Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Growing My Business: What's In Store for 2008

I love my job, and I love the fact that I can support myself purely through writing for the web. In the past year and a half or so, I've made a decent living--enough to pay for my bills with some left over to have fun. But...there's always room for more. I'd love to grow my business to the point where I can save a significant amount, travel around the world while I work, or even buy a house in the next few years.

Here are some things I've started doing to grow my business in 2008--things that hopefully will improve my position in the market and bring in more income.

Get a little more serious about blogging. When I started this blog, I never expected it to take off like it has. I'd love to take my blogging efforts to the next level. I love what James and Harry have done over at Men With Pens, and I like Matt's polished look at the Copywriter's Crucible as well. Here are some things I'm considering for this blog:

-A new address at my freelance writing website's URL.
-A new wordpress template with my logo. I'd like to combine the blog and my business website on one template.
-Possibly increasing my posting frequency to once a day.
-Some possibility for revenue on the blog: maybe selling space for paid advertising or a "donations" link.
-A stronger social marketing campaign to drive traffic. So far I've made a halfhearted foray into Stumbleupon.

Develop an e-book or two. I'd love to develop an e-book to sell, and I have a few ideas in the works already. If I can make my blog more polished, I think it will be a great platform for me to sell e-books.

Attract a few more regular customers. I have a couple of regulars who come to me every month with sizable orders. They don't take up all my time, though; and I'd love to fill a few more billable hours with paid projects. My schedule has room for a few more regulars--people who are used to working with me, get in touch every month with steady work, and pay well. I'm currently giving some thought to my "ideal" customer--and working on a section for my website that pitches directly to them.

Improve where I'm lacking. There are a few skills I don't have--and I know they hold me back from growing my business. I'd love to increase my technical and design skills and become more comfortable with phone sales and face-to-face networking (I don't even have business cards!). I'm considering taking classes in technical topics and business leadership classes.

Those are my plans for 2008--and hopefully they'll lead to a prosperous year to come. What are your plans for growing your business this year?

12 comments:

John Lockwood said...

Hi Jennifer,

While you're on the topic of comparing yourselves to others, I just thought I'd chime in to say that I think you already have the best commercial writing blog I've seen, and I've learned a lot from it.

I'm new to writing as a living, coming from a background as a software developer turned real estate blogger (well, I guess that's writing as a living if you forget about the darned houses).

I'm handy with Wordpress and maintain several Wordpress blogs, so if I can help you at all with your technical learning curve, please contact me any time at ElitePropertiesBroker [at] gmail dot com.

Again, I really appreciate your blog and wish you great success in 2008!

Jennifer Williamson said...

Hi John, thanks so much for the kind words--and your generous offer of help! I just might be in touch at some point; I'm still playing around with my theme, and I definitely do hit snags. Best of luck with your own blog and real estate business!

James Chartrand - Men with Pens said...

Wow, talk about flattery! It's very cool we've inspired you to take the next step, Jen, because you have the determination and skills it takes.

And I'll be damned glad to see you off Blogger and onto a way nicer home for your blog. Feel free to give us a shout if you want a rockin' design to go with that new home ;)

Susan Johnston said...

Jennifer,
Here are some of the items I plan to work on this year:
*Like you, I'm planning to move my blog to my own domain (but because it's slightly more playful and fun than my professional site, I might keep them separate)
*I resolved to set a higher minimum fee and stick to it (only compromised once this year and that was a really short piece that required no edits, so it still had a decent hourly rate)
*I want to build my network on LinkedIn and figure out how to leverage it for more writing opportunities
*I also need to diversify the list of editors that I write for instead of relying on a couple of people who I know will give me the assignment!
Here's to lots and lots of writing success!

Jennifer Williamson said...

@James: yep, I'm officially jealous of your site. Thanks so much for the offer--I may need a little help!

@Susan: Setting that higher minimum fee is key--I've been doing that with a lot of success this year as well. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn--I'm just getting started there.

Lori said...

Good post, Jen. As always. :)

Growing the business means more aggressive marketing this year. I've adopted a SWOT analysis (see my blog post today) to help me understand what's needed. And I'm continuing with my marketing plan, though right now I'm so busy I can't see straight. Amen! But that's when I market - during the busy times. The slow spells come way too quickly to take a break.

Rebecca Smith said...

Hi, Jennifer -

Best of luck with all of your endeavors!

If you're looking for some great WordPress themes, this site has a nice selection: http://www.wpsphere.com/.

I built my copywriting business site into my WordPress blog and it's worked out really well for me so far.

Good luck!
Rebecca

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Jennifer - your plans sound solid. I cringed when I read that you are contemplating a donation button - I've always found those incredibly tacky.

But that's what makes life interesting, right? Everyone has different opinions!

-- regular reader

Matt Ambrose said...

Mine are:

1. Write more
2. Read more
3. Add direct mail to my portfolio

And

4. Attract enough work from outside the UK to be able to work abroad.

So far 1 has been going well since Xmas and I'll have to try and fit in 2 and 3 when 1 slows down. Hopefully 4 will happen later this year depending on my domain change works out.

Let me know if you need any advice for moving to Wordpress. Thanks for linking to The Copywriter's Crucible.

Matt.

holli jo said...

Jennifer - I just wrote about this same topic on my blog. I'm just feeling the need to expand. Thanks for sharing your goals and ideas.

Irreverent Freelancer said...

I'm following your recent posts closely because I'd like to accomplish some of the same things you're trying to achieve. My blog readership is at a level where I feel I should be bringing in some money with it ... just not sure how to do so. And like you, while I have several ongoing clients, I still have gaps in my schedule, particularly in the middle of months. So I'm trying to seek out clients who especially need me during those time periods. I used to rely on Elance whenever things got slow, but we both know how horrifically Elance has destroyed that option! Onward and upwards, right?

Jennifer Williamson said...

Hi Kathy, yeah, I'm in the same boat with Elance. I'd stopped using it often in the months leading up to the changes, but I still used it as a stopgap for the slow times. I've tried it a few times since then for the same reasons, and I haven't had half the luck I usually had there....so it looks like my time there is definitely winding down. I'll be sure to let you know how my work goes here--hopefully you can benefit from my trial-and-error.