Out With the Old, In With the New: A Year-end Check-in and 2015 Writing Goals

The year is almost over, and that means it's time to evaluate progress and set goals for the New Year. So today I'd like to share an example with a follow-up from my previous progress check-in and also some new goals for my writing business in 2015.

2014 Year-End Check-In

This year was very good in some ways. But in others I didn't come close to meeting my goals. A lot of that was poor planning on my part. While I'm a bit of an organization junkie, my biggest issue was with my indie publishing projects -- mostly knocking out first drafts on shorter work. And the problem came in the planning.

While I have a five-year publishing plan in place, that plan was based on projects-per-quarter. What I should have done was map out a more specific schedule by the month, or even the week. That's changing, and I'm working on a plan like that for 2015's first quarter before I finish up work for this year (through the end of next week).

Here are some of the goals left from my third quarter check-in and what I did, and didn't, get finished:

1. Limit client projects to two working days per week.

I cut this back to three working days per week at the beginning of 2014 and planned to cut back to two days per week by the end of the year (planning to make the change on my website right before the first of the New Year).

I don't expect this to happen right away. That's a result of some new ongoing work I picked up recently. And I suspect pushing regulars into two working days per week would be a bit tight right now. If I or a client decide to cancel one of those regular gigs in the future, I'll likely take that opportunity to scale back my client-focused working days, but I'm not going to force it at the start of the year.

2. Start posting to my business blog at least once per month.

In my last check-in I mentioned wanting to pre-write posts so I couldn't let this slide. And that's exactly what I did. So I'm happy to say I'm on this schedule. And I intend to stick with pre-writing post batches on at least a quarterly basis to make sure I stay there.

3. Post to my genealogy blog at least twice per month.

I decided to change this to a monthly posting schedule, and like I did with my business blog, I pre-wrote content for the last quarter of 2014. Again, I intend to continue doing that into the new year with one post per month.

4. Release one or two e-courses at All Freelance Writing by year's end.

This was an adjustment to my original goal of launching three this year. But as I said in my last update, one to two is more likely. And it's looking like it'll only be one. There are near constant updates to the new e-course platform, including some recent major ones. So I need to make sure they won't affect anything in the first free course's setup. Barring any problems with that, the first one will be scheduled for release either at the end of next week or it will come out while I'm on vacation later this month.

5. Revise my first mystery novel.

The revisions have become more of a full rewrite. They're coming along, but they won't be finished by the end of this month. I decided to re-outline the story from its first draft, this time using the Snowflake Method. So far it's helping me with the pacing, but there are still a few big problem areas I need to re-work.

6. Release three more e-books this year.

This didn't happen, though one more short one should be released here by the end of next week. There's a slight chance that two will be ready, but I'm not counting on it.

7. Draft my first horror novel.

While the first draft isn't finished, I did write a little over 50,000 words for this novel during NaNoWriMo this year. And I plan to pick it up again in January, with an estimated final word count of around 80,000 words.

8. Launch the podcast and release the new design at All Freelance Writing.

Both of these goals were met.

I had also planned to spend more time on picture book manuscripts and my short stories and flash fiction. But I simply didn't have as much time for them as I'd hoped.

2015 Writing and Publishing Goals

I'm not going to go into as much depth as usual with next year's goals, but here's a summary for you with some of my biggest goals:

  • Given that I'm not cutting another day from client projects right away, I expect to see at least a 25% increase in my freelance income. But if I'm going to keep devoting extra time to these projects (and away from my own, which is the overall direction I'm heading), my ideal goal is to see more like a 40-50% increase over this year's freelance earnings.
  • Finish the first draft of my first horror novel in January, and get through at least one comprehensive revision by year's end.
  • Get through 2-3 revisions of my first mystery novel so I can get it into the hands of a developmental editor by year's end (though by the end of the summer would be nice). I'm not going to stress over the first game tied to this series yet -- I'll add that later in the year if I get the novel into an editor's hands, assuming the editor I want is even free then.
  • Launch QuickMystery.com to feature flash fiction, and draft enough flash fiction to cover at least weekly posts from the time the site launches through the end of 2015. Ideally I'd like to launch this site by the end of March at the latest.
  • Overhaul my 5 Year Publishing plan to create a stricter, deadline-oriented project calendar rather than its current quarterly breakdown.
  • Conduct a complete content audit and massive overhaul of my small business niche blog. Nearly every post is expected to undergo revisions or even removal if they're too dated to be saved.
  • Some big changes are coming to my business site. It's already resource-heavy compared to most freelancers' client-targeted sites, but in 2015 it'll become even more focused on prospect-focused resources.
  • I won't go into the details here, but I have a lot of administrative work and improvements scheduled here as well -- from back-end improvements to new freebies and a few premium additions.

My full goal list also includes picture book manuscripts (less of a priority in 2015), short stories, and several new sites I plan to launch (not necessarily blogs, so most of their work is in the development stage). I also plan to get through the rough draft of at least two novels -- the next mystery and one under one of my private, more experimental, pen names.

What about you? Have you reviewed your progress this year yet? Have you set your 2015 writing or publishing goals? Tell me about some of the big things you plan to accomplish next year.

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

Subscribe to the All Freelance Writing newsletter to get freelance writing updates from Jenn in your inbox.

7 thoughts on “Out With the Old, In With the New: A Year-end Check-in and 2015 Writing Goals”

  1. I’ve been thinking about my goals for 2015 and I’m tempted to do something radical and not set goals. This doesn’t mean I won’t toward bringing my desires to fruition. However, it does mean that I won’t obsess about them, which could create a paradigm shift and push them away from me.

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  2. Jenn, you are a whirlwind of activity!

    I’m not a writer of mysteries, but I became a consumer a couple of years ago. I’ve read all of Steven Saylor’s books about Gordianus the Finder, and now I’m digging into John Roberts Maddox’s SPQR series.

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  3. Love the idea of limiting client work to x days a week… I’m going to do that… probably 3, maybe even 4 to start. Great idea!

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    • It was a big help this year Anne. I focused on three days per week for client projects, and left Thursdays for admin work, server maintenance, and any pre-scheduled marketing work. By eventually moving to two days per week for those projects, my aim is to spend the day I free up working exclusively on my own projects — binge-writing blog posts to pre-schedule, focusing on freebie development for this site, or working on whatever manuscript I’m currently working through.

      I might be able to do it early in the new year. It really depends how this new client turns out. I’m still just getting into a groove with their blog posts, so once I get into a better routine it should be fine. Thankfully they found me because they purchased two sites from another client of mine. So the overall work (from the industry to his two sites) are already very familiar to me. And once I settle into that routine and can make sure I schedule most of my writing time for him into Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I’ll kick off my weeks with my own projects (blunting those Monday blues a bit). 🙂

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