As a freelancer, there are a few things you have to do in order to end your year right every time. These things aren’t your responsibility if you’re hired by a company. Yet on your own, you have to check all of these important figures and facts by the end of the year. Not just to see where you’re at, but also to plan for the year ahead. Making sure you’re all set for next year is key!
Why? Because it will keep you out of trouble such as lack of clients, bad rates, short money months, old and outdated equipment, and general reflection on your goals. Besides taking a break from it all, recaps are very important during the last weeks of the year. And so are thank-you letters, goal setting, and many more. Here’s my plan for ending 2021 the right way.
In this guide:
Take a break
It’s obvious 2021, and especially 2020 were uncommon years. Hard, challenging, almost impossible at times. You’re exhausted, mentally more than physically, and are in dire need of a break. The most important thing you have to do when you’re tired and exhausted is to actually take a break. But not just any break. A complete, 100% break from all that is work-related.
Turn off your laptop after you let everybody know you’re on a holiday, and won’t be responding to emails. Put your phone on aeroplane mode and leave it somewhere you can’t easily grab it. Find a place in the house where you feel the cosiest. And then, enjoy your break. Take a break from it all. Just sit there, maybe read a fiction book, watch a movie, exercise, but nothing else.
Do a recap of your finances
Out of the many daily tasks, one of them is always the “money” task for me. I am not obsessed with how I’m doing, no. I’m just opening up my spreadsheet, looking into my spendings and cash-ins and noting them there. This helps me a lot with financial responsibility. What is that? That is what’s going to make the difference between you making it or not as a freelancer.
If you don’t keep a close eye on your finances, you will not be able to work on your own, ever. You will always be short on money, not because you don’t make it, but because you spend it mindlessly. The simple act of doing a weekly recap on your spendings will educate you enough. And surely, at the end of the year, do a yearly recap on everything you’ve earned and spent.
Get new equipment
Speaking of money, I just spent $1200 on a new laptop! How’s that for financial responsibility? By looking at the price you can guess which laptop I bought. I got this laptop not because of Black Friday, although I did get it at a better price, not because I wanted another apple in my home, but because as a freelancer, it’s important to upgrade on equipment when you need to.
My current laptop is literally missing two keys, the S and the E, and three other keys are ready to depart. This is a $1000 laptop that I got 3 years ago, yet it still works perfectly. But, the missing keys can’t be replaced. And trust me, I have searched EVERYWHERE for them individually, or as a whole keyboard. Nope, one $100 spare part makes the laptop unusable.
Sure, I can put an external keyboard on the laptop but that would significantly reduce the mobility aspect that laptops are famous for. I need to move around. I work from anywhere, including airport floors and wooden jacuzzis. Bottom line is, when the time comes, be smart and get yourself new equipment. It’s always worth it if the purchase enhances your workflow!
Set goals for 2022
I want you to stay realistic about 2022. That’s the third year of the pandemic right there, stop playing. It’s not ending, and we all know it! It might be a little better, but it is not over. So when you get ready to set your goals for 2022, be realistic about them. Stop dreaming about reaching the skies. Settle for what I want, and that is, seeing the slightest increase in my overall income.
This has been my only goal for the fifth year in a row now, to make sure my business makes even 1% better than it did last year. 2021 started really slow. But over the past couple of months, it picked up some speed. And now, luckily for me, it will be slightly better than 2020. Which was, financially, the best year of my freelancing career. This was TOTALLY unexpected.
Making up your mind about your future goals is never easy. You always tend to go overboard. I want a Lamborghini next year, I do. But I know that’s not how it works. Hard work and persistence, that’s how it works! My goal for next year is to increase my revenue by at least 10% over 2021. That’s that, besides creating a better work-life balance, obviously. Fingers crossed…
Send “thank you” letters to your clients
When you help people out with a task, is it true that you value that sincere ”thank you” that they give you at the end, for appreciating your work? The same goes with your clients. They also appreciate not just good work, but also good service. Every year, I sit down and write my clients, one by one, a personalized note before the holidays. It’s short, fun, informative, and effective. Don’t go into the emotions too much, but keep it simple and sincere. All of these people are allowing you to pursue this career as a self-made boss, so the least you can do is be grateful for them. And tell them that yourself.
Do the same with your coworkers
The same goes for my collaborators and coworkers. As a freelancer, I don’t get many of them, so the ones that do work with me, sure are to be appreciated. And they need to know it! People work with incentives, and the best incentive is not always money. Sometimes it is a good word, a sincere appreciation, and a well-deserved “thank you!” sent to them after all their hard work.
Reflect on what worked, and what didn’t
Finally, take a few hours over one of the last working days of the year and make a list of what worked and what didn’t over the past 12 months. Have you managed to make it well out of the year? What was the main issue with your business over the period? What were your biggest mistakes? What were your best moves, successes, and overcomings? Note them down.
Why is this so important, to reflect on the things that worked and didn’t? Because it gives you the most powerful tool a freelancer can get. Not money, not fame, not clients but information. And in this day and age, information is power. When you know, you can take action about the things that you know. When you don’t, you’re like a deer in headlights. Find out, and act on it!
Hi! Just a quick thing before you leave:
First, nice of you to read thus far, it means that you’ve enjoyed my writing!
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