I know what you’re thinking.
Another plan? Enough of those already!
A business plan, a marketing plan, and now an action plan.
Not only do they take a ton of time but they’re often based on a bunch of assumptions you pulled out of thin air.
Any plan you make is doomed to fail from the start.
You should know, because that plan you made in your first year of freelancing? It’s busy collecting dust.
Most business plans are abstract, inflexible, and quite honestly – pretentious.
They might be a good idea for bigger businesses that know what they’re doing. But for the average freelancer like you, they just don’t work. Heck, most of us start freelancing to “see where this goes” before getting serious about it.
The good news is, you aren’t an anomaly – you’re the norm. So if you’ve been blaming a document for your lack of success, I’m here to tell you that’s not why you haven’t succeeded yet.
The bad news is, you’re what’s keeping yourself from succeeding.
You might not need a business plan but if you hope to make a success of your freelance writing business, you do need a plan. An action plan, to be exact.
An action plan is the road-map to reaching all your goals.
It’s what’s going to take you from point A to B and beyond… all the way to the finish line.
And the best part? It’s not hard to create. In fact, creating an action plan is as easy as making a list.
Step 1: Make a list of your freelance business goals.
Now don’t go off on a tangent and write lofty goals like “Earn $100k”. That’s just going to depress and overwhelm you. Instead, think of goals closer to home. Goals you know you can achieve if someone just told you what to do. Or at the very least, pointed you in the right direction.
Maybe you want more clients than you have right now.
Maybe you want to leave your low-paying clients behind.
Or maybe, you want manage a team of writers instead of writing yourself.
Get as specific about your goals as you can. This time next year, what needs to have happened for you to feel like your business has moved forward?
Once you’ve figured out your goals, list them down — but limit them to 5. Any more and you’re just setting yourself up for failure.
Here’s what my list of goals for 2014 consisted of:
- Find better paying clients than I have right now.
- Get published on Copyblogger.
- Start a new blog – the right way.
- Create, maintain, and grow an email list.
- Save enough to spend summer in the US.
Guess how many of those I accomplished?
All of them.
Do you want to know how I did that? By dividing each goal into actionable steps.
Which brings us to our next and final step. (Yes, this is just a two-step process.)
Step 2: Divide each goal into actionable steps
Take each goal and ask yourself “How am I going to achieve this?”
What actions can you take to get things moving? When I wrote “Find better paying clients” in my action plan, I didn’t know how I was going to do that.
So I asked myself: How am I going to find better paying clients?
The answer that came was simple: Marketing. I was going to market my freelance writing business.
How was I going to do that?
By guest posting on blogs my prospective clients were reading. (There were of course several marketing tactics that I listed but I picked one to focus all my energies on.)
How was I going to pitch those blogs?
By getting to know their editors and pitching them guest post ideas they couldn’t refuse.
See how this works? You just need to keep asking yourself “How?” and an action plan will take shape.
Bottom line: It’s not about planning. It’s about taking action.
Things might not always happen the way you plan them, but when you start taking action, they do happen.
My action plan had me pitching Copyblogger a guest post idea through the Guest Blogging course run by Jon Morrow. But instead, I received an invitation to pitch them ideas in an Authority Q&A call.
Don’t let yourself get distracted by business plans, goals or even New Year resolutions. They just show you the end result – not the steps you need to take in order to get that result.
Creating an action plan for your freelance writing business
Use the upcoming holiday season to reflect on your freelance writing business. Figure out where you want your freelance writing business to go and then create an action plan that’s going to help you do just that.
Remember, it’s as easy as making a list.
And if you get stuck, I’m just a comment or an email away.