How to set goals as a freelancer

Updated: Apr 20


You’ve probably set yourself goals in the past only to not stick with them. Why is that? A lot of freelancers feel that either they don’t need goals or that their goals are not important enough to follow through on. This will only keep the wheels of your business turning and not getting anywhere. Goals are essential for growing your business. It’s not just you, countless freelancers struggle with setting goals for themselves. It’s not like working in a corporate office where you have KPIs, managers and meetings to keep things in check. It’s all on you. That doesn’t mean you can’t set goals and achieve them, your approach just needs to be a little different.

How to approach your goals

Goals are something you have to work towards every day. You must make working towards your goals and success as a freelancer a priority and aim to make progress daily. If you fall short of your goals, it's okay. You should treat your goals as a target but don’t stress if you don't hit a bullseye every single time.

The point is that as a freelancer, you don't have a boss who controls you and you don't have colleagues who compete with you. Therefore, it is important to set goals in order to remain motivated, organized and performance and result oriented. The first thing you want to do is make your goals work for you, and you can do that by making them SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-limited.

For example, I should not only set myself a goal of improving my copywriting skills, but also set something measurable, such as hours of training to develop copywriting skills. Try to make sure you measure success in achieving your goals. For example, we are often advised to set goals such as earning $100,000 in my first year as a freelancer, but that is not realistic for a brand new freelancer. Let us return to what we said earlier about setting achievable objectives. Without achievable goals, one prepares for failures and disappointments.

Setting SMART goals leads to intelligent targets

I am sure you have heard of intelligent targets. Setting goals is great, but if they are too vague, it will be difficult to draw up an action plan to achieve them, and your results will be difficult to measure. You need to backtrack and figure out what goals will help you achieve results. Before deciding where to go, you have to start from scratch.


For example, by signing up for paid membership in a free directory to get more customers. Goals and targets have a lot in common, but they are not always used interchangeably. A goal is something you want to achieve, such as launching a new and interesting project. A target is something you have to hit to achieve it.

Let us take a look at some of the objectives related to the placement of your freelance writing services.

Be specific: If we don't have a specific list of companies you want to pitch to, you can't have them set as a target. Apart from that, you have to have something specific and measurable, and it has to be measurable. This month, I will reach out to 20 marketing companies offering freelance writing services.


Measurable: A measurable goal, for example, is to increase income by $10K per year by attracting three new customers or employees. You should ask yourself how much money you want or need to earn each year. By the end of the year, you should have increased your income within 10% of your goal. If you fell short, there was an error in one of the other elements of your target. Maybe your timeframe was too short or maybe you weren’t specific enough with how you would reach that target.

Attainable: The mistake most people make when setting goals is that they are simply too far out of reach. It would be nice to make $1 million in your first year of freelancing but how about we make $50,000 first or even $100,000 if you are feeling ambitious.


Relevant: We assume relevance for your niche (content creation for marketing companies), so the goal should be relevant. You will never reach the pitch unless you set up something that is achievable.

Timed: You set parameters for how long you want to reach the goal each month, and it should be timed.

Why setting goals is important for freelancers

Setting goals as a freelancer is one of the most important aspects in the development of my writing business. I have the ability to find creative solutions, and setting goals gives me a map. I know what needs to be achieved, how it needs to be done, what the specific process is and where there is room for creativity.


It is easy to believe that because you are free to set your own schedule and can live more creatively, you do not have to go through the formal process of setting goals. In fact, you have to be as objective as Citigroup or GE. As a freelancer, it is up to you whether you know what you need.


You can kill it as a freelancer by using this framework to run your business. Remember that successful freelancers don't have to agree to take jobs simply because they are interested in your services. You need to be constantly working within your framework to reach your targets. If a client isn’t willing to pay what you are asking, don’t settle for less. This allows you to keep moving forward to higher-paying clients and more specialised niches.


Let’s take a look at an example of finding new leads for your freelance business using this approach. Your goal is 00-150 new prospects contacted in the first quarter of the year. If you break that down into 9-13 people per week, each meeting can take an hour meaning you are spending approximately 10 hours a week prospecting. Putting this into practice, there are 35-50 interested parties per month, which will allow your business to continue growing.

I know from my own experience that if I don't set myself weekly goals, I give myself until the last week or a quarter of the year to get things done. I get stressed if I can't achieve what I set out to do.


Your goals should be something you visit often, at least once daily or at the very minimum once weekly for longer-term goals. The issue many freelancers are new business owners have is that they set and forget their goals. They have the goal of making $10,000 a month and six months later they are still barely breaking $2,000. They aren’t even thinking about the goal anymore and certainly don’t have a plan to get there.


Go ahead and set yourself 3 smart goals for your business. Write them down somewhere you have to look at them every day. This could be a whiteboard, a sticky note at your desk or written on the welcome screen of your laptop. Consciously think about it when you read it, don’t let it become a background fixture. Reassess each week how close you are to that goal. If you are falling behind, set a smaller, more manageable goal. Once you have achieved that, you can then increase it to something more ambitious. Goals will soon become second nature and will act as a blueprint for the growth of your freelance business.