The Freelance Life

Assessing The Water Dragon

Enter the Dragon by Bernard Tay

In January, I remarked how the water dragon is seen as a harbinger of prosperity and power. So if you have any major projects or tasks you want to achieve, this is the year to go for it. How fitting it also falls in an Olympic year. But since I don't have a stitch of athletic talent, I must rely on my organizational skills and frightening tenacity to bring home the gold.

It's roughly six months since I created freelance goals for the Year of the Dragon. I have an idea of what I want to accomplish for 2012, but I also know you have to be open to change and opportunities that appear at a moment's notice. So I made a point of creating a list of definite, easy-to-measure goals mixed with larger, more amorphous projects that left a little wiggle room for any surprises or necessary pivots in my path.

And so far, things are going as well as can be expected. We're halfway through the calendar and lunar year. To avoid reaching the December holiday season wondering where my year went, I want to take a moment to reassess my goals and, if necessary, consider a course correction. If I'm unsatisfied with my achievements so far, then at least I'll know where to steer for the next six months..

So here we go! My freelance goals for 2012:

1. Stop writing for publications that offer no monetary reimbursement

This is going to be a tough one, but I recently decided that I'm getting a little too long in the tooth to be labelled a beginner. And even though exposure is a good thing, exposure that doesn't bring you paying gigs or significant experience isn't worth your while. Of course, the exception to this goal is writing guest blog posts for other freelancers.

I did officially quit writing for (a non-paying publication) so I suppose I can cross this one off my list. Although I miss covering music and music news as a staff writer, I know that I can't expect others to value my work if I continue to give it away for free.

2. Work with a graphic designer to create a logo for my business and website

I can't put this one off any longer. I either need to put my less-than-stellar art skills on the line and design my own logo or pay some insanely talented designer to develop and create one for me.

I have a favicon now, but no logo. A plan is in the works for a logo/banner, but it's one of those things that can easily fall by the wayside when your cup runneth over.

3. Pitch 3 music-related articles

My mind has been brimming with ideas for music interviews, exposes and industry analysis for the last 6 months. I'm compelled to get these ideas out of my head and onto a page. A page that pays.

So far, I've pitched 2 ideas to multiple publications. I have a few more markets that I plan to pursue, but I definitely need to tweak the queries to mirror the style of each pub. Can't cross this one off my list just yet.

4. Move my business account to a credit union

A bit self-explanatory perhaps, but for-profit banks have made me more and more leery of their ever-changing policies. I constantly hear about the advantages credit unions have over banks, so my goal is to take my business' business there this year.

Done and done!

Balance Sheet Ok by Philippe Put
5. Comment on 3 blogs that are not my own each month

I've been slacking on the social interaction lately. Blogging is a game of give and take, and if freelancers are truly a supportive community, I need to step up and show more support.

I'm happy to say I've been maintaining this goal pretty well this year. Thanks to so many wonderful bloggers out there producing great content, commentary featuring my 2 cents has been on the rise. But I won't cross this off my list until the end of the year. I don't want to slack in this area again, so I need to stay on top of it.

6. Replace Sergio with a new Mac mini

This summer, I'll have had Sergio for 6 years. It's time.

I wrote an entry about this goal in February because of the Apple-obsessed culture we live in simply makes me want to run away. But in the end, I found a bargain on a previously-owned-but-like-new Mac mini with the 2010 design. It has an optical disc drive, so I'm not being forced to rely purely on USB connections and app downloads. For the same price that I would've paid for a 2011/2012 mini with no programs, I bought a 2010 loaded with Aperture, Pages/Keynote, MS Office for Macs 2011 and Adobe Acrobat Pro. Thank you, eBay. So Steve Jobs may not be my homeboy, but this purchase suits me just fine.

7. Join 2 professional organizations

I've already joined one (see sidebar), and I hope to join another by mid-year. I'm open to organizations related to editing, writing, freelancing or entrepreneurship. If anyone has any suggestions, please share in the comments below.

Not yet. I'm thinking of joining one of the professional organizations focused on the editorial field, but the list of possibilities hasn't been narrowed down yet.

8. Update online and hard-copy portfolio

Here's another area where I've fallen off the grid and neglected to maintain. I have a number of pieces in my print portfolio that need to be scanned and added to the online portfolio. I also want to take some of my better blog posts and add them to my print portfolio as well.

You can't tell for looking at my online portfolio, but I've done a lot of work on my hard-copy portfolio and I now feel confident that I'd have it ready at a moment's notice should a prospective client ask to see my work. The online portfolio could still use a bit more attention, but this goal is moving along fairly well.

9. Write 3 guest posts for other freelance sites

So far, I have one in the works and one ready to pitch. I wrote a guest post for the first time last year for the incomparable Diary of a Mad Freelancer, but I never got around to pitching any more bloggers. This year, I hope to change that. But I'm only shooting for 3 guest posts, because I plan to also ....

One down, two to go. I haven't forgotten this. It's simply another case of having a full plate where I need to clear a few sides before I can make room for more.

Happy New Year of the Dragon
10. Develop book proposal

Another idea I've been sitting on for last 6 months involved a book proposal for a nonfiction subject that I feel I'm well qualified to tackle. I can't share more than that, ladies and gents. But here's hoping I will stop thinking about it and start being about it.

No substantive progress on this goal; however, I have shifted my focus a bit about the topic. I'm also considering turning it into a group project between myself and another artist/writer. So there's some movement, but it's all been inside my noggin. Hopefully, I'll make more headway on this goal in the fall.

As Robert Burns once wrote "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley." However, that is no reason to not make plans for what you hope to accomplish. The planner and organizer in me loves to take an analytical look at my goals, but the fickle creative freelancer in me isn't afraid to adjust my course if it means the journey will be worth my while.

My hope is to make 2012 better than the year before. So sometimes my eyes are too big for my stomach, but if you don't dream big, it's far too easy to go a year without any growth at all.

How are your plans for the Year of the Dragon coming along? Have you reassessed your goals for the year?

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