by Niall Doherty

November has come to an end, and therefore so has my self-imposed challenge to win $5k of new business within the month.

In my update last week, things weren’t looking too good. I’d secured only $2,005 worth of new business and I didn’t foresee any big projects falling out of the sky to save the day.

But, as it transpired, the sky did open and the day got saved.

One of my existing clients asked if I’d like to build a new website for him, and after chatting it out on Skype we agreed that my compensation for the project would be in the $3-5k range.

Adding just $3k to the pot to keep things conservative, while also adding numbers from a couple of other projects last week, that means I’ve exceeded my goal for the month by ten percent 🙂

Happy, but not satisfied.

So as well as having lots of work to do these next few weeks, I’m now also tasked with figuring out how exactly I managed to pull this off!

But before I get to that, I should say that I’m not entirely satisfied with how the month went. Sure, I managed to reach the $5k goal, but the bulk of my “winnings” came from two great clients I’d been working with since long before November. These past few weeks I was hoping to figure out a solid system for landing big projects from new clients, so I wouldn’t be as dependent on the few I’ve already got.

As such, I realize there’s still plenty I can learn about lead generation, and I plan to experiment a lot more with that in the coming months.

What worked?

Now let’s talk about what did work well for me in November. Luck aside, which of my efforts proved most effective in the quest to win $5k worth of new business?

I believe it boiled down to three key things:

  1. I let my best existing clients know that I was hungry for more work. This accounted for the bulk of the $5k.
  2. I shouted from the rooftops (via my mailing list, social media, and private messages) to let everyone know what kind of work I could do and that I was available to do it. This led to four new clients.
  3. I kept myself motivated and staved off procrastination by writing publicly about my intentions and efforts here on the blog.

And what didn’t?

I’m hesitant to rule anything out because some efforts that have so far been ineffective may yet bear fruit. For example, I made several cold calls last week, while a friend cold emailed a bunch of businesses on my behalf. Nothing has come of those efforts so far, but we’ll persist a little longer before drawing any conclusions.

One lesson learned the hard way during the challenge: Identify and communicate the biggest risks to a project as early as possible.

I say this because I invested about six hours discussing and putting together a proposal for a big project mid-month, only to realize near the end of those hours that the timeline was too tight and the client would be better off hiring someone with more availability.

It really shouldn’t have taken me six hours to figure that out, so a lot of time wasted there.

How did you do?

If you set your own income challenge for November, check in via the comments below and share how you got on.

Specifically, tell me:

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t?
  • What are you going to do next?

P.S. For reference, here are the previous posts in this series:

P.P.S. Last week I interviewed four different people who are earning between $3k and $10k per month freelancing online. I’ll have those interviews ready for your ears soon. Sign up to my Business & Entrepreneurship list below to make sure you don’t miss them.

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