Roving Report: Kickstart Your Goals

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Fifteen years ago, there was a small company start-up in South Florida. They had an exciting mission and a terrific product. They sent out their first promotion and … it completely bombed.

They could have quit, slunk away into the sunset, and disappeared. Thankfully, they didn’t. They regrouped, reset their goals, and sent out a new promo. This one hit the sweet spot.

I’m very glad they persisted, because the company was AWAI, and they’ve helped thousands of us to achieve the writer’s life during the past 15 years.

So what do you do if your goals fall apart?

Rebecca Matter shared the solution with us recently. Here’s how you can get back on track, with lots of energy, to make 2012 a successful year for your web-writing business. You can see the video HERE.

Rebecca is the energetic, fast-talking Founder of Wealthy Web Writer, and Co-Managing Partner and VP of Marketing for AWAI. She’s been in marketing for over 15 years, so setting goals is something she knows inside and out.

What is a Goal?

Rebecca quickly reviewed her “crash course” in goal setting for us.

As opposed to a wish, hope, or desire, a goal needs four elements. It must be:

  1. Specific
  2. Actionable
  3. Time-oriented
  4. Realistic

How do you create a specific goal? Don’t say “I’m going to make a lot of money,” say “I’m going to land four clients worth $20,000 each.”

“Winning money in Vegas is not actionable,” Rebecca reminded us, “but winning a project is.”

If your goal is to sign new clients, set a realistic time deadline. For them to impact your 2012 bottom line, hooking them on December 31 won’t cut it. November 1 might be a more appropriate date.

Keep it realistic — you can certainly attract four new clients by November 1, but saying, “I’m going to do it by next Tuesday” is not.

After you’ve set your goal, your next step is to create a plan to get from here to there.

Rebecca refers to the plan as your roadmap.

She created a sample roadmap to illustrate her points. Here’s the broad overview:

Goal: Become an online B2B copywriter in March and quit full-time job by November 1.

Objective 1: Complete phase one of necessary training by March 1.

Objective 2: Send out 150 solicitations for clients by March 31.

Objective 3: By April 15, write samples (for fee or on spec) for a client in each of the project types I plan to target.

Rebecca then broke down each of these goals into tasks. She listed the specific programs of study — with dates for beginning and completing them. She created a time frame for writing the copy for her web-writing website, listing the specific components to be completed.

The trick is to break your goal down into bite-sized tasks, with deadlines for completion.

Falling Off the Track

“What happens,” Rebecca asked us, “if you look at that roadmap and realize you’re on the second week in January on paper, but it’s already the beginning of May? How do you get back on track?”

Don’t Give Up!

Life has a habit of getting in the way of our plans. That doesn’t mean you need to give up. Yes, it can feel like a big setback, like you’ve been “slammed off the mountain,” but you can recover and still have a successful year.

In fact, you can have success that you never even imagined. When AWAI’s first promo bombed 15 years ago, they couldn’t envision the growth they’d enjoy, or the creation of Wealthy Web Writer.

Make Adjustments

Once you’ve fallen off track, it’s unrealistic to think you can accomplish in eight months what you had planned to do in 12, so don’t try. You’ll only set yourself up to fail, and you’ll feel frustrated and unmotivated.

Instead, adjust. Make a new plan and start fresh.

Be Honest with Yourself

It’s very important that you understand why you’re not moving forward. Did life really get in the way? We all have emergencies from time to time — illness or other major, unexpected life changes can certainly throw you for a loop.

Is this what’s really happening, though? Maybe, truthfully, you’re afraid to tackle the next steps (or just not excited about them) and finding excuses to avoid them.

“I hear this all the time,” Rebecca acknowledged.

You’re the only one who knows the answer, but if you’re not jumping out of bed every day anxious to get to work, maybe you need to rethink the path you’ve chosen.

If your heart isn’t in it, make a change. Your passions can become your professional strengths as well, so choose a path you’re passionate about.

Adjusting Your Goals

Okay, you realize you need to adjust. What’s the best way to do that?

Focus

Many web writers feel like the more different kinds of writing they learn, the more successful they’ll be. It’s counterintuitive, but the opposite is actually true. The most successful web writers have the narrowest focus when it comes to the types of work they do. Maybe you want to throw yourself into certain types of projects like autoresponders or case studies.

Perhaps a topic niche will ignite your passion, like Pam Foster with her pet copywriting.

Is there a certain type of client you’d love to work with?

Once you’ve decided on your path, prune away everything that won’t truly help you to succeed.

Rebecca likes to prioritize. She labels her tasks “P1,” “P2,” and “P3.” The P1 tasks are the highest priority. Those are the things she has to do.

P2 tasks are items she’d like to get done, and P3 are the tasks that would be nice to finish, but aren’t vital.

Look for what will truly impact your business.

Be Specific

Each and every piece of your roadmap should be specific. Don’t plan to get clients “next month,” decide you’ll land two clients by June 15.

Be Realistic

Ask yourself if you really can accomplish the task in the time you’ve designated.

You want to succeed, but “nothing will beat you down faster and make you feel like a failure than being unrealistic with your goals,” Rebecca cautioned.

That doesn’t mean you should be afraid to push yourself, but if you haven’t signed your first contract yet, it’s not realistic to expect yourself to have 10 new clients in the next 30 days.

Remember, you can only control your own actions.

Once you reach your specific goal, take a minute to congratulate yourself — then keep moving forward.

See the Next Month as a New Month

If you’ve fallen off track, identifying that you’ve done so is an important first step.

Now, wipe the slate clean. You’re starting fresh, you’re no longer behind.

“Don’t bring all the demotivational drama into the new month,” Rebecca advised. “Start clean!”

Be Accountable

If you miss a goal or a deadline, don’t make excuses, just acknowledge it, and move on. Be accountable.

Perhaps you need to reset your goals again. That’s okay. When you do accomplish your goal, you’ll feel more powerful.

Value Your Time

As a web writer, your time is valuable. Don’t waste it doing things you could pay someone else to do for less!

As you progress in your web-writing career, this becomes more relevant.

Can you earn more, writing, in the time it takes to clean your house than you’d pay to have someone else do it? Then hire someone.

Can you bring in more income, writing, than you’d pay someone else to design your website? Then outsource it.

Ask for Help

It’s okay to ask for help.

Web writing is something most of us do in isolation. We’re sitting in our home offices on our computers, we don’t have co-workers down the hall.

Fortunately, you have access to the wonderful Wealthy Web Writer community, so take advantage of that!

If you’re stuck on copy, if you need some assistance with networking or making connections, if you’d like someone to review sales copy, ask for help.

Be Mindful of Your Success

Most of us find it very easy to remember and relive our failures, but if you’re going to succeed as a web writer, you need to be aware of your successes.

If you achieve something — even if it wasn’t in your plan — recognize it and celebrate it.

For more help with goal setting, Rebecca recommended four resources you can find on the Wealthy Web Writer site.

  1. 12-Step Roadmap to Web-Writing Success
  2. Setting and Achieving Your Goals
  3. Motivate Yourself Now: How to Guarantee Your Success as a Web Writer in 2012
  4. Your Personal Step-by-Step Goal Setting and Achievement Plan

Got your roadmap ready? Gentlemen … and ladies … start your engines!

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Susanna Perkins

Susanna was dragged back, kicking and screaming, into freelancing after losing her job in the banking meltdown in March, '09. One 3-month stint in an appalling temp job persuaded her to get serious about establishing herself as web writer. In March, 2012, she moved to a small town in Panama with her husband and three small dogs. After enjoying the writer's life in the culture of "buenas" and "mañana" for 2-1/2 years, she's returned to the US. At least for now.

3 Comments

  • Well said Susanna! I especially like the “If you achieve something — even if it wasn’t in your plan — recognize it and celebrate it.” We often focus on the negative things that happen to us, and forget to celebrate the successes. Thanks for the reminder.

  • The great part about having a list of goals, even if you get off track, you have a plan in place to start again today like I’m doing now….

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