Every new year presents an opportunity for new plans and new goals. It’s a prime opportunity to jumpstart (or restart) your copywriting business.
Personal resolutions are notoriously apt to fail, but you don’t have that luxury when it comes to your business goals.
Here we go over tips for successful copywriting this year, including how to figure out what matters to you, structure your progress, and ensure you’re always making some forward movement.
1. Commit to Hitting ONE Big Quarterly Goal
Most companies view their years by fiscal quarters and for good reason: An entire year is just too long to plan for.
Set your personal company up for success by aiming for just one big goal each quarter. It’s too easy (and all too common) to lose focus, end up overwhelmed, and fall behind when you focus on more than one goal. And, hey, if you finish that quarter’s goal early then you can set a new one.
How To Do It: Conduct a SWOT Analysis
To set just one goal each quarter, you need to prioritize all the things you want to do for your business to focus on the top one thing. Put all the rest in your parking lot.
What goals would have the most impact on your business?
If you haven’t yet done one, now would be a great time to do a SWOT analysis for your business. A quarter goal could be growing your portfolio, making a certain number of industry contacts, optimizing your prospecting messages and methods, landing more contract work, or any one of dozens of other worthy goals.
The key is that the goal you choose needs to move your business ahead. It needs to have the result of getting you more work and more clients.
2. Commit to Hitting Your Financial Goals
Your end goal is to build your business and get more work. But that’s a vague goal. This is another opportunity to emulate successful businesses: Figure out what numbers you need to hit and then track them.
If you have a desired income amount (whether for full- or part-time copywriting), you need to know how many hours you must work this year and what rate you need to charge to hit that number.
How To Do It: Know Your Numbers
This is a relatively easy equation, but we’re going to break it down for simplicity’s sake.
Take your desired income, divide that by 50 (weeks in a year minus two vacation weeks), and then divide that by how many hours you want to work a week. That will give you the average hourly rate.
Or, if you have a rate you’re comfortable with, take your desired income, divide that by 50, and then divide that by your hourly rate to get how many hours you need to work a week to hit your desired yearly income at your current rate.
Play around a bit until you find the numbers that you’re comfortable with and then aim to hit those hours and those rates every week.
3. Commit To Working When You Work Best
Not everyone is at the top of their writing game between 9 and 5. We’ve grown so accustomed to the 9-to-5 lifestyle, but, especially when you’re a freelance copywriter, you can work when it works best for you.
For example, I do my most creative work in the early morning. I save admin tasks and meetings for the afternoon when I am not at my most creative. That way my clients get the best work and I’m not constantly pushing against a cement wall trying to write copy when I’m just not at the top of my game.
How To Do It: Evaluate Your Energy
We don’t have access to equal amounts of energy and creativity throughout the day. Take some time to figure out when YOU are most energetic and creative and schedule your most high-impact (or most creative) work then.
That may mean tracking your time for a couple of weeks (yes, weeks!) to figure out what works best for you. And then, reevaluate it at least once a year, if not once a quarter. The way we operate—and our energy levels—can and will change!
4. Commit To Believing in Your Success
No matter what goal you’ve set for your business, it is possible. It CAN be done. And if it is possible, then you can achieve it. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or that some tasks you need to complete will push you outside your comfort zone. And some things may take more work or longer hours than others. That is inevitable. But it is doable.
How To Do It: Make These Vocabulary Swaps
My challenge to you is to strike “I can’t” from your vocabulary. Get rid of “I’m not smart” or “I will never be like those copywriters” or “What if I’m not good enough/anything enough.”
Any time you feel a negative thought coming, swap it with “I know that some of this will be hard, and I’m in a challenging part now, but I can and will do it.” Make it a habit of saying “It can be done. And if it can be done, I can do it.”
Learn more about the subtle mindset shift that will double your income >>
5. Commit To Being Perfectly Imperfect
This goes along with the previous one. Committing to the fact that you can do it is a big deal, but that doesn’t mean that your inner critic is going to quiet down. In fact, it might even get louder.
While we can swap negative thoughts for positive ones (we all have a loud inner critic!), that doesn’t mean resistance is going to completely go away. Like a river, resistance will find another path to take. Equipped with that knowledge, you can better prepare when your inner critic continues to pop up.
But remember that no one is perfect. As much as you may see other copywriters or other professionals in general that have it all together, know that we’re all battling inner critics.
How To Do It: Take Action
Comparison doesn’t help us achieve our goals. Action does.
EXPECT to hear from your inner critic and know that it’s part of the process. And, every time you hear it, literally respond by saying, “I hear you, but I know it can be done. And if it can be done, I can do it.” Truly, the more you make this a habit, the faster your life will change.
6. Commit To Doing the Work
Sometimes our motivation to work toward what we want (more flexibility, time with family, income, etc.) is strong enough to overcome any doubts or energy lags. Sometimes it’s simply not.
As humans, we move toward things we want and away from things we don’t want. Sometimes the drive to move something that we want is strong enough to get us to take action (“I want a career I love! I want to make a great income! I want flexibility!”) and sometimes it’s not.
How To Do It: Explore the Consequences of NOT Doing the Work
When you feel those moments where you’re dragging your feet (and they will happen!), take time to think through what happens if you don’t do the work. For example, “I’m going to do some online shopping and then I’ll get back to this project.” Or “You know what? I’m going to go easy on myself today. I’m going to watch a little Netflix instead.”
Suddenly, three hours have passed and you haven’t made any progress.
So, when you’re tempted to skip the work, explore what the consequences of that action will be. What does skipping work mean?
It means spending more time where you don’t want to be, whether that’s in a career that drains you or doesn’t value you. It means money will be tighter for longer. And it means you’ll be exhausted and frustrated by your job for longer. By skipping the work, you’re CHOOSING all those negative consequences.
Instead, when you commit to doing the work, you’re choosing the positive outcomes: a job you love, hours you choose, income you can control.
7. Commit To Checking In on Your Goals
Writing down your goals is just the beginning. After all, so many people simply carry their goals in their head. Answering these questions is a great place to start:
- What is your goal for your business?
- How much do you want to earn this year?
- What do you want your working days to look like?
- What do you need to do each month to get there?
How To Do It: Add Time to Your Calendar
Add time to your calendar now. Make a note each month or each quarter (we recommend more frequent check-ins when you’re just starting out) to check on your goals and reevaluate them. Do you need to adjust goals? Write some new ones since you accomplished yours already?
It’s much easier to course correct if you identify challenges before they become an insurmountable problem.
8. Commit to Making Some Progress Every Day
This is one of those concepts that’s so simple in practice that people immediately dismiss it…and then notice weeks have gone by without making any movement toward their goals.
At the beginning of every day, figure out what your top task is for moving toward your goals and building your business. It’s very likely that you’ll have copywriting projects you need to do that day, but working on a project isn’t building your business. Figure out your top work task of the day (what copy you need to get written) and then your top business-building task of the day.
And here’s the key, you’ve got to do something that makes progress toward your goals every day. Some days you’ll complete a major task and some days you’ll just make some progress on a minor one. But the key is to put in time every day.
It’s very tempting—and take it from someone who knows—to skip something on your to-do list because you don’t have time that day to do all of it. But the problem is that skipping becomes a habit and, suddenly, you’re looking at your to-do list and realizing you haven’t made any progress on a very important task for weeks or even months.
How To Do It: Schedule Time for a Daily Planning Session
Spend 15 minutes or so each morning planning what you need to tackle that day. During this mini planning session, ask yourself, “What is one thing I can do to move business forward?” Make that your number one priority.
During your daily planning session each day, ask yourself “What is the ONE thing I can do today to move my business/career forward?” and then make that your day’s number one priority.
So, do something by chipping away at some task that makes progress toward your goals every day. (For a little more insight about how to do that, check out this post about Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule.) Here are three possible frameworks you can use to plan your year and make sure it’s as successful as it can be.
Execute Tasks by Day of the Week
Copywriters must do a lot of things regularly—crucial tasks that are never really “done.” One way to deal with this is to devote a day each week to performing one of those tasks. Here’s a sample schedule:
Monday: Prospect for clients
Tuesday: Academy course work
Wednesday: Check in with previous clients
Thursday: Find new potential clients to contact
Friday: Work on portfolio
This way, you can ensure that important things get done every week, and you always know what your big task is. As the year goes on and you make more progress in some areas, you can always switch out your goal of the day. Finished your portfolio? Great! Make Fridays your “reach out to recruiters” day.
Break That One Task Into Five Tiny Tasks Each Day
Sometimes it can be difficult to get traction, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. In this case, my best advice is to take any task you have and break it down into absurdly tiny tasks. So tiny, in fact, that none of them should take you more than two minutes.
For example, if your goal is to get your online portfolio live, a few of your tiny tasks might be: Purchase a domain name. List the sites that you could use to build yours (Wix, Virb, Squarespace, etc.). Go to Wix and look at templates. Go to Virb and look at templates. Go to Squarespace and look at templates. Pick a site. Narrow down to five templates you like. Narrow that down to three. Narrow that down to one. And so on.
The key is that these tiny goals should be so truly, absurdly tiny that you don’t feel any resistance, fear, or dread about doing them. They should feel as simple as executing a Google search (which might be one of your steps) or flipping on a light switch.
Take all the big tasks you have, break them down into absurdly tiny tasks, and then schedule five absurdly tiny tasks per day. (I wouldn’t recommend doing this for more than one month out–it’ll drive you crazy to try and schedule longer than that.)
Chances are that these tiny tasks will eventually help you create some momentum and you’ll end up doing more than just your daily five. If you do, you can always try one of the other ways to schedule tasks. If you don’t, no problem: You’re still making progress.
By the way, this way of scheduling yourself can also work well if you hit an impasse in the middle of the year, too. Don’t let feeling overwhelmed stop you from working. Break your tasks down until they’re too easy to fear and get to it!
Have One Big Goal Each Month
Some people don’t like the rigidity of a fixed goal per day; they’re more “big-picture” kind of people. If that sounds like you, you may prefer to come up with one big goal to complete each month.
You can plan your big goal each month for every month at the beginning of the year or plan month by month as the year goes on.
A few examples of big goals might be to “launch your online portfolio,” “make 20 industry contacts,” or “land work with an ad agency.”
To help keep you on track, I’d recommend that you take this big goal and break it down into four smaller goals for each week.
For example, if your goal is to launch your portfolio, your goal for week one might be to write the pages of the site. Your week two goal could be to choose a program to build your site and begin the layout. Your week three goal could be to populate your site with samples and describe them, and your week four goal could be to give it the finishing touches and polish it to perfection.
If you employ these actions and strategies to help you accomplish your goals this year, we’re sure you’ll find even more success as a copywriter!
Any time of year is a good time to check in on your business and strengthen its foundation. From scheduling regular check-ins with yourself on your goals to exploring what those goals are in the first place, in this podcast episode Nicki and Kate dig into how you can set your business up for success.
Will you commit to doing any of these things this year? If so, which ones? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on March 23, 2023
Natalie Rasmussen says
I was working in my 2022 planner this morning and doing exactly what was suggested here. Perfect timing!
My goals include the following:
*complete 1 small task daily to move forward
*do my creative work at most optimal time for me
*positive mindset- I can and will achieve my goals
*check in regularly on my goals & adjust as needed
*remember to give myself grace daily because I am perfectly imperfect
Thank you for always providing such invaluable advice!
Kate Sitarz says
Love these goals, Natalie! Thanks for sharing!
All of the above! Thank you, Kate, for another expertly crafted, inspiring piece. As is the case with *anything*, you’ll get out of it what you put into it.
Kate Sitarz says
Great point–the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it! Thanks for commenting, Dorian!
Carol Bryant says
I hit the reset button on my life, which includes career goals, after a major family death. Life is so short and things can happen unexpectedly. I am definitely shaken up by the loss. That said, I have to move my needle forward and not stay stuck in heavy grief.
I am laying out the answers to the four questions you posed at the end, Kate. I already have a jumpstart and finished a lot of the CCA and have my website 50 percent done. So I am now going to create my end goal and then backfill with what has to happen on a feasible, doable timeline to get there the earlier part of this year.
Thanks for always having our backs!
Kate Sitarz says
I am so sorry to hear about your loss, Carol, but appreciate you sharing this! Keep us posted on your progress–the FRW and CCA communities will certainly be cheering you on!
I just read what I wanted to hear the most. Avoid negative energy, have a planner, and work on things that matter the most when your mind is still active. Much thanks for the insight
Kate Sitarz says
Glad it was helpful, Auralia! Thanks for sharing and keep us posted on how it goes 🙂
Commit to Believing in Your Success
This is the most important mindset shift for me. I just closed a $3000 copywriting project so I feel really good about having work, after a long time of not having anything and feeling shitty about myself.
I believe in my success, the magical expansion of the Universe and that I can do it. That $10,000 monthly as a freelance copywriter is possible for me!
The Filthy Rich Writer Team says
That’s amazing, we are so happy for you and we believe in you!