by Rachel Smith
16 January 2019
There are a lot of things I miss about working in an office, but annual performance reviews aren’t one of them. You can bet your butt cheeks I was happy to bid them adieu once I started working for myself. That said, I’m not a head-in-the-sand type of freelancer; I like to look back over my year and set goals to do better in my business. And that’s where a freelance performance review comes in – the kind where it’s just you, a quiet corner and a pen (or tablet!). There’s something powerful about getting stuff out of your head and down on the page.
Here’s why this kind of reflection can be important: I think it’s all too easy to fly by the seat of your pants when you freelance. You’re hustlin’, you’re meeting deadlines, you’re freaking out about having enough work for the coming month – and a lot of us can fall prey to only working IN our businesses, rather than ON our businesses.
So, a freelance performance review can be a great way to turn the microscope on you and your business. You’re forced to scrutinise your performance. It involves really facing what you’re doing fantastically well at, and what you could be doing better – whether that’s pitching or reaching out to potential clients or turning one-off projects into regular work. There’s nowhere to hide, so it can be confronting, but it can also be hugely rewarding and beneficial for becoming a better freelancer.
Sure, you may be reading this thinking you’re rocking along quite nicely, thank you very much. But who’s going to ask YOU the tough questions? Give you feedback on whether you’re nailing it, business-wise, or suggest ways you can work smarter, raise your rates, find better clients, or hell, take a holiday once in a while? Unless you hire a careers coach or have structured mentoring sessions in place, I’m guessing the answer to that is… no one.
You’re the boss. And reviewing and assessing your past year in business isn’t just a good idea; it’s essential. That kind of reflection can help you stay focussed, reinvent yourself, invest in the right training, perfect your systems so you become more efficient – and ultimately, plan your coming year to be more successful and lucrative than the last. And isn’t that what we all want?
Leo and I are in ‘review mode’ constantly with Rachel’s List. We’ve done informal annual reviews ever since we took the business online in 2012, and we set goals and try to stick to them (we don’t always succeed, as life gets in the way). But we’ve found, especially in the last year, that intensive planning and goal-setting is super powerful in keeping things streamlined, and helps us feel less stressed. It takes discipline, but it’s always worth the time you put in. We’ve also started doing this in our own freelance businesses.
So we put our heads together and created a freelance performance review worksheet that’s similar to the one we use. It’s an interactive pdf (you can type directly into it or print it out) and you can change the year, making it easy to re-use each year if you like. It covers sections like your performance, clients and editors and finances, and offers tips on goal-setting. We hope you’ll check it out and let us know if it’s useful for you. Download it in the Toolkit now – it’s free.
Are you a fan of looking back over the year that’s been, or making goals to become better at freelancing?