It’s not-so-cold January and I’ve been enjoying the harvest from last year . . .
Our root cellar is filled with pears, applesauce and homemade purple kim chi. The squash we have stored away is sweeter than ever. And few days ago, with the recent warm weather, I shoveled away some snow and leaves and dug up a bucketful of crisp carrots, leeks and rutabagas from our garden.
For my daughter’s birthday, we feasted on Puerto Rican roast pork shoulder from our freezer full of our own farm-raised meat. And finished it off with a couple blueberry/blackberry pies from our frozen stash of summer berries.
I feel rich.
And I’ll tell you – I’m also doing well when it comes to money as well – thanks to a very busy and productive year. It’s allowed my family to pay off debts and plan purchases with confidence.
So this rounds out to the question D. asked me last November in an email: Do I set financial goals for my freelance copywriting business?
Since you’re probably all in the thrall of goal-setting and striking out towards them, I figured this would be a great time to answer this question.
And the short answer is “yes” and “no”.
Yes, I’ve set financial goals. From the first moment that I dared to dream big thanks to the new vision for my freelance writing life I gained from AWAI’s copywriting courses, I’ve expanded what I thought was possible. And so yes, I started out with ambitions. And every year I’ve written those financial ambitions down with renewed gusto.
And because with hard work and diligence you can make a good living as a copywriter, in general I’ve been able to reach those goals and more. My income has doubled several times since I started on this enterprise.
But it hasn’t been a steady upward path financially. These goals haven’t always been met on my initial timeline. Here’s why . . .
Financial goals usually put blinders on your vision. They simplify success . . . and turn life into a very narrowly defined endeavor.
Several times I would market myself hard and sign up lots of clients in order to reach a certain monthly goal and then find myself sidetracked when I couldn’t keep up the demanding workload I set for myself.
Now, if you’re just starting out and hurting for clients, you may say this sounds enviable – what’s to complain about?
But here’s where why focusing strictly on financial goals sometimes undermined my ambitions . . . and why I gained more financially and otherwise when I let go of them to some extent:
When you push too quickly too hard to make a lot of money sometimes, you can lose out on some solid foundational blocks for a good business and a good life that may require a little more time.
I’ve found that setting financial goals work better when first of all I set two sets of financial goals:
1. The more ambitious goal that I aim for.
2. The minimal amount I need to make to pay the bills with a little wiggle room.
With these two goal sets in mind, then I’ve broadened out to the more important goals and guides I use to build success in my life:
1. Focus On Your Family Above All Else
This is not a business decision, this is a decision about what I want from life. But interestingly enough, it’s turned into a very sound business decision as well. Because almost every time I walk over to my computer to get to work, I have a clear head. As a result I can get a lot of work done when I need to. I’m not distracted by worry about tensions with my husband or anxiety about my teenage children.
Now, to be honest, I come from a workaholic background where family was always put second. It’s not an easy or natural inclination. But my husband has taught me well and kept me honest and alert to issues. So when things come up, we deal with them.
And as a result, while I may have a couple bad days in a month due to a specific argument or tension, in general when I need to work my mind is ready to go.
Initially the workaholic in me felt guilty that I wasn’t keeping the straight 9-5. But then I realized how much more productive I was when I tended my home fire first. Of course there’s a give and take . . . I work on weekends often enough and during the evenings, too. But this doesn’t cause much problems at home because I cut out of work to go biking or watch soccer games or haul wood with my kids and husband.
2. Take Care Of Your Health
Right now I’m writing this at my good ole stand up desk. I stand while I work most of the time. I also start most of my mornings with some kickboxing or a short set of sprints. And I make sure I get some outdoors time as well.
I eat strategically to stay energized and drink lots of water and my latest favorite – green tea (decaf) with grated ginger.
These are just a smidgen of the strategies I use throughout my day to keep me and my business running smoothly. And certainly, like my emphasis on family, when I focus on health, I’ve ended up with more energy and productivity and less sick days.
3. Opt For Projects That May Not Pay Well But Bring Other Opportunities
Several times I’ve agreed to take on a lower paying project because it offered me the chance to work on some new marketing tactics I’d been learning or write copy for a new format. For me these opportunities are golden. Because they gave me a chance to learn, they gave me experience and they gave me great data I could share with prospective clients.
And most times, when I’ve taken the cut to try something out and expand my skill set, I win in the end. Because the next time I can confidently say to my client I’ve done this and understand the ins and outs of making the copy or marketing strategy work.
Similarly, occasionally I’ve also taken on work at times without pushing the price tag as much because I can learn something from the client herself. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great data-savvy marketers. I’m happy to get their feedback and learn in exchange for charging a less-experienced fee.
Mind you, I don’t take these opportunities blindly. I assess the pros and cons each time carefully. And after I feel I’ve got the learning I need under my belt, I go back to charging for the value I offer with my new experience.
4. Give Yourself Time To Learn Instead Of Pushing Tight Deadlines
This lesson has been huge. I set my deadlines far enough apart so I can take my time and really delve into old copywriting classes and work carefully on projects without the pressure to meet a deadline. Giving myself time to work on a project deliberately has proven invaluable for solidifying my understanding of the art of copywriting. And as a side benefit, while now I am booked a few months in advance without this ruse, at times it made me look busier to clients when I couldn’t take on a new project as soon.
Financial Goals Aren’t Everything!
So when it comes to setting financial goals, understand you need to build a good foundation for your business and your life so you can get there. Dream big. But don’t get stuck in focusing on the big financial goals all the time. Keep them in context and in perspective.
In the end, by building your business step by step – sometimes by sacrificing the immediate payoff – you may find you get much closer to your financial goals in the long run. But even more importantly, you’ll be closer to building the life of your dreams in every aspect by not sacrificing your health and family for the financial goals.
Want some great guidance in how to do this while running a home-based freelance business? You can now get the 8-module Healthy Home Business course at a nicely discounted price. It’s a great tool for implementing these tips as you build your business for success – and enjoy the sweetness of it too!