Are You Ready for Your 2012 Year-End Evaluation?

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on November 21, 2012 in Freelance Writing Business
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I know November isn't quite the end of the year. But with the hectic nature of the holiday season, I like to start a year-end business evaluation a bit early. What I do is look over my initial goals and resolutions for reference, and then check my mid-year check-in and any changed goals to see what I have and haven't done.

This year was not a great year for me, for reasons both in and out of my control. I took time off early in the year while I prepped for my wedding and took time for my honeymoon (a good thing... just not for work). I spent several months this summer feeling quite ill and physically drained before my surgery.

As soon as thing seemed to get better schedule-wise, things started falling apart with some of my biggest clients. I left half of a major yearly gig behind for ethical reasons and had to walk away from the rest after a change in their content strategy meant they could no longer honor a particular requirement in our previously negotiated deal. Financially it wouldn't make sense for me to stay under the new terms. Another big client has had to cut back because their income was hit when the two big Google algorithm updates hurt their traffic (and therefore revenue).

Despite those setbacks on the client side of things, I'm happy with the way things are progressing again. While I didn't plan to cut back so much so fast (and I have picked up some other clients in the meantime), I did plan to cut back on client work to focus more on books and Web publishing in 2013. So I've been sinking quite a bit of time into new launches and site overhauls.

Here are some of the specific goals I'd set or adjusted in my mid-year check-in this year, and how those goals are coming along (or not).

  • Get back on schedule with my sites, blog posts, and books. -- I'm happy to say that this worked out. I was actually surprised with all of the setbacks, but letting some client work go helped me re-focus on some of my own big projects. You may have noticed that I personally post here much more often than I did earlier in the year. I'm posting on my small business blog again, in addition to a regular contributor. I'm soon planning to relaunch my indie publishing blog. And I've launched a few new ones. While I'm not progressing as quickly as I'd like on the books and e-books, I did put together a 3-year publishing plan. That's also soon up for review. While I'll need to make a few adjustments if I don't finish this novel draft by the end of the year, I don't think I'll have to make too many changes.
  • Increase gross income at least 20% over 2011. -- This just isn't going to happen. The client cutbacks were a big hit (the one client alone is a loss of more than $40k per year). And unfortunately it's going to take some time to get the overhauled and newly launched sites and e-book sales to the point where they're completely making up for that income. It sucks. But that's life when you're in business. I'm looking at it more as an opportunity than a setback though. I've been wanting to put my main focus back into my own projects, and this was the kick in the pants I needed to make some major changes.
  • Finalize the business name change. -- This was done. J.H. Mattern Communications is now officially registered as 3 Beat Media.
  • Set up my new office space. -- This was also done. I decided against painting this room because of all the furniture involved and things already hung on the walls. Plus, further down the line (if we opt to stay here more than a few years) I want to install built-ins in a large portion of the room which would cover the paint anyway. So I'm okay with it as-is. It's where I feel most comfortable -- my haven.
  • Publish at least 5 short e-books. -- This isn't going to happen. That goal was re-committed just before I became ill, and that set back any publishing efforts significantly. While I'm working on two right now and I'm hoping to release them in December, even that isn't guaranteed. All e-books are being released under the new 3 Beat Books division / brand under 3 Beat Media. In that process I have to finish some internal design work for the series and then transfer the existing QFF e-book into that format first. That's been a challenge, although it's coming along. But it might push back release of the new ones. I won't know until I'm able to finish this design and see how long it takes me to convert the first.
  • Finish editing my nonfiction book manuscript. -- This is turning into a neverending project. I finished a good portion of the basic edits but realized that the manuscript needs some serious changes prior to publication. I'm going to be rewriting a section or two and adding at least one new one. I'm also going to be conducting a series of interviews with colleagues to get them to share some of their own stories and experiences in the book. Perhaps I'm being overly picky about it because it's my first, but I want to do it right, even if that means doing it more slowly.
  • Finish drafting the first Murder Scripts novel.  -- This might or might not happen by the end of the year. It's only the first draft, so it's going to be far from ready for publication. But it still takes time. My goal is to have it finished by next month, but I keep shelving it to focus on more urgent site-related projects. I have a new plan / process in place this week, and if it works out, I might be able to salvage the schedule and get 'er done.
  • Release the first Murder Scripts game. -- This is a no-go. I knew that as soon as I set up my 3 year publishing plan though, so no surprises. I decided that I wanted the first book drafted before starting the game, so I could create it while the novel is going through edits and release them a bit closer together.
  • Get up to $500 per month in revenue on my genealogy site. -- Not going to happen. This site just hasn't been a priority, and I took a more personal slant to the writing there than I originally planned to. I might change that in the new year, making it more of a resource-centric site. But as I don't see it having as much income potential as some of the other newer sites, I can't commit to that. I might set a site-specific goal for it in 2013, but with a lower target -- just enough to push me to monetize it effectively.
  • Find uses for at least 3 of my unused domain names. -- That was easy. Several new sites were set up this year including 3 author sites for pen names, WritingForBloggers.com (which is nearing its official launch), a finance-related blog, a rebranding for an educational site, and another smaller blog launch. I also have a few others in development for 2013 releases including GardenAndFood.com, LearnEmarketing.com, DIYProjectIdeas.com, and LiveWorkOrganize.com. There are a few other smaller sites I'd like to launch next year, but that depends on how these initial plans go.

So that's where I stand with most of 2012 behind me. How about you? Next week I'll post my resolutions for next year (open to edits of course if I don't finish the planned e-books and novel draft for December).

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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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7 Comments

  1. Rebecca Garland November 21, 2012 Reply

    I’m doing okay so far this year. Of course I make plans based on a school year not a calendar year. My goals are dramatically difference since I balance so many things and two separate careers – I always enjoy seeing yours because they are so ambitious.

    I realized you hadn’t felt well, but I didn’t realize you had surgery earlier this year. I’m looking forward to your DIY site when it goes live. I just finished my new fireplace mantel today and I’ve toyed with the idea of my own blog for that sort of stuff, too. Just no time at the present!

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

    • Jennifer Mattern November 26, 2012 Reply

      So that means you’re in a fairly new year already then, right? Do the school years tend to change a good bit, or do you usually know what to expect schedule-wise when you take on the next year’s planning?

      It was pretty minor surgery, but it was absolutely necessary. I could barely stay awake, nonetheless get any work done most days. Thankfully I’m back to normal now and chugging along with seemingly a million projects as usual. :)

      Time is always the problem, isn’t it? That’s definitely not going to launch before the new year, but I’m hoping to have it up by March at the latest. I want to make sure I document a few projects here around the house before launch. I figure, I have so much to do here, why not work the projects into the business and earn some money through a new site? I think it’ll be one of the most enjoyable sites once I kick it off.

  2. Amandah November 22, 2012 Reply

    My first priority is to finish my manuscript because my publisher wants to publish the book in December. I have seven more chapters to write.

    I also need to write the treatment for my half-hour TV sitcom and have a reading session so I can hear the dialogue and make changes if necessary. I may extend this into 2013.

    As far as 2013 goes, I’m excited about having my children’s picture book published and possibly my non-fiction book for teens, which needs rewriting.

    I’d like to begin pitching my screenplays.

    I’m still contemplating what to do with one of my websites (I decided to let a few go along with domain names I purchased. I need to streamline.)

    I’m considering launching an author website.

    I’m considering focusing on ghostwriting and creative writing. I’d like to sell more greeting card copy. Then again, I’m also considering focusing on my personal projects and getting a ‘day’ job. We’ll see.

    I’ll stay open to ALL income opportunities. You never know where they’ll lead you.
    Amandah recently posted…WordPress Errors That Make You Look SillyMy Profile

    • Jennifer Mattern November 26, 2012 Reply

      Wow. Where are they going to squeeze in edits if they want to publish in December? That seems crazy. Best of luck with it — sounds like you have a lot of work!

      It sounds like you also have a pretty exciting year planned for 2013. :) Looks like a fun list of projects in the works!

  3. Anne Wayman November 28, 2012 Reply

    Jenn – what I notice is your flexibility – you set goals as real aiming points and are being flexible with the stuff that hasn’t worked out as you hoped. Good job!
    Anne Wayman recently posted…8 Things Freelancers Don’t Want to Hear Clients Say & How To RespondMy Profile

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