As the new year approaches, your goals for 2020 might already be crossing your mind. Today on The Happy Arkansan, I wanted to focus on creating goals for your freelance business. We are going to talk about what SMART goals are, what goals you might create for your freelance business, and how to track them appropriately.
What Are SMART Goals?
Before we can begin to share some examples of SMART goals for freelancers, let's do a brief overview of what these specific goals are.
Many freelancers have general goals they want to accomplish. While these goals can be helpful, and they are better than having no goals, creating SMART goals can lead to more success.
SMART goals are goals that meet the following criteria:
We tend to be very general about our goals. We might say stuff like, “I want to have a successful freelance business,” but that doesn't tell you much. Of course, you want a successful freelance business, but what does that mean?
For example, maybe success means that you are working with a specific number of clients regularly. So, your goal might be “I want to have a successful freelance business, as defined by having five regular clients.”
Next, we want our freelance goals to be measurable. If we cannot measure our goals, we cannot know when we've reached them. You might often say, “I want to create regular content for my freelance website,” but that's not measurable. You can't automatically define “regular.”
Instead, you want your goal to be, “I want to create regular content for my freelance website, by putting out one post every week.” At the end of the week, you'll know whether or not you achieved this goal because you will be able to count one new post on your freelance website.
Next, we need our goals to be attainable or achievable. Have you ever been so excited about a goal only to be let down when it didn't get done at the end of the year? Goal setting is amazing, but it needs to be realistic. Sometimes goals can feel attainable, but if you dig a little deeper, they probably aren't.
For example, a great goal would be, “I want to make $5,000 in my freelance business next month,” but if you've only ever made $2,500 in a month, that goal might not be attainable. It's important to have stretch goals, but are you stretching out of reach?
A more realistic goal for someone in this scenario would be, “I want to make $3,000 next month.” Incremental progress is the best progress because it is progress. As you build your business, keep creating bigger money goals until you reach that $5,000 month.
Next, let's talk about relevancy. Our goals need to be laser-focused. When we create all these random goals that miss the mark on our current situation, it can be challenging to achieve what we want.
You might set a goal to “Pitch 20 business blogs next month,” but if your focus is getting published in magazines, you are setting the wrong goals.
Think about it this way: would yourself a few months from now be excited or annoyed that you chased after this goal?
Last, but certainly not least, your goals need to be time-bound. Goals work best when you have a deadline, even when it's self-imposed. We can't work on our dreams forever, when do you want to have that income, those clients, those content pieces, etc.? Create a deadline and stick to it.
What Are Some Examples Of SMART Goals For Freelancers?
Now that we've broken down what SMART goals are, let's cover a few examples of this framework in action.
I am going to create 12 1,000-word articles on my freelance website this quarter.
If you want to invest in content marketing as a freelancer, this might be a goal that you can achieve within a quarter. Let's take a look at how it fits the SMART goals system:
- Specific: You are not only sharing the number of blog posts, but you are also sharing the word count, so this goal is specific.
- Measurable: You can measure this goal because at the end of the quarter, you will have 12 1,000-word articles, or you won't.
- Attainable: We assume this is attainable. Twelve blog posts per quarter equals one blog post per week, which is doable.
- Relevant: If you are looking to invest in content marketing to promote your brand, this goal is relevant.
- Time-Bound: You are limiting this goal to the quarter, so this goal is time-bound.
I am going to reach out to 20 marketing companies to offer my freelance writing services this month.
Next, let's take a look at this goal that relates to pitching your freelance writing services.
- Specific: We don't have a specific list of companies you want to pitch, but you likely wouldn't have that when setting goals. Other than that, you are specific about the:
- Number of companies
- Type of companies
- Services you are offering
- Measurable: It is measurable. At the end of the month, you have pitched 20 companies, or you haven't.
- Attainable: We do have to assume it's achievable. Twenty companies in one month equals around five companies per week. If you've never pitched before, this might be out of reach, but if you have pitched, this is attainable.
- Relevant: Again, we have to assume relevance, but if your niche is creating content for marketing companies, this goal is relevant.
- Time-Bound: You set the parameters that you want to accomplish this goal within the month, so this goal is time-bound.
I am going to show up for at least three frames on Instagram Stories every day this month on my freelance Instagram page.
Last, but not least, let's take a look at how this goal stacks up.
- Specific: You set precise parameters on how you want to show up on Instagram Stories every day (three frames), and you were specific about the Instagram account.
- Measurable: You can measure this goal. You'll know you completed it when you show up on Instagram Stories for three frames every day this month.
- Attainable: If you like Instagram Stories, this goal will be feasible for you. Three frames is just 45 seconds, so it's doable.
- Relevant: We have to assume relevance, but if achieving a better social media presence for your freelance career is a goal, this is relevant.
- Time-Bound: The time restraint for this challenge is this month, so it is time-bound.
Do You Need A Long-Term Plan?
Questions like, “where do you see yourself in five years?” are so common, but the truth is we don't usually think that far in advance. Most of our goals can be accomplished in way less time. Sure, it's crucial to have a general sense of where you want to be, but those long-term plans can stop you from seeing your current opportunities.
When we stress too much about our long-term goals, we get annoyed at everything that doesn't bring us closer to those goals. If your long-term goal is to be published in 50 magazines, you'll miss out on opportunities to work with clients on projects that could lead you down a lucrative path.
So, do you need a long-term plan? Yes, a more general one. Your SMART goals should be saved for goals that take two years or less to complete. If you want them to be even more effective, you'll plan quarterly SMART goals.
Planning quarterly is an excellent gateway to creating longer-term goals. If you are new to goal-setting, starting with setting goals one quarter at a time will help you set realistic goals and pivot as necessary.
Track Your Goals Using The 90-Day Ambitious Freelancer Planner
If you are new to freelancing and struggling with goal-setting, I have the perfect planner for you: The 90-Day Ambitious Freelancer Planner. This planner was made with love, productivity, and late nights by ME. I recently hit publish on this journal, and I can't wait for it to get in your hands.
I created this planner with freelancers in mind so you could have your most productive and profitable freelance season yet. We start the planner by defining your quarterly goals and creating an inspiration board for your quarter. Each month includes habit and income/expense trackers, places to break down your monthly goals, and even a place to write down client praise.
The 90-Day Ambitious Freelancer Planner was created with amazing daily project pages. Each page offers you a place to write about your projects and to-dos, provides a place to reflect on your business, and shares a tip or reminder to help you in your freelancing endeavors.
At the end of the month, there is also a set of questions to review your month, space for a brain dump, and a fun quote. There are pages dedicated to reviewing the quarter as well as a robust tools and resources section at the end of the planner. Overall this journal will allow you to keep your goals front and center as you work on your freelance business.
Setting freelance goals can help you succeed, no matter what stage of freelancing you are in. Getting SMART about the goals you set can help you achieve more than you ever thought possible. By using my new planner, The 90-Day Ambitious Freelancer Planner, you can have your best freelance season yet.