Every January, I think about my freelancer New Year’s resolutions. Instead of planning too many goals, I set one intention for the year to guide my priorities and purpose as a freelancer. This annual tradition also includes some fine-tuning of my business, like adjusting my rates and refreshing my website. This yearly ritual sets the tone for the entire year ahead, leaving me feeling prepared and motivated. In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to create your own New Year’s freelancer tradition:
1. Set One Clear Intention
I prefer the word “intention” to “resolution,” because it’s not necessarily a goal but, rather, a motivating idea. Because less than 10 percent of people actually feel like they meet their New Year’s resolutions, I keep my intention flexible and realistic. This year, my intention is to give myself more time than I think I need for each project. Sometimes, I get down to the wire with deadlines, and despite always hitting them, the stress leaves me in knots. If I believe something should take 30 minutes, I now give myself 45 minutes to an hour to complete it.
Do you have an intention for the year ahead? In the past, I’ve set — and met — some great intentions, including leaving my nine-to-five job, pitching an article a month and meeting a revenue goal, for example. If you can’t come up with a guiding intention for 2017, mull over your biggest pain points as a freelancer. Most likely, the issue bothering you most is also the best opportunity to make a meaningful change.
2. Adjust Your Rates
Dedicated full-time employees enjoy a few benefits freelancers don’t, most notably promotions and raises. Ninety percent of companies give annual adjustment raises to account for inflation and increased cost of living. For standout employees, the annual raise can even reach 5 percent.
Since I’m my own boss, I try to raise rates for new clients annually. If that idea makes you cringe, think about the last time a potential client turned you down because your rates were too high. If it hasn’t happened yet (or rarely happens), you may want to consider making an adjustment. Talk to freelancers in your industry and conduct some research about market rates. At the least, raise your rates to hit that 5 percent mark, accounting for inflation and your extra experience as a professional.
3. Think About — and Take Care of — Your Online Brand
Each year, my business evolves. In day-to-day client work, it’s easy to forget to scale my business with small updates, like adding a new client to my website or refreshing my “about” page. This year, I will set aside time to read through my website and social media accounts. I give everything a look over, ensuring it aligns with my chosen direction for the following year. Here are a few questions I answer:
- Does my website still reflect my best work?
- Do I need to update any irrelevant copy?
- Are there ways I can make myself stand out more?
- How can I refresh my social media accounts, especially the ones most relevant to my business?
The answers to these four questions help me identify any beneficial changes I can make to my online presence.
Although simple, these three annual activities give me the space to reflect and adjust. Without taking this time to start fresh, it’d be easy to wake up in August and realize my business isn’t where I want or need it to be. By creating freelancer New Year’s resolutions and adjusting my business, I set myself up to capitalize on a year of growth and opportunity — and you can, too!