I’m a die-hard fanatic of New Year’s Resolutions. As I mentioned earlier, there’s just something about a new year, a fresh start, a blank page, that gets me excited to start thinking big.
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I started my freelance writing business in October of 2015 and became a Forbes contributor in December of that year. (You can find out more about how I made that leap so quickly here.)
This time last year, I was fired up about my writing business. I had three regular clients in addition to Forbes, and I’d grossed $425 from my writing in December. My goals for 2016 included making $4,000 per month from my writing and cutting down to half time at the CPA firm.
I’m happy to report that I blew those goals out of the water.
2016 Goal #1 – Make $4,000 per month from my writing
My writing income grew steadily in 2016. I kept my head above water during tax season, bringing on a couple new writing clients even as I was working 60+ hours per week. I had my first $4,000+ month in May of 2016, and I started bringing in at least $4,000 per month every month starting in July. December of 2016 was my best month yet. I collected more than $10,000 from my writing alone.
2016 Goal #2 – Cut my hours to 1/2 time
In August, I quit my job at the CPA firm. I loved my job, I worked with some amazing people and had clients that I really enjoyed, but the hours and stress of tax season just weren’t working for me anymore.
In early April, I was so stressed that I broke out in hives on my face and my hair started falling out. I don’t know about you, but that was a wake-up call to me. This kind of stress was not good for my health (physically or emotionally) or my family. At the end of April, I talked to my boss about cutting back to 3/4 time. She was fine with that schedule outside of tax season but needed me to commit to at least 60 hours a week from February through April 15th.
My new schedule was much more tenable – mornings weren’t so rushed, and I had more time and energy to come home from work and unwind before cooking dinner. But to be honest, my heart was not in it anymore. I was much more excited about writing than I was about mentoring newer staff and I was already dreading the loss of work/life balance that would come next busy season.
In July, I came across a job post for a technical and content writing position with a consulting company focused on CPA firms. It seemed like an ideal fit. I applied, interviewed, and was offered a full-time position, working remotely from a home office.
BUT. . .
Accepting that job meant my son would remain in daycare full-time, and I would not have the time to continue to pursue and expand my freelance writing business. I was so tempted to just accept the position to get out of public accounting, but I knew this was a great company that cared about their people. I didn’t want to accept an offer from them, just to quit a few months or years down the road because I wanted to be my own boss. With a major lump in my stomach, I called them to say I was turning the job down, but if they ever needed a freelancer, please keep me in mind.
The next day I received a call telling me they’d thought it over and whether I worked as an employee or a freelancer, I was the right person for the job. They wanted to bring me on as a regular freelancer, working up to 20 hours a week.
That opportunity was enough regular income for me to leave my job. I put in my notice in July and began full-time freelancing from home in August. I could not be happier with my decision. My business has grown steadily, I am excited to get up and get to work, and I almost always take Fridays off to spend time with my 4-year-old son.
So, what’s next?
#1 – Make $75,000 from my writing
I made $10K from writing in December of 2016 so you may be wondering why I’m not setting a goal to make $120,000 in 2017. Well, December was not a typical month. I wrote an e-book for a client that brought in more than $3,400. And while I would love to do that every month, that’s probably not going to happen.
To bring in $75K in 2017, I will need to make $6,250 per month. That is a much more attainable goal for me right now, especially because I still value the work/life balance I’ve gained in the last few months. But hey, if I make six figures this year, I certainly won’t complain!
#2 – Max out HSA and IRA contributions
At my old job, I had access to a 401(k) with profit-sharing and my employer contributed $600 per year to a Health Saving Account. Now that I am self-employed, I am on my own for health insurance and retirement planning.
To reach this goal, I need to contribute $283 per month to my HSA and $458 per month to my IRA. I am putting the HSA contributions on auto-pilot. I plan on funding the IRA with contributions here and there throughout the year when I have a good month.
In both cases, if I come up a little short at the end of the year, I have until April 15, 2018, to make contributions that I can deduct on my 2017 tax return.
#3 – Post regularly on this blog
I neglected writing for my own site for most of the last half of 2016. In 2017, I plan on getting into a more consistent posting schedule.
So those are my business goals for 2017. I am really excited to grow my writing business and set myself up for personal and professional success in the coming year.
How about you? Are you a goal setter? What are your goals for 2017?