"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March Freelance Writing Goals: Calling It In

Calling It 2 Days Early

So this month definitely wasn't what I was hoping for - and it seemed that a ridiculous amount of things went horribly wrong as if there was some universal conspiracy to make my life and freelance writing career stressful and frustrating. But these things happen, and all we can do is keep going. The one time for me when goals can become a huge albatross instead of an enabler is when I'm closing in on the end of the goal time and know the goals are no longer achievable, but because of an OCD habit to put up a large sheet of paper with a circle representing every article in my goal I begin to get frustrated when not every one is crossed out. So I'm calling it early because I think considering the surrounding circumstances, it was a very good month and besides, I prefer doing helpful articles for my readers, like the recent Demand Studios review.

So, this month which I was hoping would be a month of quiet before the storm, turned out to have plenty of rough moments on its own. For starters, our "amazing" cable and Internet provider's Internet went down four times this month, for blocks of no less than 8 hours. This isn't including frequent 2 am to 5 am outages, which are my best work hours during the day. That didn't help, and would be a killer to my freelance writing career even in the quietest of months.

Then there were personal issues that had to be resolved, an editing job that looked easy but became a disaster, and the delay of a major contract that would have allowed me to hit the $5,000 goal I set for myself. Not all was bad, as some of the delays were due to me not working for an entire day on two separate occasions because of opportunities that came up that were both business and/or creative related and I'm a firm believer in not letting potential once in a life time opportunities slip by. Whether they work out or not, who knows? But freelance writers can't be afraid to take chances, and occasionally a Hail Mary pass wins the football game.

Anyhow, back to the writing goals. I'll talk a little bit more about this at the end, but as for 30 days in March there were multiple Internet problems, including major outages for 4 days and minor ones for another 10 (believe me, I'd switch companies if we could, but where we live we have one choice and that's it, so I'll deal with it). In addition to all that, I can say there were 7 days where I did virtually nothing. I'm not trying to use that as a justification for the mythical "what I could have done," but take it as a guide that if I can do this much in 23 days with a lot of interference and Internet problems, think what can be done with your writing goals and career when you simply focus and decide to obsess for one month to improve your lot.

So let's go over the goals and see how I did. Original goals will be in bold.

Freelance Writing Goals

Over $5,000 in freelance writing income. This does NOT include passive income or increases in passive income sources like AdSense or eHow. I fell $1,500 short of this goal, which I won't say was easily achievable if everything went right, but in a calm month I would be able to do it without any problem, something I wasn't sure of when I started this month. Add in the passive income, editing work, and what I'm likely to do in the next two days, and I got within $600.

Double my AdSense income in one month. I did not honestly expect this one to be doable, and I understand that the majority of HubPages hubs and InfoBarrel articles aren't going to start getting decent traffic and producing until later down the line as they climb the SERPs. In fact, it's safe to say that all the new articles and hubs I made will make several times what they make now in just a few months...which was part of the point of this exercise, to get the work done. Obviously since I'm calling it quit before the end of the month, I'm going to guess by making the last two days of the month equal to my worst day in March. Based on that, my AdSense did go up 37% in one month and just based on the work I've done, it wouldn't surprise me if this month's number doubled or more by the end of June. So I'm very happy with those results.

Double my eHow income in one month. Done. Even with 2 days to go I can say I already hit this one, and I'm obviously extremely happy with those results.

Get the AdSense income to over $100/month for me and my brother's business. Didn't even come close, but we did double the AdSense income, even though this part of the business pretty much fell completely by the wayside after the first week of March.

Creative Writing Goals

Finish 3 more zombie short stories. Technically I haven't finished one, but I'm ridiculously close to having all 3 finished (in fact it might be done by the end of the month). And even though I agree with Ernest Hemingway's quote: "The first draft of anything is shit." I'm really pleasantly surprised by the potential these stories are already showing.

Finish 2 more chapters of the novel "Broken" I'm helping to co-write. One chapter will be done by the end of the month. The other won't be.

Finish 4 chapters of the novel I'm writing for my sister. This one I wish I had found more time for and is the one I regret not getting further on the most. One chapter is done. A second will be done soon.

First 20 pages of my novella "Pawprints to Saskatoon." 5 pages are completed, and there is a much more complete outline. The last 3 pages are also written.

First 10 pages of "Men with Beards" screenplay I'm helping to write on spec. Still developing the ideas on this one, but on the actual writing this one is a goose egg.

Write, complete, revise, and send out 2 additional short stories. I am about three quarters of the way through 1 additional short story, but no hint of a 2nd.

Passive Income Writing Goals.

Write 100 InfoBarrel articles. Wrote 50. Built 50 backlinks to various published InfoBarrel articles through writing more articles.

Write 100 new HubPages. Will have 45 by the end of the month. Did some huge backlinking work on some hubs that were starting to rank really well for a couple really good money making keywords.

Write 15 new Squidoo lenses. Will have 5 finished by the end of the month, although 10 half filled outlines are waiting "in progress."

Write 30 new Xomba articles. All 30 will be written by the end of the month. If bookmarks counted I'd be about 100+ over on this one.

Other Writing Goals

Minimum 8 blog posts on this blog this month.
This blog post makes #6. I could sneak two more in, but that would just feel like cheating. Still, 6 in a month isn't bad for me, and definitely would have had 8 if the Internet was up for any amount of time.

Minimum 12 blog posts over at my "Fixing My Life" blog. Only managed 5, probably be 7 or 8 by the end of the month. But still going swimmingly despite this past month, so hey, having it happen is a whole heck of a lot more important to this freelance writer than blogging about hoping it does.

Rough scripts out for YouTube parodies (pet project). Yes and no. I have 5 scripts. Somehow they're all newer ideas that weren't at all the ones I was talking about. Well, we'll chalk that up to being a great problem to have.

100 articles for backlinks via the KWA directories. By the end of the month I'll have over 80 posted.

30 articles for UAW (which is really 90+ since you have to have 3 versions of each plus hand put in all those annoying boxes at the end). Well this one didn't go nearly as well as I hoped. I'll have 6 done by the end of the month. I'm not counting the 8 I had outsourced.

Revise my poetry portfolio. This didn't happen. I'll arbitrarily blame spring fever for this one.

10 personal hand written letters through the month of March. Five down and five being written over the next two days, so this will be a check.

And other stuff never mentioned in the goals: I've written over 100 articles this month for article marketing purposes, not to mention work gathering backlinks, some guest blog posts, setting up new niche sites, all the work I did for my brother's and I's business, and about 120 pages towards e-books I'm writing for the future. There's probably more here I'm forgetting. It's been a busy month, despite some burn out days, some days without the web, and some days where personal matters had to trump everything else.

So even though I didn't hit a lot of the goals, I feel pretty great. Based on the numbers here, I think had this month gone smoothly, I actually would have accomplished most of the goals I set out, which seems outright insanely awesome to me.

Besides, when I look at how much is done, how can I be upset? Most of this work, I'll see the full benefits in the weeks, months, and even years to follow. When summarized:
  • I've built over 500 backlinks to my sites (not even including UAW) and web properties
  • 50 new InfoBarrel articles
  • 45 new hubs
  • 5 new Squidoo lenses
  • 30 new Xomba articles (not even counting the 100+ bookmarks that tend to rank really well with Google for some reason)
  • 6 good long Master Dayton blog posts
  • eHow income doubled with AdSense up 70%
  • More creative writing in one month than I've done in nearly two years
And this was a BAD month where everything seemed to be going wrong. One of the greatest benefits of this experiment is that it's shattered a lot of glass ceilings. If this is what I can do in a bad month, then how much more could I do in a good month? For decades people believed that a 4 minute mile was impossible. Once that barrier was broken once, it opened a floodgate and that barrier has been broken hundreds, if not thousands, of times since.

I think the same thing applies to writing goals, whether creative or freelance. With a lot of my ideas of "realistic" shattered, it wouldn't surprise me to match these numbers next month and not be nearly as tired or stressed doing it. Once it's been done before, suddenly it's a lot easier to get there again.

And good thing, too, since taxes are going to eat up virtually all of my freelance income from March and early April. Ugh - well welcome to the freelance life :) Hope everyone is doing well, and pursuing their writing goals with gusto. Cheers!


  1. Wow! That is simply amazing that you got as much done as you did. I can't imagine doing that much in one year let alone one month. Unbelievable. Wow, again.

    I hope you take a few minutes off in April.

  2. I'd say, considering all that went wrong, you can chalk this up to a successful month, MD. Can you get internet access from your wireless phone provider? You could probably write off the expense. - P

  3. Hey guys!

    @ Kidgas, thanks for the kind words. Definitely going to have a few days off in April, then hit the grindstone again. On the plus side, looks like in late May/early June I'll be able to get together with 2 of my all time best buddies from Alaska for a week and a half in a beautiful national park I've never been to before. It'll be the first time all 3 of us have gotten back together since 2005, so that'll be awesome. A week surrounded by nature with some of my best buds without a laptop or Internet connection anywhere even remotely close by...sounds like the perfect vacation!

    @Prudence. I agree. It was just one of those months, and there's no arguing that I'm seeing the passive income jumping already, not to mention the basis that sets up for the future. Nope, the Internet situation here just is what it is. That said, the last week has been solid so we'll just hope it's been a bad month and move on from there. Now I know I have a major question to ask any time I look for a new apartment: how many competing Internet providers :)

    Thanks for the kind words, guys. Hope everything is going well, and I'll be keeping at the freelance writing and passive income building for sure!

  4. Did you get your email from ehow today about the change???

  5. Hi Prudence,

    Yes, that was a kick in the teeth, to say the least. I had some basic concerns with eHow, as to some extent there were plenty of hints about shifting towards Demand Studios writers, but the way "nothing is changing" until suddenly the forums are closed and one e-mail is sent: that was an outright scum bag move. I'm not arguing that it's their business and they can run it any way they want, but I strongly suspect this is only the beginning of them screwing over eHow writers, and that Demand Studios writers are going to end up suffering, as well, because of the decision. This is really disappointing, and I'm working on a blog post and some updates to give my full two cents about what's going on right now. Incredibly disappointing, to say the least.