Well, here it is. The obligatory end of the year post where I tell you about my goals and plans for next year, and where I give you the brief rundown of what you can expect here on the blog (and from me in general).
I’m going to try to keep this brief and well organized. 😉
Goals and Businessy Resolutions
Many of you know I’ve been writing on several different sites and testing them out over the course of the last year or two. I’ve sworn off Text Broker long ago, no longer work on Elance (because…no), and was mainly focused on self-publishing, Constant Content, Zerys, and business clients.
This is going to change slightly in 2016.
Now, I realize that how I set up my freelancing business really doesn’t affect you as far as getting information from my blog. But I’d like to lay out the changes I’ll be making and explain why in the hopes that my line of logic might be helpful to some of you as you plan your year.
1. No More Zerys
Oh, Zerys. We had a good run, you and I. But there’s something about working an hour on an article that only nets me $20 – after following a page-long (or more) guideline for that particular article – only to have ridiculous revisions requested. Which, of course, means I spend more time with no more money coming in for that article, thus lowering my hourly rate.
It’s also not a whole lot of fun to have articles I placed on hold be released with like an hour left to write them…in the middle of the night. If I put an article on hold for a legitimate reason (such as, I can’t see the content you want me to rewrite because the link is bad), I think you should at least require your clients to extend the deadline a reasonable amount so the work can get done.
I also don’t like the fact that I can only take one job at a time. In what Universe does a professional…anything…only work on one job at a time. Maybe a doctor works on one surgery at a time, but he still has more than one patient, yes? Yes.
We are grown adults. Professional adults. The requirement that we can only take one article at a time (unless they’re direct orders) is kind of like telling a child “Eat this first, then if you finish it you can have more, okay, sweetie?”
Let me decide how many articles I can handle. Put me on probation if I don’t perform.
These are a few of the issues I’ve had with Zerys. But they all boil down to the same thing I’ve left sites for in the past – too much work, not enough pay.
I know that I can write legal articles (or others) for Constant Content and demand at least 10 cents a word. That nets me 6.5 cents per word. Is it outstanding? No. But it’s a heck of a lot better than 2.8 cents a word, or 2.1, or 1.4.
This year, I’m only focusing on projects I can do more or less on my terms and on which I can earn a real, living wage. Yes, I still work, but I also realize that I’m working toward becoming 100% freelance supported so that in the future I can be home with my kids and family…when I have them.
Even if that doesn’t happen, though, I’d like to be more in control of my life, time, and money. And as freelancers, isn’t that what we all want?
I’ve realized – in business and in life – that you can’t expect new and more profitable things to come in if you don’t let go of some of the crappy things laying around. You can’t bring new things in if you haven’t cleared space for them by letting go of some of the old things that just don’t work anymore.
So, Zerys, it’s not me, it’s you. I’m letting you go.
2. Heavy Focus on Constant Content
But why would you focus on Constant Content when business writing makes you so much more money? Why don’t you go write for real sites?
This is an argument I’ve heard many times. Don’t get me wrong. It has real, valid logic behind it. If you’re proficient at writing white papers, you can demand thousands of dollars for them.
That’s why business writing is next on my list. However, I need to write things that support me while I find clients. Finding clients and growing a client base isn’t something I’ve focused a lot on, even though I know how to do it. (Stupid, I know. I was learning. It happens.)
However, it does take time to accrue the kinds of clients who can and will pay you what you deserve for writing their content. (I won’t go into this here, because there’s an eBook for that forthcoming, but in short, your content makes them money, so you should be getting money to write it.)
Once you have a few clients a month, though, you’re pretty much golden.
In the meantime, Constant Content is fast money. It may take some time to have an article approved, posted, and purchased, but if I’m consistent, I know I can easily create a lucrative income stream in a few hours a day. I like those odds.
It’s been two years of trial and error with Constant Content. I’ve learned what not to do (write about things because you like them, even if they won’t sell) and what to do (find the lucrative content markets and flood them with articles). I’m doing more of the latter this coming year.
The legal project I’ve had going on for awhile has been extremely productive and profitable. I’ve sold about 70% of the articles I’ve posted, and I can demand a minimum of 10 cents a word for them, which nets me about $32.50 for a 500 word article. It’s not fantastic, but it’s great considering that the way I have my project set up in Scrivener allows me to get those puppies churned out in about 20 minutes.
(If you’re wondering how that’s possible, see my eBook on researching for freelancers. It’s the first in a long series, which we’ll get to later.)
I like the control I have when I write for CC. I like that I can choose what to write, how to write it, and when to write it. I like that I can submit as many or as few articles per month as I’d like, and I also like that when clients ask for revisions, they pay for them. And I set my price. (I’ve not yet been asked for a revision by a client, by the way. The editors are really good, and they usually catch anything a client might be put off by and will ask you to fix them up front.)
That amount of control means I can write a lot, quickly, and earn money for it while I’m doing other things. This, to me, is the best baseline I could ask for.
3. Upgrading My Site
Yes, I do still want to work for clients. I’m in the process of updating my website over at courtneyherzwrites.com, and it’s looking pretty snazzy thanks to Wix’s amazing platform.
I plan to add a blog, some white papers, and a few eBooks I’ll be selling just on my website as digital downloads. I’m doing this for a few reasons. One, I can earn more money per eBook. And two, I’d like to have my real name on them, but I don’t want to flood my Kindle titles with nonfiction unless it’s writing related. Since these eBooks are business related and I don’t want to use my pen name, they go on my site.
However, anyone who has started reading the A Freelancer’s Guide To series knows that my main focus is on residual income. I know how to get clients, sell to them, and make a traditional freelance income. I’ve studied it, figured out what doesn’t work, and honed in on what does. I’ve had people contact me without me having to cold call or email – which is a good sign.
That being said, most of you know that I like writing long form content that earns residual income, meaning I can write it once and earn on it forever.
That doesn’t mean I won’t write for clients. It just means I get to take my time in finding them, and I can be pickier about who I work with. To me, that’s a great place to be, because if all I want to do is articles, white papers, eBooks, and annual reports, I can do that. And that’s basically what I like to do in the “traditional” freelance marketplace.
Because I’m still earning from CC and Kindle, I get to be pickier about my freelance career.
(Are you sensing that I’m kind of a control freak? Perhaps. But in business it has its benefits.)
So, I’m adding a ton of content to my website and putting myself in a position to finally start marketing to and winning some awesome business clients. I can’t wait to tell you guys about the process and let you know how it’s going.
And, of course, I’ll be sharing what works and what doesn’t so you can learn from it, as well.
4. Kindle, Baby!
This, my friends, is going to be the year I flood KDP.
Okay maybe not flood, per se, but I intend to crank out the content on a schedule fit only for the Mad Hatter. Er…Mad Writer, as it were.
If you’re not familiar with the guys over at Sterling & Stone, who host the Self Publishing Podcast and wrote the amazing book Write, Publish, Repeat, you need to go check them out. Johnny, Sean, and Dave are hilarious and insightful, and I’d follow any advice they gave me. Maybe even to jump off the proverbial bridge. (Dave would be most likely to suggest this.)
If you’re not laughing, you need to go watch a few episodes on YouTube, and then come back and laugh with me. They’re awesome, and they know their stuff, and they’re making their living off self-publishing. That’s not an easy feat, but it’s doable when you focus on publishing quality and publishing often.
I plan to follow the Write, Publish, Repeat model heavily this year. My goal is to be 30% Kindle supported by July 15th. Woohoo!
In my perfect life, I’d write books – fiction and nonfiction – and publish them, then do art, and live happily ever after. But in the meantime, I figure the writing and publishing part is probably the only way I’ll get there.
I’m excited to see how this goes.
Aside from overall business goals (one of which is, of course, to be more regular in my posting HERE for you guys!) I have project goals, as well.
I’ll brief them for you here.
I’m working with an amazing narrator on ACX who is producing my first audio book of The Magician, the first book in my YA fantasy series The Rogue Portal. (It’s a very edgy YA, though, so I think most fantasy fans would like it.)
I’d like to get half the series written next year. Yeah, I know. Seven books is a lot. But hey, one down, six to go!
A Freelancer’s Guide To
I’m also working on the A Freelance Writer’s Guide To series, which I keep shortening to A Freelancer’s Guide To when I talk about it. But you get the point. I’ve learned a lot over the last two years, and I’d like to share it with you and others in a format that you can carry, flip through, and use as a reference.
There will be about ten short books in the series, and when everything is done I’ll probably sell the combined volumes in a big book with a snarky title. Like A Freelance Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy or something.
The large book will also be made into a paperback and audio book. I plan to get this done next year. I’d like the series to be done before March, and the audio book and paperback of the big book to be done by June.
The eArticle Challenge
I once heard about a challenge that someone did where they self-published a short eBook/article on the Kindle every single week for three months straight.
That might make a lot of people break out into a cold sweat, but I’m actually really excited about it.
Only, I’d like to do one a week for the entire year. I’m a total nonfiction nerd, and I love learning about a lot of different things. Using my research and write model, one set of research can result in a lot of content, so I think if I implement that model it could help me achieve the eArticle challenge, as well as significantly expand my CC catalog.
I’ll keep you posted. In fact, I might even vlog about it.
If you’ve actually read all of this, you’re awesome. Basically, all of this boils down to a year focused on a ton of production. Production is what earns you money. The more you put into the world, the more you can be rewarded for it. Ideas only make you money if they’re on paper (or the digital equivalent) and published where people can buy them.
My goal is to create, publish, and do it again, all year long. Hopefully it works out. Of course, I’ll be on here telling you guys all about it.
I’m also hoping to get way more involved in YouTube with both a writing and an art channel. Details to follow!
I so love all of you for keeping up with the blog, following, sharing, liking, tweeting, twerking, whatever people do nowadays to share digital things. Whatever you’re doing, keep it up! I’m so grateful.
I started this blog to chronicle my journey as a freelancer. That was it. I never expected so many people to be interested and to tell me how much they’ve learned from my blog. That makes me really happy!
I look forward to continuing to learn, grow, share, and connect, and I hope to see you there along the way. 😀
Happy 2016 everyone! I’ll see you next year!