September Review - Changing gears

September Review - Changing gears

As you probably know from reading this blog, I moved back to Australia from Laos in July. It was a big upheaval and one I wasn’t looking forward to. Except in one area - work.

Working with Australian clients when you don’t live in Australia is tough. Skype and online software has made a huge difference in freelance work on the go but let’s face it, some stuff just needs to happen in country.

Networking for example, coffee meetings, catching a Facebook Live when it’s actually live, or even just making as quick phone call - all stuff that’s a thousand times easier when you’re in the same time zone as your clients.

So, from a business perspective, I was really happy to come home and shift gears into getting my business up and running.

And making money - woohoo!

It’s not a secret (just something I feel a bit crappy about) but I didn’t make much money from my business when I was in Laos. That’s mostly because I was doing other things like:

  • Volunteering. I did a whole load of that

  • Working pro bono

  • Undercharging for professional services

  • Blogging, travelling and exploring Laos

  • Raising two small kids

All good things. But tell that to my waning superannuation, non-existent credit rating, empty bank account and general feeling that I wasn’t, well, reaching my working potential.

You know what I mean?

I’m sure you do. It’s a common feeling among most women at some stage of their lives.

Anyway, so back to the present day and I was raring to go. I’d given myself August off for the most part, to get the kids settled into school, find a house, all that fun stuff. I did actually have a few projects strategically placed through July and August to ease myself into things. But by September, it was ON.

And you know what, it worked. Call it new energy, new drive, or just a dogged pursuit of opportunity but September was a great starting point for me.

So much so that I decided to write this post. I haven’t done an income report in ages. But now that my business has moved into a new stage, I thought I’d give it a go.

Here’s how my September panned out…

I went to my first Canberra business networking event.

I didn’t know a soul and to be honest, it wasn’t a heap of fun but I went, circulated, passed out a few cards, and followed up the next day. Next time, I’ll know what to expect.

I hunted down all the Canberra-based creative agencies and contacted them on LinkedIn.

Basically, that meant lots of cheery “I just wanted to connect” messages with a not-so-subtle subtext of “give me some work!”. Result: 2 contacts asked for my cv; 1 asked for a coffee meeting. I’m taking it as a good initial outcome.

I met up with a local freelance writing friend and grilled her for tips

She gave me the lowdown on applying for government tenders (big business in Canberra), working with other consultants during that tendering process, and more contacts and LinkedIn introductions.

A former client got in touch and offered me a 6 month writing retainer

Now we’re talking! Repeat business clients typically pay well, are reliable and know what they want. Which is why copywriters love them. This was a great gig for me and though I had a nail-biting few days after sending my quote, it’s all worked out nicely.

A friend asked me to edit her articles for a publication

A friend from Laos who now lives back in Australia decided to shift her career from a environmental researcher into coffee. One way of developing her online profile and sharing the political, cultural and economic issues around the coffee production industry was to write articles for an industry rag. She’s more used to writing consultant reports so she hired me to shape and edit the stories into more peppy online content. I charged her a flat mates rate fee for each story.

I raised my prices for my web design packages

I’d thought about this for a while and decided that I was probably already charging below the market rate, considering all my extra add ons (like my custom video tutorial which is so awesome, if I say so myself). I’ve always put my web design prices on my site because I like being upfront and I think it saves a lot of time for both me and the client.

And I figured that I’d rather do fewer web projects for a higher price point. So I pulled out the options, re-wrote my packages and upped the price.

I picked up 3 new web design clients

Yay. It’s so great when your decisions are validated. I now had enough work for September and into early October.

Here are the hard facts for September:


I pitched (on LinkedIn) 19 local creative business owners and freelancers

Received 3 promising connections, and 16 uninterested connections

Web design

Quoted for 5 new website clients (this includes a lot of time writing emails back and forth)

Picked up 3 new website design clients, and had 2 rejections


Landed 2 ongoing copywriting clients

Submitted 12 copywriting jobs, 1 website review

Income report for September 2018

I set my income target fairly low at $2,000 as I didn’t know what the month would bring.

I love invoicing so I got my invoices out fairly promptly. Plus, both my September copywriting clients are the most punctual payers of all time. They’re awesome. And with my web design clients, I have the payment schedule written into the contract so there’s (usually) no delays.

I invoiced for and earned $2,252.

In all, it was a top month! And pumped me up for October which you’ll hear all about in a few weeks.

What are you working on this month?

About the author: Lilani Goonesena is a freelance business communications specialist, based in Canberra. She’s an SEO copywriter and editor, Squarespace web designer, SEO researcher and digital marketing strategist. She writes an awesome Tuesday newsletter helping freelancers to DIY their digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff".