Are you a chronic multitasker? I’ll admit, I used to take pride in my ability to “multi-task,” until I recognized its downfall. Studies have shown that shifting back and forth between tasks greatly diminishes productivity and leads to stress and exhaustion. No surprise there, and yet we can’t seem to break the habit.
The same draining effect is true for our businesses. Constantly shifting focus between the pillars of our brand can lead to burnout and overwhelm. “Diversify!” “Post every day on Instagram.” “Host weekly Facebook Lives.”
Last week we kicked off part one in our series titled “studio of one,” where we came to terms with (and celebrated!) operating as a solo business owner rather than a fully-stacked agency. Today, I’m excited to bring in some application to our new minimalist business… how to create your year long freelance strategy.
But first, let’s play a game.
Do you remember the classic game from your childhood, Hungry Hungry Hippos? Let’s refresh. Marbles roll around chaotically on the game board and each player has a hippo they use to gobble up as many marbles as possible. No strategy, no control, just gobble until your hippo is full.
Why am I getting nostalgic about a 90’s board game? Whelp — to be honest, I think most of us play Hungry Hungry Hippos in our business. We have a wealth of ideas (er… marbles) rolling around in our head, and we stressfully try to fuel ourselves with these sporadic ideas. There’s minimal strategy and a sense of overwhelm that consumes us.
Before diving into your yearly freelance strategy, we need to quit playing this silly Hungry Hungry Hippos game. We can’t do everything, we can’t grab every marble, but what we can do is snag up the marbles that are at the core of our business. These are the pillars of our business and the priorities for our annual freelance strategy.
Since we can’t do it all, we need to set priorities for our business. I went through this exercise when I had my son Hank less than a year ago. No daycare, minimal time, and a no-napping baby left me little time for my business! How did I keep Spruce Rd. afloat with only a few hours available each week? Priorities.
Do this simple exercise with me, and follow through. Jot down your top 3 priorities in your business. Below your top 3, you can write in any other goals you’d like to accomplish this year. For the rest of the year, just make sure you’re hitting those top 3. Then, if you find some spare time, work your way down the list.
Psst… you can download the annual freelance strategy worksheet below:
I’ll share my list for reference (italics represent my “nice to have” priorities, but not my top 3 for the year):
Spruce Rd. clients
Share-worthy Design course students
Write weekly articles
Develop first Spruce Rd. physical product
Boom. I’ve eliminated a lot of clutter I’ve added over the years and reduced it down to why I started this studio of one. The top two priorities are clients and my e-course students. I want to serve them well, so I need the bandwidth to do so. Third on the list is my weekly articles on the blog + newsletter. This is my one main marketing strategy for my business. I don’t dilute my marketing with several tactics… I focus on one and pursue consistency.
And you know what? It pays off… literally. I’m in awe the power of setting priorities and keeping consistency. We’ve already had the most profitable year in my business so far (it’s only August!), and I’ve worked wayyyy fewer hours. All thanks to focusing on what matters, getting help where I need it, and consistency. Proof that setting priorities works!
So, what does your annual freelance strategy look like?
By now you recognize just how simple it can be. The hard part is actually doing the work and staying consistent even if you don’t see results in a couple months.
Just for fun, I wanted to include a couple other options for your annual strategy below. Swipe them for your own business, and see the results!
Freelance Web Designer (first year)
Wordpress web design services
In-person networking through 2 local groups
Facebook group networking through 3 groups
Develop first Wordpress template
Freelance Illustration Designer (3rd year)
Illustration design clients
Retainer client work
Pursue partnerships with graphic designers
Submit artwork for illustration awards
Create printed self-promotional piece
And there you have it! Creating an annual freelance strategy that is attainable, while also allows for some dreaming, is all about keeping it simple and consistent. Prioritize why you started your studio of one (services, shop, etc.), and attach it with one primary marketing strategy, and you’ll be set!