paid in full and on time, my only debts are healthy debts, and buying a coffee doesn’t mean sacrificing being able to afford another gallon of gas for my car.

At this point in my thinking, my earning goal is cost of bills + enough income to live comfortably.  That number ends up being somewhere in the ballpark of what I’d make at a normal 40-hour a week full-time job – a fairly modest goal.

However, as Carol realizes in her blog post:

My earning potential was unlimited.

After realizing I could earn much more, I upped my marketing and aimed higher. I stopped looking at Craigslist ads and proactively went after bigger clients — major corporations and national magazines. I wrote more on big projects and ongoing contracts, rather than having to prospect constantly for smaller gigs.

Upon reading that, I stopped to think what my business plan was and how I could structure it so as to work towards my goal.

Honing My Business Plan

Since beginning my freelance writing journey, I’ve been bidding on jobs listed on Upwork.  Sites like Upwork and Textbroker are great starting points as a beginning freelancer because they help you to accumulate experience and clients, but most of the jobs offered there pay low rates.  While I know I’m nowhere close to charging the rates of more established freelance writers, I also know I won’t be able to hit even my goal to pay bills by focusing solely on Upwork.  As such, I had to come up with a business plan that would help me achieve my earning goals.

Considering my relative newness to the freelancing scene, most of my time is going to be spent on Upwork and other similar sites, submitting proposals and bids in a two-pronged effort to find consistent clients and gather reviews.  This should provide me with a fairly stable, if small, source of income that would help me meet my first goal of staying afloat and paying bills.  Being able to meet this relatively low goal will then open me up to finding clients with bigger budgets and more long-term work and the kind of contracts that would help me meet my goal of earning the equivalent of full-time pay.

With that goal met, I will then be able to continue building my portfolio and experience to a level where I could, as Carol managed, break six figures.  This would constitute “living comfortably” for me and is the ultimate goal I desire for my life.  I thoroughly enjoy working and I thoroughly enjoy writing, so to combine the two to where all of my financial requirements are met is my ultimate earning goal.  Having a goal to reach for with milestones set in place will serve to keep me from growing too anxious or self-defeating and give me a clearly defined path to success.  It is imperative to remember as a freelancer that this is a business and you have to treat it as such.

I will, of course, continue to update this blog as I reach my milestones and continue along this exciting new path towards meeting my goals.  I have never felt more excited or enthused about a job as I do about freelancing.  Writing is what I feel my calling is in life, and I’m determined to find success and achieve my hopes and dreams through the written word.

If you’re a freelancer, what does your business plan look like and what are your earning goals?  Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter!

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