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Every year I try to share my business and writing goals with you here on the blog. And every quarter I post updates about what's going well (and what's not). My hope is that it will inspire some of you to focus more on planning and reflection in your own freelance writing businesses.

It's that time again.

If nothing else, know this:

Sometimes things go according to plan. Sometimes they don't. You learn. You adapt. You grow. You change. And as long as it's for the better, you're going to be just fine, no matter how disappointing short-term progress might feel. And you are not alone. You are never alone. From beginners to experienced pros alike, we all have ups and downs. And things are usually a mixed bag.

Now, to the updates...

First Quarter Summary

If you've been following the blog over the last year, it's not exactly a secret that I've been struggling with some things. What they are is irrelevant. But it's been a difficult, depressing, hell of a time. And I thought the start of 2018 would be a positive thing, leaving certain things behind.

Instead it was filled with more pain, more struggles, and an apathy unlike anything I've ever felt.

So, it's not been a great quarter. I find it difficult to care about much at all other than client projects (deadlines and someone else relying on me still do that thankfully).

Still, all wasn't lost. I got off to a good start early in January at least. And I've been withdrawn a bit lately working on some bigger things both for the sake of progress and distraction.

I'd give this quarter... a 6 out of 10? Sure, let's go with that.

Freelance Writing

Here were the main goals for the freelance writing side of my business:

  • Have client work be no more than half my working hours by the end of the first quarter.
  • Get my professional site back up to snuff.
  • Hit 80%+ my highest year's income just from client work (despite the more limited hours).

Here's what happened towards those goals:

  • I'm pretty close to the first goal. It shifts a bit week-to-week depending on new clients and any one-off work I take on.
  • I'm about 40% of the way through my site fixes as of today. The blog's on a regular schedule. Rates were adjusted. Some issues were fixed. I mostly just need to work on more copy updates. Most of it's scheduled in this week and next, so it won't be much longer.
  • Tough to tell on the last goal as it's an annual one. With me cutting client hours more later this year (if I stay on-plan), it's not as simple as estimating month-to-month. But it's certainly doable. On the plus side I'm in talks for a few big projects that should be a lot of fun (and pay well), so if even half of those pan out, it'll get me well on-track.

Web Publishing & Blogging

Here were the goals for the blogging and other web publishing I do:

  • Get to spending half my working hours on my site by year's end.
  • Finish All Freelance Writing improvements to polish off the rebranding effort.
  • Launch FreelanceWritingPros.com.
  • Finish a site split from my old small business blog (BizAmmo.com).
  • Launch / re-launch a few other blogs this year (NakedPR.com, my genealogy blog by the spring, two new "quiet" sites, and a spin-off blog related to All Freelance Writing).

Here's where things stand:

  • Again, the working hours fluctuate a bit. Earlier in the year I was close. Now I'm a little less than half, mostly because I took a week off from my sites. But it's getting there, especially since I don't need to hit the goal until the end of the year.
  • Not much progress at all on the back-end and design things for this site. I need to light a fire under me on that. Once this post goes up I'll go schedule some of these tasks in. If it's not in Todoist or my bullet journal, it just doesn't get done. (The bullet journals have been absolute lifesavers for the record. Without them, I'd probably have let that apathy overrun everything. Committing to things in pen and then not doing them makes me rather grumpy it seems, so I've taken to committing more to pen.)
  • The Freelance Writing Pros launch was delayed. I spent the better part of a month-and-a-half sick around the time I should have been finishing the launch. And I'm struggling to work that in around everything else already planned. But again, at least there's progress. A good bit of the content is ready. I mostly need to update the copy (since I'm launching it solo and it was originally a project with a partner). And I may develop a short course.
  • did get the first launch done -- the site split from BizAmmo. You can see the new site at KissMyBiz.com. I've been wanting to do something with that older site for years, so I'm thrilled about this at least.
  • The genealogy blog re-launched but is still in desperate need of design changes. The others I haven't yet. Once FWP launches I'll work on the spin-off. Then NakedPR's resurrection. I may drop the "quiet" sites or go with others. These ones A) remind me of what's had me feeling so awfully lately so I don't much want to spend time on them, and B) aren't niches I care enough about to stay interested.

Indie Publishing / Creative Writing

Finally, here were my goals for the indie publishing and more creative side of my business:

  • Publish at least 6 short nonfiction e-books (some through All Freelance Writing) this year.
  • Get at least one poem published (in print or in a reputable online journal or magazine).
  • Get a horror story published.
  • Release one nonfiction book in print.
  • Release at least one novel (preferably in print).
  • Earn a bare minimum of $10k from e-book sales.

Here's the progress, or lack thereof:

  • I haven't put out any of the e-books yet. One is nearly finished, but it keeps getting longer on every revision round, so it's less "short" than I'd originally planned. I have a second in the works for this site as well. So you'll get a minimum of two second quarter. A short one will release when Freelance Writing Pros launches as well. So I'm a bit behind schedule but not enough that it's worrying me.
  • I've been a bit slack about poetry. Again, it's a reminder of things I try not to remember. But I don't want to let anyone or anything ruin it for me either when it's taken over 15 years to get back into writing it at all. I've only submitted one so far. I promised myself I'd do weekly submissions, but I broke that promise almost as soon as I made it. Given that it's National Poetry Month (and I'm doing a poem-a-day personal challenge for that), it seems as good a time as any to start keeping that promise to myself.
  • I haven't submitted any horror stories yet. But I'm currently revising one that I'm submitting at the end of this month for an HWA anthology. While it would be awesome to have a story chosen for it, I'm certainly not getting hopes up. I'm just going to do my best, submit, take what comes (or doesn't), and keep submitting until I get the right story in the right hands.
  • The nonfiction print book I haven't done much with yet. The thing is though, I wrote one years ago that I didn't publish. So I'm thinking my goal here will be to do extensive revisions of that (some updates are needed though most is evergreen). So it's doable by year's end for sure.
  • As for finally publishing a novel (of which I've written several), this is an area where I've been pretty happy with my progress. A lot of what I've done while keeping quieter and withdrawing has been throwing myself into a murder mystery I'd written that was in desperate need of revisions. They turned into much heavier revisions than expected -- I wrote out two characters (including the intended killer), and I'm working on improving character development for the rest. I'm still having doubts about the murder method, so another key element might change. In spite of that, I feel pretty good about how things are coming together. I don't have a great feel on timing yet because I don't know how many more revision rounds I'll need. But with a lot of hard work and a little luck, I think there's a good chance of hitting this goal as of now.
  • Finally, the $10k income goal... I guess it would help if I actually released a new e-book, huh? I'll have to get on that. I'm not worried about this goal. If I publish even half the planned e-books, this will be an easy target for me to hit, and if anything I probably set much too low of a goal. So this goal might change mid-year.

And, that is that. As awful as I feel about this first quarter, going through the list here actually helped me realize I wasn't as off-course as I thought. That is something to celebrate. And even if you aren't quite where you hoped to be after the first quarter, I hope you found some progress worth celebrating as well. Don't give up on your goals. Use this opportunity (and every quarter) to evaluate your progress and tweak your plans as necessary. There's still plenty of time to make something amazing of this year.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, NakedPR.com, and KissMyBiz.com.

Jenn has 19 years experience writing for others, around 14 years experience in blogging, and over 11 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is also an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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