I only started tracking things recently.
And I also think it is important to figure out what works for your business and then figure out what to track.
So what I track and how I track it may not be totally relevant to your situation. But it may help give you some ideas.
Why do I track things?
I track things because:
- It helps me figure out what works and what doesn’t so I can do more of what works or try other approaches.
- It makes me more aware of just how much work I actually do because it can get easy to be down on yourself and feel like you don’t do a lot because you remember one or two stand out moments but not that you have been steadily working at things the whole year.
- It helps me figure out things I need to have and things I don’t need to have – like what helps me with the business and what doesn’t and that can help me streamline and make my business more efficient.
- It allows me to see how much closer I am to a goal I want to reach and then helps me with motivation to reach it.
- It sets out clearly what my priorities need to be and so I am not always confused about what I need to do next.
- It gives me an ability to be flexible about what I do and how I do it.
1. Word counts
The books I write don’t bring in any income right now (unless you count Patreon) so they are for the most part a potential future source of passive income.
It’s important to remember that. They are also however things I want to do. I want to write books. They are more to me than just sources of income – they matter. They matter a lot.
Other authors may not include them in their business but I do. I do so, and acknowledge that they are part of what I do, for a few reasons:
- Writing books helps me a lot with the editing side with my clients. I learn things that are useful.
- It isn’t their primary goal but they may generate income in the future so I feel I should set it up as part of the business now.
- I am a workaholic and if I didn’t make it a part of the business and set aside time for it, it would not happen and these books are also a personal want and I need to make it happen. So I am sort of hacking myself and my brain this way.
So I track word counts.
I am currently writing Gin & Tonic which you can read as I write on Patreon. I have around 30,000+ words written, some of which needs to be typed up. I am hoping to have 50,000 words or the book finished by 31 March.
So I am tracking how much I have written each week and each month. And I update the blog and the Patreon on a fortnightly basis.
This also helps me get into a routine of writing regularly and managing my time better so I can write books faster.
2. Monthly income
Monthly income is a little bit easier for me to track now that I am using Rounded.
Rounded allows me to track it all but most importantly it counts not how much work I do or invoice for per month but how much comes in per month.
It is a good reminder to plan ahead so that you can get paid on a regular basis.
Tracking my monthly income reminds me that I am working hard throughout the year to earn and that there are slow months I need to plan ahead for.
3. Pitches and rejections
You have by now no doubt heard of people aiming for an X number of pitches per year or those who are counting rejections.
I think it is important to track this to see how successful you actually are and to learn not to get caught up in the aftermath of rejections.
But it is also useful to track so you can determine roughly on average how many of your pitches are successful and then use that to calculate if you need to increase your pitches per week or not to meet your income targets. So if you find that you are going to succeed in getting 20% or $200 per week how much more will you need to pitch for per week to meet your target weekly income?
It also helps remind you that rejections are not forever and can lead to commissions and acceptances. This has happened to me several times.
I am currently making sure that all the emails I send out that are pitches get tracked in Asana so I can tally them up later but they also exist as open tasks so that I don’t forget that I have something due.
4. Social media statistics
The reason I track this is mostly to see what my followers on each platform is interested in.
This is an open task in Asana that I add numbers to at the end of the month. I can then see what causes a spike and what doesn’t and determine why.
I am not too fussed on the time aspect of when I post but it isn’t hard to notice trends already like that it is mostly Linked In followers who click on links.
5. Newsletter statistics
This gets tracked anyway but again, I want to know what people want to see and what they are interested in finding out more about. It helps determine what gets put on the blog.
I currently post a round up of blog articles monthly to the newsletter plus any news about events and courses that I run. If you want to sign up, please do. It helps if you tell me what you want to read on the blog or in the newsletter.
6. Website statistics
This is kind of obvious?
Whenever possible, I like to keep things simple. So I use the inbuilt WordPress statistics that tells me which countries are finding my blog and what pages and posts they are looking at (this post was the top one for last year and I am not at all surprised). I will post another one for 2019 though I am not sure the information will change that much at the moment.
7. ROI on Marketing
So this sort of ties in a bit to the social media stats and other things.
I like to set a budget for marketing that does not count the website costs but does count things like attending a conference or event perhaps or paying for an ad. And then I like to track how much return I get on that if I can.
It just lets me know what things are worth my time because I get to meet cool people or I get some work coming in and what isn’t.
I am presenting at IPEd Con this year – is that going to be a good ROI on my initial outlay of $450 or not? Those are things I need to think about so I can make a good decision on whether these things are worth it in the long run for me.
8. My expenses
I don’t have a set system for this yet. Right now, it is easy to keep track of this in my head until I can put everything into Rounded.
Rounded allows me to add files when I have an expense so I can also take a picture of a receipt and use that when I file an expense on the mobile app.
But it is rather ad hoc at the moment so hopefully I will manage to create some sort of routine or system that doesn’t involve adding other programs or apps on top of what I already have.
9. Jobs I apply for
Even though I freelance, I still apply for full time or part time in-house work. And I apply in a variety of ways and sometimes the apps I use for some of them, track my applications for me which is useful.
But I also make a note of what I have applied for. And if I don’t hear back I can get in touch with them. Again this is a rather ad hoc system.
10. Cold pitches/EOIs I send out
So one part of my business is journalism and another part is editing.
To find more ongoing work and regular clients, I email them asking if they need or use freelance editors. I track these including any rejections so I can see which places don’t use freelancers and I can make sure I am not contacting the same places several times over and so on.
11. Pay rates for each client/publication
I track this because I can put it into the MEAA Rate tracker but also so that I can inform other journalists and editors and we can make sure no one is getting paid less than anyone else.
So every so often I post in different groups what my most recent negotiated or agreed to pay rates were and also add them to the rate tracker.
Keeping track of all this helps me figure out if I am on target for my KPIs – why can’t a business have KPIs and goals? ;D
What sort of things do you track for your work? I would like to know what other people do so let me know in the comments.