When it comes to running a successful business of any kind, including freelance writing, much of that success comes down to the decisions you make. You make good decisions that help you grow. You make bad decisions that hold you back. Or you might make decisions solely to maintain the status quo. Today let's talk about making better business decisions when it comes to your freelance writing career to help you get the most out of your business.
Here are a few tips for making the best decisions for your freelance writing business.
Be Realistic About Income Goals.
You can't run a successful business if you don't understand the basics of the finances involved. That means understanding that freelance incomes aren't directly comparable to employee incomes. It means understanding the taxes and expenses and how they impact net vs. gross earnings before you set your rates. It also means understanding how the difference between working hours and billable hours affects what you should be charging for projects on an hourly basis.
When you understand the numbers, you can set realistic income goals. Pulling a number out of a hat or saying "I made $40,000 as an employee so I want to make $40,000 as a freelancer," aren't realistic. They're ignorant. And setting rates without crunching the numbers is a recipe for disaster in many cases. The rates you set are incredibly important. They don't only determine what you earn. They determine who your target market includes. They determine what marketing methods will be most effective in increasing sales. "Price" is one of the 4 Ps of marketing for good reason. Many of the professional decisions you make will at least in some part come down to rates.
Need some help setting realistic rates? Try using the advanced version of our freelance hourly rate calculator (just click the advanced link near the top of the tool).
Know Your (Real) Market.
It's pretty difficult to make responsible business decisions if you don't know who your target market includes. You could waste a lot of time and money marketing services to people who aren't in your market and who have no demand for your services (or who can't afford your rates). Make better marketing decisions by knowing who your market really includes, what kinds of budgets they have to work with, who they are targeting in their own businesses, and what they hope to get out of the kinds of services you provide.
Get to Know the Competition.
It's also important to get to know your competition. You don't have to copy them. But you can see what things have worked well and what haven't. That could help you make better decisions about marketing tools and tactics to use. The competition could let you make better decisions about rates and raises too. Knowing what works, and what doesn't, for others can help you make better decisions about your own plans and goals as a freelancer.
Keep and Eye on External Trends.
Not sure where to take your freelance career in the New Year to take it to the next level? Pay attention to external trends. Is there a new type of business booming suddenly that you could target with your services? Are people using things differently now than they were a year or so ago? This is what happened to press release writers a few years back. they transformed from print release items to heavily-used online PR tools, and the new distribution outlets allowed that service to boom in new markets.
Evaluate Your History (Personal Trends).
One of the most important things to keep in mind when making business decisions is your own history. You know how you work best. You know what types of projects you never seem to finish. You know where you tend to excel. Use that knowledge when setting new goals for your business or deciding how to promote your services.
Never settle until your freelance writing career is exactly where you want it to be. Don't assume progress is too hard, too time consuming, or too costly. Use the tools mentioned here to help you come up with a plan that suits you and your business. When you make better business decisions, you don't have to worry about setting yourself back or getting stuck in a rut. You can take your freelance writing career anywhere you want it go.
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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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