It’s time for my third quarter roundup. Each quarter I review and analyze my time tracking, hours worked, money earned and client mix.
My hours in Q3 were similar to Q2. I worked an average of 28 hours a week in Q2 and an average of 27 hours a week in Q3 when you take out my vacation. However, I made less money, so I have to analyze that a bit more.
Nothing like time tracking to show you when you are not committing to being unplugged during a vacation. I really wanted to take a full week or two off from work when I visited my parents at the end of August. But, like so many times before, I had a few projects I had to finish or things I had to check in with.
Sometimes it’s just easier to finish up a couple of projects when I’m at my parents’ house, rather than stress myself out by finishing them before my trip or waiting until after. So, while visiting my parents for 11 days, I worked for three of those days. During my last week there, I only worked for four hours. Then, when I returned home, I took off the entire Labor Day weekend. So, not too bad.
One of my goals in the near future is to figure out a better system to manage and create my podcast on time. Time tracking showed me that I work, on average, four hours a week on my podcast. That was 18% of my time in the third quarter, larger than any one project. The next closest chunk was administrative work at 13%.
As I said earlier, Q3 was my slowest and lowest-paying quarter, even though I was working more hours. But, a lot of those hours were volunteering to speak at conferences, networking and, again, my podcast. All unpaid. I am definitely rethinking what speaking gigs I accept. It’s ridiculous that most of the opportunities that come my way are unpaid. So, I have vowed to be more strategic about what I say yes to. Either pay me or put me directly in front of my ideal client base.
In Q3, I didn’t do as much marketing or networking as I usually do. In fact, I spent 30 hours networking and marketing in Q2. That dropped to only 17 hours this past quarter.
I definitely felt the buzz word of this past year: “languishing.” I’m sure a lot of you can relate. This is one of the reasons I researched and found a marketing strategist that I hired for a full VIP day. It was a great investment. It helped me regain some inspiration and excitement with my business, and I walked away with a personalized marketing strategy. I’ll talk more about what I learned and what I am implementing in future episodes.
Back to money. So, May remains my highest-grossing month. August came in second highest, but that’s misleading because the month before, in July, I only earned $3900. So, I really have to combine those months and take the average of the two.
This is where cash flow is critical. You can’t always count on projects and payments working out to your timeline. Projects get delayed; payments get delayed and lost. Building up a client base, and focusing on getting anchor clients, so that you can build up a savings and have a consistent cash flow is critical to running a successful freelance business.
One of the things that is frustrating about my business in 2021 is the lack of consistency. People aren’t sure about their budgets or when they might be able to start a project; they’re taking baby steps into projects, not committing to big things or long term. This is happening everywhere during the pandemic as it’s hard to plan ahead, and I feel that in my business too.
Besides implementing my marketing strategy and figuring out a better podcast system, I’m working on two other goals for this fourth quarter: doing better with my goal to only work half-days on Fridays and getting back on the healthy eating wagon.
Biz Bite: Schedule an admin week
The Bookshelf: “Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America” by María Hinojosa
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Episode #103 of Deliberate Freelancer: My Time Tracking and Client Analysis for Q2
Episode #94 of Deliberate Freelancer: My Time Tracking Audit for Q1—I Need a Better Schedule
Episode #78 of Deliberate Freelancer: Building Your Community as a Newish Freelancer, with Alicia Chantal
New York Times article: “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing”