Written by Rebecca Faith
Of course, this is a dangerous title to use on a Christian blog site. As a Christian and a sole proprietor of my editing business, I do operate with prayer at the forefront. Merriam-Webster defines this informal phrase as an idiom meaning “without much chance of success.” When it comes to your freelance business, you want to avoid operating in a happenstance framework.
No corporation operates without plans and schedules to meet their deadlines, and neither should you. Whether you are in the process of establishing your business or are already established, you need an overarching business plan and a schedule to help that plan succeed.
My son is a pilot, and if he “flew by the seat of his pants,” he would end up where he didn’t want to be. Before ever getting into the cockpit, he writes a flight plan, files that plan with the FAA, preps the plane, flies it to each checkpoint listed in the flight plan, and lands where he wants to be on or about the time he intended to be there.
For some of us, work is the fun and easy part. Futurecasting, strategic planning to envision and plan for the outcome of your business, is much more difficult. Freelancers need to consider where they want to be in six months or a year; break down the steps needed to get there; and set monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Futurecasting will look different depending on whether you are just beginning, are transitioning from a full-time outside job to freelance editing, or are already established in your editing business.
What would this look like if, for example, you wanted to increase your editing income by $20,000 next year ($1,667/month)? If you are keeping track of your working hours and invoicing, you will be able to track how many hours you worked each month and the income you received from that work. (If you aren’t keeping track of those things, doing so is Step 1!)
- How many hours each month are you working for your current monthly income? How many more hours do you need to work to meet an extra $1,667 each month? How many hours per week and per day does that equate to?
- If your working hours are already full-time, then consider your rates. When did you last increase your rates? Are your rates commensurate with industry standards? How close to your monthly income goal can you get by giving yourself a reasonable raise?
- Are you willing and able to add an extra hour or two each day to reach the goal? Consider your physical and mental stamina seriously when deciding whether it is possible for you to work more hours.
- If working more hours is not possible, what else might increase your income? Can you write lesson plans and teach a class for The PEN Institute? Consider leading a community writer’s group, either independently or through adult community education, that pays you. Give a talk or seminar at your local library (most have a budget to pay per event). Add content to your website that your writers pay to download. Add advertising to your website that pays per click.
- If increased hours, rates, and passive income aren’t enough to reach your goal, consider where you can cut your business expenses. Do you need all the software subscriptions, or can you make do with fewer? Are you claiming all the possible business deductions on your taxes? A good accountant can make this happen. Look at last year’s business expenses and determine whether any can be eliminated.
If you are getting started in freelancing and have no work yet, this may seem like a pointless exercise. But futurecasting works for you too. What do you need to do to get your first client? What industry classes do you need to take? What can you do to gain experience before gaining your first paying client? Do you have a website? How many hours each day/week/month are you willing to dedicate to educate yourself and gain the tools necessary to succeed?
Your daily work schedule is where the plan comes together.
My pilot son knows how long it takes to fire up the plane, what speed he must fly to reach each stop, how long it takes to refuel and take off again, and how many stops to make before he reaches his destination. All these steps, working from the destination backward, tell him what time he must be in the cockpit.
If you are getting out of bed whenever, working when you feel like it, and stopping when you feel like it, you will not succeed in meeting your goals. Make a work schedule for yourself. The PEN Institute’s class, “Establishing Your Freelance Business,” will help you do this. Ever since taking that class I’ve had an hourly schedule hanging above my work desk. Every hour is accounted for and includes every activity I do each day (devotions, dealing with the animals, eating, exercising, etc.). Yes, I’ve amended this schedule several times, and interruptions happen. In fact, owing to some delays and deadlines, I had to delay submitting this blog post by a week. Life events and unforeseen circumstances will always arise; in fact, my next productivity post will be about dealing with distractions. But having dedicated blocks of working time means that the most important work gets done.
Futurecasting will never perfectly realize your business plans, but it will help you think about your long-term goals and how you can work to make them come together. With God’s help—and yes, a lot of prayer—your business can be at a better place a year from now.
Rebecca began editing engineering papers in 2010 through a providential set of circumstances that taught her to never underestimate what God can do. Although she still edits for the engineering client, she also edits nonfiction Christian material for individual clients, an independent publisher, the Truth For Life radio ministry, and a wide variety of nonfiction topics for university presses, PhD students, a laboratory press, and independent authors.
Rebecca lives in northeast Ohio and is active in her church and rural community. You can contact her at email@example.com.