If you’re thinking about starting a side hustle or own a fledgling business, you might be so concerned with the day-to-day that you forget to plan for the future. But if you don’t have a road map in front of you, how will you know where to go? It’s important to set goals for your business to keep yourself on track, especially in regards to income.
Setting income goals for your business will help you achieve sales and find clients beyond what you ever thought possible. However, if you set random goals without strategic planning, you’ll risk throwing off your trajectory.
Here’s what you need to know about setting income goals for your side hustle.
1. Set business goals first.
Before you can set an income goal, you need to know what to expect from the business itself. Where do you see your side hustle a year from now? Five years? Ten years? There’s no shame in keeping a side hustle as just a hobby for a little extra pocket money, but if you want it to become your full-time job, you need to set some business goals as well as income goals.
In order for your business to grow over time, you’ll need ways to “scale.” This is a term that’s thrown around often in the entrepreneurial world and it’s often misunderstood. When we’re talking about “scaling” a business, we’re not talking about starting or even growing a business. “Scaling” means being able to take on more work without sacrificing much in terms of income or in other areas, like time management or working yourself to death.
Brainstorm additional products or services you can offer in the future as your business expands. If you anticipate hiring other team members or contractors, how many, and when? Will you want to offer any special bonuses to your team? All of these will factor into the income goals you will need to set in order to succeed.
2. Check your history.
Next, take a look back at your business’s sales over time, if any. How much money have you been making so far? What seems realistic to expect for next month or next year if things stay the way they are?
If your projected income based on your sales at this point isn’t as high as you hope, don’t worry. This is just an estimate of what you can expect if your business continues at the level it’s currently functioning at. Your goal should be to grow!
3. Factor in expenses.
For this step, we’ll need to look to your past as well as your future. What have your expenses been so far? Don’t leave anything out, no matter how small. Even the tiniest expenses can add up over time, costing you money and throwing off your estimates.
Now think about new expenses that you can anticipate as your business scales. Those new hires we thought about in step 1? This is where you’ll need to think about how to pay them. If you want to rent a spot in a coworking space, how much would that cost in your area? Do some research and pull up realistic figures so you’ll know what to expect.
4. Pick an end goal.
After you take those expenses into account, it’s time to think about the fun part: Profit! How much money do you want to be making from your side hustle per year in an ideal world?
Add your profit to your expenses and factor in some leeway for emergencies. Be sure to take year-end taxes into account, too, based on your country’s taxation laws. You’ll need to pay taxes on your earnings every year.
Add all these things up and the final figure is the amount you’ll need your side hustle to make each year in order to meet your goal.
5. Create milestones.
By this point, you might have an end goal so large that you can’t imagine ever reaching it. That’s okay! Even the biggest goals can be achieved if you just put one foot in front of the other. The key is to divide your end goal into smaller milestones that are easier to achieve.
You can choose quarterly goals, monthly goals, or even weekly goals if that’s feasible for your business. The key is to match up these income goals with your business goals so you’re growing your business over time. What can you do this week, month, or quarter to find more clients and boost your income?
6. Write it down.
It’s no secret that actually recording your goals somewhere makes it more likely that you’ll actually work toward and achieve them. In fact, it’s science.
Once you’ve gotten much of the background information worked out, write down your goals. I would even go as far as encouraging you to literally write them somewhere you can see them. In this day and age, it’s easy to record something digitally on a spreadsheet, in a Google doc, or an iOS note. I’m particularly guilty of this myself.
But physically writing things down helps us to better remember whatever it is we’re trying to remember and give it more power.
Putting these things somewhere you’ll see them often will further reinforce those goals in your mind. You’ll be even more likely to put in the work needed to make things happen. Trust me – it’s made all the difference for me in my business.
While setting income goals for your business can feel overwhelming at first, the key is to do your research and use real numbers in order to project the final figure. No goal is too lofty to aim for.
As the saying goes, shoot for the moon! Even if you don’t hit your goal, striving for greatness will lead to more success than you could otherwise achieve.
Let's play a compare and contrast game – a contract vs. a letter of consent. Are they the same?
If you’re new to the world of freelancing, you might come across the term “letter of consent” while negotiating an agreement. A letter of consent is one way for freelancers to document an agreement with a new client, but is it the best one? How does it measure up to a legal contract?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is a letter of consent?
A letter of consent is an informal agreement between two parties. Where contracts are legally binding, letters of consent, or agreement, are not.
Letters of consent are common in situations where there needs to be only a casual acknowledgment of agreement that something is taking place, usually when the stakes are low.
For example, a letter of consent for a freelance writer might contain the names of both parties, the nature of the tasks assigned, and the method of compensation.
Usually, letters of consent are not used in a setting where money is changing hands. While it helps to have an agreement in writing, the client is not legally obligated to follow through on the terms, so you could very easily end up not getting paid for your hard work.
If you’re a freelancer and a potential client wants you to agree to a letter of consent rather than a contract, think twice. The terms of a letter are not enough to protect you if the working relationship goes south or your client refuses to pay. If you intend to get paid for your work, you should consider a contract instead.
What is a contract?
A contract, on the other hand, is a formal agreement between two parties that lays out the terms and conditions of an agreement. Legally, a contract must contain several elements: A purpose or offer, mutual acceptance of the agreement, the promises each party is offering, and the material terms and conditions, such as payment and deadlines.
The contract must also be signed by freely consenting adults in their right minds. While a contract must follow a much more specific format than a letter of consent, it’s also legally binding, meaning it offers you recourse if your client does not fulfill their end of the bargain.
There are many templates online to help you draw up a contract if needed. Contrary to popular belief, a contract doesn’t need to be written or approved by a lawyer to be valid. Of course, if you can have one look it over before you sign, that’s awesome! If not, just be sure to read through anything a client sends you carefully to make sure you agree to the terms.
A Contract vs. Letter of Consent
Letters of consent are okay when you’re doing pro-bono work where no money is being exchanged. As long as there are specific parameters in place to determine the amount of work, type of work expected, and what is being offered in exchange, a short letter between the two parties should be fine.
For example, if you agree to do some work for a client in exchange for promotion or a good reference, a letter of consent is likely all that’s needed. There is still a possibility that one party will not follow through with the agreement, but there is much less at stake than there would be with a paying job.
When we're talking about actual work for money, however, the safest bet is to go with an ironclad contract that explicitly lays out the work being done, the timeframe it will be done in, whether or not there will be edits made, and how those edits can be requested and returned. You should also cover consequences for nonpayment, such as a late fee for missing an invoice.
If a client doesn’t pay, you’ll have wasted valuable time that could have been spent on other, more lucrative projects. Even worse, one missed payment can be the difference between paying bills or struggling to get by for some freelancers.
At the end of the day, contracts offer much more protection for freelancers than letters of consent. As much as we all want to trust our clients, nonpayment is unfortunately a very real issue for freelancers across a variety of industries. Always insist on a contract when completing client work. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
As an American expat living outside the US, I’ve felt so powerless and unable to support “Black Lives Matter” movements.
As a foreigner living in South Korea, the laws about participating in protests is gray at best: Depending on the circumstances, I could risk deportation for taking part in protests – peaceful or not – and the threat of the pandemic has concerned me because of the impact it may have on my job.
I have agonized about what to do and how I can raise my voice and be an anti-racist and an ally for the #BLM movement. I want to be an advocate and I want to participate in an active way.
And the more I thought about it, I realized that though I’m living far away, there are ways I can actively participate in this important time.
Over the last 2 or 3 weeks, I’ve come up with 5 ways I can support “Black Lives Matter” as an expat living overseas.
1. Ensure you’re registered to vote in the next election.
So many have (rightly) said in the last few weeks that the best way we can collectively effect change is by using our voices to vote in the upcoming election cycle.
This has never been more true than now.
For once, it’s so important to know who is on the ticket, what they stand for, what’s in their public history, and whether or not they will truly be the voice of the people.
If you’re an American citizen, check whether you’re registered to vote at Vote.org. They say it takes 30 seconds to check if you’re registered or not… and they’re right. I did it. Thankfully, I’m registered and didn’t need to take any additional steps.
If it turns out you’re not registered, register with your state the Overseas Vote Foundation. The instructions are straightforward (for the most part) and you can take the first steps to ensure you’ll get an absentee ballot.
The one thing I felt was a little confusing when filling in my absentee registration information was which addresses to use. Be sure to carefully check the PDF with your regurgitated information for accuracy and update it immediately if you spot an issue, otherwise, you’ll have to do it all over again from the beginning as the download link expires within 15 minutes to protect your personal information.
Here’s my main advice on this point: DON’T. WAIT. Do it now. With mail taking longer to trek across the globe, none of us can afford to take our time. (I paid to send my absentee registration via express mail because it was the only option I had. It was expensive but I was glad to pay it.)
2. Call your state representatives to voice your approval or disapproval of bills working their way through Congress.
Sometimes we forget how easy it is to place calls back home.
You might ask, “Well, why can’t I just send an email or a letter instead of calling? I live halfway across the world and my hours don’t match up with Congressional business hours.”
In some ways, I’m inclined to agree with you. In others, I disagree. Here’s a great article from the New York Times detailing a few points but the one that sticks out to me most is that it’s far more difficult to ignore a ringing phone than it is to ignore an overflowing email inbox.
Calling isn't hard.
In the day and age we live in, it’s no more than a push of a few buttons and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to make a trans-Atlantic or -Pacific call. Even if you have to pay a bit more for it, it’s worth making a small investment to stay connected.
To keep your costs down, consider buying Skype credits to call and text internationally. The cost per minute is incredibly affordable and you can spend as little as $5-10 (before any VAT costs). This small credit top-up will be enough to cover dozens of calls to Congress.
Alternatively, you may be able to use your cell phone minutes included in your mobile plan from your host country. For example, I have 5 hours of talk time to landlines and cell phones in Korea included in my annual plan that I literally never use. However, I downloaded the OTO Global app for iOS (also available from the Google Play store) which allows me to call US mobile and landline numbers for free and pulls from my mobile plan minutes here in South Korea. Like Skype, OTO Global also sells credit packages to place calls all over the world.
If you’re not in Korea, chances are there’s a similar app in your host country that will allow you to use your local mobile minutes to call internationally. Google it and see what you come up with before spending money.
How to Call Your State Representatives and Senators
Once you’ve figured out how to call back home for a reasonable price, you can actually start calling the people who represent you at home. Here are step-by-step instructions for calling your state Representatives and Senators.
1. Start by determining who your state Representatives and Senators are.
If you’re not sure who your state representatives (both in the Senate and House), you can look them up via the United States House of Representatives online directory or the United States Senate directory.
I wasn’t before I started writing this, honestly, who my Representatives in the House were. I know Ted Cruz is one of my state Senators because I voted against him in the 2018 midterms – I was a Beto supporter and bought a shirt to prove it!… Aside from that, I haven’t lived at home for a while and have actually never resided at my “permanent” virtual address, so I had to do my homework.
There’s no shame in not knowing, my friend. But do your due diligence and get informed.
2. Find the right phone numbers to call.
The same websites where you looked up your Senators’ and Representatives’ names will provide you with the right numbers to call to reach their offices directly.
To make it super easy for you, click here to find contact information for your House Representative’s office. Alternatively, click here to find contact information for your state Senator’s office.
If you’re having trouble with that for any reason, you can call the capitol switchboard directly at (202) 224-3121. The switchboard operator will get you sent to the right place. (You’ll need to know who you’re calling for, obviously.)
3. Call your state Senators and Representatives.
This is a little nerve-racking, but once you’ve done it once or twice, it will start to feel totally normal. There are a few things to remember when you’re calling:
Know exactly what you’re calling about.
State Rep and Senate offices field hundreds of calls every day so it’s vital that you know exactly what you’re calling about.
Have a script ready to help you make the right points.
There are a number of different sources for scripts and many associations who lobby Congress on the regular offer scripts or talking points for free, such as the American Psychological Association. You can also get scripts from organizations like You Lobby and 5 Calls, among others. Google, google, google to find more.
Ask to speak directly to the staffer responsible for the issue you’re calling about.
Let’s face it: You’re not likely to speak directly to your Senator or Representative. Instead, you’ll speak to the next best thing – their staffers. There are multiple people who work in your state Rep’s or Senator’s office and not all of them handle all the issues. Your best bet is to speak to the person in the office who fields calls and messages regarding the specific issue you’re calling about so your message doesn’t fall on partially-deaf ears.
Don’t request a call back.
According to Refinery 29, it’s better to say you don’t need a reply from your Senator’s or Representatives office so “they can tally you down without having to go through the extra step of adding you to a response database.” This keeps phone lines open and frees up more time to tally down constituent concerns.
Still have questions about calling your state peeps? Check out this helpful article from Vice.
3. Support “Black Lives Matter” financially and donate to worthy causes.
This is obvious: Give away your money.
There are plenty of worthy causes out there and often, we’re bombarded with reputable opportunities and organizations where we can donate. Right now, though, the #BlackLivesMatter movement needs funds to continue the fight.
You can google “donate to black lives matter” for a long list of charities and organizations or you can simply go give some money right now to the actual organization behind the “Black Lives Matter” movement, ActBlue Charities. Alternatively, check out this extensive vetted list from New York Magazine for dozens of good options.
4. Listen to black voices everywhere you can.
PAY ATTENTION, FELLOW WHITE PEOPLE: It’s not black people’s job to educate us on white privilege or race relations. We need to do better about educating ourselves.
Read books by black authors. (Thanks to our girl, Oprah, and her people for this list.)
Listen to podcasts by black podcasters like “Gurls Talk” hosted by Adwoa Aboah.
Follow black influencers with strong voices on social media, like Rachel Cargle, Johnetta “Netta” Elzie, Charlene Carruthers, and others.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, start subscribing and listening to more black entrepreneurial voices like Rachel Rogers and Chloe Hakim-Moore.
This should not be hard. We all need to make an effort to diversify the voices we listen to on a regular basis. I am making this effort myself and have followed all the women I’ve listed above in an effort to open myself to more diverse voices and points of view (read: not white).
5. Talk to your family and friends about what you’re learning and doing to make a change.
A couple of weeks ago, I sat down and wrote my parents and sister a very long email about how I was feeling and expressing that I wanted us to talk about the #BLM movement as a family.
I pointed out the glaring fact that we didn’t talk about race in our home when I was a kid because we didn’t have to talk about it.
I acknowledged that, unknowingly or not, we are very privileged as white people.
I want my little brothers – ages 16 and 20 at the time of this writing – to understand the role they play as young white men in society and that they subsequently have voices that carry in our society.
We need to talk about these things, white people.
We need to acknowledge that the society we live in was built on the backs of – and at the expense of – black slave laborers. We need to acknowledge how those that came before us intentionally put laws and hindrances in place to keep black people from getting ahead in society – from Jim Crow to redlining to segregation in schools and other public places. Watch this YouTube video for a quick history crash course.
And once we’ve acknowledged the existence of these things, we need to start calling our Senators and House Reps and do what we can to change things.
We need to end police brutality. How? I don’t know yet – but we need to work together to figure it out.
Yes, we need to listen. But we also need to talk. We did this – we created this mess. Now it’s time for us to whatever it takes to make it right.
Black. Lives. Matter.
The last few weeks have been so eye-opening for me. I’ve asked myself and those around me tough questions and having uncomfortable conversations. I’m reading more and making an effort to listen more.
I am committing to calling my state Senators and Representatives more consistently (which is something I’ve never done before) about issues that pertain to #BLM and in an effort to end police brutality.
I may be away from home, but I’ve also started to realize I’m not powerless even though I felt like I was. I absolutely can support “Black Lives Matter” as an expat.
I hope you’ll join me in doing what you can – whether you’re an American, a Brit, a Saffa, or hail from anywhere else in our beautiful world. This is important. Let’s do something good together.
With all of the chaos happening in the world at any given time, it’s understandable for people to wonder about their job security. Fortunately, freelance writing is a career that can be done remotely from anywhere in the world, so it’s a business model that has withstood a lot of the turbulence that many industries are facing.
However, with such a strangely behaving job market and so many businesses cutting costs and still recovering from the Covid-19 shutdowns, is it even possible to make money as a freelance writer in the current economy?
The answer is yes. Here are 5 reasons why.
1. People are still buying things and spending money.
Although many businesses are struggling right now, life hasn’t come to a complete halt. People are still shopping, whether for necessities or just for fun! Online shopping is at an all-time high and many online retailers are seeing boosts in their business now that people are staying home.
In addition, the US sent a number of stimulus checks in 2020 to help restart the economy, giving many people the opportunity to invest that money back into their favorite businesses. Because of this, many companies are looking to increase their online presence, and they need freelancers to do it.
2. The demand for online content is higher than ever.
The internet is now the face of all businesses. Any business without a website in 2020 and beyond doesn’t stand much of a chance for long-term survival with very few exceptions. People are spending more time online than ever before in history: for work, shopping, and everything in between. This has greatly increased the need for solid copy written by talented freelance writers.
Many businesses that could have gotten by without a website in the past are now scrambling to develop their digital footprint and most of them don’t have the budget to hire in-house copywriters to do the job. Freelancers are still the most popular choice for many businesses looking for copywriters, bloggers, social media managers, and more.
3. Many businesses are either unaffected by the economic climate or thriving because of it.
There are certain types of businesses, such as law offices or medical suppliers, whose goods and services are more in-demand now than ever. While many small businesses may experience declines based on the state of the economy, there are other industries that are evergreen due to the necessary services they provide.
A few examples include:
- Repair services
- Public works
- Many types of retailers
- Information technology
While individual companies within these spheres might be feeling the effects of the recent crisis, these industries as a whole are a great place to look if you want to find stable freelance work, regardless of the global climate.
4. There's a need for highly-specialized writing.
With people spending more time online, there's a higher need for writers who specialize in specific forms of writing. This could mean developing a focus on one type of content, such as landing pages, case studies, product descriptions, social media captions, or long-form blog posts.
It can also mean narrowing your focus to a specific niche industry, such as asphalt paving or industrial automation. While it’s hard to break into an entirely new niche, it can be worthwhile to have a specialty that you can consider yourself an expert in – it could be the difference that helps you consistently make money as a freelance writer.
5. There is always a need for good freelance writers.
There are lots of people out there who fancy themselves writers, but they simply don't have the talent for it. Worse, there are people trying to write who have terrible habits – their work is full of grammatical errors, incorrect punctuation, or other mistakes.
If you’re a detail-oriented freelancer with great time management and communication skills, there are businesses out there that would love to work with you. Good talent is hard to find in any economy, but especially now that more people than ever are looking to make a living online. Set yourself apart by being a joy to work with and you’ll be surprised how far you can go and how much money you can make as a freelancer.
Getting Started and Make Money as a Freelance Writer
If you’re considering a career as a freelance writer, now is a great time to start. You’ll need to have writing samples prepared when you apply to freelance jobs, so be sure to have some on hand that are relevant to your chosen niche.
It helps to create a website in order to organize your portfolio and show clients you know your stuff. I have a whole blog post about how to make your own blog or website.
Not sure where to start or even how to be a freelance writer? Check out my freelance writing course, The Write Hustle. I’ll teach you how to get started and at the end of 6 weeks, you’ll be ready to sprout your own wings and fly off into the freelancing sunset.
Overall, freelance writing is a great way to build a skill set that you can utilize from anywhere in the world, whether you’re writing for a local business or a client halfway across the globe. No matter how the economy shifts, you’ll have an adaptable career that can grow and change along with you.