How I Keep Track of Freelance Writing, Embrace the Geekiness

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You don’t necessarily need to keep track everything you do as a freelance writer to be successful. However, I’ve found tracking data to be quite helpful in a variety of ways. And not simply because I am a geek when it comes to spreadsheets.

And since the tools I use are free, such as LibreOffice, there’s really nothing to lose but a bit of time.

Why I Keep Track of Everything

I am a nut when it comes to data of any kind. I have spreadsheets galore for a variety of purposes. However, there are quite a few solid reasons why any freelance writer would want to do the same.

Drives Motivation

When you see your numbers in a data format, it can inspire motivation to be better. For myself, it’s all about reaching specific word or income goals. And because of the way I have my spreadsheet set up, I can see where I stand.

For example, I have daily, weekly and yearly goals. Because my spreadsheet adds and estimates, I can see that I am on track to surpass one million words written this year. And that helps to motivate me to work harder.

Estimates My Success

Another aspect of tracking data as a freelance writer is that I can estimate almost any aspect of my abilities. Which means I can give clients an estimation regarding time frames for projects and pricing.

At a glance, I can see that I average around 1100 words per hour which includes research, SEO techniques and proofreading. I also know approximately how much I make per hour.

So if a client asks how long it would take me to write 2500 words, I can say just over two hours and provide a cost of about $40…which is about my average.

It’s also beneficial when I look at my average income throughout the entire year. And I can say, I make quite a bit working with content mills like Textbroker…if I stay productive, that is.

Gives Me Something to Work Towards

Like I mentioned earlier, I often set goals to keep myself motivated. I also find it as a valuable method for gamifying my career. For me, it’s all about breaking personal records.

Using my spreadsheet, I can set personal bests and know what I have to do in a day to surpass them.

And because I break everything down in words and income, I can set all kinds of milestones for myself regarding a lot of different metrics.

Do I want to make a certain amount this year? How many words do I need to write today to help towards my one-million-word goal?

Then again, I am a bit of a geek. Things like this drive me. You may have other aspirations, but try to keep gamification in mind. It’s a great way to keep in the right headspace as a freelance writer.

Keeps Me in a Professional Headspace

Tracking everything I do is a way to keep myself in a professional mindset. I clock in by writing down my start time and clock out by entering the time I stop. Just like any traditional job, I strive to work for a reasonable amount of time in the day.

The data collected in the spreadsheet also makes it easier to track finances of all kinds and what I would need to make to afford sick leave or vacation time.

For myself, tracking all the aspects of freelance writing makes me feel more like a professional. It puts a lot of things regarding my career into perspective.

And it helps when I face mental issues such as impostor syndrome, which is more often than you might think.




How I Keep Track of Data

The spreadsheet I’ve created for myself has been in constant development since I first started tracking freelance writing. Since 2012, it has evolved greatly to suit my needs each year.

Although you probably don’t need to go to the lengths I do when setting it up, there are a few aspects you may want to consider if you’re creating your own.

Keeping Track of Daily Workloads

I keep track of my daily workload whether it’s writing for clients, updating my blogs or writing content for other projects I am managing. Each of these points serves to advance myself as a professional in some manner.

Every day, I keep track of how long I’ve actually spent sitting and typing. I also monitor the exact number of words I create for various pieces of content.

I put more emphasis on what I can do today as it feeds into weekly and yearly goals. As long as I can meet certain objectives today, it benefits the larger goal at the end of the year.

Plus, my 2019 spreadsheet will leave comments regarding how effective I am. In essence, I’ll trash-talk myself if I work less than a part-time writer.

Showing Weekly Productivity and Projections

The daily workload leads into weekly productivity and projections regarding words and income. At a glance, I can tell if I am on track for being successful or if I need to put more effort into the following day.

It also helps when tracking income so I can see if I will have a high enough payout to pay bills on Friday.

Before I contracted with my retaining client, I would break down my bills for each week. This is tracked in the spreadsheet and showed how much money I needed to make in Textbroker to make a “living wage.”

Anyway, the purpose of tracking weekly income as a freelance writer helps keep the mind focused.

Am I making enough to pay certain bills that are due? Am I producing more words this week than last? I can answer these and many more questions by keeping track of the data.

Covering Annual Income and Production

Finally, one of the things I like to keep track of is annual information. At any point throughout the year, I can see just how much I am averaging in terms of annual income.

So if I want to set a goal of making $40,000 per year, I know how much I have to make in each day as well as what I pull in for the week.

Keeping an eye on yearly production also helps keep my abilities in mind. Like I mentioned earlier, I am working on writing more than a million words this year. I know where I stand because the spreadsheet tracks this information.

You might not consider just how one order from Textbroker per day can greatly affect your annual income. Tracking this data shows the impact and helps you build a strategy for meeting certain financial goals.

Want to Use My Spreadsheet?

I am in the process of setting up the spreadsheet as a downloadable file from WriterSanctuary.com. It might be useful for those who want to track freelance writing, or just writing in general.

Because it is a bit convoluted in places, I want to create a short eBook to accompany the file. But as soon as I can get all of that put together, I will upload it to the site.

Keep Track of Your Data

You don’t need to go to the lengths I do to track your data. Sometimes simply writing down your time and numbers can help keep you focused and on task. I simply like using spreadsheets because I can easily make charts.

I love the visualizations of seeing where I stand in terms of productivity and income.

How do you track your freelancing data? Do you find crunching numbers helpful when determining goals for yourself? Let me know in the comments down below!




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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 6,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel.

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