I developed the template below as a tool to use when I set freelance journalism business goals for each year. This template can be used at any time of the year. A friend suggested that I share it with a broader audience.
The purpose of this template is to provide you with clarity on:
- Your highest-priority skills and beats
- Your financial goals for the coming year
- Your plan that uses your highest-priority skills and beats to achieve your financial goals
If you are doing non-journalistic writing, you can substitute “topics of expertise” for “beats.”
- Diagram all of the professional skills you might want to use and all of the beats that interest you.
- Rank them all from 1 to 4:
1 = Enthusiastically interested
2 = Moderately interested
3 = Not very interested (but willing to try)
4 = Not interested at all
- Separate and list these items by number. For each number, have a separate category for skills and another one for beats.
- Put asterisks next to the skills and beats that are in categories 1 through 3 and also are in high demand in the market.
- Underline the skills and beats that you want to make your top priorities. (These may not always match the items you marked in the previous step.)
Section 2: Your Schedule and Income
- Plan a grid for your schedule for the coming year using blocks (for example, Sept.-Dec.). Each block should correspond to a time period when you have a specific project configuration, a vacation, or a conference.
- Estimate how many hours per week you will spend doing each project. Create a separate estimate for each time block.
- Estimate your target income per month for each time block based on the sum of your monthly expenses, taxes, and desired savings.
- Calculate your monthly income for each time block and see if it meets your target. Where do you need to add projects to your calendar?
- Calculate how many hours you need to work per week during each time block to earn your target income. Use an estimated hourly rate. (Note: This template does not account for the fact that some invoices may be paid late. You may want to adjust your estimates if you expect a delay.)
Section 3: Your Project Plan
Looking at the following items, set your goals for each time block.
- Your number of hours that you need to work per week
- Your preferred skills and beats
- Your skills and beats that are popular in the market
- Your existing opportunities
If you are unsure about what the outcome of your work will be, you may want to make one time block chart that is a best-case scenario and another one that is a worst-case scenario.
I’m very interested in receiving feedback on this template via Twitter.