The end of the year is approaching and it has come time to take a look at how far we’ve come, what experiences we’ve had, and how we can improve ourselves to better prepare for the new year.
In the final months of the year, I myself like to do an in-depth review of my freelance business. I break this process up into four steps:
- Review my freelance business and online presence
- Revise my freelance business plan
- Compile a to-do list based on the review
- Plan a fresh content strategy
I make my end of the year review a main priority. I try and wrap up what projects I can and take a one month break from creating content so I can focus on preparing my success for the new year. This way I have no distractions or excuses for when it comes to completing the massive to-do list I’m about to create for myself.
Now, let me go over the finer details for each step above. Follow along, and most importantly, take what notes you need so you can put what I have to share to use. None of what I share will matter if you don’t take action!
Reviewing my freelance business
Before I know where to make changes in my freelance business or what content strategy I should put together for the new year, I start by reviewing my freelance business in its entirety. Here are some specifics of what I review in my freelance business:
- My annual and monthly income for the year. I’ll also break my income up into categories to know where money is coming from. (E.g. Client work, book sales, Creative Market, personal shop sales, etc.)
- What my favorite and most proud projects were that I worked on. Most importantly, the type of projects I want to take on more of in the future.
- Where in my work process seem to have the most hangtime or faults. (E.g. Missed out opportunities, client complications, contract signing taking too long, etc.)
- Where can I make improvements on my website. Does my website design need refreshed, do I need to rewrite some content to better focus my target audience, or do I need a complete redesign?
- Does my brand need refreshed or redesigned completely?
- Do I need to rework or come up with a new content strategy to help bring in more traffic?
- Should I refocus the work I take on? Branch into new areas, or drill down on a specific niche market?
These are just a few of many things to consider when reviewing your freelance business and online presence. It could also be a great idea to have some other like-minded peers go over your website. The more input you can get, the better!
If you can name any other specifics to consider, please add to this post and leave a comment!
Revising my freelance business plan
Taking all of the information I gathered from the review, I open my freelance business plan to see how aligned I am with my previous aspirations.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a freelance business plan, you can start fresh and create one now. Your freelance business plan should cover three things: Who you are and what you offer, your marketing plan for finding work, and how you’ll make your money. You can get an outline for your freelance business plan here. The goal is to get your freelance business and goals out of your head and onto “paper”.
I refresh my freelance business plan every six months; at the beginning of the year and half way through.
For an example, here’s how I plan on revising my freelance business plan: For most of this year, I was “Brent Galloway, freelance graphic designer specializing in logo design, t-shirt design, and website design.”
With the work I’ve done this year, I am now wanting to refocus a bit on the services I specialize in, being just logos and t-shirts. Those are the projects I get most of and are the ones I enjoy doing. I still have experience in website design which will come in handy, but that isn’t the target market I’m going to try and attract moving forward.
Before: “Brent Galloway, freelance graphic designer specializing in logos, t-shirts, and website design.”
After: “Brent Galloway, freelance graphic designer in Ohio specializing in logo design and t-shirt design.”
You can see it’s a very subtle change in wording, but it affects everything. I’ll now have to go through my website and online presence to revise this copy – take out “website design”, and only focus on “logos and t-shirts.” This will also play a huge part in my new content strategy. But more on that soon.
Compiling the to-do list that will improve my freelance business
Once I’ve revised my freelance business plan to reflect the new and improved direction I’d like to be headed for the new year, I then (with my new focus and goals in mind) compile both my accomplishments and faults to come up with a massive to-do list.
Most of my tasks on the to-do list will come from the review I did of my freelance business.
To help give you some ideas, here are a few tasks I have on my to-do list:
- Brand: rework focus on logos and t-shirts (I made notes on the content from my site that needs rewriting.)
- Remove “Strengths” section on about page (unneeded content)
- Redesign contact page with dynamic functionality for purpose of reaching out
- Enlarge About intro to 36px and rewrite content to better reflect me and my business
- Add calls-to-action on About page
- Add [New Project] to portfolio and create case study
- Create logo process landing page and feature it in logo contact form
- Add “Next” and “Previous” buttons on portfolio pages
That’s just a look into a number of the tasks on my freelance business to-do list. What’s most important is that you try and break your goals up into manageable tasks. For example, if you’re looking to find more clients, what content, case studies, and calls-to-action can you add to bring in traffic and generate more leads? These are the things to consider when putting together your end of the year to-do list.
I work on these tasks as much as I can, but my goal is to have it all finished before the new year or during the month of January. This sets the right tone for a fresh and productive start to the new year.
Planning a fresh content strategy
Along with your to-do list, it’s imperative that you also create a document full of content ideas. Whether it be blog posts, guest blog posts, a newsletter course, or a YouTube video series. The best way to prove your expertise and to generate traffic is to create content. The easiest being to write. Even if you’re not the best writer, you need to write.
Create a document and start throwing topic ideas in there with some rough notes. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Process: share how you go about your work step by step.
- Teach: share your experience in a subject or do a tutorial.
- Curate resources: for example, if you’re a t-shirt designer, compile a list of your favorite screen printing companies.
- Tell a story: talk about past experiences and struggles you’ve faced.
- Review products or services that pertain to your speciality.
I know not everyone is a writer or content creator, but it seriously is the best habit to get into. If you need more convincing, check out the Seanwes Podcast e039: It All Starts With Writing.
Share your growth and progress with the world
After I’ve crossed-off all, if not most of my to-do’s, I put together an end of the year or New Year’s post – going over the changes I’ve made, how it affects my freelance business, my new business ventures, and some main goals for the new year. You can take a look at my post from last year: Brent Galloway’s 2013 Year end review.
Here’s what I plan on covering this year in my end of the year post:
- Quick overview of my most pivotal moments
- Income overview – Where I earned my income, and what worked out the best
- Showcase of some of my favorite projects I worked on
- What I’d like to accomplish in the new year and some new habits I’ll be putting into place
How did I do? Does what I’ve shared here help you in preparing your freelance business for the new year? Let me know in the comments below!
I know many people are silent readers – they come, read, and go – if that’s you, take a minute to leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions about what I’ve shared here, I’m an open book and am happy to elaborate on anything.
P.s. This is the last article of 2014!
First, if you’ve read this far, thank you!
I’m going to be spending this last month doing exactly what I’ve shared here; wrapping up some client projects and focusing on creating my plan for the new year.
I’m very thankful for your time. Whether this is your first post you’ve read or if you’re a longtime subscriber. Running YFC has been massive for me this year. It’s the first blog I’ve truly stuck with for an entire year – posting consistently each week. I’ve connected and worked with so many awesome, like-minded freelancers. I’m going to continue posting here on YFC when the new year comes around, but maybe at a different pace… I’m still figuring that out. Regardless, you’ll be hearing from me next month, and with some new awesome content on freelancing! If you’d like to see some specific topics and/or resources covered, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Again, I thank you for sticking around this far, and I hope you have a wonderful, productive end of the year! If you get around to writing your own end of the year post, feel free to drop the link in the comments below. I’ll give it a read and leave a comment on your blog! 🙂