The monthly income review often slips by many freelancers—we’re simply happy to have the money in the door, and between getting and doing work, we forget to look at where things are at.
But with the festive season done, and a new year stretching ahead, now’s a good time to take a look at what you’ve achieved so far, and to change tack if what you’re doing isn’t getting the results you want.
Depending on where you’re located in the world, you may already be three or six months into the financial year.
This is a good point to compare what you’ve earned so far with the same time last year. Are you doing better, worse, or the same? What accounts for the discrepancies? And are you on track to reach your income goals for the year?
In assessing the differences between your positions this time last year and this year, don’t just look at the bottom line. Also ask:
- How many clients are generating this income?
- How is the income spread between clients?
- Has the client or industry mix changed?
When I did this analysis for myself, for example, I found that I was on track to meet my income goal for the year, and this was thanks to a growth in client numbers. That growth corresponded to greater variety of clients, but also, I’d achieved it without contracting, which was one of my goals.
This comparison can be heartening even if you haven’t made your income target. For instance, it can shed light on the things you’re doing well—maybe you wanted to get more work in a certain industry and you’re doing that.
The other bonus it can deliver is some hints about how you can improve your position for the rest of the financial year.
If you’re on track it can be tempting to think, “well, if I just keep doing what I’m doing, that should be fine.” But for those of us who work on short projects, that approach may not cut it, and it certainly doesn’t for those who aren’t reaching their targets.
All of us can use the comparison to get ideas about where to focus our income-generating efforts for the remainder of the financial year.
My review showed that the expanded client base I’m working with this year involves more clients that have indicated they (or my instincts tell me) need ongoing help. Obviously this has implications for sourcing work going forward: should I see if any of these clients are interested in a retainer arrangement, for example?
What ideas are hidden in your review? Perhaps a contact who sends you lots of work needs to be rewarded somehow. Maybe you need to reconsider the way you charge. Perhaps you need to meet with some past clients who knocked you back for subsequent work, and find out why.
Use the review to work up two or three action points, and you’ll soon be learning more about your business and client base. Hopefully, you can use that information to sustain and build your income for the rest of the financial year.
How often do you review your income levels? Do you use them to help direct your work and marketing? Share your advice with us in the comments.