Whether you gain experience while still in college, or set out on a post-graduate freelance career, it’s important to know the freelancer success factors so you know how well you’re doing.
Key performance indicators—or KPIs—are the data points you measure to uncover just that. But if you’re working for yourself, how do you know where to begin?
And where do you find time between juggling deadlines and marketing yourself to new clients to analyze this data?
Profit and Revenue
Making a profit while doing what you love is every freelancer’s dream. But it’s imperative you pay close attention to this figure in order to thrive. In other words, you need to know whether your business model is working in a more data-driven way than by just looking at your current bank balance.
First, let’s quickly review the terms.
- Your revenue is the total amount of money you receive from clients during a particular time period. (You can track it monthly, quarterly or semi-annually—whatever works best for you, so long as you’re consistent.)
- Your profit is what you actually bring home—that is, the difference between your revenue and your business expenses. These can include everything from software subscriptions that enable you to do your job to office-space rental or commuter fare.
- Revenue is known as your top line, while profit is your bottom line.
Tracking this data enables you to look back and see when you did the best over the course of the year. For example, maybe there are seasonal aspects of your field you hadn’t considered. The data also lets you revisit your business costs and where you might trim them.
As an added bonus, tracking these costs can be a huge help during tax season as you calculate your business expense deductions.
Billing Structures and Averages
Some partners will want to pay you per hour; others, per project. As a freelancer, you have to be prepared to accept various forms of payment per job. At the same time, you can use this information to see how you’ve progressed and whether you’ve become stagnant in your negotiations for more money.
Rather than just track the final amount of money you collected, find a way to compare this total with the work you’ve done. For example, let’s say you were paid a lump sum to churn out a writing assignment, but it ended up comprising more words than anticipated. By knowing your average revenue per word, you can better negotiate these types of agreements in the future.
Yes, at any given point you can pull up your Twitter app and look at your number of followers. But do you know your average growth rate? How many of these individuals engage with your content and retweet it? Are people mentioning you? And what sort of posts gains the most traction?
No matter your social campaign strategy, you have to be able to monitor results. While this may be the most exhausting KPI to track—given that you probably have accounts on more than one social platform—there is a lot of social-media-monitoring technology available to you.
Everyone’s different, so make sure you’ve compared different platforms’ costs and available analytics. Many of them have free versions that have everything you really need as a freelancer, as opposed to an enterprise-sized business, so don’t spend money unless you absolutely have to. Marketing yourself doesn’t have to be a purely trial-and-error endeavor when you have valuable information in hand.
In addition to our recent post on the spreadsheets that can help you track this data, check out the available listings at HireOwl and learn how to gather this information before you even graduate college. Good luck!