State of the business

Year 6, Month 8: A (new) monthly report on the business of being an independent creative.

If you’re interested in life/work as an independent creative person, this monthly post might be insightful. Let’s go:

I’m a writer, and this is what I did in january.

1. Last month I kicked off a new QA project with a client, which involves validating content on an enterprise-wide website update. We’re working out kinks in content migration, and the launch date is non-negotiable. I expect many more hours on this in Feb-March, so I’m relaxing a little bit now in anticipation of the crazy.

2. Google Adwords writing: A Minneapolis agency hired me to write the Adwords campaign for their healthcare client. In mid-January, I sent them the first draft for campaigns that will run in 3 markets, and now I’m waiting for client feedback.

3. New business support: Not for myself, but another consultant. I worked on three business documents to pitch three different (existing) clients with media kit development, a website update, and an in-depth marketing intake. My time on this is billable to the consultant, and if the projects come through I’ll provide some of the creative and strategic deliverables.

4. PR: Not billable, at least not yet. A friend at another Minneapolis agency called for some help getting a story published, and I said I’d work on it, with payment due only if I succeeded. We got a bite on the story last week, and a writer is interviewing him today — I know I should bill him if it gets published but this feels more like a personal favor to a friend I’ve known forever. Might just put it in the bank of goodwill instead.


  1. Four people contacted me/were referred to me for advice about starting a business. WEIRD. Yes, of course I’m going to meet with them.
  2. In the course of media research, I discovered that seeks contributors. Should I try to get a writing gig about being a business owner? I feel like I have enough to do already, but see #1.
  3. An agency client contacted me about a recurring project – this will be the 6th year they’ve hired me for media buys and social content for the same event. Recurring projects are GREAT.
  4. The RFP I submitted for last month? They “chose another vendor”.
  5. Secret biz project: I submitted paperwork for a new business endeavor in early January and received confirmation that my paperwork is complete and now in review. Stay tuned.


January work load rating: 6

(Scale of 1-10: 1 is “Where did everyone go?” and 10 is “I’m too busy to think”)

On a scale of 1-10, my work load was perfect. I had just enough to keep me busy and just enough flexibility to spend time on new business development, relationship building (lunch and coffees with colleagues/clients). I also enjoyed a lot of mornings helping the kids get off to school, or coming home earlier than 5 to spend more time with them or cook dinner.

Weekend work: 2 days

Also perfect. I only *had* to work one weekend, and that was a total of 2 hours over 2 days.

Hours billed: 69.55

My average billable time is 20 hours a week, so this is a little under. For some reason the last week of January was pretty dang light, but I rolled with it and spent most of those days in the office all the same.

Financials: 38%

Ah, there it is. The money stuff. My January 2016 billing was roughly 38% of what I billed in January 2015. At first glance, I could be nervous. But I’m not, because I know my 2015 numbers were augmented by two fairly large contracts — so I don’t consider last year’s number the standard.

At this time last year, I was getting nervous because two contracts were cut without notice. Looking at my financials, I can see that my Feb 16 billing is already 103% of what it was in Feb 15 — so hey, winning.

February goals

Keep pushing the numbers up.

Keep having the coffees and meetings with colleagues and clients.

And buckle in, because the legwork I did in January is about to push a lot of billable work right in my face.

Was this helpful? Interesting? What else do you want to know? I’ll be back next month with the report for Year 6, Month 9.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *