Happy New Year to all! There's nothing like the coming of January first to instill some much needed motivation to make changes to one's habits. The new year is often a time of reflection on the past year and setting the bar higher for the next one. While personal resolutions are common, going to the gym more, eating healthy, spending more time with family, etc., freelance resolutions are just as important. Running your own business requires a lot of personal investment of time, money, and energy. The new year is a great opportunity to reflect on how your business did last year and what you want to see change or improve for next year. My work resolutions are the same as my personal ones: do more. It may only be one resolution but it covers a wide girth of avenues I want to cover.
There's nothing like putting yourself into a networking event and pitching what you do to strangers. It's exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. I did a respectable amount of networking in 2015, as my business was just starting to pick up momentum. Putting myself in public situations where I had to introduce who I was and what I did always made me nervous. I'm not great at chatting with strangers, but I got better at it the more I did it. This year, I hope to attend at least one or two networking events per month. Finding events that would serve me best ties in with my next resolution.
The internet removes many obstacles that I might have faced half a lifetime ago. From Google's homepage, I can type in anything I want and find relevant information about the local, regional, and national markets. I can see who my competition is and what businesses I should pitch my services to. In 2015, I made a slew of bookmarks to pages I got as results but didn't dig much deeper into them. The bookmark was more like "Oh, this might be useful but I really want to watch some cat videos today" type of treatment. This year, I'm going through all of those bookmarks and checking to see if they are worth keeping and following up on. Which also flows into another resolution.
I'm terrible at keeping things in proper order. I have a stack of papers that are in an area I've nicknamed the "file whenever" pile. My goal is to actually file my paperwork once a week rather than once every few months. I know exactly what's in the stack, and that's been a lame excuse to put them away in an actual file folder. In the spring, I go through 75% of everything I own that is small enough to carry with one hand and determine its final fate or location. I love my desk trinkets, but they are overwhelmed with too many office supplies. Putting everything in a new home and de-cluttering my work space is a constant battle I fight. This year I'm going to put more effort into cleaning and maintaining things.
This year will be all about more. More productivity, more connections, more work, more income, more success.
Here's to 2016 and all the mores to come!
The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day is the most difficult time of the year. For a freelancer that is. From my experience one year ago, unless you have established contracts or a large project to work on, businesses slow down during the holidays. Holiday campaigns were started months ago to be ready to launch live right before or on Thanksgiving. Retail companies stay ahead by three or four months of the current calendar. How do you think all those new holiday store graphics get in the windows so fast after Halloween? It's because they were approved back in July, went into production in August, and then were shipped to the stores for display by October. For freelancers that didn't come on board until the fall, the holiday season can be difficult to find long term work. It does, however, allow some time to get your ducks in a row that you might have been neglecting for a few weeks. Or if you're like me, a few months.
This year I already know money will be tight and my friends and family aren't expecting a barrage of gifts. I'm relying on my crafting skills to make gifts for people on a very tight budget. It's a hand craft skill I've been itching to get back into and it gets me away from the computer screen for a few hours a day. I'm also using this time to organize my old artwork files and get everything ready for a yearly "dump" on to my back-up drive. My laptop only has so much storage space and moving all things 2015 and older off will only help it run faster.
I also use the month of December to get my tax documents in order. I have several W2's and 1099's coming in January, so I have to get all my invoices and deductibles organized. An organized shoe box of papers is better than missing something important. Taxes are never fun for me, even when I had a full time job.
I'm also sending out holiday cards to my business clients. It's another expense that seems unnecessary during a time of thinner income, but it's a gesture that means so much more. I want to keep in good relations with my clients and most of them are wonderful to work with. Family and friends know how much they mean to me, I want my clients to feel just as important. Without their faith in my abilities to produce work they love, I wouldn't be doing any of this. And that really means something to me. Their continued flow of projects means they want to work with me and know what I do is worth the expense. They allow me to set my own hours, have creative freedom, and do what I love for a living. A card is the smallest gesture I could do for them. Of course I designed something unique for this. Sending a store-bought card would be an insult to my profession. It's always a good idea to think like the retailers and have something ready months ahead.
With all the free time I'll have from a down turn of project work, I'll be hunting for short term projects. This gives me time to go through all those job links I've marked over the year and see which ones I want to keep and pursue. I bookmark so many pages then forget if they were worth looking into. December has become my digital cleaning month. I want to start January with a faster computer and less cluttered list of bookmarks on my browser.
So to all freelancers out there, don't fret. The holidays are a trying time for work but it will pick back up in January. Take it easy and get ready to hit the ground running on New Year's Day.