TL;DRUse this freelance performance review template to assess your freelance business every month and identify opportunities for growth. Download the template using the sign up form below!
Being a freelance writer is about so much more than just writing. You’re also in charge of marketing, business development, client relationship management, a website, social media profiles, accounts and tax.
The freelancers who treat their freelance writing career like a business are the ones that succeed. So how do you adjust your mindset and start thinking like a business owner, not just a writer?
In my experience, it’s all about self-reflection. Having the courage to assess your own performance and decide where you are falling short and where you need to focus your attention. This is where the freelance performance review comes in.
What the heck is a freelance performance review?
About one year ago, I started doing this exercise at the end of every month. I would sit down and think about the month I had just experienced. The highs, the lows, the income, and losses. Everything. And then I would make a plan for the month ahead. And this changed everything for me.
After a while, I found that I was asking myself the same questions every month. So I decided to make a template so that I could stick to the same format every month. I now have around 7 months of performance reviews that track my progress. It helps to keep me on track, keep me accountable, and help me to identify patterns.
If you want to download the template and use it yourself, you can do so using the form below!
This is how I use the performance review:
Assess your income
- How did your monthly income compare to the previous month?
- How did your monthly income compare to the previous year?
- What percentage of income did each client generate? (This helps you to avoid relying too heavily on one client.)
- Were there any issues sending or collecting invoices?
What stood out to you this month?
It’s time to shine a light on your highlights reel. When you’re running a business, the positive events can easily get lost in the everyday. Don’t let them. By keeping a record of all the great things that happen, you have a visual record of how far you’ve come.
If you ever find yourself doubting yourself or wondering if you’re cut out for running a business, you can be your own cheerleader by looking back on your monthly highlights.
What went well this month?
I struggle to focus on the positive, so it’s important for me to keep a list of mini triumphs throughout the month. Focus on things like:
- New clients
- Completing projects
- Client feedback
- New bylines
- Social media growth and key interactions
We’re hard-wired to focus on the negative so this step might be difficult to achieve. Some people swear by daily gratitude journals as a way to adjust their mindset. This works in a similar way. When you focus on the positive, you retrain your brain to adopt a more positive mindset.
What didn’t go so well?
No one wants to dwell on the negative, but you’ll never learn from your mistakes until you get into the habit of reflecting on them. If you lost a client, make a mistake in your work, or had an article rejected at the last minute, this is the place to vent. Try to keep your comments constructive and take a few moments to really reflect on what went wrong.
If you lost a client, think about what steps you could have taken to prevent this. If it was a PITA client, think about what steps you can take to avoid working with clients like that in the future. If you failed to spot the warning signs, pledge to never make this mistake again.
What will you change next month?
Setting goals helps to keep you accountable and will also help you to drive your business forward. Reflect on everything that has gone well and everything that has gone wrong for you, then set goals that will shake things up for the month ahead.
Keep your goals SMART, which means they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
An example of a SMART goals would include:
- Increase monthly billings by 10%
- Add 2 new clients to my roster
- Post to my own blog once a week
- Pitch articles or guest posts to 20 publications
Keep the momentum going
At the end of each month, before you start reflecting on the current month, read your comments from the previous month. If you start to notice patterns in your thoughts and behaviour, you will know exactly how you can start adjusting your habits to help you reach your goals.