As I sip this sour, twice-brewed decaf Earl Grey Tea from Carytown Teas, I have to wonder why I tried to squeeze a second drink out of old leaves. But maybe that’s a metaphor for the months I wish I’d performed better, focused more, or made more progress in 2017….
But you know what? Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially not when there’s kids, hydration, Netflix streaming, and piles and piles of books to read. Let’s focus on the awesomeness that was 2017 with this freelance writing year in review:
Most Popular Posts
These posts were clicked on with the tippy tops of little fingers all over the world:
- The Struggle Is Real: Freelancing With Chronic Illness (Or Babies, Or Laziness, Or Whatever)
- Where to Find These Mythical “High Paying Clients” You Keep Hearing About
- Stop Clicking, Start Improving: How to Fight Off Information Overwhelm
My Favorite Posts
These are the posts that are not on the previous list that I wish were more widely read:
- 5 Ways To Make Your Clients Happier (& Your Writing More Valuable)
- 10 Mistakes That Will Completely Blow Your Freelance Career
- How to Write for a Business
My most favorite client I’ve ever had (in every way: pay, frequency and type of writing, topic, and client contact, everything!) moved on to a different writer during and after my maternity leave.
What can I say, it hurts!
It’s a lesson everyone learns at some point: sometimes it’s not your fault and people move on. I just focus on the fact that they’re in good hands (working with a writer who is very talented and who must be a personal contact or much lower cost or offering a different kind of consultative writing relationship) and move on with my super classy head held high.
A long-term client I’ve been courting (over a year of inquiries!) sent me an email that was right out of my dreams: “We want you to be our primary writer with X posts per month.”
Runner up: I may have sold a comic strip! Stay on the lookout, because I could be getting paid to make fun of the hilarious online freelance writing and editing life we all know and love. It’s no Dilbert, but it is a dream come true.
Most Interesting Project
Thanks to my last minute and random attendance at DYFC a few years ago, I connected with a brilliant UX/IX designer named Jane Portman. I was surprised and delighted to my toes that she contacted me about editing her most recent book, Your Productized Consulting Guide, which we wrapped up in December. After writing hundreds of short-form articles, it was really satisfying to sink my teeth into (and bring order to) something long and complex.
I niche, but I also take on “interim” work when my niche is slow. This year, that meant writing thousands and thousands of dollars worth of content on…. womp womp… FTL/LTL trucking, shipping, and inventory management systems.
I learned so many fun things (like how flowers get from South America to us!), and it really made me appreciate how much writing prepares us to think, research, and become short-term experts on so many topics. It’s truly amazing how our writer brains work!
Now for the juicy part! I came in just over $53,000 this year. I’m very proud of this number, as I worked an average of 6 hours per week (if you include the hundreds of hours I spend on emails, administrative tasks, networking, and writing my personal blogs, like right now). If you don’t count those hours and only count paid work, the number drops even lower.
Now, my weeks didn’t really look like that. I took off a good three months starting in early April to bring forth human life and I didn’t get back “in the game” until June-ish (as you can see from the drastic income drop). When I did get back to work, there were a couple of seriously crazy 15 hour weeks (is it so wrong that 15 hours is like a marathon to me??).
But, frankly, that is just freelance life! If God has blessed you (or is about to bless you) with a baby, there’s simply no other formula you can use to stay in business: do a LOT of work in advance and save a ton of money.
In August, I was beyond blessed (again) to reconnect with a client I’d worked with on and off right when they were ramping up work. I worked an obscene amount to have a $12K month. That right there is the same lesson I’ve already shared: make connections and keep them going even if there’s no immediate work to be had.
My business has always been bootstrapped, but there are some things I pay for yearly because they bring me a huge ROI:
- Freshbooks is about $220 per year
- Web hosting and URLs from Big Scoots is about $180 per year
- Calendly is about $99 a year
- PicMonkey used to be free, but I upgraded so I could make an image template for one client and it’s about $76 per year…. cheaper than spending 5 hours learning Photo Shop!
Back in November, I decided to run a promotion on my biggest product, the B2B Booster Shot. It did really well, so much so that I’ve made about as much from that course ($1300 or so) as I have in five years of selling Life After Teaching eBooks! The products (and audiences) are completely different, but it makes me smile.
Let me tell you, I am so proud of this course. It’s just so beautiful, and it was such a good feeling to be teaching again and completely draining my brain in an effort to help other people. I can’t say if I’ll run a promotion again (this one was an effort to get a solid first cohort through the course so I can go back and revamp it), but I look forward to tweaking and continuing to promote it through 2017.
Right now I’m featured on The Horkey Handbook, The Write Life, and AWAI Online. I don’t know if I have the energy to do a “promotional circuit,” but we’ll see how much time I have to devote to it in the coming months.
Completely unplugging during my maternity leave. It was a difficult and sometimes dark time for me, so it’s really a gift that I had the luxury to be 100% offline and just dealing with life for 8+ weeks. That’s more than many people get, and I’m very grateful.
Runner up: Hiring an in-home nanny. Our nanny is so loving and gives the little man her full attention for 12-15 hours per week. We’re paying full-time rates for part-time care, but it’s important to me that Benedict is cared for by someone who knows and loves him. So far so good!
Moving my desk (aka “office”) into the bedroom. I’d rather the bedroom be a place 100% disconnected from work, but in a 2BR apartment that’s a luxury we don’t have right now. They just opened a co-working space in my building (!!) but I’m trying to exchange work for rent instead of adding $250 to my bottom line each month. I know that’s a steal, but it’s simply not something we can spend money on when we’re spending $800+ on childcare.