Employees in structured companies can quickly identify the steps they need to advance. But when you become your boss, manager, and worker, progress is what you make it. Whether you’re a freelance writer, graphic designer, consultant or another kind of worker, your career goals direct every part of your business.
While your guidelines for starting in the freelance world may not have been concrete, it’s wise to consider how you want to grow and improve in the coming year. Because you hold the reigns in your career, you get to alter your trajectory without waiting for anyone else to.
From how much time you spend working on projects to your typical rate, you can change your career for the better. You have a responsibility to yourself and your freelance business to intentionally navigate your profession.
Manage your valuable resources this year by constructing worthwhile goals that can propel you forward in your field. Here are nine goals you can make for yourself in 2019 to grow in your freelance career.
1) Develop a Selective Method for Clients
If you’re like most freelance workers, you are eager to keep paying gigs flowing in. Sometimes this leads to compromising on your values and standards to pay your bills. But at some point, you’ll have to be more cautious about selecting your clients to progress in your desired career direction.
Examine what kind of clients you’re servicing and judge whether they are hindering your career. Are they sapping your time or paying you too little? Is your interaction with them too stressful? Make it your goal to develop valuable client relationships with the right candidates this year.
2) Explore a New Skill to Hone Your Craft
When you’re an individual without a company, you have to motivate yourself to stay up to date on any innovations in your field. The latest developments in technology and best practices are essential to keeping your edge over the competition. Try out new software or tools that are popular in your field to improve your craft.
Even observing the changes in the freelance workforce can equip you to approach this year in a new way. To remain highly desirable to clients, you need to make yourself stand out, and delving deeper into your craft can increase what you have to offer. Pick a specialty area in your niche or adapt your skills to the current market to flourish.
3) Cultivate Your LinkedIn
As the star social media site for professionals, LinkedIn continues to be a helpful resource for freelancers. But if you’re not active on it or messaging potential clients, you’re not getting all you can out of this networking goldmine. Reaching out to new clients can get your name out so others can suggest you for jobs.
Also, leaving older work and out-of-date information on your profile can turn away potential clients. This year, freshen up your profile with your most recent work, references and accomplishments to make the most out of LinkedIn.
4) Engage With Social Media
Another way to boost your freelance business is through rich engagement on social media. If you don’t already have accounts specifically for professional use, 2019 is the year you can start. You can raise your visibility by becoming higher on search engine rankings and through organic connections.
Discussions over social media also contribute to your development as a freelancer. You learn more about your clients’ preferences and what most people like about your work. Set a posting schedule for yourself to check in with followers and pursue possible connections this year.
5) Hold Regular Performance Reviews
Self-critique is much more natural and relaxed than sitting under the scrutiny of a boss so that this process can lead to stress-free improvement. Sit down with yourself to hold a non-traditional performance review. Looking back on your work over the past year can reveal your weaknesses and strengths.
Review what you’ve done well over the period, and allow yourself the praise you deserve for successes. To bring in outside feedback for a performance review, set up a measurable way to gauge client satisfaction. You can include a form or brief survey for your clients to assess your work after you’ve delivered your services.
6) Support Fellow Freelancers
Because you know what it’s like to seek out clients and manage your business, you’re also aware of the challenges freelancers face. You are in a unique position to understand and support freelancers you come in contact with.
If you’re a writer, this can mean hiring a copy editor to edit your work, or if you’re a web developer, this can mean hiring a graphic designer to create graphics for your website. Especially if you are at a point in your career where you’ve found your footing, you can assist other struggling creatives and professionals on their freelance journey.
7) Put Aside Money for Retirement
Without a 401(k) and a company’s supervision over retirement plans, freelancers and independent contractors tend to save less for retirement. You might have a savings account where you’re stowing extra funds, but without a definitive plan, you can end up unprepared when retirement rolls around.
Fortunately, you have several options to choose between to start saving. From a SEP and self-employed 401(k) or Roth IRA, you can select a tax-advantaged route that fits your lifestyle and goals. But don’t put off preparing for your future in 2019, despite your flexible position as a freelancer.
8) Set a Higher Rate
When you aren’t sure how much work you will do from month to month, you can feel pressured to offer accommodating rates. However, overly low rates can diminish the worth and quality of your services. Charge a reasonable fee for your expertise based on your region, experience, and competence. For any regular clients, notify them about the changes you make so you don’t compromise their business.
Aim to evaluate your income and the range of rates in your field so that you can achieve fair wages for your skilled work. Calculate your cost of doing business and living, but factor in the ebb and flow of projects, too. A financial assessment can give your freelance business further repute and display the real caliber of your services.
9) Pitch to a Client or Publication You Admire
If you’ve had your sights set on a client or you’ve wanted to send in an idea to a publication for a while, don’t hesitate any longer. Take action to contribute to something you love or work with someone you respect now. Put aside doubt about whether you’re ready for this level of work, and take a shot at this goal.
Rather than taking on average projects, challenge yourself to excel with higher ambitions. Nothing is stopping you from pursuing collaboration with big names in your field, so go ahead and make the appointment or send the email.
Help Your Freelance Business Thrive This Year
As you look forward, establish objectives for your freelance career that can push you toward success in 2019. Intentionally face this year with aspirations and a practical game plan to reach them. You have control over your position and the course of your business, so growth is up to you.