Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals | How to Set Realistic Goals

You may or may not have heard of creating S.M.A.R.T. goals before. It takes some planning and brainstorming but it works!

Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Creating S.M.A.R.T. goals

If you’re a writer, you probably have something you want to accomplish. You know, a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG).

  • Write a book
  • Make 100 per cent of your income from freelance writing
  • Secure year-round contract work

So, what’s your goal?

And how long have you not been reaching it?

I don’t mean any offence, I just know from experience how those BHAGs can paralyse, overwhelm, and otherwise sabotage productivity.

That is, until the BHAG is broken down into smaller, less hairy, S.M.A.R.T. goals. You know, the ones that will spark your creativity and propel you towards your dreams.

No pressure

Create a Writing Schedule Worksheet

*Interjection*

By the way, once you have your goals, it might be time to set a writing schedule. I can help! All you have to do is grab the free PDF from my resource library. Put your email in the form below and I’ll send you the password!

Once you’re in the library navigate to the writing section and look for “Create a Writing Schedule Worksheet.”

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For years I’ve said I want to write a book. In an offhanded, joking sort of way. And yet for all my wanting I have 1,600 terrible words accomplished.

Why? Don’t I want to write a book? Then why am I not writing it?

Because I’ve never broken down the goal into manageable steps. Daily word counts. Specific time set aside for book writing. Book plotting. Why haven’t I? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s overwhelm. Maybe insecurity. Or maybe I’m waiting for someone to not only beg me to write a book but also pay me to do it.

Enough! time to get going on Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals

It’s time to get real, set the goal, state it, and break it down into steps that will get me there.


Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Creating S.M.A.R.T. goals—my definition

Everyone agrees goal-setting is important. However, while it’s fun dreaming and thinking big, the work of it is figuring out how to achieve your goals.

The best way to set goals you’ll actually work to achieve is following the creating S.M.A.R.T. goals system. It’s quick, straightforward, and keeps you focused on action.

Once I have my BHAG (in this example, write a book) I break down the goal into smaller, less impossible steps. You know, I make them smart.

Here’s how I define S.M.A.R.T. (because there are many ways to do it). I keep things straight by applying who, what, when, why, how to the matter. If I can’t answer those questions, my goal might still be too big.

Creating S.M.A.R.T. goals—broken down

Specific—what will you do?

Here’s where you force yourself to get clear and focus in on your objective. What do you even want to do?

If my goal is write a 50,000 page book I’m going to have to figure out how to make it happen. I need to break this huge goal into smaller tasks.

Maybe it’s write 750 words a day. Maybe it’s a weekly word goal. Oh, or maybe I need an outline and table of contents first. Maybe I need my topic before I get get into writing.

By breaking it down into one or several specific goals, the huge task of writing 50,000 words is all of a sudden not such a crazy idea.

Measurable—how will you know you’ve done it?

The problem (for me at least, maybe you’re totally great at writing 50,000 words or achieving any and every huge goal you have by sheer will power and determination) with huge goals is you only know you’ve achieved it once you hit your word count or whatever it is you have as your finish line.

But since it’s such a massive goal you need checkpoints along the way to keep you motivated and not paralysed in overwhelm. Break your goals into smaller pieces, all building towards that huuuuuuuuge goal and you’ll see your anticipation and excitement for the task at hand grow.

When I set myself a daily or weekly word count goal I know exactly what I need to do. Once I reach the goal? I feel pretty good. In fact, I feel great. I celebrate the small wins and feel confident I’m one more step closer to reaching my huge goal. Amazing how that works.

Achievable—who will do it?

Of course, goal-setting only works when it’s actually possible to accomplish it. So when creating S.M.A.R.T. goals you do need to ask if you can achieve it. Can you? How?

You might have to look deep and get real with yourself at this point. Do you have the skills you need to reach this goal? Do you have the time? How about the resources? Do you have the money?

For me time is always the issue. So I have to ask myself, is this what I want? For reals? Or is it a nice idea.

OK then, how will I make this happen?

Because “I didn’t do it because I was busy” is a nice excuse, but if I’m going to use it then I should probably give up on my BHAG because it’s not going to happen.

Relevant—why are you doing it?

At this point in the process, you need to make sure you care about the goal and that it fits with your other goals. How does this goal fit in with your other, larger, dreams? Does it drive you forward in the right direction? Does it breathe life into you?

I ask myself if the goal I’m setting is worthwhile, the right time, and a good fit with whatever else is going on in my life.

Sometimes I have to set my goals aside for a time while I finish up other tasks. Sometimes I have to shelve them because I realise while it’s a nice idea and fun and stuff, it doesn’t align with my other goals.

This is hard but, when done right, honest.

Time-sensitive—when will you do it?

What’s a goal without a deadline? If your goal is open-ended it stays vague—more like a wish than something you’ll actually accomplish. And because you’ve worked so hard to make your goal specific and realistic, you should be able to commit to a deadline you’ll be able to meet without too much stress.

Another bonus when setting deadlines is to keep you focused on your BHAGs and not allow the everyday, urgent, busy stuff distract you.

Once I set a target for my BHAG I find it easier to set individual deadlines when creating S.M.A.R.T. goals.

When I have the big number then I deconstruct it into smaller amounts until I have something I can work with, be it a daily, weekly, or monthly goal.

With my goals set I move on to breaking them into tasks, but that’s a story for another day.


Other freelance writing tips

You may or may not have heard of creating S.M.A.R.T. goals before. It takes some planning and brainstorming but it works! Here's how I define S.M.A.R.T. (because there are many ways to do it). I keep things straight by applying who, what, when, why, how to the matter. If I can't answer those questions, my goal might still be too big.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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The best way to set goals you’ll actually work to achieve is by creating S.M.A.R.T. goals for your freelance writing business.

Meeting Your Ideal Client in Person | Getting It Right

Many freelance writers know their ideal client and are great at communicating online. But what if you’re meeting in person?

Meeting Your Ideal Client in Person | Getting It Right

Meeting your ideal client…in person

The introvert in me thinks maybe I can get by without having to meet clients or prospects in person or speak on the phone. Because I’m pretty good at ruining things in person with my awkwardness and inability to conquer small talk.

However, the business owner in me knows I can’t always hide behind a screen. Getting out there and spending time with clients and other freelancers is an important part of growing my business.

And if I can’t meet for coffee, how will I ever gain the confidence to attend a trade show or event or speak at a large conference?

Here are a few tips for getting public engagement right the first time.

Freelancer Positioning Worksheet

Let’s take a quick break from the training so I can remind you about my resource library!

Having an awesome networking experience often comes down to understanding who you serve, what makes you different in the eyes of your ideal client, why that difference matters and what you do.

If you can get solid here, your networking will flow from there.

I’ve put together a worksheet to help you figure this out. You can grab the free download in my resource library. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll email you the password, then go to the freelancing section and look for “Freelancer Positioning Worksheet.”

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Make your presence stand out

No matter the event, investing in some branding is a worthwhile expense. If it’s a booth at a trade show, a branded area will help you stand out, plus you can use it again and again.

Some popular items include custom printed marquees, pop-up stands and table banners.

When meeting your ideal client, have something to say

I find small talk difficult. I feel awkward and unsure of myself. But then I figured out a secret trick: work out anecdotes ahead of time.

And when someone asks me about what I do and who I serve? Well, I also have my elevator pitch memorized.

networking tips for introverted writers

Need help with your elevator pitch? There’s a template for that!

We know how our writing can help others but our potential clients don’t. If they did they probably wouldn’t need a writer. It’s a classic conundrum. We can get so wrapped up in our writing world we forget that those not in our world have no idea what we do or why it matters. It’s our job to educate them. This is where the elevator pitch comes in.

I have two helpful templates in my resource library. Gain access by putting your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password. Once you’re in, navigate to the freelance section and look for “Elevator Pitch Templates.”

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Consider offering freebies

They work on your website so why wouldn’t the work in person? One of my freelancing friends has branded pens that she hands out to colleagues and clients. I love it!

There are many reasons to invest in promotional products for your business, and the right promotional products will both be useful and will create a lasting impression

But don’t go overboard with the swag. Stick to a budget you can afford and regularly evaluate their impact.

Show confidence

Confidence is key when it comes to meeting with members of the public. Help your team to develop confidence when making sales or providing services to help make the right impression on your customers.

Providing training, creating scenarios, etc. can all help your employees improve their confidence when meeting the public to give the best impression of your company from that first interaction.

Making a meaningful connection with your ideal client and networking with other freelancers can help you grow your business.

As a classic form of marketing, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of going out there and meeting people face to face. What’s next on your list of ways to improve your business?

Many freelance writers know their ideal client and are great at communicating online. But what if you're meeting in person?

The introvert in me thinks maybe I can get by without having to meet clients or prospects in person or speak on the phone. Because I'm pretty good at ruining things in person with my awkwardness and inability to conquer small talk.

However, the business owner in me knows I can't always hide behind a screen. Getting out there and spending time with clients and other freelancers is an important part of growing my business.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
Many freelance writers know their ideal client and are great at communicating online. But what if you're meeting in person? The introvert in me thinks maybe I can get by without having to meet clients or prospects in person or speak on the phone. Because I'm pretty good at ruining things in person with my awkwardness and inability to conquer small talk.
Many freelance writers know their ideal client and are great at communicating online. But what if you're meeting in person?

Wondering about a Literary Agent? Here are the Benefits

A literary agent represents writers and authors and is equal parts opportunity finder, deal negotiator and career advisor.

While it’s not required to have an agent to get a traditional book deal, most writers recommend having one.

Benefits of Having a Literary Agent

Benefits of having a literary agent

Since they’re up-to-date with the latest book publishing trends and have in-depth market knowledge, literary agents are positioned to handle the business end of writing—allowing you to focus on the writing end of writing.

I met an author who told me how he got a book deal without an agent. I’m glad to meet someone who had a positive publishing experience this way but I have questions.

  • Why did he skip this step?
  • What made him want to pursue traditional publishing on his own?
  • Would he do it again for his next book?

Free download: Is It time to write your book?

If you want to write a book but don’t know what to do next then this is the right worksheet for you. First, I’ll guide you through the four steps you need to take BEFORE you start writing. Then I’ll help you determine why you’re writing a book, decide on your theme and genre and schedule writing time.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by signing up here. Just pop your email address into the form below. Once you’re in the library, navigate to the writing section and look for “You’ve Decided to Write a Book Worksheet.”

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Here are a few ways having a literary agent benefits a writer

Legitimate agents work on commission so they don’t get paid unless you do. Talk about common interests! You can rest assured they have your best interests at heart.

Agents have a strong knowledge of the publishing business and have access to major publishing houses. They know they right people working in the right places and can get those doors open quicker than you can.

They read a lot and know what sells. Literary agents know good writing, they know the market and they know what editors are looking for. They know what you need to do to get a book deal.

A literary agent represents writers and authors and is equal parts opportunity finder, deal negotiator and career advisor. Recommended!

And my personal favourite

Think of a literary agent as a connector. They connect authors with the appropriate publisher, negotiate the best deals possible and mediate any issues between the writer and editor that may arise during the book publishing process.

If you want a literary agent take some time researching the different ones out there and make a list of ones you think are a good fit for you and your writing. You find a literary agent through querying your book. While there aren’t really “types” of literary agents they all have different areas of expertise and preferred genre.

Obtaining a literary agent isn’t necessary if you’re self-publishing a book. You may consider hiring a publicist or business coach, but these are different roles than what a literary agent plays.

Other posts you’ll find helpful

A literary agent represents writers and authors and is equal parts opportunity finder, deal negotiator and career advisor. Highly recommended!

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
A literary agent represents writers and authors and is equal parts opportunity finder, deal negotiator and career advisor. Highly recommended!
it's not required to have a literary agent to get a traditional book deal

Resonance | Powerful Platform Building Secrets for Writers

There’s a lot of talk about platform building in the writing world but not a lot of talk about resonance. Yeah, they’re kind of the same but also different.

Resonance | Powerful Platform Building Secrets for Writers

Platform can be interpreted as a numbers game, which it *is* but also isn’t. Resonance is the next level of platform and influence—it’s the ripple effect of your message making waves.

Going viral, if you will.

Resonance is your platform reverberating

I first heard the term resonance applied in a platform-building context from the Novel Marketing podcast. Fascinating stuff. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Author Media

“Platform can be a sign of resonance, but it is not how you make resonance happen. Resonance is the horse. Platform is the cart the horse drags. Don’t put the cart in front of the horse.”


Author Media

The big secret about resonance is it’s an upside down model.

You, the writer, serve others.

You write for them.

In fact, you write what they want to read.

It makes sense when you think about it, but so many people write for themselves, and then are confused or frustrated when others don’t resonate with it.

When something connects with readers, they respond with engagement. This is SO important in platform building.

Numbers are one thing, but they don’t mean much if your followers don’t respond to what you write. And it means so much more if they share it with their friends.

Here are some reasons people are most likely to share something

  • If they have a strong reaction to it
  • If they have a positive emotional response to it
  • They are more likely to share if they feel inspired by it
  • If they are surprised by it
  • If they find it practical and useful
  • People are more likely to share something if they think it will help someone

The degree of virality changes based on the level your audience amplifies your message. If you connect, they’ll engage. And that’s resonance.

Your Writer's Statement Free Worksheet

If you can get clear on why you’re writing, it will become a beacon of light showing you the way forward.

Download the Your Writer’s Statement worksheet from my resource library.

Pop your email address in the form below, confirm your subscription to my email list and I’ll send you the password to my free resource library. Once you’re in, navigate to the “writing” section and look for the worksheet titled, “Create a Writer’s Statement Worksheet.”

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Influencer marketing and resonance

There’s a corner of the Internet that makes money directly from their platform, they’re called influencers.

But even they can’t get far without resonance.

An influencer is someone who has an engaged following of people who pay close attention to their thoughts and opinions.

A true influencer can post about a great new product they’ve discovered and they have built so much trust with their audience that they rush out to also purchase the same product. These people have achieved the “three Rs” of influence marketing.

  • Reach
  • Relevance
  • Resonance

They are given this amazing level of influence because their audience trusts them enough to act on their recommendations.

And for success here, resonance means more than platform numbers.

Elements in a well-rounded author platform

How this relates to freelance writing

Alright so maybe you’re not interested in building a traditional author platform because you’re a freelance writer.

And influencer marketing is also not your jam.

You might be thinking you don’t need to write for your audience or readers.

I get that, I see it all the time!

Resonance and relevance

But here’s what else I see, and please don’t take this personally.

When a copywriter writes for themselves rather than their clients, the client can feel it even if they can’t put their finger on why. But I’ll tell you why, it’s because they copywriter puts themselves into the work rather than writing in their client’s voice.

It fails to resonate.

When a journalist writes for themselves rather than their readers, it either falls flat or it comes off as a passion project. Because it’s self-serving rather than community service.

It fails to connect.

When a blogger writes for themselves rather than their readers, they will stop reading. Plain and simple. This is because it comes off as a journal or some other type of autobiography.

Personal stories need to point to a larger narrative, one people can relate to and see themselves in.

Quick tips for creating resonance with your audience

  • Demonstrate to your readers that you care about them. Talk to them, ask them questions, engage with them on their channels
  • Highlight the tangible benefits of paying attention to you. Showcase your knowledge or expertise, entertain, inspire, encourage or help them deal with a specific situation
  • Show up consistently and appropriately according to the channel’s conventions
  • Give as much as you ask. Be a good literary citizen, be generous and helpful
  • Share relevant information. Think about your audience before you post. What will they like? What will they respond to? So what do then need/want to hear?

In marketing, relationships are everything. In life, relationships are everything. If we want people to pay attention, we need to say things worth paying attention to.

And the best way to do this, whether it’s for platform building, business or getting clicks, is by creating resonance.

Other posts you may like

There's a lot of talk about platform building in the writing world but not a lot of talk about resonance. Yeah, they're kind of the same but also different. 

Platform can be interpreted as a numbers game, which it *is* but also isn't. Resonance is the next level of platform and influence—it's the ripple effect of your message making waves. 

Going viral, if you will.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required

How to Respond When People Want to Pick Your Brain for Free

“Hey, can I take you out for coffee and pick you brain? I have a question about freelance writing.”

This is such a common question and I’m sure you’ve been asked it in one way, shape or form at some point in your career.

How to Respond When People Want to Pick Your Brain for Free

In fact, I’ve heard this taught as an actual tactic for learning the business.

In fact, I’ve definitely asked people if I could pick their brain! (And still do sometimes!)

So, is it good to do this? Is it smarmy? Is it somewhere in between?

Hey, can I pick your brain?

Ahh…I guess it’s kind of a grey area.

When we’re just getting started, or trying to figure out how to level up, we need someone who is further along to point us in the right direction.

But if you’re that person who is further along, you’re probably REALLY busy. And you likely get asked this question a LOT.

The answer here, for the asker and the mentor is boundaries.

Because here’s the thing, in the content marketing game, sharing valuable advice and offering free information is important!

And literary citizenship is super important!

But sometimes you need to get paid for your advice.

Freelancer Positioning Worksheet

Let’s take a quick break from the training so I can remind you about my resource library!

Executing a solid marketing plan comes down to understanding who you serve, what makes you different in the eyes of your ideal client, why that difference matters and what you do.

If you can get solid here, your marketing will flow from there.

I’ve put together a worksheet to help you figure this out. You can grab the free download in my resource library. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll email you the password, then go to the freelancing section and look for “Freelancer Positioning Worksheet.”

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Alright, let’s talk about boundaries

Where you place your boundary on requests for free advice is different for every entrepreneur. That’s the first thing.

But you should definitely figure out where that line is and draw that line in the sand.

The next step is to maintain that boundary. And yeah, you may feel MEAN but your boundary is there for a reason.

And think about how much you give to your community already, and what this person is asking.

Like, you’re not giving enough already? And you should give to this random person…because they think you should? Because you owe them?

Sometimes giving free advice isn’t the right call at that exact moment in your specific situation. Recognize that and keep your boundaries in place.

How to respond when people want to pick your brain for free

There are gracious and kind ways to declining an invitation when people reach out asking for advice but don’t want to pay for it.

Because you want to treat everyone who reaches out to you with respect as a human.

The goal here is to acknowledge their situation and remind them that you run a business.

Here are a couple suggestions for investing in people without giving into every request to pick your brain.

Hey, can I take you out for coffee and pick your brain?

This first one I would use if I kind of know the person, or if a friend as given them my information and told them to reach out.

And I will note, I often accept these requests if I’m available and it makes sense. But here’s what I’d say if I’m declining.

Response to pick your brain 1/2

Hey friend, so good to hear from you!

I love that you reached out about freelance writing and marketing as it’s an area I’m passionate about. At this point, I’m fully booked through till the end of __________, which means my schedule is pretty tight for coffee meetings.

That said, I’d love to invite you to our next virtual co-working session! I’ve pasted the details below—let me know if you can make it 🙂

Also, I’ve written about this topic before on my blog (link). Hope this is helpful in your situation!

Robyn

PS What’s your Instagram handle? I’d love to connect with you there!


This second one is something I’d use if I have no idea who the person is or if the tone of their request put me off. Like, if it felt demanding or entitled or something.

Response to pick your brain 2/2

Hi there,

Thanks for reaching out! I have a lot of knowledge in the freelance writing and marketing field and would love to see you succeed in this area!

Here’s a little bit about me and my business.

And here is an article I wrote about TOPIC (link). Hope it’s helpful in your situation!

Let me know what you think and let me know if you have any other questions.

Robyn

PS If you’re interested, I will add you to my email list where I share weekly tips and tricks to move you ahead in your freelance business!

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Are you wondering what the right way to ask someone for free advice is? Here’s a helpful article from The New York Times.

"Hey, can I take you out for coffee and pick you brain? I have a question about freelance writing."

This is such a common question and I'm sure you've been asked it in one way, shape or form at some point in your career.

There are gracious and kind ways to respond when people reach out asking for advice but don't want to pay for it.

Because you want to treat everyone who reaches out to you with respect as a human.

The goal here is to acknowledge their situation and remind them that you run a business.

Here are a couple suggestions for investing in people without giving into every request to pick your brain.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required