Q2 Check-In: Consistency and Career Development for Freelance Writers

Q2 Check-In: Consistency and Career Development for Freelance Writers

We’re halfway through the year, which means it’s time for another Quarterly Check-In.

(Did you all pay your quarterly estimated taxes last month?)

I’m going to ask myself the same five questions I asked last quarter — and I hope you’ll take the time to answer these questions as well.

1. How much money did I earn this quarter?

Between April 1 and June 30, I earned $16,386.34 in freelance income and received $11,799.83 in freelance payments. Yes, that means I have a little over $4,500 owed me, and most of it will hit my bank account in July.

I also earned $684.42 in book sales. My debut novel, The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1: 1989–2000, published on May 23. I haven’t received any of the book income yet, but that will start paying out in July as well.

So far, my total 2017 freelance income (not counting book sales) is $31,541.12. That puts me $1,541.12 above my $5,000/monthly income goal. I’m going to continue to earn above my monthly income goal during the third quarter of 2017; right now, my total anticipated income for July, August and September is just over $20,000.

In my last Quarterly Check-In, I wrote that I wanted to earn more money during Q2 2017 — and I did. A small percentage of that income came from pitching to new clients. A larger percentage of that income came from a new client inviting me to write for them. The largest percentage of that income, however, came from a current client offering me more responsibilities and a pay raise.

2. What was the best thing I did for my freelance career this quarter?

Arguably, the best thing I did for my freelance career this quarter was maintain my reputation.

“Maintenance” sounds like a passive action, and it is, but it derives from consistently delivering high-quality work on time and being available to clients and editors. (Also, although it goes without saying, remaining pleasant and positive during work interactions.)

When Lifehacker reached out to me and asked if I’d like to start writing for them, it was because I had already established myself as the kind of person who could do the work they needed. (If you read my Write Life article about time blocking, you know that I’m all about lifehacks.)

When The Billfold asked if I’d like to take on additional editorial responsibilities, it was because I had already spent three years writing for them, moving up the ranks from freelancer to contributor to senior editor.

The other important thing I did this quarter was expand my reputation — or, if you’d prefer, my brand.

By adding “debut author” to my list of accomplishments, I now have another way to earn money, build an audience and grow my career. I don’t plan to stop freelancing any time soon, but I do plan to continue writing and publishing fiction. Over the next few years, I’d like my novels to become as well-known — and well-read — as my freelance byline.

3. What was my biggest mistake (or, what am I going to do differently next quarter)?

I’m actually thinking two quarters ahead right now, since I am more than fully booked for July and August and will likely be fully booked for September. In addition to the new responsibilities I’ve picked up at Lifehacker and The Billfold, I’m going to be completing a few one-off client projects — including one for The Write Life — that will push my workload past my ideal 40 hours/week goal.

So I’m hoping I can work a lot of hours this summer, including doing publicity for The Biographies of Ordinary People, and then scale back to 40 hours/week in the fall.

In terms of mistakes I made last quarter, most of them involve my book launch, which wasn’t as streamlined or cost-effective as it could have been. I’ve been taking notes on where I’ve been wasting both money and energy, and plan to make some adjustments when I self-publish and launch The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2: 2004–2016 in 2018.

4. What do I want to achieve as a freelancer next quarter?

I want to complete all of my assigned projects on time, earn that $20,000 and continue to promote my novel. I’m not planning on seeking out any new clients or opportunities; as noted above, my schedule is fully booked and I’ll more than achieve my income goal.

By Q4 2017, I’ll have finished my one-off projects and will be mostly done with book publicity. I should be ready to go back to my usual 40 hour/week workload while still earning my monthly income goal.

But, as we know with freelancing, anything could happen. I’ve been in this business for five years, and I still can’t predict who my next big client will be or which publications might invite me to take on additional work. I just have to keep doing the best work I can, building my reputation as a freelancer and hoping that my writing attracts both clients and readers.

Now it’s your turn. Ask yourself these same five questions and, if you feel comfortable, share your answers in the comments. Where do you want to be at the end of the third quarter of 2017 — or at the end of the year? How are you going to get there?

Filed Under: Freelancing


  • Your update has really got me thinking. I’ve been creating online classes for a while now, but not producing nearly as much as I can. I’m thinking it’s time to take it up a notch and see if I can really develop some worthwhile passive income from this and use it to expand and build my brand, just like you’re doing with your book. Thanks a ton!

  • I really needed this check-in. It’s also helpful to see another freelancer checking in to compare it to my Q2.

    My biggest mistake was not focusing enough on my own website and blog while trying to make my first big payday.

    I have some concrete goals for Q3 though! Great article. Thanks for sharing!

  • @Nickole
    This is marvelous. It’s real tough to perform above your target line and then your targets are pretty high. Congrats. You are sort of setting standards. Shall definitely find time to read more of your stuff.

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