Make Q4 a Success: 15 Tips to Make Your Last Quarter Your Best Yet

Make Q4 a Success: 15 Tips to Make Your Last Quarter Your Best Yet

How freelancers can prepare for success in Q4 with careful planning, reflection, and outreach.

With a little planning, you could make the last quarter of 2022 your most successful. The fourth quarter includes the holiday season, and your clients will likely take some time off in November and December. Regardless, now is a great time to end the year on a high note and prepare for the future. Here’s 15 tips to prepare for success in Q4.

1. Take the time to record your wins

Listen, it is really easy to reflect on your year and regret every missed opportunity and mistake. You probably don’t even realize how much progress you’ve made! Take five minutes and do this:

  1. Record your wins. What have you accomplished? Did you start making your grilled cheese sandwiches with mayo? Did you try something new (even if you failed)? Congratulations! You’ve lived, learned, and made shit happen.
  2. Reflect on what you’re grateful for. I know there’s something! Maybe it’s your dog, the fresh air you breathe, or the professionals you’ve connected with. It doesn’t matter.
  3. Make a done list. Grab a notepad and write “Done List” at the top. Every time you do something — take a walk, stretch, write an article, send a tweet — jot it down. You’ll be impressed with how much you do, and you’ll realize where your time goes.
  4. Add to your compliments file. That nice note in your inbox? A nice comment on your Instagram post? Screenshot it and save it in a file. Your compliment file is your digital record of kindness and something that is invaluable on bad days.

2. Tell everyone that you’re available for freelance work

Sit down and make a list of all the people you’ve worked with, known, and would like to work with in the future. Clients are spending the remainder of their budgets and launching year-end projects, and they need your services!

Here’s a template from Contra’s Slack community:

Hi [Client]! Hope you’ve been well since we worked on [project] together!

I wanted to check back in and see if you need any help wrapping up work before the year comes to a close. I have some extra availability for [your service] in [insert months you’re available].

[sign off]

[your name]

And here’s a different take from me:

Hello! I hope you’re doing well! [Insert personal note here].

I just wanted to let you know that I’m available for new [type of work] projects in this last quarter of 2022. I’m also available for work around this upcoming holiday season!

I’m happy to help you with:

  • [Service]. I help with [problem] and have achieved [results].
  • [Service]. Need help with [problem]? I offer [service with solution]

I’m happy to chat with you over the phone or Zoom and am ready to hit the ground running! 

Please feel free to share my name with individuals in need of a freelancer. A referral is the best compliment you can give me.

Melanie Powers also offers two amazing email templates. And I stole that referral line from Michelle Garrett — you should too!

3. Consider diversifying your business

I know that there is some service or product you’ve thought about launching but haven’t. Now might be the time to launch a newsletter, create digital products, or offer a new service.

I put off making a newsletter for the longest time because I was afraid of the work and time commitment. It is a lot of work but it’s been worth it!

Matthew Fenton does a great job of breaking down why you should (or shouldn’t) diversify your freelance business. Go give it a read!

4. Optimize your social profiles and share, share, share!

You don’t have to use social media as a freelancer to land work. But it’s a very handy tool that you can use to your advantage. Some of my favorite clients have come from social media!

Update your Twitter account and LinkedIn profile with a little about what you do, your portfolio, and your contact info. Include keywords like “freelance writer” that clients use to search for your services. Create posts to promote your freelance business like:

  • Share that you’re open to work! Write a tweet about what you do and pin it to your profile. Write a similar post on LinkedIn and ask people to share it!
  • Share why people should hire you. Share a note from a pleased client (look through that compliments folder you just made). Tell people about a goal you achieved.
  • Share your latest work! If you have an NDA, share the type of work you’re doing.

By the way, if you feel awkward promoting yourself, that’s normal! But do it anyway.

5. Update (or create) your portfolio and profiles

If you’re looking for new clients, you need to make sure that you’re communicating your worth! Update your portfolio with your best projects. Include the results you achieved and the skills you used.

Writers should also create a profile on Skyword and Contently. Lots of clients look for freelancers directly on those platforms!

6. Invest in tools that make your business more efficient

What are you spending too much time on? Can you automate it? What can you do to make your life easier? I pay for transcribing services so I don’t waste my time on labor I hate. Invest in yourself and your business!

Prepare for Q4 success with careful planning, outreach, and reflection.

7. Fire bad clients that aren’t meeting your values or expectations

If you have a client that isn’t paying you on time, is going beyond the project scope or is being a pain, it might be time to part ways. Review your current client list, and consider who you want to continue working with.

You may not be able to fire them right now, but you can at least take steps toward replacing them. 

8. Take a look at your pricing

Pricing is so difficult, especially when you’re just starting out as an independent worker. Take a look at your pricing. Is the way you charge right now (hourly, per product, etc.) working for you? Are you happy with your current rate?

Every so often, you need to raise your rates. Now is as good a time as any!

9. Audit your source list

Have you been interviewing people from underrepresented backgrounds? Take an inventory of your reported pieces and consider who you’ve included (and who you haven’t). Consider widening your source list with the help of a database or two.

10. Learn a new skill

Learning a new skill is often a New Year’s Resolution, but why not get a three-month head start? Leveling up your skillset is how you become more valuable to clients and build a thriving business. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you want to learn? 
  • What new skill sets could allow you to charge higher rates?
  • How much can you time and money can you spend on personal development?

You don’t have to put much money into acquiring a new skill. Read (or listen to) a book! Get your library card and take a few classes in person. Use your library card to access LinkedIn Learning or resources on Libby

If you’re looking to learn more about freelancing, I highly recommend webinars from Freelancing with Tim or The Writers’ Co-op.

11. Stop comparing yourself

It’s very easy to compare yourself to self-proclaimed experts and six-figure freelancers. There will always be someone out there who seems to be more successful than you. But people are quick to share their successes and hesitant to reveal their mistakes. Comparing yourself to the public persona of other freelancers is a losing game.

Instead, think about all the progress you’ve made in your life and business. Remember, what you do is valuable. Your clients hire you for a reason, and you are worth more than your work.

12. Schedule time off and actually take it

Do you want to take a holiday vacation? Are you okay working around Thanksgiving? Many clients will take holiday breaks, but it’s a good idea to communicate your holiday availability with your clients now. Schedule your days off and stick to them. You deserve to spend time with your friends and family or simply recharge at home.

13. Ask for testimonials

I like to do this at the end of the year, but if you’re wrapping up a project or have time, now is a great time to ask for a testimonial. Clients are often happy to write a short testimonial for you to use on your website, social media, or marketing. Asking for this feedback is also a great way to reflect on your successes so far this year.

14. Review your finances

This is the least sexy item on this list but arguably one of the most important. Track your income and expenses. Keep a full record of all the work you have coming in. Answer these questions:

  • How much money did you make last quarter?
  • How much money do you need to earn to stay afloat, or hit your financial goals?
  • How are you spending your money?
  • Are you spending too much money on something? Can you cancel a subscription or negotiate a lower rate? 
  • Can you put more in savings?

15. Review your tax deductions

As a self-employed person, you get to take deductions on your home office, equipment, books, office supplies, travel costs, memberships, and software programs. Don’t put off this headache! As you review your finances, look for anything that could count as a deduction. 

You still have time to squeeze in another write-off expense this year if you want.

Do you have a tip you’d like to recommend? Comment below, or tweet at me.

Want to support my work?

1. Buy me a coffee

2. Subscribe to my newsletter featuring 100 freelance opportunities every week

3. Share this article (or any other) with a friend and tag me 

4. Explore my Bookshop

5. Work with me

Get new articles focused on freelancing delivered to your inbox.

Photo credit: Styled Stock Society

The 15 Best Newsletters to Learn about the Business of Freelancing

The 15 Best Newsletters to Learn about the Business of Freelancing

These newsletters are filled with need-to-know information for freelancers.

Make no mistake: freelancing is a business. There’s no set path to learning how to freelance or understanding how to grow your business. Newsletters from experienced journalists and freelancers go a long way toward understanding how to navigate this opaque field.

I’ve subscribed (and unsubscribed) from many newsletters written by freelancers over the years. These are my favorites. Many of these newsletters are free, but the few that charge a fee truly are worth the money.

Whether you’re already an independent or just starting to consider freelancing, you’ll find something here worth subscribing to.

1. Freelancing With Tim

Tim Hererra (the former Smarter Living editor at The New York Times) started Freelancing With Tim at the beginning of the pandemic by hosting weekly Zooms panels with seasoned journalists. 

Now as a freelancer himself, Tim continues to host invaluable sessions and shares insider advice, resources, and guides on everything from pitching writing longform stories to setting rates. His newsletter is the best in the biz: it’s a succinct guide to freelancing and the champion of illuminating transparency in an otherwise obfuscated industry.

Frequency: Once or twice a week

Cost: Free for one newsletter per week or $60 a year for all newsletters (I can confirm that the yearly fee is worth paying for!)

2. Freelance Bold

Freelance writer Marijana Kay’s Freelance Bold newsletter always tackles important topics like raising rates or building a sustainable writing business. What I love most about Freelance Bold is how Marijana always ends her newsletters with an actionable step. And as an avid reader, I’m always adding her book recommendations to my reading list. 

Frequency: Weekly

Cost: Free

3. Jasmine Williams Media’s Content Ketchup

Jasmine Williams is an award-winning writer who helps freelancers build their businesses. Her Content Ketchup newsletter speaks honestly about what it means to be a six-figure freelancer. The conversational newsletters just take a few minutes of your time and you will take away a valuable lesson every time.

Frequency: Weekly

Cost: Free

4. Peak Freelance

Created by freelancers Elise Dopson and Michael Keenan, Peak Freelance is a community for freelancers complete with a Slack channel, a podcast, and a newsletter. I always walk away knowing something new from their freelance advice and writing lessons. And if you don’t feel like reading, you can always skip to the section that features about ten freelance jobs sourced from social media calls for pitches and their job board.

Frequency: Weekly

Cost: Free

5. The Writers’ Co-op

What sets The Writers’ Co-op’s newsletter apart from everyone else is the no-bullshit advice from two industry professionals, Jenni Gritters and Wudan Yan. Together they run a podcast and Slack group, but their newsletter is especially valuable as it includes a mix of exclusive Q&As with freelancers and resources that tie in with their podcast episodes. Come for the freelance knowledge, stay for the take-no-shit “pay me well and on time” attitude.

Frequency: Weekly

Cost: Patreon levels range from $3 a month to $100 (I recommend the $9 level that unlocks special newsletter editions and an exclusive Slack channel)

Come for the freelance knowledge, stay for the take-no-shit “pay me well and on time” attitude.

6. Winning Solo’s Soloist Sundays

Matthew Fenton’s 20 years of freelancing experience benefits the rest of us as he shares his valuable advice for every expert and beginner “soloist.” It only comes twice a month, and the Sunday timing makes it easy to take time to read. If you’re not ready to see yet another newsletter in your inbox, follow Winning Solo on Twitter — and bring a notebook, you’ll be taking notes.

Frequency: Twice a month

Cost: Free

7. One More Question

The best part of Britany Robinson’s newsletter is her interviews with freelancers (and I’m not just saying that because I was featured). It’s a great way to get a glimpse into how other freelancers run their businesses and pick up a trick or two. Plus, Britany regularly includes grant and fellowship opportunities, pitch calls, and other resources.

Frequency: Weekly

Cost: Free / $55 a year

8. Notes from a Hired Pen

Jen A. Miller shares lessons learned from 15+ years freelancing in her newsletter Notes from a Hired Pen. She provides valuable insight into creative ways to find new clients, talks transparency about making an income as a freelancer, and overall freelance writer best practices. Her newsletters are suited for brand new freelancers and experienced freelancers alike. I also recommend checking out her ebooks ($10 each, but she’ll occasionally run sales).

Frequency: Weekly

Cost: Free

9. The Freelancer by Contently

The Freelancer by Contently is a valuable resource for staying on top of trends and learning tips from fellow freelancers. Its blog is full of useful articles for any freelancer. If you want to learn about freelancing for the first time, I suggest you start here.

Frequency: Every so often

Cost: Free

10. Stefan Palios’ The Freelance Growth Bite

Described as a “snack-sized newsletter,” freelancer Stefan Palios’ newsletter is just as advertised. His digestible issues are concise and consistently include advice on when to say no to clients, setting boundaries, finding good clients, and so much more. The Freelance Growth Bite is ideal for experienced freelancers looking for simple tips to help grow their business, but there’s no reason newbies wouldn’t benefit as well.

Frequency: Weeklyish

Cost: Free

These newsletters from experienced journalists and freelancers go a long way toward understanding how to navigate this opaque field.

11. Chief Executive Auntie

Jennifer Duann Fultz’s newsletter focuses on the most important part of building a freelance business: money. She’s covered how to price projects, overcome a scarcity mindset, deal with poor clients, and so much more. Her commitment to transparency and dedication to encouraging healthy money mindsets is commendable.

Frequency: Weekly

Cost: Free

12. Lance from Anna Codrea-Rado

Self-described as a “newsletter about building a creative career without burning out,” Lance should be an automatic subscribe for any freelancer. Written by freelancer Anna Codrea-Rado, Lance is full of insights on pitching editors, confronting productivity culture, and the occasional ode to hating Rory Gilmore.

Frequency: Weekly

Cost: Free

13. The Dunker by Freelancer Magazine

I’m including this newsletter after only five issues because it packs so much value in so little space. The UK-based magazine’s newsletter is worth subscribing to because it always has a quick read of 15 resources for freelancers that are actually valuable.

Frequency: Once a month

Cost: Free

14. Bizzy in Your Box

Bizzy in Your Box gets the award for the funniest newsletter about the absurdity that is freelancing. Bizzy’s newsletter often features a roundup of her most hilarious tweets. Her humorous takes will make you laugh and remind you that other freelancers experience similar headaches.

Frequency: Every so often

Cost: Free

15. Fresh Look Editing

Freelance editor Alicia Chantal shares valuable advice in her blog posts (that you can subscribe to via email) about ways to network and take time off as a freelancer. The rate that her posts hit your inbox varies, but they’re always worth reading. New freelancers will especially benefit from her work.

Frequency: Every so often

Cost: Free

Do you have a newsletter you’d like to recommend? Comment below, or tweet at me.

Want to support my work?

1. Buy me a coffee

2. Share this article (or any other) with a friend and tag me 

3. Explore my Bookshop

4. Work with me

Get new articles focused on freelancing delivered to your inbox.

Photo credit: Social Squares