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!
When you’re looking for freelance writing opportunities, most potential clients will ask to see at least one writing sample before deciding to work with you. For newer freelancers, this can be a huge obstacle. After all, how do you build a freelance writing portfolio before you’ve actually gotten any writing assignments?
Luckily, you have a few different options when it comes to putting together a portfolio of writing samples. Here are 4 different ways you can assemble a freelance writing portfolio without a lot of experience.
1. Do some work for free.
While I’m a huge advocate for writers knowing their worth and getting paid for the work they do, when you’re brand-new to the freelance world, it’s not always a bad idea to do a little work for free. A business or website is much more likely to take a chance on publishing your work if they don’t have anything to lose by doing so.
A great way to do this is to pitch your services to small or local businesses that are looking to expand their online presence. You can offer to write blog posts or web content for them in exchange for being able to use that work in your portfolio later on.
If you’re having a hard time finding anyone in need of free blog posts or web content, feel free to take the lead! Conduct some research and write a few articles in your chosen niche to have on hand. You don’t have to pitch them to anyone; you just need to make sure they’re well-written and properly edited.
While some potential clients will ask for links to published writing samples, many just want to see an example of your work to evaluate your skill level and writing voice before they hire you. You can find plenty of freelance work just by showing you’re capable of producing quality writing.
2. Take some low-paying gigs to get your feet wet.
An alternative to working for free is to accept a few low-paying gigs in order to fill out your portfolio. Upwork is a great place to look for these types of jobs. Upwork is a job board that allows you to create an account and apply for multiple jobs at once. It’s great for newer writers because it provides some security in terms of ensuring you get paid when the work is done.
While you can make a bit of money on Upwork with some skill and practice, most of the jobs you’ll find there are pretty entry-level, low-paying, and in high demand. That said, if you write a killer cover letter, you can beat out the competition and snag these gigs even without a portfolio already in place.
You can also check websites like Craigslist or job boards like All Freelance Writing, ProBlogger, and BloggingPro for low-paying or beginner-level writing work. As you apply for gigs and start communicating with potential clients, use your best judgment and try to target reputable people.
Remember that if something sounds fishy or seems too good to be true, it probably is. Protect yourself by doing the smart thing and walk away if something doesn’t feel right.
Another option is to find an opportunity to write for a digital marketing agency. Many agencies specifically hire newer writers because they want to keep their prices low and less experienced writers can be paid a cheaper rate.
While you won’t make as much money writing for an agency as if you were pitching clients on your own, it’s a great way to gain a lot of writing experience in a hurry. Agencies usually have clients across a variety of industries, so you can work on your research skills while putting together a diverse portfolio. In the meantime, you’ll be getting paid consistently for your work.
4. Guest post on other blogs and publications.
Finally, you might want to look into guest posting on other blogs or online publications, especially if you have a blog for your freelance writing business that you’d like to advertise. Guest blogging not only gives you examples of published works to add to your portfolio, but also allows you an opportunity to link back to your own website and get your name out there.
Seek out bloggers in a niche you feel comfortable writing about, then send a personalized email asking if they’d be interested in a collaboration. Mention why you feel that your writing would be a good fit for their website, and include some ideas for what you’d like to write about.
In the case of online publications, look on business-targeted websites (for example, Business Insideror Entrepreneur Magazine) for instructions on how to pitch to the company’s editorial team and follow the instructions to a “T.”
With both of these options, the more you can show you did your research, the more likely a blogger or editor will be to give you a chance.
While working to build a freelance writing portfolio might be a bit of an investment up-front, it’s worthwhile to spend some time assembling work you can be proud of. Not only will these writing samples help you gain experience as a writer, but they’ll also help you land higher-paying writing gigs as you grow in your career.
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 saturated job market and so many businesses closing their doors due to Covid-19, is it even possible to make money as a freelance writer in the current economy?
The answer is yes, and 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 has been sending stimulus checks 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, social media managers, bloggers, 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 are suffering due to the current state of the economy, there are other industries that are evergreen due to the necessary services they provide.
A few examples include:
Many types of retailers
While individual companies within these spheres might be feeling the effects of the current 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, 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 who 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.
Not sure where to start or even how to be a freelance writer? Check out my Start Freelance Writing self-study course. 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.
This article contains affiliate links to brands I know, use, and trust. I receive a small commission when you purchase services through these links.
Deciding to be a freelance writer is a dream for many people. The ability to work from anywhere and make your own schedule is pretty appealing, especially now, when it’s more common than ever to work remotely due to the novel coronavirus.
But not everyone is cut out for freelance life. Whether you’re looking to write full-time or just as a side gig, there are a few key traits that any good freelancer should have. Here are the most important qualities to develop if you want to pursue a writing career.
Freelance writing can easily get kind of chaotic, especially if you have multiple clients. A good freelancer knows how to keep their deadlines straight, whether that involves keeping a meticulous paper planner or using a project management software like Asana, ClickUp, or Trello.
Personally, I use ClickUp – which I only just started using recently. I like their paid version better than Trello (with whom I had an account for years and used it only sporadically) because I can switch between the board and list views.
Since working on my Start Freelance Writingcourse, ClickUp has been a game-changer. It’s helped me keep track of what I need to get done every week for the course as well as ensure I’m keeping tabs on all my work for my own freelance writing clients.
I also use my Google calendar and set up daily reminder emails to keep track of my own content as well as my clients’ content. Between these two systems, I keep my freelance writing business on track.
When it comes to freelance work, there’s no manager checking in to make sure you’re writing at any given time. It’s easy to get distracted by other tasks you want or need to get done (hello, Netflix and all the books I’m trying to read!), but you need to have the discipline to work – even though it’s always easier (and tempting!) to nap or watch TV!
A freelancer should have solid time management skills, especially if you’re writing as a side hustle. It’s hard to maintain a work-life balance when you work from home, so you’ll need to make sure you can get your work done on time while juggling all of your other responsibilities.
It’s not always easy, but setting up consistent routines can help you get into the groove. I’ve found that having specific days where I focus on certain clients or projects really helps me to not only stay organized but know what’s coming up every week. I use my ClickUp and Google calendars religiously.
Often, writers who write for agencies or big companies will have an editor to look over their work before it goes live. When freelancing, however, you have to be your own editor. It’s important to have a good eye for detail so you don’t send over work that’s riddled with mistakes.
Not everyone is a natural perfectionist, though, and that’s okay. Thanks to spell check, the burden on you is significantly reduced. Of course, spell check alone isn’t enough to guarantee a perfect article. Read everything over several times before you send it to a client to detect any grammar or syntax mistakes that spell check might have missed.
My biggest tip is to read your work aloud. It makes you feel a bit stupid, but it works like a charm. Sounding out your sentences gives you a better idea of how they flow and grammatical errors can be more jarring when you hear them than when you read them.
If you really want to get fancy and be extra-sure of your work, try reading paragraph-by-paragraph from the end and read in a pattern of 3 to 4 words at a time. Each sentence takes on a new cadence and, believe it or not, you’ll spot things that feel or sound awkward (or straight up don’t make sense) better than you will if you’re just reading straight through from beginning to end.
Once you’ve read “backwards” and have made changes, start again from the beginning and read it aloud naturally to ensure everything still makes sense.
If all else fails, try giving yourself some time between finishing your piece and sending it to the client so you can look it over with fresh eyes before submission. Sometimes being too close to the work can blind us to otherwise obvious mistakes.
While some people might think freelancers sit at home in their pajamas all day, freelance writing is a job like any other. You have to take your own work seriously if you want your clients to treat you right.
Be on time if not early. Never send work late – I live by this rule: “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.” Sending work after the deadline you’ve agreed on is a no-no.
Be courteous and respectful in emails and conduct yourself the same way you would if you had a boss looking over your shoulder. Know your worth and don’t be afraid to stand your ground. Your clients will respect you more if you stick to your rates and take pride in the work you do.
Freelance work ebbs and flows. One month your calendar might be booked solid, while the next… crickets. Factors like holidays, time of year, or current events can all affect the number of freelance jobs available at any given time.
That said, there is always a need for freelance writers. There is a place for every story and plentiful opportunities across the internet. Sometimes you have to hit the virtual pavement to find new gigs, but it’s doable.
If you want to rely on freelance work as a source of income, you’ll have to be resourceful and manage your workload so you’re never left with no (or not enough) money coming in. Sometimes this involves spacing out client work so you’re not overwhelmed all at once, but other times all you can do is make sure to have a savings cushion to get you through the lean times.
6. Great Writing Skills
Last but not least, the obvious answer: In order to succeed as a freelance writer, you have to have strong writing skills.
The good news is this can be learned! Writing for the web is different from creative writing or journalism. The flow is very conversational and as long as you have a solid grasp of spelling and grammar, you should be able to learn the rhythm with a little practice.
If you want to improve your writing, there are plenty of resources out there to help you learn. Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare are three big-name online education platforms with plenty of writing courses. Hubspot Academy is another great website to learn about writing for the web.
While not everyone is cut out to be a freelance writer, it’s possible to learn if you have the drive. With a little dedication, you can master these skills and start earning money while living the freelance dream.