Happy 2015, everyone! (Honest show of hands now– who has a hangover today?)
Okay, we won’t talk about that. Let’s talk about something that will get your hungover brains straight into action instead– goals!
For a few years, I got on the bandwagon and started picking one word at the beginning of the year that I hoped would define that year for me. Every year—every single year without fail—the opposite of that word would end up defining it. If I picked prosperity, I’d have a bad financial year. The year I chose “growth,” I ended up stagnating massively in my writing.
I’m creative, not stupid. I’m totally not doing that again this year.
The thing is, though, that I don’t think one word can truly sum up all that’s going to go right and wrong in a year and as much as we might like to push our lives in set directions, things happen of their own accord, and we adjust. These aren’t all bad things. I hadn’t anticipated a move to London in 2014 because it’s something my husband hadn’t been keen to do and so we’d been looking at Dubai very seriously instead. Yet, London did happen (at the last minute, Sam moved in less than a week!) and I couldn’t be more thankful that it did because it is here that I have truly found my community, my friends, my place in the world. I feel, for the first time in my life, that this is a place where I just belong without having to explain who I am. I didn’t experience this in all my travels, including my year in the US, and it’s been an immensely welcome gift.
I knew that I would love London but that it would reignite my passions and bring to the surface parts of me that I thought I’d left behind in my twenties was not something I could have anticipated. I knew I would love it since it is in London that I first became a writer, but I didn’t think I’d fall in love with it (much to my husband’s dismay!)
My goal at the beginning of last year was to earn six figures and sure, I failed in that income goal, but to say that my year wasn’t a success would be wrong because as I sit here writing this, one day before Christmas, I feel like this year has given me the grounding and the community that I’ve been seeking for so long. It has given me hope and belief and friendship. It has given me a sense of my true identity and future. And there’s no universe in which all that could possibly be called a failure.
That said, of course it’s important to have concrete and measurable goals and this year, I’m going to share mine with you so that I can hold myself accountable and so that perhaps some of you can be inspired or motivated to come up with your own.
In the last quarter of 2014, I became very focused on having goals that were actionable and measurable and that I could look back on in a year and say “Yes, I did this,” or “No, I didn’t.” So here then, are my goals for the year, divided by my areas of interest as I currently see them.
I’ve been saying for a while that my goal with my journalism is to only write stories that I either care about or that are really high-paying. I feel like I achieved this goal to a large extent in 2014. I just tallied up what I got paid for journalism this year and how many hours I spent on it, and my average comes out to $131 an hour. Not bad. I’d like to continue along this path, perhaps taking that average to $150 or even $200 an hour. I’m also very keen to write more personal essays so that’s going to be something to do this year. I can’t control whether or not they sell, but I can control whether or not I write them.
Goal #1: Write and sell 52 articles (average $150 an hour)
Goal #2: Write 6 personal essays
Financial goal: $3,000 a month from journalism
For many years, I kept talking about writing non-fiction books but not actually getting them done. I had at least a dozen almost-finished manuscripts that I was too chicken to bring out into the world. I even had a NYC agent with a very prestigious agency, as some of you might remember, and I eventually parted ways with him because traditional publishing, at least for me, involved a lot of sitting around and twiddling thumbs and that wasn’t something I was okay with. Plus, the contracts I saw were horrendous and I felt like I lacked control in many of the decisions that would revolve around my work. So, in 2014, I finally decided that self-publishing was the route for me, at least when it came to non-fiction since I already have an audience (or know how to build one).
Life is passing me by! I’m getting older. I’m done waiting.
Goal #3: Finish at least four more books
Goal #4: Publish at least four more books (one per quarter)
Financial goal: $1,000 a month from non-fiction books
Heavens be thanked, three years after I first began, I finished the first draft of my first novel. And then I realized that while I really loved it and think it could have potential, it’s not really the work I want to be known for. It’s not quite as representative of my work as I’d like and may be a one-off that doesn’t seamlessly fit in with the rest of my writing.
I’m not sure what I’ll do with this book since I do still love it and think it could do really well, but in the meantime, I decided that I had to get on with it. While I figure out what to do with that first novel, I started a second. This year, I want to finish that second one and then see where the process takes me.
Goal #5: Revisit novel #1 and decide what to do with it
Goal #6: Finish novel #2
Goal #7: Make an informed decision whether to go with traditional or indie publishing
Financial goal: No financial goal for fiction this year
The International Freelancer
I’ve been really crap at networking and forming relationships with other bloggers, but what I’ve done really well is formed relationships with my community (you guys). What that resulted in is a profitable first year for The International Freelancer, something I’m super thrilled about because our readership numbers, compared to many of the other writing websites out there, are pretty low. But now it’s time to grow even more. I haven’t, so far, done too many guest posts, as I may have mentioned before, because of this hangup I have about writing for free. But I think it might be worth exploring that in order to increase my readership and those low numbers.
I also want to do a lot more for the TIF audience that helps solves their problems. I want to bring in new voices and experiences and for that, I need to start reaching out to people a bit more. A very good friend of mine (whom I’ve adopted as an unofficial mentor) has been pushing me to consider public speaking, webinars, and more one-on-one time with my readers, so I’m considering all of those things, too. (Speaking appeals to me, webinars not so much, but part of growing is to push past that resistance, so who knows?)
Goal #8: 52 guest blog posts/media appearances, etc. (one a week)
Goal #9: Launch 2 new e-courses
Goal #10: Attend 4 events – conferences, meetups, whatever, it doesn’t matter
Goal #11: Take 12 people I can learn from out for coffee
Goal #12: Get 4 speaking engagements
Financial goal: $3,500 a month from The International Freelancer
So how is it that The International Freelancer with 6,000 unique visits a month brings in $17,000 in revenue and the dreams website, with 70,000+ uniques brings in barely a thousand?
Simple answer: Passion.
I care about one more than I care about the other. No prizes for guessing which one. What the dreams website did for me was to show me that specialty sites can be profitable and it allowed me to experiment with different ways and learn the ins and outs of the process. However, it’s not a subject I truly care about so I find it difficult to find the time or inclination to work on it. Which is why 2015 has to be the year that I decide whether I’m going to put in the work to make it profitable or accept that it isn’t something that I want to pursue any more and that I’ve learned what I needed to and it’s time to let this go. I don’t know the answer to that question yet, and I plan to find out.
Goal #13: Either make the dreams website profitable ($1k a month) or put it up for sale
Financial goal: $1,000 a month from my niche website
I’d also like to be able to experiment with at least two new things this year. Podcasting keeps coming up as something to try, speaking is something I mentioned being of interest to me, and I’m also really intrigued by crowdsourcing models to see if it could be something that I could make work for me. But, as I said in my introduction, who knows what will come up over the next year, so I’m going to keep this flexible with the goal of trying at last one new thing, whatever it may be.
Goal #14: Try something new
You may have noticed that my financial goals add up to $8,500 a month. That’s intentional because, as I’ve said before, I want to start earning six figures a year and that is only possible if I’m consistently bringing in at least $8,300 a month, so I’m very mindful of that and keep trying to hit that number each month. I succeed every now and again but it’s not a monthly thing yet and so I’ve sort of mapped out how I intend for this to happen.
So that’s what’s on my mind at the beginning of this new year and these are my goals. Are they helpful for you in planning yours?
Leave me your thoughts in the comments and tell me what you’re planning to achieve in 2015 and how you’re going to ensure that you make it happen.
Happy 2015, everyone! Let’s make this the best one yet.