Keep track of your holidays and sick days
Conversely, if you've taken a lot of sick days lately for stress or fatigue you're certainly not alone. Maintaining your normal workload may not always be possible if you're dealing with public health concerns, caring responsibilities, isolation or any number of other stressors. As well as being mindful of these factors, it's worth asking yourself whether your working practices give you a healthy work-life balance or contribute to your risk of burnout. Perhaps there are simple improvements you can make, such as enforcing your working hours and stopping yourself from answering work emails or phone calls outside those hours.
A good boss knows that employees don't have the ability or motivation to perform at their best when they're overworked, so ask yourself whether your working practices would seem exploitative if they were imposed on you by an employer.
Raise your rates regularly
For freelancers, increasing your rates involves more than simply allocating yourself more money. You will need to let each of your clients know about your higher rates, either as part of the negotiation for your next project with them or in a separate email.
If you worry that you'll struggle to justify higher rates to any of your clients (or even to yourself), arm yourself with as much supporting data as possible. I use The Editor's Affairs (TEA) system of Excel spreadsheets to record and analyze my working practices, and that gives me answers to the following questions any time I need them:
- What are your current rates, and how do they compare with industry standard rates?
- Are your current rates in line with the cost of living where you live?
- How long have you maintained your current rates?
- Has your editing/proofreading speed improved since you last raised your rates?
- Have you invested in macros, software or other tools that increased your efficiency since you last raised your rates?
- What continuing professional development have you completed since you last raised your rates?
A good boss would consider all these factors as part of an annual salary review, and they're just as relevant for freelancers when we set our rates.
Conduct annual performance reviews
Set and review your editorial goals
Set and review your business development goals
- What does your ideal project look like, in terms of text type, style, length and time frame, and how can you attract more projects like it?
- What is your ideal client like? Are they an indie author, a business, an NGO, a packager or a traditional publisher, and how can you make sure they know of your existence?
Reflect on the projects you completed and the clients you interacted with
- Were you working in your preferred genres, disciplines or industries? For the projects you worked on in other areas, are there enough incentives (such as supportive project managers, good rates or flexible deadlines) for you to accept similar work in the future?
- Did you and the client both have a clear understanding of the scope and process from the outset? If there were any misunderstandings, what lessons can you take away from them?