At the beginning of each year, I set up a freelance income projection spreadsheet to help me plan. As a freelancer or consultant, your income can vary widely from month to month. I remember early in my freelancing career that I had one month where I only made $250 for the whole month…followed by a month where I made $16,000. Obviously, my income evened out over time, but freelance income can be very inconsistent from month to month.
Therefore, I started a spreadsheet to project my income for the year. This helps me look ahead at my income to see how I’m doing. It also helps me plan when my income might be low so I can start looking for additional projects if needed. At the end of the year, this also helps me analyze how the year went. If you are a freelancer or consultant, now is a great time to get in the habit of creating an income projection and understanding your financial situation better.
How to use the template
- Get the free income projection template. The link above will ask if you want to Make a Copy of the Google Sheet.
- Enter your income goal for the year in cell M2.
- Enter your projects and invoices in A2:D50 (you can overwrite all of the sample data in A2:D9). Enter invoices you expect to send, even if you haven’t billed for them yet. It’s OK to guess the amounts initially; just update them later after you actually send the invoice.
- Project: The name of the project or client
- Amount: The amount of the invoice.
- Invoice Date: The date of the invoice.
- Net Days: How many days you expect until payment. Most contracts are Net 15 or Net 30, but some may have longer terms.
- The Payment Due and Payment Month columns will calculate automatically.
Example freelance income projection
The template includes some hypothetical data to show you how it works. In this example, the freelancer (we’ll call her Theresa) has income from two projects (Project A and Project B), plus a monthly paid coaching call.
Project B is Theresa’s primary project with two larger invoices due in January and February. Project A is a smaller side project, billed at $1500 per month. Most freelancers and consultants I know work on multiple projects simultaneously (although of course, everyone’s situation is a little different).
In this example, her income goal for the year is $85,000. That means Theresa needs to earn $7,083 per month to reach that goal (shown in M2 and M6). Right now, both January and February are short of that goal. Therefore, Theresa either needs to pick up some extra work in Q1 or to get some higher paying projects later in the year if she wants to meet her goal for the year.
It’s also visible in the chart that Theresa needs to get another project in March and April, after Project B wraps up. If she uses the spreadsheet in January to project her income, she’ll have time to reach out to contacts or do other marketing in time to get more work booked in March.
Update the projection throughout the year
Most instructional design and elearning freelancers probably can’t project more than a few months in advance. That’s OK; you can enter the projects you know about now, and then update more as the year progresses. My spreadsheet often looks very sparse in January, and it fills in more by the spring.
I usually update my spreadsheet once a month, at the same time as I do most of my invoices. Over the course of the year, this spreadsheet becomes less of a projection and more of a record of the year.
Other tools for income projection
Kai Davis recently shared the spreadsheet he uses as part of his annual review and projection. This is structured differently than my template, but the overall concept is very similar.
The Cushion app provides income projection and other tools for freelancers. If you’re looking for something more advanced that includes time tracking and other features, Cushion looks like a promising option.
More on freelancing
Free webinar on January 18
I’m giving a free webinar on January 18, 2023 at 1 PM ET/10 AM PT as part of the Learning Guild’s “Best of Learning Solutions” series. I’ll be revisiting my session from LSCon last year called “Set the Stage: Make eLearning Relevant and Authentic with Scenarios.” You can register for free on the Learning Guild website.