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Adopting a Business Mindset About Your Writing

[Note: I lost all the comments on this post in a website transfer. Sorry, guys!]

I’ve always been a goal-oriented person.

I like to list them on paper and plan out the steps I need to take to reach them. I like to create numbers and metrics for myself. I love weekly check-ins, where I can hold myself accountable for the things I’m doing – in fact, I like it so much that I’m a part of two separate business accountability groups that meet weekly to talk about our goals (virtually).

Let me just say that I know this is kind of weird, in that way of people who geek out on spreadsheets, or use color-coded markers to write their to do lists.

I’ve always been a writer of goals, but it’s only recently that I’ve tried to also be a speaker of goals. You know, to tell other people what I plan to do, so that they can ask me how I’m doing, and hold me accountable along the way.

It’s actually quite scary, but you know what? It’s incredibly motivating.

So if you’ll indulge me this post, I’d like to make you, the people of the internet, my accountability buddies. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter if you get a wild hare, or shoot me an email to ask how things are going along the way. I’ve got a lot planned for this year, and although much of it is related to my freelance business, I’ve got some awesome fiction projects coming your way, too.

My 2015 goals

Focus my niche for freelancing

My scattershot marketing approach of 2014 netted me clients in a wide array of fields, and this is the year to build on them. It turns out the majority of my clients are B2B, so while I don’t quite feel like I’m in a place to specialize by industry, I do intend to specialize by type.

As I research projects for each current client, I keep a notebook where I list any other company in their niche that looks interesting. So while my inbound inquiries continue to be all over the board, my outbound prospecting for 2015 will build a lot on my current clients’ industries:

  • EdTech
  • Restaurant/retail
  • Hospitality
  • Apparel

To reflect that, I grouped my experience by industry on my B2B copywriting website.

Raise my rates

I started low-but-livable as a freelance copywriter, and as I’m gaining more experience I think it’s reasonable to expect to double my freelance rates by the end of the year. How? Through a combination of raising rates with current clients, screening new clients who can afford higher rates, and increasing how quickly I write.

Besides the fact that it’ll be nice to have some extra cash, my main reason for wanting to raise rates is to free up time spent on low-paying work so I can use that time to accomplish my next big goal of 2015:

Build passive income streams

I still sell a few copies of my e-book Crafting with Inner Tubes, a Bicitoro craft guide, every month – despite the fact that it’s ill-advertised, and I hardly ever blog at Bicitoro.com these days. I plan to publish another craft guide in the next few months, teaching people to create custom wool jerseys like I used to sell on Etsy.

My additional passive income stream will come from fiction, which leads to my next goal:

Publish three novels

After publishing zero novels in the first 31 years of my life, I plan to publish three in this, my 32nd year. When I first started writing, novels were intensely laborious creatures which required years of incubation, a messily meandering writing process, and dozens of rewrites-from-scratch. If you’d told me five years ago that I’d feel confident of publishing – let alone writing – three novels in a year, I’d have said you were crazy.

But yet, here I am.

Two novels are already in the pipeline to be published:

I plan to self-publish the last novel, which I’ll be ready to talk about more this summer. It’s a story that I’ve been mulling around for years, and the characters are starting to chomp at the bit for their turn on the stage.

Because I never know when to quit, I’m also setting myself a tentative goal to self-publish a few novellas set in the Bike Caper universe, since I’m having a lot of fun creating character backstory. Client work and these novels are priority, though, so we’ll see what I end up having room for.

How I’ll accomplish my goals

Goals are great, but they mean nothing without a plan to accomplish them.

I’ve written several posts for GovLoop’s blog lately on the topic, so I won’t rehash the General Theories of Goal Keeping in this post – but here they are if you want to check them out:

What I want to talk about here is how I’ll specifically take these four 2015 goals and break them down into bite-sized habits that will let me achieve them. (If you want to learn more about creating good goal-supporting habits, listen to Podcast #21 of the International Freelancers Academy, with Ed Gandia and James Clear.)

Focus my freelancing niche: Like I said, I’ve already developed the habit of jotting down similar prospects when I’m doing research for one of my current clients. That’s resulted in several hundred intriguing prospects, and it’s definitely a habit I intend to continue. I also need to get in the habit of actually prospecting them, however. I generally shift modes around lunch time, from highly-focused to puttering. My plan is to take advantage of that puttering to send a letter of introduction to just one of the prospects on that list – which means I need to set aside about an hour each week to sit down and qualify a list.

Raise my rates: I tend to be timid about asking for what I want, thinking that I’d rather just go without than inconvenience someone else. This isn’t just a problem in business – it’s created frustrations in my friendships, family, and marriage at times, too. So in 2015, I’d like to build the habit of asking for what I need on a daily basis. Getting used to asking for small things – like a back rub, someone to turn their music down, or for help finding something in the grocery store – will make it easier to ask for what I need when I’m negotiating with a client.

Build passive income, and publish three novels: I’m lumping these, since they’re essentially the same goal. I’ve been developing the habit of waking up and writing 300 words first thing before I do my daily exercise and then get into my client work. That’s been pretty successful so far, but if I’m planning to publish three novels and two novellas this year, I’ll need to add in some longer bursts of writing. If I write 300 words/day for 365 days, that’s 109,500 first-draft words – but I’m hoping to hit a count of about 250,000 published words this year. I do plan to set aside larger blocks of time throughout the week for pure fiction writing, but I also plan to increase my daily morning word count to 500.

Resources

I hope you found this post inspiring, and that you’ll check in at some point this year to keep me accountable. If you’re feeling inspired to become more business-minded about your creative projects, here are some resources you should check out:

Inspired? What are your creative goals for 2015? Leave them in the comments, and we’ll help keep you accountable, too.

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