January is nearly finished, and to be honest I wasn’t intending to write the standard New Year reflection post. But after reading quite a few blogs and watching a lot of content from others looking back at 2017, I realized that I’d love to be able to come back to this post next year to see how far I’ve come. I’ve also been neck-deep in writing a new business plan to replace my old one (which was honestly nothing more than a half-page, handwritten list of things I wished I could accomplish, with numbers pulled out of my ass). This got me thinking about the year ahead, and what I need to do differently from last year in order to make it happen.
I honestly didn’t know if I’d make it to the 6-month mark as a full-time freelancer. But here we are, a half-year past quitting my job as the receptionist of a hair-salon in England, and I’m still chugging along. There have certainly been challenges and failures, and I’ve had a steep learning curve, but all in all, I am so happy I made the leap.
Here are my highlights of 2017:
For most of June, I travelled solo through Ireland while freelancing. Now, it may not have been the wisest choice to spend the first month of my business gallivanting around a relatively pricey country, however the experience is something I’ll be eternally grateful for. I got to go on two different Game of Thrones tours, drink Guinness in Dublin, watch hurling in Cork, go for a walk on the beach in Bray, and meet so many awesome people. Oh, and I also got to work in SO. MANY. CAFES. But the biggest takeaway was that I wouldn’t give up self-employment for anything. I love being able to set my own hours, to prioritize experience over earning money, and to do what I love.
In hindsight, if it hadn’t been for this trip forcing me to find work in order to afford my hostel or my bus ticket to the next location, there is a good chance I would have given up self-employment to return to working for someone else, and that alone makes the trip worthwhile.
In September, I moved back home to Canada after my UK Youth Mobility visa expired. The transition was pretty eye-opening; it’s my first time living at my childhood home since I was in high school, and saying goodbye to people in England and the city I grew to call home was heartbreaking. But it’s been great to reconnect, not only with friends and family, but with my roots here in British Columbia. Now I’m feeling regenerated and ready to get reacquainted with what it is I love so much about being here.
I am incredibly fortunate to have a dedicated home office in my mom’s house, on the little desk where I used to do homework and write stories as a kid. My sister is a remote contractor, and she shares the office with me for part of the year. While it’s had its ups and downs — and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to convince my family to stop using the room as a landing stage for all the household stuff no one knows what to do with — I love my little workspace, and I’m slowly turning it into my dream workspace.
To be honest, my freelancing income was not that consistent in 2017, and I know I could have earned a lot more. I managed to land some great gigs, but for a few months I allowed negative thinking, anxiety, and impostor syndrome get in the way of earning more money.
My first few professional jobs came from freelancer marketplaces (don’t judge me), and as you could have guessed, they did not pay well. But from those jobs I gained confidence, some insight into my own process, and really generous feedback, and was able to leave those marketplaces and find higher paying projects.
I am now on my way to replacing my income solely through my business, and while it’s not easy, I am growing more and more confident in my abilities to make a living and achieve my financial goals.
My writing and editing skills have expanded immensely and I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to write and edit professionally. My first few jobs took me literal days to turn around, and since then I’ve gotten faster, more efficient, and more confident that I can deliver a good service.
I did have experience writing — blogs, letters, social media posts, training content, etc. — as part of past jobs, and I definitely wrote a lot for my three stints in post-secondary education. However, I was never forced to focus solely on writing, and I never had to develop a solid working process around those skills, so that was a big focus for my professionally.
On the editing front, I learned so much from the publishing certificate program, but doing it professionally meant I had to step up my game and invest more into this aspect of my business. This work, while I love it and it is super rewarding, takes more brain power and comes less naturally to me than writing does. That means I have to be super strategic how I fit these projects around writing, or else I find myself struggling to keep focused on the work.
The past six months, I have not stopped learning and honing my writing and editing skills. I read thousands of words a day to improve my abilities and find better ways of working. And of course, I still practice, practice, practice!
I’ve been working on a new business plan to establish what I want to accomplish this year and in the next three, and what I need to do in order to get there.
Here is what I want to accomplish in my business in 2018:
- Increase my income so I can start growing my business, paying down debt, and saving for the future
- Write more on this blog
- Create consistent marketing through social media and engaging with professional memberships
- Prioritize networking and finding other freelancers to connect with
- Establish a daily routine that includes exercise, time outside, socializing, and productive work
- Take off time to travel (or go on trips that allow me to work while travelling)
Let me know what you’re most looking forward to in 2018!