Day 30: Monitoring Your Freelancing Progress

Actual is not normal (a tribute to Edward Tufte)

This is Day 30 of 31 Days to Start a Freelancing Business (or Make Yours a Better One). If you want to catch up, click here to read Day 1.

There’s a saying I’ve heard from business planners: “If you can’t measure it, then you can’t achieve it.”

Or, at the very least, you’ll have a hard time knowing you’ve achieved it. So today, as we near the end of 31 Days to Start Your Freelancing Business (Or Make Yours a Better One), let’s take a look at monitoring your progress.

To do this, you have to go back to the freelancing goals you set on Day 2. Now, take a look at each of your goals and ask yourself, “how will I know when I have achieved this goal?”

Some goals will be obvious, such as, “Find one new client every month,” or “Earn a monthly income of $2,000.”

In fact, if you followed the SMART principle to goal setting, each of your goals should be measurable. Simply make a list of the information you want to keep track of for each goal, such as:

  • number of new clients every month
  • monthly income
  • number of hours I worked per week

And then, you’ll also want to monitor the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, including your professional website, freebies you’ve given away, and involvement in Twitter and other social networking sites.

I suggest you monitor the following:

Website Statistics

Use statistics from either your web host or Google Analytics to track:

  • number of unique visitors
  • sources of traffic
  • most popular pages
  • links your visitors clicked
  • how long your visitors are staying
  • what keywords your visitors used to find your site
  • where your visitors came from

Client

Make it  a point to casually ask your prospective or existing clients:

  • how they heard about you
  • feedback on your performance
  • number of proposals or job bids you submitted
  • number of proposals/bids awarded to you
  • number of new clients per month
  • number of clients who return

Income

You’ll probably have to collect this information manually, unless you use a software or service that’ll do it for you. Either way, it’s worth the effort to find out:

  • income generated by each of the services you offer
  • income per client
  • income from recurring services
  • income from one-time services
  • other sources of income
  • expenses

The Point

This looks like a very long list of information you need to be monitoring. Actually, it’s up to you how often and how rigorously you monitor all these things.

I myself detest details and tend to look at the big picture rather than each individual pixel. That said, I do have an idea of how much I’m making, where most of my income comes from, and which types of work are most profitable for me.

Yet I do engage in a formal numbers-crunching exercise with my biz at least once a year. There’s nothing like looking at actual numbers to you know exactly how you’re doing and which direction you should be going.

This exercise, in fact, can be so insightful that certain changes will be obvious. You may discover that it makes perfect sense to discontinue a particular service – no matter how much you enjoy it – simply because your target clients don’t want it. Or you may realize that the 15 minutes you spend on Twitter every day just isn’t paying off.

You’ll never know until you measure. So here are your tasks for today:

  • Make a list of information you want to monitor.
  • Decide how often you want to look at this information – write it down on your calendar.
  • Take a look at the information that’s available to you now. What insights do they give you? How will you use those insights to make your freelancing business more satisfying and profitable?

Tomorrow is the last day of 31 Days to Start Your Freelancing Business (Or Make Yours a Better One). Have I missed anything? Is there anything you’d like more clarification with? Do let me know by posting a comment below.

Lexi

Creative Commons License photo credit: kevindooley
2 Responses to Day 30: Monitoring Your Freelancing Progress
  1. Chris Anderson
    November 4, 2009 | 10:41 am

    I’m actually a lot like you in that I like to look at the big picture as well. I just recently revamped my daily schedule so that I can be doing the more important thing . Thanks for the the great tip.
    .-= Chris Anderson´s last blog ..How to Keep Up With Tweets =-.

  2. [...] Day 30. Monitoring Your Freelance Progress [...]

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