If you make money writing, how do you project your income? Do you know if you’re going to be able to make ends meet and hit your goals?
In business, you’ve got to keep tabs on your income. And being a freelance writer means you’re in business. I’ll share my (ridiculously basic) system, plus give you suggestions for working out your own method.
The first thing you need to do is keep track of your income. I use a spreadsheet, which I’ve named my “Payments Tracker Spreadsheet.” I have copies of it in several of my courses, including Booked-Out Writer, my most recent one.
The spreadsheet has been serving me well since 2010. You can go more complicated, if you’d like, and use Dubsado or a different client management system. But there’s no need to.
I keep track of leads as well as gigs that are in progress.
I divide my spreadsheet into two sections: work that’s set, and work that’s likely or possible.
At the top of the spreadsheet is the client work that’s already been assigned, or “set.” The “set” column headings are: client name, email address, rate, invoice date, and payment date.
About 15 rows down is where I put work that’s likely. The headings are: lead name, gig details, rate estimates, and notes. I nurture the leads, and if the lead becomes a client, I cut and paste their info to the top of the spreadsheet in the client info.
In the same spreadsheet, after 15 more rows, I put a box with a table, which shows my monthly income breakdown. I use a simple formula per month for payment due/anticipated and payment received, and total due/anticipated and total received. Each month has its own row. Received means when the money is actually in my bank account.
Once you have some steady work or future projects lined up, you can track and project your own income by the expected month. You can either copy my simple spreadsheet system or modify it to suit your own needs.
For example, let’s say you’re only writing blog posts, and you’ve set an income goal of $2,000 per month. You’re a new freelance writer, so your rate is 10 cents per word. Each blog post is 1,000 words, making that $100 per blog post. You’d need to write 20 blog posts a month to meet your goal.
If you already have clients for that month, great. If you see that you need a few more blog posts to meet your goal, then at least you know how many you need.
Whether or not you have enough clients, you should keep doing the marketing work. Keep going, keep showing up, and keep being visible, so that the income will show up. I’ve never recommitted to marketing and not hit the levels I needed within a month. Maybe not 100% of the goal 100% of the time, but enough to keep going and make it worth the effort.
And if you want to keep marketing to a minimum, check out my post “Freelance Writing Gigs: Why Recurring Ones Are Great.”
Don’t forget to hang out with me in my free Facebook Group, The Ink Well Guild with Ashley Gainer, at theinkwellguild.com! It’s a great place to get your questions answered and get support and guidance from other people who are doing what you’re doing.