Year in Review: My First Year as a Full-Time Freelancer

On January 11th, 2020, I walked out of my office building for the last time.

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

The money

I made a total of $21,900 revenue in 2020 from freelancing.

Projects

Here are some of the types of projects I’ve worked on this past year as a freelancer:

  • Ghostwritten blog content for companies and authority websites
  • Wrote articles for branded magazines
  • Sourced experts and did original reporting for websites
  • Developed a blog strategy for a local business owner
  • Editing e-books by independent authors
  • Content editing for niche blogs
  • Writing summaries of professional development books
  • Academic editing
  • Social media management

Learning

This last year has been a whirl of learning by doing, but I invested time and money in other concrete learning.

  • HubSpot Academy: I am honestly so impressed by the wealth of resources available on HubSpot’s platform. I finished the Inbound Marketing certification in November 2020 and got such great perspective on what’s going on behind the scenes of content planning, sparking a fire in me to learn more about content strategy and management. I can’t wait to dive into their Social Media and SEO trainings early this year to round out my foundation.
  • Slack and Facebook networking groups: Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s why learning from others through exposure is so important. I’ve had great inspiration for resources to check out, and learned about new types of work I didn’t even know existed. Plus, it’s really empowering to ‘surround’ yourself with others who are making their dreams come true — a reminder that what you’re working toward is possible!

Opportunities freelancing brought me:

  • In May I was honored to be a speaker at the Rebel Boss Virtual Summit, where I shared how other freelancers like myself could use freelancing as a foundation to enter the world of digital products. This helped me connect with other aspiring and working freelancers and creators, and served as a major learning experience as well.
  • I spent more time teaching than I have since I first graduated college. Freelancing let me spend three months teaching adults ESL on weeknights, Saturday mornings teaching writing to high schoolers, and a few weeks this summer leading a language arts enrichment class for middle schoolers. This fall, I was able to join a local synagogue as a Hebrew teacher, helping me explore my Jewish roots and share my love of Hebrew language. Most of this would never have been possible while I was working full-time due to the hours alone.
  • I saw more of my family. With lower COVID rates and isolating time this summer I got to spend a total of 4 weeks with my grandparents, shifting my working schedule around their hours. Not being tied to meetings or a schedule meant I got to spend more time with them than if I were simply working for my office job remotely.

Challenges

  • Rejections: I had the pleasure of working with many different kinds of clients this last year, but many more rejected me. This is where my grandpa’s favorite saying always pops into my head: If you throw enough mud against the wall, something’s gotta stick. Any rejections I’ve faced this year haven’t stung too badly because I know there are plenty of *right* opportunities for me out there.
  • Missed revenue goal: When I started this journey, I set a goal of making $2,000 every month. And I did that every month except for November and December. For personal reasons, I had to scale back my business for a few weeks. Between that and the holidays my bank account didn’t grow quite as much as I’d have hoped. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to exceeding my even loftier goals this years.
  • Time management: This year brought back nightmarish memories of struggling to get work in on time in college. While I’ve definitely come a long way (knowing my clients are relying on me + there’s $$$ at the other end helps), this is one aspect of my work I’m really looking to improve this year with tools that better fit my working style.

Lessons learned

There are two main lessons I learned this year:

  1. Rejection is an opportunity to say yes to something better. I was told no a lot, and ignored even more. Some potential clients seemed ready to commit, but then would drastically change their budget or their needs. All I know for sure is, as soon as I mentally let go of those, I was able to find better opportunities.

Freelance writer lost in my own thoughts. Figuring out my way in life one happy mistake at a time.

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