Based in Chicago, Illinois, The Freelance Beat is a blog exploring the triumphs and challenges that freelance journalists encounter in their early and mid-careers.

Freelance Fall Checklist

Freelance Fall Checklist

As I’m writing this, I’m fighting a cold, I’ve scoped out some school supply deals on Office Depot and I’m dying to break out my sweaters. All signs are pointing to fall.

Since graduating in December 2014, this time of year has felt a bit weird for me. I haven’t been out of college for that long, so it feels like I should be stocking up on textbooks and figuring out where my classes are. Of course, I’m glad to be done with college! But old habits die hard.

Instead of reading syllabi, I’m opting to check in on my business. I’m more than an year into full-time freelancing and it’s been a ride! I didn’t think I’d be able to do this, but I’m doing it. There’s always room for improvement, so here are the areas I’m examining:

Income goals

Sure, I’ve been able to support myself thus far. But as any freelancer will tell you, maintaining a stable income is tough. Right now, I’m thinking about my income and broader financial goals. I want to, for example, tackle some smaller debts before aggressively going after my student debt. I want to set up a buffer fund, i.e. emergency fund but for my business. I have one for myself, by the way, but I’d like to set one up for months when my income fluctuates.

Client relationships

I have a great, steady relationship with some of my clients. Others, however, I have to repeatedly check in and seek feedback. While I’m thinking about my income goals, I’m also re-thinking which relationships need to be strengthened or established in order to meet those goals.

Special projects

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of small and mid-sized assignments. In the background, I’m taking stock in the enterprise projects I’m working on. What FOIA requests do I need to file? What’s the status on the FOIA requests I’ve already filed? For the information I’ve already obtained via FOIA request, what are the next steps?


Speaking of long-term projects, now is the time to start thinking about pitches for February and March issues of print magazines. Print magazines have a long lead time, so now would be a good time to start researching any possible newspegs that’ll make for good magazine stories. (Holidays, anniversaries, cultural or political milestones?)


Okay, I can’t be the only nerd who loves school supply shopping, right? Notebooks, pens, printer ink, and other goods are on sale this time of year. I usually order from Office Depot, but you can also hit up Walmart, Staples or maybe even Best Buy for more photography or video equipment.

What’s on your fall freelance checklist? Tell me in the comments or email me at

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