Evaluate Your Freelance Writing Business With These 5 Questions

by Anne Wayman

measure your writing businessIt’s almost December for crying out loud! Which means the new year is close.

If you’re like me, you probably want to set some goals for your freelance writing business. The best way I know to begin that process is to take a look at these 5 questions.

What’s worked? Start out with a list of your wins. List the freelance writing clients or gigs you landed. Note how you found them or they found you. Pay particular attention to the ones you liked most. Think a bit about how you can get referrals from them for similar work. What else could you do to attract that sort of work? Celebrate what worked!

What hasn’t worked? By the way, we all have tried things in our freelance writing business that didn’t work. You’re not alone! Make a list and briefly note what you think went wrong. WARNING! Don’t beat yourself up about this, just gently explore why you think it didn’t work. Ask yourself too if you want to pursue that kind of work or not. If this answer is no, then let it go. Celebrate what you’ve learned!


What do you need to let go of? What attitude, belief, behavior, etc. do you need to let go of to get more of the kind of freelance writing work you want? For example, if you find yourself chasing clients, stop. You want clients who are eager to hire you to write for you at your price. If you’ve resisted something like a website or opening a business bank account, now is the time to change your attitude so you can get those things done. Celebrate your new understanding.

What do you need to keep? This is similar to looking at what worked, but it’s meant to be in contrast with what you need to let go of. It might be your passion to write, or your determination to make your business work, or your creativity or… all of us have things we do and think and feel that we need to keep. Celebrate who you are!


What do you need to change? Often the changes we need are in attitude. We need to up our self-worth, or lessen our anger. There are all sorts of ways to do this, from spiritual programs to self-help websites. Sometime what we need to change are habits. Procrastination is one that comes to mind. So do new habits you want to form that will support you and your writing business. Celebrate your willingness!

Sit with these lists for at least a couple of days – maybe longer, reviewing them from time-to-time. Add what you need to, change what isn’t accurate.

When the list feels complete you’re now in a position to set some goals for the new year that are likely to work.

How do you evaluate your writing business?

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Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by stevenharris


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg December 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Anne, you’ve taken something complex and made it simple so my brain can handle it. I will think more on this but…

What’s worked: Writing well for clients and keeping them/ getting referrals. The best new clients I’ve gotten were from old clients.

What hasn’t worked: My email list. Not really sure what I’m doing with it.

Let go of: The idea that I have to take jobs that are not completely awesome… as if something better won’t come along.

Keep: My insane work ethic and time management superpowers.

Change: That last little shred of this ridiculous ‘it’s not all about money’ way of thinking (turns out, it is all about money. Otherwise I’d spend all day everyday playing guitar or playing with my kids at the park).

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annew December 18, 2012 at 10:36 am

Greg, in my world it is both all about the money and not about the money… sort of a dynamic tension.

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Amandah November 27, 2012 at 5:08 am

Great tips!

Asking “What do you need to change?” could be scary for some freelance writers. Perhaps, they need to change their niche. Maybe they even know in their heart they need to let go of a number of niches and specialize in one or two. Whatever the case may be, feel the fear and do it anyway. You could be surprised at how many doors open once you let go of what doesn’t work.
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annew November 27, 2012 at 7:26 am

Lots of things can be scary if we let them be or let the fear stop us.

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Cathy Miller November 27, 2012 at 4:18 am

Love the simplicity of this, Anne. You know how I love simple. :-) I like the What do you need to let go of? And the celebration parts rock, too. ;-)
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annew November 27, 2012 at 7:25 am

I find celebrations of things done that I really didn’t want to do helps me do them again when it’s time.

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Sharon Hurley Hall November 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Well, that’s a clear and simple approach to evaluating your writing business, Anne. I also do a sort of cost-benefit analysis of clients and income to help with the decision on what needs to change.
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annew November 27, 2012 at 7:23 am

Sharon, do you mean like hours spent to earn $xx?

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Sharon Hurley Hall November 29, 2012 at 7:28 am

Yes, I did that for the first time a couple of years ago and it was quite instructive. One client who brought in a lot of income was using a disproportionate amount of time (mostly via unfounded nitpicking).
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annew December 3, 2012 at 10:27 am

It’s interesting to see how that works. My ideal ghostwriting client took less time than almost anyone and we did a great book.

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