Member Login

How To Set 90-day Goals For Freelance Instructional Design Success


Unlock the Episode: Listen and Download the Free MP3 from My Podcast Today!




Hey there, freelancers! Welcome to another exciting episode of the 'Focused on Freelance Instructional Design' podcast. I'm your host, Crystal Osterbuhr, and today, we're diving deep into the world of goal-setting for your freelance instructional design career and business.

But before we jump into the main topic, let's kick things off with our 'Freelancer Tool of the Week.' This time, I've got a gem for you – it's called Clockify. It's a 100 percent free time tracking app designed specifically for freelancers like us. Clockify not only helps you track billable hours and hourly rates but also automatically calculates amounts based on your rates. Plus, it provides neat linked and exported reports for your clients. Trust me, it's a game-changer!

Now, let's get down to business – setting those 90-day goals for your freelance instructional design journey. I've been there, navigating the freelance world while juggling a full-time gig and being a single mom. So, I get it. Setting goals is crucial, but achieving them? That's a whole different ball game.

To guide you through this challenge, I want to introduce you to a method that has worked wonders for me – the CoSTAR process. It's an acronym, and each letter represents a step in the goal-setting journey.

First up, 'C' stands for Current Situation Analysis. You've got to take a good, hard look at where you're at right now. What challenges are you facing? What's working well? Any new skills in your toolkit? This analysis lays the foundation for your goals.

Next is 'O' for Objectives and Goals. Based on your analysis, set SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For instance, don't just say you want more clients; be specific, like 'Increase new client sign-ups by 10 percent in 3 months.'

Now, onto 'S' – Strategy. This is the 'how' part. How are you going to achieve those goals? Each objective needs a high-level plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

'T' is for Tactics. These are the specific processes supporting your strategy. Break down your broad strategy into manageable tasks. For example, if your strategy is to improve client retention, your tactics could include improving client onboarding or learning a new skill like gamification.

Next, 'A' – Action Steps. These are your practical to-do items, your checklist. Each step should be one actionable item, contributing to the implementation of your tactics.

Finally, 'R' – Review. Regularly assess your progress towards your objectives. Set a date, check in, refine and adjust your plans if needed. I recommend a 90-day planning cycle. It keeps you specific, realistic, and adaptable.

So, are you ready to take charge of your freelance instructional design career? Whether you follow CoSTAR or have your own goal-setting process, the key is to set those goals, execute your plans, and assess your progress. Effort is the keyword here. Your strategic plan is your ticket to success in this field.

I've been using the CoSTAR process for years, and it's been a game-changer for me. If you want to dive deeper, check out the ID Plan Academy. And for more on goal-setting, log in if you're a member or join the community if you're not.

That's a wrap for this week. If you enjoyed today's episode, show some love by hitting that five-star review button. Your feedback helps me reach more freelancers and make a bigger impact. Connect with me on social media, and let's keep the conversation going. Until next week, keep hustling, freelancers!




Hello, and you're listening to the Focus on Freelance Instructional Design podcast. I'm Crystal Osterbuhr, and in today's episode, I'm going to talk to you about how to set 90-day goals for your freelance instructional design career and business. But before we begin, I'll be starting off each episode with an instructional design freelancer tool of the week.

And this week's freelancer tool of the week is called Clockify. Clockify is the only 100 percent free time tracking app for freelancers to track billable hours and hourly rates. This program will automatically calculate amounts based on your billable rates. You also get linked and exported reports for your clients.

With Clockify, you can set each project's billable hours rate and there's also an extension you can add to Google Chrome that lets you turn on a stopwatch and attribute time to projects. Or you can fill out a timesheet or a combination of both. As a freelancer, I use the free version and it does everything I need it to.

So be sure to review the show notes of this episode for more information on how to get Clockify. All right, now let's move on to the main topic of today's episode.

Setting goals for your instructional design career and freelance business is essential to continuous growth, but simply setting them isn't enough. You must follow through with and achieve your goals, which is a completely different challenge. And that's usually where the problem lies. To make sure that you get where you want to go in your instructional design career and freelance business, You need to have a solid process that ensures that the goals you're setting are realistic and achievable.

If you set unrealistic goals without a clear plan of action, you're pretty much guaranteed to fail. And if this sounds familiar to you, don't worry, because I've got you covered. In today's episode, I'll be sharing with you a practical goal-setting method that I've used to grow my instructional design career in business.

Following this process will help you determine the future of your instructional design career in freelance business, as well as map out how to get there. The process that I use consists of six steps that form the acronym COSTAR. One, Current Situation Analysis. Two, Objective and Goals. Three strategy, four tactics, five action steps, six review.

This simple process will help guide you in developing a practical plan for setting achievable goals. So now let's break CoSTAR down into bite-sized goal-setting chunks for you. Number one, current situation analysis. Before setting any achievable goal, the first step is to look at where you're at currently.

A comprehensive audit can reveal any problems or issues that you need to address with setting your goals. So it's vital that you take a long, hard, honest look at your current career or business situation. Think about any challenges you're facing, any new skill sets you've recently added to your toolkit.

What's going well for you in your business? And where are there any potential threats, weaknesses, or opportunities in your current position? You need to perform a thorough analysis of all aspects of your instructional design career and freelance business. Consider things like, what advantages do you have that others don't have?

For example, skills, certifications, education, or connections. What do you do better than anyone else? What personal resources can you access? What do other people, and your boss in particular, see as your strengths? Which of your achievements are you most proud of? What values do you believe in that others fail to exhibit?

Are you part of a network that no one else is involved in? If so, what connections do you have with influential people? Take everything into account. How do you feel about your career growth? and satisfaction over the last 12 months. Has it met your expectations? Are you happy with it? Are there any obvious areas where things can improve?

The process of achieving your goals is a journey. So before you start plotting your stops along the way, you should know your starting point. Number two, objectives and goals. Your current situation analysis should have revealed aspects of your career and business that you want to improve or challenges that you need to overcome.

This will form the basis for the goals and objectives that you should aim for to achieve over the next 90 days. Decide where you want your career and business to go and what you want to accomplish. What are your short-term, mid-term, and long-term career and business goals? A common target for freelance instructional designers is to increase Client requests, but writing down the words, I want to increase the number of my clients in my business.

Isn't enough. It would help if you understood how many new clients you want for your business, how you will achieve this and the timeframe in which you want to complete it. In other words, your goals need to be smart. So what are SMART goals? This is a popular way to approach goal setting. Ensuring your goals are SMART makes it easier for you to foresee how close or far away you are from achieving them.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each goal or objective should meet all five of these categories for it to be a successful goal. Instead of increase the number of clients. You can write a SMART goal and refine the statement to Increase new client sign-ups by 10 percent in 3 months.

This is specific because you're aiming to increase client sign-ups only by 10 percent of your current rate or more. This also makes it measurable. If you notice an increase of 6%, then it will be clear that you haven't yet hit your goal. Is it achievable? That's really up to you and your current situation.

But by selecting a more realistic figure like 10 percent instead of 90%, you at least won't feel demotivated if it takes longer to reach your target. You must also decide if the goal is relevant to your long-term career and business plans. There's no reason to set goals that aren't going to take you where you want to be.

So be sure that the goals you set will keep you on track to achieving your vision. By setting a time limit, you're giving the goal a realistic endpoint. This will help keep you motivated and let you know when it's time to measure its progress. But the goal-setting process doesn't stop once you've written smart goals.

Your next step is to decide on how you intend to achieve them, which is number three, strategy. So after you've decided on your goals, You need to consider how you plan to reach them. This is the how part of the process, or you can also look at it like a higher-level overview. How are you going to achieve your goals?

What overarching strategy do you need to get you from where you are now to where you want to be? You need to have at least one key strategy for each objective that you've set to help you work towards achieving it. Sometimes you might have more than one strategy per objective, but just be sure that you know your plan of action for each.

Number four, tactics. Your next step is to determine the specific processes you will be implementing so that your strategy succeeds. But it's easy to get confused about your tactics and strategy. Here's a quick example to highlight the difference between the two. Your assessment reveals that your year-on-year growth has reduced and your client revenue has decreased.

So you set a SMART goal to increase your client retention by 25 percent over the next 12 months in order to boost recurring revenue. Your strategy is to improve your client's experience by improving client engagement and communication skills. You hope that this will increase retention so that you can reach your goal.

Your strategy is your high-level plan, but simply saying improve client's experience is too broad to follow successfully. Just like with your SMART goals, specificity is key to knowing your next steps. Breaking your strategy down into smaller tasks will make it more manageable for you to work towards.

These focused tasks are called your tactics. For example, your tactics might be to improve client onboarding, learn a new skill like gamification, or survey your clients to better understand why you were hired and how you made them happy. As you work through each tactic, you should keep your strategy in mind.

This way, your objectives continuously take lead at each step of the process. While you might have more than one strategy for each objective, each strategy will usually have many tactics supporting it. Number five, action. These are the practical steps that you need to take. Think of it as your to do list.

But it's also the simplest part of the process to complete, as each step should be one actionable item. Going back to our example, we could take the tactic, improve client retention, and make a list of actions to complete this. As each of these actions gets ticked off, they contribute to implementing the tactic.

This effect will help your strategy progress and work towards reaching your objectives. And then number six is review. The final step in the CoSTAR process is to regularly review how much closer you are to achieving your objectives. Set a date to check in and review your results. Analyze your progress towards your objectives.

Refine and adjust your plans and actions, if needed. Regularly reviewing your progress will help motivate you to keep going and reveal any red flags that might need extra attention. The reviews you make of your goals will then help you know what you need to do next. If you aren't making progress towards your goals or objectives, then you should analyze what needs to change.

And then revise your strategy or tactics. The frequency you review your goal progress is your decision, but I use and strongly recommend a 90-day planning cycle. You might have a great vision for your career that spans anywhere from the next 12 months to the next 10 years. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it's that things can change very quickly and your career and business need to adapt to keep up.

That's why when following the CoSTAR goal-setting process, it's best not to get tied down thinking too long term. 90 days allows you to be specific enough with your tactics and actions that you're able to see measurable progress towards your strategies within the timeframe. It's also much more manageable because your plan will have to be more realistic about what you can actually accomplish in the next 90 days.

It's a lot easier to get carried away with long-term plans and make an inconceivable to-do list. Remember that change is inevitable. And with that being said, There might be times when you have to reassess your instructional design career, or business goals, or strategies along the way. So at the end of 90 days, review, analyze, and keep track of your progress, making tweaks or changes necessary to keep you on track to achieving your goals and objectives.

Then start with the process over again and begin your next 90-day cycle. So are you ready to achieve your career and business goals as a freelance instructional designer? Right now is the perfect time to plan what you want to achieve for your freelance instructional design career and business. And it's important you do that in the right way for you.

So whether you've tried and tested goal-setting processes of your own that you're happy using, or you don't currently have one in place and are planning to use the CoStar process, What's more important is that you set your goals, develop and execute your plans and assess your progress. This is how your freelance career and business will move forward over the coming year.

I've been using the CoStar process for many years now because I've had great success with it. But whatever the method you use for setting your goals, I hope it does the same for you. The keyword here is effort. If you just sit back and do nothing, you will get nothing done. And that's awesome, if that's what you want.

But you need to have a strategic plan to succeed in your freelance instructional design career. And to tap into how powerful that can really be, check out the ID Plan Academy. And to learn more about goal setting, Simply login to the IDPlan Academy if you're a member. And if you're not a member, head over and join hundreds of other like-minded freelance instructional designers who really know their stuff.

Alright, that's it from me for this week. Thank you so much for hanging out with me. If you enjoyed this week's episode, be sure to hit the five-star review button and let me know how much you enjoy the show. Not only will that let me know that I'm doing a good job, but it will also help me reach more people, make more of an impact, and help others on their freelance instructional design success.

I sure would appreciate it if you have a chance to leave a review. Be sure to let me know on social in the Freelance Instructional Designers Mastermind Facebook group, or in the Freelance Instructional Designers Mastermind LinkedIn group, and make sure you leave the at symbol before the name so that I can thank you personally.

I always read my reviews and comments individually, and I really appreciate them and I appreciate you and hopefully you'll join me next week for another episode of the Focused Freelance Instructional Design Podcast.


eLearning and Instructional Design for Beginners Community 

  • In-depth courses & training
    Access my rapidly growing library, attend monthly live training & accountability support groups
  • Exclusive tools & members-only discounts

    Tools, templates, downloads, checklists and more - plus receive special perks & discounts

  • Supportive community & network
    Feedback and support from fellow instructional designers, career-driven business owners, and experts who will keep you on track

Get Your Software Toolkit for Instructional Designers

Tools & processes that will help you plan, build, and grow your instructional design career and freelance business.

15 Must-Know Time Management Strategies for Entrepreneurs

How I Got Into Instructional Design

5 Steps to Implement Scenario-Based Learning

Top 7 In-Demand Skills of a Successful Instructional Designer