A lesson in setting reasonable expectations
Heading into this 7 day challenge or 1WC (1 Week Challenge), I was ready to put in the work, but it was not meant to be. Due to stupidity on my part in my personal life, the beginning of the challenge was stymied due to dealing with some very legitimate problems at home. If I ever write a blog post about relationships, I’ll be sure to write about it. Needless to say, I did not hit the goals that I set, but I have gained some forward momentum. Also, remember when I said I learned some lessons from my last go around? I’ll share those as well as the positive steps that I was able to achieve.
Well, it happened again. After setting what I thought to be reasonable goals, life grabbed me by the shirt collar and said not so fast, friend. Now, I did make some progress but I did not reach the goals that I laid out in 7 Days to Change Your Ways: Becoming a Freelance Writer. That’s not to say that I didn’t learn anything, or am even unhappy with what happened. Life is about perspective and in order to have the right one, you have to learn some hard lessons.
Find the Positives
I have always found that anytime you set goals, even unreachable ones, you make progress. Why? Because the very act of setting those goals is a call to action. I had some success during this 1WC.
Send Out 30 Pitches
This was going to be a tough mark to hit, no matter the circumstance. I have a family and a full time job, so going from zero to 30 was probably not the best call. I did send out pitches, but it was more to the tune of 6. Is that what I wanted?
Of course not, but it is better than what I sent out the week before, which was zero.
If you’re wondering where I found the jobs that I sent pitches for, the majority came from a subscriber job board called Write Jobs. It is $3 to $5 dollars a month, but delivers about 8 writing jobs a day to your inbox and has a list of many more. I also sent out the obligatory pitch on Upwork but have never found a lot of success on the platform. Either the jobs pay barely anything or they receive so many proposals that you end up being the needle in a haystack. I did send out one “cold” pitch, thought I hesitate to call it that. It is an established company that hires writers, but I found it independent of a job board. I simply searched for what I wanted work in, in this case writing buying guides, and it popped up. I have followed up with 4 of these but have yet to hear back
This is something I wanted to locate for a long while and succeeded in finding an app that will help keep me organized no matter what. I downloaded Time Planner and I think it is going to work great. I need to learn the ropes as far as using it, but the layout and ease of use are both appealing to me. Sean Ogle has a good article about some of the tools of the trade that he uses if you are looking for ideas, but I just searched and shopped around to find the one that suited me.
Create a Tracking Spreadsheet
Another accomplishment, though on the most basic level. I create a very simple spreadsheet to track the potential client’s contact information, the date the pitch/proposal was sent, and the date that I should touch base. I picked an arbitrary span of two days, but you need to make sure to use what best works for your lifestyle. You can use any spreadsheet program for this, and I used Numbers on my iPad because, well, it was already on my iPad.
I had an ambitious marketing plan. I was going to reformat all my social platforms and start running ads. Well, that all went out the window pretty early in the challenge, but I did reformat one of my social platforms. I completely overhauled my Linkedin profile to reflect my transition to a freelance writer. Before it was a mixed message, covering aspects of my day job as an Archivist and also my writing. Now it is focused solely on writing. So, a little round up:
- Sent out 6 pitches. Not the 30 I wanted, but 6 more than the week before
- Found a scheduling app to start getting organized
- Created a spreadsheet to track sent pitches and proposals for proper follow-up
- Reformatted my Linkdin to reflect the writing work that I am seeking
I’m going to plop some links to useful resources in this section.
Freedom With Writing – Writing jobs website that offers a variety of writing opportunities
Write Jobs – Regularly updated job board for writers
Time Planner – Visually appealing, simple to use planning app
Location Rebel – Sean Ogle has been doing this for a while and his site is a trove of useful info
What is Success?
So the real question is, how do I take what I did during this time. Though I focused on the positives above, there were clearly things that I failed at as well. I didn’t write everyday like I said I would in the initial post. One thing that I really don’t want to do is make commitments that I can’t keep. I also didn’t reach nearly the level of output that I wanted for pitches which was another disappointment, along with not getting my name out as much as I wanted or even getting any replies yet. I could look at all of this and despair or I could take in the lesson from all of it.
Learn Your Limits
I eluded to this before I begin the challenge, to the fact that I learned something from the last go around. The most important thing that I’ve learned whenever I engage in a 1WC is that I need to be flexible. In the past when I tried these endeavors, I would always set a much earlier wake up time than I am used to. I am a night owl after all. It was always to the effect of 6am or 6:30am and I would count on getting something like 4 hours of sleep.
You know what happened? I would never wake up at that time and before the challenge had even began, I felt like I had failed. That was a terrible tone to set and led to me accomplishing much less as I entered with a negative mind state. So going into this challenge, I was conscious of this and decided not to let it rule the narrative. I wanted to wake up early as that is the best time to get work done, especially in an increasingly too small townhome with two girls and my significant other. Keeping this in mind, I set out to accomplish what I could, even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.
So what do I consider this 1WC? A failure? A success? Something in the middle? I think all of those terms just muddy the waters. I will choose to look at it as a first step and solid foundation. In reflection, I will take into account what is possible as opposed to what is desired. The most important thing I will do is to keep working on making myself better as a writer and as a person. This wasn’t quite the jumping off point I envisioned with my 1WC, but then again, Bill Gates founded Microsoft in a garage, so we all have to start somewhere.
I will be back in a week with a new challenge to write about and I hope that you can take my successes and failures and put them to use in your own pursuits.
Until next time,