How to Find Good Paying Clients: Plan First and Set Your Goals

This is the first in the 5-part series of How to Find (and Get) Good Paying Clients

As what you’ll often hear me say, being a freelancer, whatever service you’re offering is the same as having your own business. So you need to treat it like one even if you’re working all by yourself.

And like all businesses, it’s best to start with a plan where you set your goals and other details that will move your business forward.

Honestly, I learned this the hard way.

I didn’t treat freelancing as a business and I didn’t have a business plan when I started. So it was like I was going around in circles in my first two years of working online.

If you’ve been freelancing for a while and haven’t done one yet, that’s okay, you can always do one right now. Better late than never, right?

Why and how to write a business plan

Your business plan will serve as your map for how far you want to go.

It doesn’t have to be a formal document nor do you need to have a lawyer to help you write it. You could create it using MS Word or Notepad or write it in your favorite notebook.

What matters is you write it down so you have something to remind you about the direction you want to take for the month, quarter, or year.

That said here are some questions to get you started:

What do you want to accomplish?

Think of your long term goals in life along with your freelance writing goals when answering this question. Do you want to travel, write a book, own a house, buy a car? Do you have a specific amount in your savings account or retirement fund? Do you want to save up for your child’s tuition or your own education or additional training? Or do you simply want to charge more per year? You can say that this question will be the basis for your answers to the next questions.

What topics do you want to write about?

Consider your interests, hobbies, and experiences for this question. Write everything you can think of. You can always add or remove items here as you move along your business and discover which ones you’re really interested in writing about. The same goes for your entire business plan. You can always add or remove items in it if it doesn’t fit with your long-term goals or personal situation anymore.

How many hours do you want to work?

It’s easy to say you’d want to work for 40 hours each week. But when you work at home you have to consider the time you need to spend on other priorities too. Or if you’re still working in a full-time office job and doing freelance writing on the side, take into account the time you spend at work + travel time.

Then think about how long it takes you to write an article and whenever we say ‘writing time’ always include your research and editing time.

Once you have that figured out, you can then set your reasonable number of work hours each week or each month.

Will you offer other services aside from writing?

Are you also adept at social media marketing? How about customer service? Or could you provide turn-key solutions and be a one-stop online shop for clients offering graphic or web design with your writing services perhaps?

How much do you want to earn?

With all these information, you can now determine a specific amount you’d like to earn per article this month or this year.

When calculating this, think big yet be realistic at the same time and consider your expenses, taxes, and other fees you pay in doing business online.

If you’re still having a hard time figuring out how much you should charge, see the current industry standard rates for different types of articles by:

  • checking this rate guide by (Note: You need to sign up to access it)
  • or searching for writer sites that list their rates (Note: It doesn’t matter if they’re a US writer or not)

There are no rules, however, that say you can’t go beyond the amounts other writers charge. But that decision would be up to you which leads us to the last question.

What’s the minimum acceptable amount per article for you?

Now we all know that clients who will ask you to lower your rates still exist. For you to be ready when this happens, set the minimum amount that you’ll accept. Then tell yourself that you won’t go below this amount anymore and stick to it.

Goal setting and goal-getting

Writing your business plan is more of a goal setting exercise. But having it in place will help you see if you’re moving in the course you’ve set for yourself.

Use the SMART way (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic or relevant, and time-bound) for setting your goals.

As for achieving it, re-write or review your goals every day, every week, or every month. Checking your goals regularly also means embedding it into your subconscious so that in the long run, all your actions align with your intentions.

To make it easy and fun, you can set your passwords in a way that will remind you of your goals constantly.

For example, your goal this month is to land a client who will pay you $50 per article. You can then set your computer password to US$50perarticle or something similar.

To know more about how this works, you can check out one of my favorite articles that show the power of using passwords for achieving goals here.

Over to you

When you’re new to freelancing, writing a business plan and setting goals is often overlooked. It’s understandable because we want to dive right into finding clients and getting paid.

But if you don’t set your standards, it’s easy to just accept what comes along. And what comes may eventually impede you from moving up and earning more.

Did this first step give you any “aha” moment? Or do you have your own proven goal setting and getting tip? If so, let me know in the comments. I’d love to know your thoughts too.


  1. Pingback: It All Starts With A Goal

  2. Jovell Alingod

    I had the same setbacks before. And I’ll definitely add more bits about this on the next posts.

    But for now, have you thought about this question – how much do you want it (by "it" I mean your target income, your target clients, your target results)? I ask because often, when we "really" want something, we’ll do what we can so our actions will always move us to the (business) plan we have at hand.

    Also, a business plan may seem like a humongous project at first. So tackle it by breaking it down to small tasks you can do every month/week or everyday. 🙂

  3. Jovell Alingod

    Glad you liked it Rochefel and thank you for adding your own tip to the conversation. 🙂

  4. Mai Bantog

    You’re so right, Jovell. Although I’ve been freelancing on and off for six years now, I didn’t have a business plan of sorts until recently. It was fine for the first four years because I was doing it as a side job, but now that I decided to make it a full-time career, a business plan is indispensable.

    The problem perhaps with me is that I find it hard to implement my business plan. Though I’ve successfully increased my rates and stuck to a minimum amount for each article, I find it difficult to continue with other non-paying aspects of my business plan, such as creating a writer website and maintaining a blog. They always take a backseat because I’d rather write something that pays right now instead of something that may or may not pay in the long run. As a result, I’m still quite far from my ideal rates, though there’s been quite an improvement since last year. Any tips on how to implement a business plan successfully?

  5. rochefel rivera

    I love the idea of setting your goal as your password! That way, you’ll be able to be reminded of it every time you need to login. Lol! I really love it, Jovell! Aside from making a business plan, I also suggest a marketing plan after, to back up your business plan. Let’s say, what are the social media activities that you will do to attract your clients (or any other marketing activities), which social media platform you want to concentrate on, how are you going to attract the clients that you want and most specially, work with your plan. Most problems occur when people starts implementing, not in the planning stage. It’s always easy to plan but when it comes to implementing it on a daily basis, our lack of motivation and all other factors affect people’s focus and get distracted. Don’t allow this to happen. Just keep on going. Just my two cents worth. 🙂

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