It’s that time of year. You’re either not working or just pretending to, ignoring the fact that time spent eating your way through that giant tub of Celebrations = time spent working x 2.

Much as I hate to drag you away from your important mission of raking through the tub to find the last mini Snickers bars, there is something more useful you could be doing. You should be usingreviewing your freelancer year this time to take a step back and…

Reflect

Look back at your progress this year. Vague musings are no good; you need to be focussed.

  • How many new clients did you gain?
  • How many clients did you retain?
  • How much did you earn?
  • What promotional strategies did you try or maintain?
  • Did your work/life balance change?

Analyse

  • Where did your new clients come from?
  • How did you attract new clients?
  • How did you retain clients?
  • Did you earn less? Why? Were you:
    • working fewer hours
    • working less efficiently
    • setting your pay rates lower
    • targeting lower-paying clients or projects
  • Did you earn more because you were:
    • working more hours
    • working smarter
    • setting your pay rates higher
    • targeting higher-paying clients or projects
  • Were there any specific periods when you were less productive or earning less?

Evaluate

Now it’s time to look at how your books balance – not just in financial terms, but also in terms of work satisfaction and work/life balance.

  • You earned more but worked more hours. Are you happy with that, or do you want to earn at the same rate but work less in 2016?
  • You earned more by taking on more demanding work. Was any extra stress worth it?
  • You earned less. Are you happy with that and aware of why it happened?
  • Do you understand why you were less productive at some points in the year, and how this could be avoided in 2016?
  • Are you happy with your work/life balance?
  • How successful were any adverts or promotional activities? Are they worth repeating? Do you need to increase or decrease your presence on social media, or look into automating more of your social media feeds to increase presence but decrease time spent maintaining them?

Plan

Now you’ve spent some time thinking critically about 2015, you should have a clear idea of what worked for you and what didn’t. You’re ready to make a plan for 2016.

  • Clients: Which clients will you hold on to, which will you let go and which clients would you like to attract?
  • Promotion: How will you promote yourself in 2016? Which strategies will you adapt or try?
  • Working hours: Will you decrease or increase them?
  • Working methods: What measures will you put in place to ensure you’re working smarter? Whether it’s organising your research so you can access it more efficiently, automating social media feeds or using a new work-tracking or time management app, there’s bound to be something you can in 2016 to make your work time more productive and less stressful.
  • Work/life balance: How will you ensure you get this right?

 

Now you should have a clear idea of where you’ve been and where you’re going next with your freelance career. Phew! What a lot of brainpower you’ve used. You probably need another handful of chocolates to sustain you…