My Six Freelance Resolutions for 2019
January 9, 2019
One thing I haven’t missed since exiting the corporate world for a full-time freelance career four years ago is the annual review process. In retrospect, the process did have some redeeming qualities, including the opportunity to sit down with my boss and set concrete goals for the year to come. The start of a new year is a great opportunity to take a big-picture look at my business to see what worked last year, what didn’t, and what freelance resolutions I’d like to make.
I’m hoping that writing my resolutions down—and sharing them with you—will help me hold myself accountable next year.
Here are my six freelance resolutions:
1. Increase my income.
Nearly everyone would probably list making more money as a freelance resolution to strive for in the New Year. I have the power to make this happen, perhaps even more so than my nine-to-fiver friends who are dependent on someone else to make that call. By adding new, high-paying clients to my roster; drumming up more work from existing clients; and raising my rates, I can—and should—earn more in 2019 than I did in 2018.
2. Cull my client list.
In addition to setting my own hours, I find that the ability to pick and choose which projects to work on one of the best parts of being a freelancer. I’m lucky to have an established list of high-quality clients, but some are better than others. The very best clients, communicate clearly, pay well (and quickly), and collaborate effectively.
This year, I plan to raise my rates on my most high-maintenance clients and my lowest-paying clients.
Unfortunately, not all clients check all of these boxes, and this year I resolve to be pickier about the projects I accept and clients with whom I work. While it can be difficult to say ‘goodbye’ to a client (freelancing is a feast-or-famine business, after all), I’ve found that doing so can free up my time to find even better relationships. This year, I plan to raise my rates on my most high-maintenance clients and my lowest-paying clients. This is harder for me with that handful of low-paying clients that I love working with and with whom I’ve even become friends.
Still, it’s time to separate friendships from my business. They’ll either accept the higher rate, or we’ll part ways, freeing me up to focus on other opportunities—with new clients that pay higher rates.
3. Invest in my own professional development.
This year, for the first time, I attended two conferences, including one that required me to travel away from home (pay for my hotel room and airfare) for a few days. Attending the conferences was a big expense for my business, but the investment has already paid off. I’ve received work worth nearly five time the cost of those conferences, and made countless contacts that could pay off later.
My freelance resolution this year is to attend both of those conferences again, and to keep an eye out for other opportunities for networking and professional development, even if they cost money. Since I don’t have an employer who will provide such opportunities, it’s up to me to find them on my own. There’s always risk that I’ll spend money on a conference or other opportunity that doesn’t pay off, but there’s also lots of potential opportunity for reward.
4. Write something outside of my comfort zone.
Given that I’ve spent much of my professional career prior to freelancing writing about personal finance and careers, most of the work I get now typically falls in those categories or tangential ones. This year, I’m planning to find some work writing about other fields that interest me, such as parenting or travel. I realize that I’m less experienced writing in these areas, so I may have to accept lower pay in order to break into them. Still, writing about something different—at least once in a while—feels like a great way to challenge myself and potentially connect with new clients.
5. Truly unplug more often.
As a full-time freelancer, it’s not unusual for me to clock in an excess of 10 working hours per day during my busiest times. I’m fine with that, since I’m able to put in those hours according to my own schedule, and I have the flexibility to work fewer hours when personal or family needs arise. I’ve noticed, however, that my work is starting to creep into what used to be solely family-focused time.
This year, I resolve to put better boundaries in place for myself when it comes to working when I’m with my family, and to truly take some time off entirely.
6. Appreciate how great I have it.
One of my personal resolutions this year is to practice more gratitude, and I think this is one that I can extend to my business as well. Sometimes I get so caught up with the daily grind of meeting deadlines and following up on invoices, that I forget take a step back to appreciate what an amazing business I’ve built, and how lucky I am to have this career.
Working as a full-time freelancer has allowed me to drop off and pick up my children from school every day, while still flexing my professional muscles—and earning significantly more money than I ever did on staff anywhere. For that—and for never having to undergo another annual performance review—I truly am grateful.
Beth Braverman is an award -winning journalist and content producer, writing mostly about personal finance, parenting, and careers. Prior to becoming a full-time freelancer, she spent seven years covering personal finance, first as a senior reporter and social media editor at MONEY magazine and then as the Life + Money editor for The Fiscal Times.
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