Thursday, January 8, 2009

2009 Goals: A Year of Transition?

Happy New Year. I know, I'm over a week late and haven't posted much lately but it's been an interesting month or so. Most years I'm ready well before December 31 with my list of goals and aspirations for a new year but here I am a week in to the new year still defining what I want this year to be about. Why? I think 2009 is going to be a bit of a roller coaster ride so instead of making firm plans, I'm bracing myself to be able to think and react quickly on my feet.

Right now is the time most writers are working on their designated resolutions. For me, I'm not really there at the moment because I'm kind of riding out a storm. Business has dwindled a little. This is happening to a lot of writers I know. A lot of the content factories are laying writers off or reducing quotas. Some of the clients are expecting more work for the same money as they try to survive in their own business. A lot of writers who do this for a full-time income are feeling the pinch.

A lot of the chatter around the online water coolers I frequent state that people are writing more and earning less because they're finding some of the pickings to be slim and writing for less than their normal rates so that they can pay their bills. Some are transitioning to part-time freelancing and grabbing non-writing jobs while they feel they can still get jobs. A lot of people are scared.

As the available gigs dwindle, the competition increases and as that happens, rates tend to drop. When I started doing this almost 3 years ago people the veterans I considered to be my mentors were talking about the rates that they used to get before they got a lot of competition. My rates have steadily climbed in three years but now today, I'm bidding for jobs on places like Elance for lower rates than I typically charge.

Am I going backwards instead of forward? I don't think so. I'm hunting for work to keep things afloat and need diversify and develop more income streams. This might mean taking a dip in income so that I can survive. I think that's part of being an entrepreneur. I don't think of myself as taking a pay cut. I think I'm striving to save my business from extinction.

Places like Elance are a crap shoot but I need to make sure I don't put all my eggs in one basket in this day and age and I know writers earning good money through bidding sites so between Elance and some repeat client work I'm doing ok for the time being. I'm not ready to set monetary goals for 2009 yet other than to continue to trudge forward but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about the future.

A goal I'd have liked to have set this year was to achieve more balance in my life. I want to write more for me and for my own projects and start to take weekends off. I'd also like to take the first vacation I've had in several years while still raising my rates. I'm not sure if that's going to happen but that doesn't mean I'm failing. The thing about setting realistic goals as a self-employed person is that you don't have to consider yourself a failure if you don't reach all your goals. Not all goals need to have a dollar figure attached. If you can identify early that you need to be flexible in what your goals and plans are, you can have a better chance of riding out a storm without sinking into the depths of despair because you're earning less.

This post got a bit long so stay tuned for part two where I'll get into detail about how I'm planning on riding out the storm.
Cheers to your writing success in 2009!


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