December Review & Income report - Wrapping up the year

December Review & Income report - Wrapping up the year

I went into December keen to work but it ended up slowing right down, which was frustrating but also fortuitous, given the amount of STUFF that accompanies working parents this time of year!

So, my December was spent finishing a few existing projects and trying to line up work for the new year.

I was also chasing several unpaid invoices from November, thanks to a combination of long client payment terms and simple tardiness.

Knowing that most of them would come through is why I kept December’s target at $6,000.

What worked well for me in December

I’d already done most of the work

It’s sweet when that happens, isn’t it? I had 2 web design projects to finish up, and a new design on the go. All 3 clients are lovely, responsive women who get back to me quickly and pay on time. It’s great to work with people like that.

I knew what I needed to do and I knew I’d be paid on time. Which takes a lot of the stress away and means I can just enjoy the process.

I had a meeting with a potential big client

A friend of mine who works for a government consultancy firm approached me about potential business communications work. They’re looking at outsourcing their comms and taking a different approach to strategy, branding and ongoing content.

It’s a big project with lots of different aspects and my interest was piqued because I enjoy being involved in the strategy process too. It means not only getting to know a company from the inside out but also being able to then deliver the most targeted content. Which is hugely valuable for the client too.

I sat down for a meeting with one of the partners before Xmas and I’m due to send through my proposal and rate card in early January. I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes.

I started thinking about my 2019 goals  

Goals aren’t for everyone but I really like them. I like having an aspiration to work towards and keep me focused.

I’ve said before that I haven’t made a lot of money freelancing until now because I’m been living overseas, parenting the kids and other things. But since returning from Laos and throwing myself wholeheartedly into freelancing in the last few months, things have really changed.

And so my overarching goal for 2019 is simply to make more money. To hit a particular financial goal and grow consistently from there.

One of the ways I’m going to do that is to put up my prices and my hourly rate. I feel confident that it’s about time.

I was reminded how important systems are

I worked with a bunch of freelancers this month and last and I was amazed to find that none of them had any client onboarding systems in place. I’ll tell you more about this later.

Then while I was struggling over my e-course ideas, one of my freelancing friends, Lindy Alexander (who writes the awesome blog, The Freelancer’s Year), suggested I develop something on systems.

It’s a great idea and one I feel very comfortable with. If you read this blog regularly, you know I love developing systems. So, I’ve put my thinking cap on and have started working on the course content.

Do you struggle with systems - when to follow up with clients, what to ask in a brief, how to keep communications flowing, or how to get testimonials? If this sounds uncomfortably familiar, we should chat! Contact me [contact link].

What didn’t work so well in December

The old ‘where’s my money?’ chestnut still haunted me through December. Here’s how that went down.

Chasing unpaid invoices

Chasing up tardy client invoices is never a fun part of any freelancer’s life. It’s a shame that it’s one we can’t seem to shake.

Most of my clients are fabulous about paying within a few days of invoicing. Yay. But as you know, in November I got stung by agency and government payment terms.

I waited them out which led into December. Both clients had 3 unpaid invoices each so it was a good chunk of my monthly income. Then the deadline came and inexplicably, only half of the invoices were paid; the other half seemingly lost in an accounting nether world.

The week before Xmas had me writing polite (though slightly frantic) emails which luckily were then chased up by the client and paid promptly.

But it reminded me of an important part of the invoicing system. And that is to invoice for the final payment on my own terms. I’ve always waited for final client approval which has slowed down my invoicing considerably. I should send through that last invoice with my final draft, and include this condition in my terms and conditions, or contract.

I will definitely make sure I do from now on.

Is this something you do?

I brought in the debt collectors

One of the downsides of November was working with a client who then refused to pay me.

This is fairly new terrain for me and it threw out my month in more ways than one. First, we had an unpleasant phone conversation in which the client ranted and raved and I stayed my ground and tried to politely explain the situation. I thought we had some closure there but then they never paid and didn’t replied to my follow ups.

I found it all very stressful and it really pissed me off too. It wasn’t the money so much as the principle of the thing. They had signed a contract, I’d delivered the goods and now they were disputing the cost. Company vs freelancer. Who’s going to lose out more by not following through? Me, obviously.

As we were getting into December, it got a bit much for me so I turned to the debt collectors, CollectMORE. They’d been recommended by several other freelancers.

It was a big relief to hand the responsibility over to someone else and I didn’t even care about the fees.

However, the story doesn’t finish there. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, this client is still refusing to pay their invoice or even discuss it. I don’t quite understand this mentality - it’s unprofessional and just plain mean. Another lesson for me to assess a client more carefully in future.

Here are the hard facts for December:

Pitching

Pitched (in the TCCS Facebook group) for 3 new business copywriting projects
Pitched to 1 new client (who contacted me through my site)
Pitched to 1 Canberra consultancy (contacted via a friend)

Web design

Delivered 2 new websites
Started on 1 new website that will finish up in January

Copywriting

Delivered 8 business copy jobs (this includes website copy, articles, case studies, brochures, etc).

Income report for December 2018

My income target was $6,000.

I invoiced for $2,079 plus waited on over $4k of unpaid November invoices.

I earned $6,461.

I tallied up my yearly income and I earned $26,400 in 2018.  

It might not sound like much but I’m pretty pleased. That’s because I earned more than 3/4 of this income in the last 4 months!

It shows me that I’m definitely on the right track for my business.

Looking ahead to January

I don’t have a lot lined up for January as yet. My past experience has been that the work comes out swinging in early January so I’m keeping my schedule fairly clear in preparation (or hope!) of that.

I’m sending off my proposal to the Canberra consulting group and I’ll keep you posted about what happens there.

I also contacted all of my ongoing business copywriting clients to let them know I would be available through January. And I sent them Xmas presents - Canberra coffee or wine, yum! - to let them know how much I enjoyed working with them this year. I hope it will continue to put me at the forefront of their minds for copywriting work.

One Melbourne client replied and said the wine had arrived the afternoon before a board meeting, so they popped it in the fridge and all had a glass after the meeting. It went down a treat!

Now, how was your December and yearly wrap up? Did you hit your goals?

About the author: Lilani Goonesena is a freelance copywriter and web designer for businesses and organisations. Based in Canberra, she delivers smart, savvy SEO content and professional Squarespace web design. She also writes an awesome newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff".