Can you believe it's July already? I know we say the same thing every year, but time really does seem to fly by. As of today, we kick off the second half of the year. And that is a perfect time for a mid-year check-in on our writing careers.
What does a mid-year check-in involve?
The idea is to review the blogging, publishing, or other writing goals you set at the beginning of the year. You want to see where you've made good progress and where you might have fallen behind.
The next step is to re-think those goals you aren't making much progress towards. Does it make sense to keep going? Or would your writing business be better served by making some changes? That might involve revising existing goals or scrapping them altogether. It's also the perfect time to add new goals to your list as new opportunities might have come up in the past few months.
If you haven't set goals for 2014 yet, no worries. Now is the perfect time to do it.
To give you an example, here's my own mid-year check-in for 2014.
Jenn's 2014 Mid-Year Writing Goals Progress Check
If you've followed my goal lists and check-ins here over the past seven years or so, you know my strategy is to always aim high, even if it means I won't reach every goal I initially set. It's how I push myself to do more than I realistically think I can, and it works well for me. But that strategy doesn't work well for everyone.
If you're building a new goals list right now, please don't think it has to be this long. Focus on what you want to achieve most and make your list as detailed or as general as you want as long as the goals are measurable in some way. You have to find the system that works best for you. Here's a post that might help: Five-Step Plan for Setting and Achieving Goals for Your Freelance Writing Career
Here are my freelance writing, blogging, and publishing goals for 2014 and how they're shaping up so far:
Cut back on my number of freelance clients by at least 50% by the end of 2014.
|I cut freelance projects back immediately, so I reached this goal quickly. But I've since introduced a few too many new projects (taking on more work from fewer clients, which was not my plan). Freelancing still accounts for significantly less of my schedule now which is great as my goal is to eventually focus entirely on my own sites, books, and e-books. There should be no problem reaching this goal by the end of the year.|
|Limit days for client availability to three days per week by the end of March, and to two days per week by the end of the year.||I've officially cut my client availability back to a Monday - Wednesday schedule. But I have made a few exceptions (mostly to meet a deadline if I took extra time off earlier in the week for some reason). Again, there should be no problem reaching the December goal.|
|Overhaul my service website (ProBusinessWriter.com) by the end of March.||Check!|
|Start posting to my service site's blog at least once per month (preferably twice) starting in January and continuing as long as I'm accepting freelance writing clients. I might write a post batch early on and simply schedule them to go live throughout the year.||I should have taken my own advice and written posts in a batch earlier in the year. I started off well but did slack off on that blog. Fortunately I'm in a position where I very rarely have to take on new clients and I still get far more requests to work with me than I can take on. So I don't technically need the blog as a marketing tool right now. But still, I'd like to get better about this, especially because the blog was the primary reason for my search engine ranking improvements for that site after it took a small dive in an algorithm update.|
I've been a bit hit-or-miss on my blogging goals so far this year. But that's not for lack of hard work. I ended up re-prioritizing some things and spending more time on sites like All Indie Writers and less time on some of my secondary blogs.
|Get my primary three websites to reliably bring in at least $5000 per month minimum on their own (collectively).||This goal should probably be scrapped. It's not going to happen, especially because I'm not counting e-book sales in this goal (only ad revenue and site-specific income like job board fees). I would only consider two of those sites to be active at this point, and one of them is just barely being updated. In a blog audit at the end of last year I determined there was a lot of clean-up work to do there, and I won't have much time to spend there over the next few months. That will likely be my biggest blogging project for 2015 instead -- a total overhaul of the site and it's content (my small business blog). Instead I've spent most of my time on this site, posting more frequently and creating new resources. Income and traffic are up here, which is great, especially given how much it struggled to get back on its feet after the re-branding from AllFreelanceWriting.com. This site used to be supported by the others, but now it supports all of the others instead. That's a nice change. But there is still room for improvement, such as more active promotion of the marketplace and job board and getting some of my planned premium resources released. It's possible this site alone will hit that goal, but that depends on whether I end up focusing more on site-specific income sources like e-courses and the marketplace or if I spend more time on the e-book series promoted here, which I track differently.|
|Release a series of at least three e-courses here at All Indie Writers by the end of the year, with at least three released by the end of July.||I'm way behind where I wanted to be on these due to major technical issues with the original e-course platform, which I've since had to replace and transfer all content from. My original goal didn't make much sense, saying three by the end of the year, and then three by the end of July. It was probably a typo in the original post and I likely wanted two available by the end of July. It's still possible, but unlikely. The free e-course should have no problem meeting that deadline. The first premium e-course might or might not be released this month (but definitely this summer). The year-end goal of three e-courses is still very much doable.|
|Launch the last two planned sections for the All Indie Writers marketplace by the end of January.||Check. But I haven't done much with the marketplace yet, as I mentioned above.|
|Set up a new theme on my genealogy blog by the end of April.||Total fail. I've barely looked at that site this year. It needs a lot of love, and at a bare minimum I want to get a better theme set up there by the end of the year. So this one is a deadline adjustment.|
|Post to the genealogy blog at least twice per month from January through April, and at least once per week after that.||Like I said, I've barely looked at this site. So another fail. I'm going to adjust this goal to hitting my twice-per-month target starting in August and going through the end of the year.|
|Update all outdated posts on my small business blog by the end of the year.||I covered this in one of my other goal updates, but suffice it to say it's not going to happen. I need to spend too much time here right now to handle that major overhaul, so it's getting bumped to 2015, though the blog will continue to be active.|
|Put a new spam prevention measure in place on all of the bigger blogs due to an older anti-spam plugin failing miserably and not getting updated by its developer.||Done.|
These goals are the ones that will have to be overhauled the most. My plan was to spend most of my working time on these projects, but it didn't work out that way. I ended up cutting back on freelance writing clients only to take on more projects from some of my regulars and repeat clients, which didn't free up the time it was supposed to.
And I've spent far more time than expected on this site, in large part dealing with technical issues, resource creation, and a seemingly never ending clean-up job due to some mistakes made when I re-branded this site and set up the three-site merger to create it. I simply haven't had the time I expected to have for these projects, though that should improve in the second half of the year.
|Revise my first mystery novel by the end of June, send it off to a developmental editor during the summer, complete further revisions, and get the manuscript off to a line editor by the end of next December.||My progress here has been disappointing. I expected to finish the first draft of the novel in December. It didn't happen until a few months later. So yay for finishing the draft! But it hasn't left me time to go through the initial revisions which are going to be extensive. I suppose there's still a tiny chance it'll be in a line editor's hands by the end of the year. But I wouldn't count on it.|
|Finish the rough drafts for the second and third novels in my main mystery series by the end of the year.||I didn't expect to start on these until late summer anyway, but I'm probably going to push these back a bit. I'd like to get the first one through a developmental editor before I move on with first drafts of the next two in the series plan.|
|Draft up to and including the ninth manuscript in my picture book series by the end of June, and finish preliminary sketches so I can decide if I'll illustrate these myself or not (drawing being a passion of mine, but one I haven't had much time for lately).||Fail on this one, at least partly. I'm half-way there; I just didn't meet the June deadline. I have four manuscripts drafted, and I sent the first through beta readers. I'm actually hoping to go through revisions based on their feedback this week. The fifth manuscript is partially written. Getting to nine won't be difficult. I just need to re-prioritize these. I'm going to set the new deadline for the end of September so it leaves me with three months for the next goal.|
|Start two other picture book series. Draft at least four books in each series by the end of December.||I haven't started these, but I'm leaving this goal as-is. If I meet the previous edited deadline for the main picture book series, I'll have a few months to work on these. And given how short they are, getting eight first drafts together is still doable. Then 2015 will involve much more work on revisions and illustrations (creating them or outsourcing them).|
|Finish the second draft of The Query-Free Freelancer by the end of March.||No excuses. Just a no-go. I do expect to finish the new draft by the end of the year, but it might be cutting it close. I've been more focused on the shorter e-books under that brand so far, and I expect that to remain the case while I build the brand before the main book launch.|
|Release five e-books under the Query-Free Freelancer brand by the end of December (including the second edition of the marketing boot camp e-book), with a target of releasing one e-book toward the end of each quarter.||The second edition of the boot camp e-book was released. The second is in progress. Can I get four more out this year? Probably (they're largely coming from my now-discontinued Web Writer's Guide e-book and being heavily updated and revised into shorter guides).|
|Draft all copy for at least two games tied to my primary mystery novel series by the end of the year.||Because this is tied to a novel draft I'm behind on, I'm hesitant to call this goal realistic. One by the end of the year? Absolutely. Two? It's possible, but I'm not going to stress about it if it doesn't happen.|
|Develop platform-building plans for my three active pen names by the end of January, and roll out implementation starting with my horror writing pseudonym no later than February.||Plans? Yes. Finished. Implementation? Yes. But still needs improvement. I actually am working this week on changes to some of my blogging and promotional plans for that name. So overall things are good here.|
|Draft my first horror novel by the end of March, and draft the second in the series by the end of December.||The first was outlined but not drafted. I was still caught up in the mystery novel draft at that point. I should be able to get through the first draft of the first book by the end of the year, but two is not realistic at this point.|
|Draft up to and including the thirteenth short story in my horror story series.||No. Nowhere close. Not likely to happen. I might hit ten if I'm lucky (have a few drafted). But there won't be enough of these to move them to an editor and get them released (individually at first, then as a collection) until some time in 2015.|
|Draft the first two novels in a supernatural mystery series (separate to the mystery series mentioned earlier).||While these will probably have to be pushed to next year, I would love to get through a rough draft of the first one this year. Maybe it'll be a NaNoWriMo project or something. No promises.|
|Draft the first novel in a third mystery series by the end of December.||No. Not happening this year. I'll be lucky if I get the background research and interviews finished up for this project by the end of this year. I noted in my original goals post that I would likely have to cut this project, so good call there.|
|Release at least three short e-books in The Busy Author's Guide series.||I'm working on the first. One is more likely. Two is possible. Three is probably pushing it at this point.|
|Work with my husband on software to help me better manage my publishing work.||This is still in the plans, but I'm scratching it from my goals list. He's simply swamped with client work and we haven't been able to make time for this yet. And with all the big projects I need to work on in the second half of 2014, I'm not counting on my availability to help with the planning and testing anyway. It'll happen when it happens.|
So, yikes! While I've made a lot of progress, there is plenty of room for improvement. Overall though, I'm pretty happy with how things are going. My biggest problem was in not leaving as much time as I should have for publishing projects. While I won't be cutting back on time spent on All Indie Writers any time soon, I do need to continue to trim my freelance workload.
I made a lot of changes to my five-year publishing plan just a few weeks ago, but going through this update I can see I might need to give it another look and make some further adjustments. If nothing else, this was an eye-opener for me and I can see where I need to spend more time and I'm working on ideas for where I can pull that extra time from. And in the end, that's exactly what a mid-year check-in is all about. After I find some time to review my publishing plan again, I'll consider putting together a revised goal list for the second half of this year. If I do that, I'll share it in the forum.
Have you done a mid-2014 evaluation yet? Are you making good progress toward your writing goals? Where do you still have room for improvement? Share your problem areas and successes in the comments, or join the free All Indie Writers community to chat about your goals in more depth in the writing forums.
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. Through her company, 3 Beat Media, she operates All Indie Writers, NakedPR.com, BizAmmo.com, and numerous other blogs.
Jenn has over 15 years experience writing for others, over 11 years experience in blogging, and 9 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.
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