Editor’s Note: The following content is provided to Writer’s Digest by a writing community partner. This content is sponsored by American Writers & Artists Inc. www.awaionline.com.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions?
I used to make them every year. But, like most people, I made them unrealistic and immeasurable, and often tried to achieve too much, too fast. Then, a few months into the New Year, I’d realize I’d already missed at least one of my resolutions, and shortly thereafter, would simply forget the rest.
But, about 11 years ago, when I first started working with AWAI, I learned a lesson from legendary copywriter and published author Mark Ford (also known as Michael Masterson) that changed everything. And I’m no longer an “oh well, maybe next year” kind of gal.
Instead of making New Year’s resolutions … I now set goals.
Rather than making empty general resolutions like I’m going to exercise more, drink less, and make more money … I’ve learned to develop an actual plan that’s designed to ensure I succeed.
And you can, too.
Instead of banking your success as a writer on a New Year’s resolution, I’d like you to set a career-building goal to get you to that next level — whatever that “next level” is for you …
If you’re just starting out trying to make a living as a writer, maybe your goal will be to land your first paying assignment …
If you’ve successfully launched your writing business, maybe your goal will be to land five new clients …
Or, maybe it will be to clear a particular revenue goal, so you can quit your full-time job and spend all your time writing. Whatever it is, the first step is the same …
Step One: Set a clear goal for the year.
The key with Step One is to ensure your goal meets the following four criteria:
- It must be specific …
Instead of setting a goal to make “a lot of money” from your writing in 2015, set a goal to land five clients worth at least $10K each.
- It must be actionable …
Winning $50K in Vegas is not an actionable goal. But winning enough projects to bill $50K in writing fees is.
- It must be time-oriented …
While landing five clients worth $10K each is a good goal … landing five clients worth $10K each by October 31st is a better one.
- It must be realistic …
Landing five clients worth $10K each by October 31st may be an aggressive goal, but it’s possible. Landing those same five clients by January 31st is not.
Once you have a goal that meets all four criteria, write it down.
According to many successful people, that one simple action can spell the difference between achieving your goal, and failing completely.
Step Two: Break that goal down into small objectives that each take you one step closer to your goal.
Write the objectives in the order they need to be completed, and assign a deadline to each one.
Let’s say your goal is to become a working copywriter and land five paying clients by October 31st. Your first couple of objectives may look like this:
Objective 1: Finish AWAI’s The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting by February 28th.
Objective 2: By March 15th, turn the program assignments into four samples showcasing what I learned, so potential clients can see how much value my writing will deliver.
Objective 3: Put up my copywriting website, research a list of companies I want to write for, and reach out to 50 prospective clients by April 1st.
So on and so forth.
Step Three: Break each of these objectives down into even smaller, measurable tasks.
The key to this step is to make sure you specify exactly what needs to be done, and once again assign a time frame.
Using the same example, let’s say you plan to be a copywriter who specializes in writing for the alternative health market, and you’ve completed the first section of AWAI’s Accelerated Program.
You may break down the first objectives like this:
January 10-23, read Section Two of The Accelerated Program and complete the exercises. Start attending AWAI’s Live Copywriting Companion Series to ensure I’m mastering all the key principles taught in The Accelerated Program, get feedback on my writing, and get my questions answered directly by experts who know the copywriting industry inside and out.
January 24–31, read Section Three of The Accelerated Program, complete the exercises, and continue attending the live training sessions with Katie and Rebecca.
February 1-19, read Section Four of The Accelerated Program, complete the exercises, and continue attending the live training sessions with Katie and Rebecca.
February 20-28, submit my assignments for feedback, start researching potential clients as instructed in the program, and collect all relevant contact data.
March 1-15, take the feedback I received on my writing assignments, and turn the pieces into samples I can use to pitch my services.
March 16-31, begin writing copy for my website following AWAI’s instruction, put up my website, and do a quick refresher to ensure I feel confident when contacting clients.
April 1-7, launch my new copywriting business and apply for at least 5 jobs on AWAI’s job board, as well as reach out to 50 potential clients I researched, following the instructions laid out in The Accelerated Program.
See how that works?
My only other advice is to create a tracking system you can use to easily keep track of these tasks. I personally like to use an 8½ x 11 calendar that when opened, lays flat on my desk and shows me a month at a time.
Other writers I know like to use spreadsheets and online apps to track their progress.
Whatever you choose, just make sure you can access it easily. Then check your tasks daily, and your objectives monthly to make sure you are staying on track. If you need to adjust any deadlines, go ahead. But don’t let yourself make excuses for not sticking to your plan.
So, what goal will you achieve in 2015?
Take 30 minutes right now and write it down, along with the objectives it will take to achieve it. Remember to be specific and realistic. And then get ready to achieve it!
And if you want to share it with me, or need advice on how to achieve your goals this year, feel free to connect with me on Facebook, or reach out to me any time through my website at rebeccamatter.com.
To your success,