2010 Goals and Resolutions: A Follow-up

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on November 9, 2010 in Freelance Writing Business
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We're going to talk about goals this week. First, I want to take a look back on the goals we set for ourselves for 2010. In later posts we'll discuss failure and why it's sometimes okay, and then we'll close out the week talking about how today's reflections can help us set new goals for the coming year.

Why look back on this year's goals now instead of January, when the year is complete? Because you can't set next year's goals without an idea of what you accomplished in the current year. It also means you have a month and a half left to make progress on this year's goals you haven't reached yet, so looking back might light a fire under you.

Now let's look at specifics.

My 2010 Goal Progress

I set several 2010 freelance writing and blogging goals for my career. And I looked back on them earlier this year to share progress too. Let's see where things are at this point:

  1. All Freelance Writing Page View Goals -- At our mid-year check-in I mentioned that we hit our first traffic goal (a certain number of pageviews at least three months). We also had a master goal to reach at least once this year. I'm happy to say we reached that goal in October, and even exceeded it.
  2. My Overall Income Growth -- Sadly it's looking like I won't quite reach this goal. I was hoping for around a $20k increase this year. But unless my typical pre-Thanksgiving rush is a huge one this time around, it's unlikely. I can't say I'm really disappointed. I just made different decisions along the way, deciding to put more time into books and e-books and new site launches (things that will take time to bring in income) rather than sinking time into additional client work. That said, I'll still see a nice increase -- I do every year. So with that, having more major projects finally moving along, and being able to enjoy more time off, I'm actually quite happy on this front.
  3. Business Site and Blog Re-launch -- This goal was reached pretty early on. The business site was re-designed (I did a custom design on my own for that one), and I integrated a business writing blog. I don't post to it anywhere near as frequently as All Freelance Writing, but it's doing its job of bringing new visitors to my business site.
  4. Increasing All Freelance Writing Subscribers -- As I mentioned in our mid-year check-in, I abandoned this goal. I quit tracking RSS subscribers. Why? There were far too many random numerical swings with Feedburner this year where subscribers of a certain type were suddenly not counted, then they were again, etc. It became too much of a headache. So I don't get hung up on that anymore. Subscribers here have always paled in comparison to organic traffic from natural links we get elsewhere, and I wouldn't change that. Maybe in the future we'll put more emphasis on subscriber counts, but with the way we've been growing rapidly without that emphasis, it just isn't a priority right now.
  5. Releasing 2 Web Writer's Guide E-books -- Um, no. You can count this as a total failure as of this point. I'll definitely have the Query-Free Freelancer's 30 day marketing bootcamp e-book out by the end of this year, but I'm not holding my breath on WWG series e-books. If I miraculously pull more time out of thin air between now and the end of the year, I may release one (the previously-planned planner). But there won't be two. Two e-books total maybe; not two in the series.
  6. Increasing my Productivity -- Last year I was facing issues with a mid-morning slump. I can say I've gotten much better about that, even if not by sticking to the original plan. Every once in a while I still slump a bit around 10am, but just knowing I only have two hours left helps me get through it. After all, I don't want to be stuck working late. I still work late every once in a while when there's a big project or I just want to get something done so I don't have to deal with it the next day or next week. But that's rare. I respect my schedule and my down-time, and I've learned to make that sacred. And really, having that time to rest and pursue other interests is enough make me more productive in work.

While I didn't see it in my original post, I also wanted to have the first draft of The Query-Free Freelancer (print book) finished by the end of 2010. It is not yet complete. But I did recently set a new writing schedule that's somewhat ambitious -- writing four books in eight months. That starts with the QFF nonfiction book and then moves into a novel series in the New Year. I've been writing 2500 words per day during each of my four work days of the week, and so far so good. If things continue along that line, I'll have that first draft finished by year's end.

Then in my mid-year check-in I briefly mentioned some of my other plans for the site. Many of these were pushed off until next year due to other site launches I was working on. But here are those plans and progress:

  • Launching a Solo Freelance Theater Series -- This didn't happen. Yo and I started on another joint episode of the audio play series, but due to time constraints the production was pushed back. That episode will likely go out in the new year as a sort of re-launch of the series. At that point I still fully intend to launch a solo series. Freelance Theater just doesn't bring in enough traffic yet to make it a priority over some other things.
  • Launching the Web Comic Series -- This will also be a 2011 launch. I've been hung up on the character development stage (it's been a while since I've done any sketch work and this style is still new to me). When I'm happy with the base characters, we'll have a weekly or bi-weekly series here. I don't expect to have time to finish that between now and the end of this year, as most of my non-client time is going towards the QFF book.
  • Releasing Animated Shorts -- These will be based on the Web comic, so they won't launch until that has been live for a few months.
  • Launching a Podcast Series -- I have some ideas laid out for this, but haven't finalized plans for the format I want to use. If or when this happens, it might be rolled into the Freelance Theater branding, but I'm not sure yet. Again, it's something I want to do here, but not a priority over basic content, e-books, and some of the other site launches.
  • Launching a Newsletter / Mailing List -- Still a possibility for the new year, but not something I want to pursue right now. Yes, I know some marketers would have my head for not wanting a traditional email marketing list, but that kind of direct marketing isn't really my style and I do very well sticking to my own methods. So I may drop this plan entirely or come up with a content-heavy newsletter in the New Year. I'm leaning toward the first right now.
  • Releasing the First Chapter of The Query-Free Freelancer Book on AFW -- As you may have seen in a past post, I decided not to pursue a traditional publisher for the QFF book (although I intend to for my fiction). I'm taking the indie publishing route, and in fact will be launching a site related to indie publishing in 2011. So the original plan to release a chapter and mini-proposal publicly don't make sense anymore. The first chapter will indeed be released, but not until the entire book is written, edited by me, and edited by another editor first. The book will be serialized here on the blog, starting shortly before the book's release date.
  • Finishing my First Screenplay -- This project is on the backburner. I wasn't able to get in touch with the primary source I want to interview. I also need to work in a research trip (which happens to be where the source is located). So some time early in 2011 I plan to make that trip, and if I'm able to work with that source at that time, I'll resume work on the screenplay afterward.
  • Revisiting Novel Outlines -- You might remember that I have three novels outlined (and one partly drafted). I documented two of those outlines on the blog a while back while testing different outlining methods. But I won't be writing one of those novels this year. Those were all planned as one-off projects (at least one had some series potential, but wasn't designed with that in mind originally). Instead I decided to pursue a mystery series. I intend to have three books in that series drafted next year. Yes, I know that's ambitious, but I believe in challenging myself. The first will be outlined before the end of 2010, so I can pick up with the writing on January 3rd, shortly after finishing my nonfiction book draft.
  • Launching IndieLounge.com -- This project was postponed mostly because of hosting issues that would make merging my original indie music site into the new one rather complicated. Those issues are mostly worked out now, and I've started rough design changes. It will launch in the New Year rather than this year.

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So there are some goals reached and a few failures along the way. Overall I'm very happy with this year's progress. I'm even moreso because of all of the things I've accomplished this year that were not on my goal list. Some of those things include:

  • Launching my new personal hub at JennMattern.com
  • Prepping the launch of IndieLounge.com (which will come out some time early in the New Year)
  • Prepping a new mystery novel series (more info about that coming at my personal hub)
  • Getting BizAmmo.com back on a normal posting schedule (hired two writers to help)
  • Re-launching NakedPR.com as solely a social media blog (used to be PR and social media) -- re-branded it as SocialRealist.com

So yeah. It's not as though I did nothing else in the interim. But that's much of the fun of goal-setting for me -- see what new goals and plans spring up along the way.

Now it's your turn. How are you coming along with your 2010 professional goals? Have you reached most of them? Did you forget about them almost as soon as you made them? Do you plan to set new goals and resolutions for 2011, or do you prefer to play it by ear? Leave a comment and share your goal-setting stories with us.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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19 Comments

  1. Lori November 9, 2010 Reply

    Great post, and great reminder to reassess regularly.

    I evaluate monthly (and on the Internet where I have to answer to a gajillion people). This year my goal was simple – grow the client list and increase income. So far, I’ve certainly seen the client list swell. But like you, the income target is still a bit out of reach. Outside forces impacted my work this year. So next year’s goal is to find ways to increase income prior to and just after things like surgeries, family visits, vacations, mini-emergencies, etc.

    • Jennifer Mattern November 9, 2010 Reply

      Thing is, mid-way through the year it looked like I might hit it. Then early fall it looked like I might even exceed it. Then September and October sucked for client income because I was busy dealing with site launches and re-branding, so I took on fewer projects. But in the end that was a decision I had to make. And I’d have regretted not dealing with those site issues at the end of the year more than I could ever regret losing a bit of cash. That would be the mentality that gets people stuck in the grind rather than working for something bigger, and it’s not something I’m willing to fall into. I think the balance between immediate income and long-term projects with residual income opportunities will work out pretty well this year. And hey… as long as the numbers keep going up each year, I can hardly complain, right?

      It sounds like you have a good plan for next year, thinking early about life’s little (and not so little) distractions. We can always work around them with a bit of planning.

      • Lori November 10, 2010 Reply

        Sounds like you’re set up well for next year, Jenn! The launches and re-brands will surely bring in more traffic and income. And I’m waiting for that book. I have friends lining up who are interested in it…. :)

        • Jennifer Mattern November 10, 2010 Reply

          lol The book’s a good way off. ;) The first draft should be finished by the end of 2010. Then I plan to shelf it for 2 months while I take care of the first draft of a mystery novel. Then when I have fresher eyes I’ll do my big edit, and I’m sure I’ll add some new interviews and additional sidebar material in that phase. Then I’ll bring in someone from the outside to do a proofreading or editing job for me. And then I’ll decide on printing and the rest of the promotional plan. This is an indie publishing venture, and my first at that. So I don’t expect it to happen too quickly. I’d rather make sure I do it right the first time around. But I’ll keep releasing e-books in the meantime. ;)

  2. becky November 9, 2010 Reply

    Wow. I am seriously impressed with that list. I know I want to increase my income for next year (of course!) but I haven’t yet worked out exactly what I’ll do. Even though your list seems overwhelming to me (there’s no way I could get that much done), it also gives me some motivation. I need to sit down and plan. Figure out exactly HOW I’m going to pursue more business and a better income. You and Lori both provide amazing motivation for me and I greatly appreciate it.

    Of course, with a new baby on the way, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to get done after the new year. But I’m still going to set some goals and try to remain flexible at the same time.

    • Jennifer Mattern November 9, 2010 Reply

      When I create goal lists, I always “overdo it” compared to most people I know. But I do that intentionally. I also do that knowing that I won’t reach every goal I set. If I did, I’d be incredibly disappointed with myself. We have a separate post coming later this week on the topic, but in short — if you reach every goal you set, you aren’t challenging yourself enough. And if you don’t push yourself to your limits and beyond them, your business will never be the best it can be. So go ahead and be ambitious no matter what circumstances you’ll have in the next year. You might not reach every goal, but if you don’t set them you won’t reach any at all.

  3. Cathy Miller November 9, 2010 Reply

    I’ll second that Wow – a seriously aggressive list. And you have done very well (IMHO) with such a long list of items. I have been working on my 2011 goals and this gives me ideas I hadn’t even thought of – nothing as creative or extensive as your goals, Jenn, but it’s a good kick in the pants for possibilities.

    • Jennifer Mattern November 9, 2010 Reply

      Honestly, I was a bit disappointed when I checked my original goal list this morning and saw how few I actually set at the start of 2010. The mid-year general plans listed were more along the lines of what I like my New Year list to look like. Sadly I didn’t stick to that mid-year list as well as the New Year one. So now I know — set as many big goals early as I can, and save the smaller adjustments for the 6-month mark.

      And you know what? It’s a kick in the pants for me too. I had two other goal-related posts planned this week, and this evaluation was a last minute addition. It’s something I need to get on soon before I get too caught up in the holiday season to think about business resolutions. Yikes.

  4. Rebecca November 9, 2010 Reply

    Very inspirational post! It’s time to start on my 2011 goals — thanks for the reminder!

    • Jennifer Mattern November 9, 2010 Reply

      I haven’t technically made my list yet either. Perhaps there’s a 4th post I need to add to this series this week!

      • Cathy Miller November 9, 2010 Reply

        Slacker :-)

        • Jennifer Mattern November 9, 2010 Reply

          lol Hey now. I really do feel like one sometimes. No matter how much I do, I know if I tried a little harder, I could still do more (and without pushing to burnout either).

  5. Lucy Smith November 9, 2010 Reply

    That’s pretty awesome. I’m somewhat ashamed to say that, at the start of this year, I didn’t make any professional goals because I was in a place where not only did I not really know what I wanted, I assumed that I would fail anyway so didn’t bother. Sometimes I’m the queen of self-sabotage. I think this year I might be in a better frame of mind, however, and I have a couple of things I want to get stuck into (like getting through writing 80 pages of content for a new site I’m working on with my partner), so I might give this goal-setting biz a crack. It worked for my personal life this year.

    I imagine that you probably don’t achieve an awful lot if you just coast and do things on an ad-hoc basis. That’s what I’ve done this year, and I’ve done okay, but things have always goes better if I’m working towards something, rather than just working!

    • Jennifer Mattern November 9, 2010 Reply

      No need to be ashamed. It just means you have a starting point for 2011. :) As for assuming you’ll fail, don’t let it get you down. I go into every year acknowledging I’ll fail. I know it’ll make me better in the long run, and I know letting the little failures happen means I’m likely pushing towards the bigger goals. You just can’t let yourself fear failure with everything that comes along. But embrace it when it happens, learn from it, and you’ll be in a better position to tackle that goal the next time. :)

      Good luck with the 80 pages of content! Are you splitting the work up with your partner, or is all of that content on your own plate?

      • Lucy Smith November 10, 2010 Reply

        Nope, the 80 pages is all mine…he’s doing the techie/designey stuff, I’m the writer.

        I think the failure thing last year was mostly to do with a) not really knowing what I wanted to do, and b) having no confidence in my abilities. Rather than reading a piece of great writing (articles, ad copy, whatever) and thinking, wow, that’s cool, how do I learn from this?, I’d read it and think, oh man, I could never do this, why am I bothering? This year I’ve learned to have confidence in my own abilities, and as I’m learning stuff realising I’m a lot better than I gave myself credit for, so am in a great position to set goals and work towards them. I get reflective this time of year…

        And yeah, failure isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just that you’ve gone to a different place to where you intended :-) Sometimes that works out well!

  6. Harry - GoalsOnTrack November 9, 2010 Reply

    Great post. I love the way you review your yearly goals, we should all do this more often.

  7. Mitch December 6, 2010 Reply

    Way to go with your goals for the year. I’m way off my goals, which is quite disappointing, but no sense crying about it. I’ll just have to try harder next year.

    • Jennifer Mattern December 6, 2010 Reply

      Exactly. Rather than harping on problems, it’s usually better to take things like this as an opportunity instead. You know what you need to do to reach those goals the next time around, and a new year is just a fresh opportunity to get it all done. :)

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