5 Necessary KPIs to Measure the Success of a Freelance Writer

What is freelance success to you? How do you measure freelance success?

If you’re a freelance writer, chances are that you may never have considered concepts such as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) before you started. Perhaps your inspiration for this career first sprouted from reading Shakespeare’s Othello in high school, or maybe you saw how a well-written speech could change hearts and minds.

Now you’re googling things like ‘customer satisfaction KPI’, and wondering why you can’t just sit in a beautiful woodland cabin in the dappled sunlight, and let the wisdom of Jane Austen seep from your fingertips and onto the page in front of you. 

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Well, learning about KPIs can really help you to monetize your talent and measure what’s not working for you. It doesn’t sound romantic, but it’s actually extremely useful in understanding what readers are responding to, and how to get more people to engage with your work. Remember, the more engagement your work garners, the more likely it is that you’ll get repeat work from clients. 

So, without further ado, here are 5 necessary KPIs for measuring your success as a freelance writer: 

KPIs to Measure Freelance Success

1. Interactions with your content 

engagement measure freelance success

Are people liking and commenting on your communication in the workplace articles? Are they sharing them with friends and colleagues? 

This is a very telling KPI that you can easily measure. It will tell you whether people are genuinely interested in your article or just stumbled onto it by mistake. With so many platforms that you can share your article on, you have the chance to gauge people’s reactions to your content on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and more. 

An article that doesn’t move people to react in any way is probably not going to generate much traffic. Whether your article is funny, insightful, relatable, whatever, it should touch people in some way. 

2. Traffic to your website

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For this KPI, you want to know how many people visited your page, blog, or online portfolio. How long did they stay on your article about software test plan ideas? How did they get there? How many clicks did your article generate? 

If you have a lot of visits, but your visitors aren’t staying for a long time, maybe your search engine optimization is going well in terms of using good keywords, but your content isn’t engaging enough. If you have fewer visitors, but they’re really engaging with what you’re putting out there – e.g. staying a long time, looking at more of your articles – then your content is probably good but maybe you need to focus more on getting the word out about your article. 

Ideally, you want to start generating high levels of traffic, and for the average length of time people spend on your page to be long enough to read your article and interact. 

3. Hourly rates for your work

One way to measure freelance success is by looking at how much you’re getting paid by the hour. A good hourly wage is for you to decide. For some people, it might be whatever the equivalent of the Living Wage is in their area. For other people, their rates might depend on how much money they’ve spent on higher education to become a freelance writer. 

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Calculate how much money you’re making per hour by counting the number of hours, including emails and other communications, you spend on a project. If you spend 5 hours working on a $20 project, you are yourself a disservice, but you may also be working on that particular project because you want to get in with that client or you care about the ethos of the company. 

Over time, you can swap out your lowest paying clients with higher-paying clients, and increase your hourly wage. 

4. Profit & growth

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Unlike hourly wages, profit measures how much of your hard-earned money you get to keep after taxes and any business expenses. It’s a good idea to use an app or at least a spreadsheet to keep track of this. 

By monitoring how much profit you make on a month-to-month and year-by-year basis, you can track the progress and growth of your business and see whether it’s sustainable in the long run. It’s a useful way to see where you need to make tweaks. If profits are low, perhaps you need to find a way to minimize your business expenses, such as paid cloud services, or perhaps you need to look for better-paying clients. 

5. Collaborations generated 

Not all of your articles will result in many clicks, interactions, or even much money. But they might result in something just as important – new leads. You only need one interested party to read and like your authoritative writing style to get you a collaboration that could lead to all of the things we just mentioned. 

To sum up…

KPIs are meant to measure the success of your freelancing business, but success is subjective. Every freelance writer can use these KPIs to measure freelance success, see where they need to make some tweaks, and figure out how to grow their client base. 

About the writer

Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Check out her LinkedIn profile.






2 responses
  1. Lisa Jo Rudy Avatar
    Lisa Jo Rudy

    KPIs are going to vary radically from week to week, which makes it very tough to calculate. Clients overlap, or you may have a gap between checks, or you may take a vacation week… Even after 30 years, I go by my annual income and not by my weekly because of that issue. I make FAR more as a self-employed writer than I would in an equivalent full-time job … which I count as a success. But I am also insured through my husband, and that, too, makes a big difference.

    1. Noemi Avatar

      You make a very good point, Lisa. And, I agree — that definitely counts as a success! As for insurance, you’re fortunate to have that setup. I just paid my health insurance premium, which is making me a little sick right now. 😉

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