It’s October, which means it’s time for my annual post where I celebrate another year of freelancing and reflect on the past year. Curious to see past posts? Here’s what I wrote for my three-year anniversary and my two-year anniversary. I guess in year one I didn’t quite have my act together yet!
I’m not sure how you feel about it, but 2021 has been a weird one for me. The first quarter of the year I was still living deep in pandemic mode. Travel and socializing were simultaneously faded memories and not quite possibilities for the future. My world was limited to my immediate neighborhood or anywhere I could go on foot.
Everything felt like it was about to change around April/May when the vaccine was rolled out to the general public. I quickly secured an appointment and began making travel plans a few weeks after my second dose. But everything felt very tentative. Would we really be able to go back to life as normal? Did it make sense to plan for a future that looked like the Before Times, or would we need to completely rethink the way the world works?
The answer to those questions is—it’s complicated. On the one hand, the world began to open up again. I spent a night away from home in Santa Cruz. I flew in a plane to see my parents and brother. I started planning more trips to catch up with friends and make up for lost time.
And then, before I’d even fully allowed myself to re-enter the world, it all came crashing down. The delta variant and breakthrough cases proved that being vaccinated (while still important for public health and effective against severe illness) was not an absolute guarantee against getting infected. Everyday life still demanded extra caution.
One of my friends once gave me a magnet that says, “I’m at that awkward stage between jailbait and cougar.” And as I write this, in late October, that’s kind of what life is like. We’re in an awkward stage of still living in a pandemic, but having some resources to better cope with it. We don’t have the carefree lightness of the Before Times, but I’m not terrified every time I leave the house, either.
So that’s the rundown of what life was like in general. But what about freelancing and running my business?
Here are a few of the highlights from my professional life in 2021.
I started working with more coaches/solopreneurs
I’ve been working with Teresa Torres and Product Talk from the earliest days of my freelancing journey. Toward the end of 2020, Teresa introduced me to Petra Wille and Martina Hodges-Schell, two other wonderful women who run their own businesses. Though I didn’t intentionally set out to be a content marketer for coaches, I’ve quickly grown to love these types of clients. We can move quickly and make a clear impact on their business.
I edited a book
Teresa had been talking about writing a book for many years, but in 2020 she actually sat down and did it. Since we’ve already been working together for years, she asked me to edit her manuscript, both on a chapter by chapter basis and once she had it all complete. I had never edited a book before, so I was a little worried about whether I was committing to something beyond my skill set. Luckily, editing a book is very similar to editing any other piece of writing, so I just took it step by step and everything turned out well.
Continuous Discovery Habits was published in May of 2021 and has been an instant success. Not only did we get great compliments from the copyeditor who reviewed the manuscript, but the book surpassed 10,000 copies sold within its first few months and it’s been incredibly well received within the product community. I always take particular pride when reviewers mention the fact that the book is easy to follow and clearly written, since those were my primary goals as an editor!
I released two eBooks of my own
After spending the past four years writing countless eBooks for my clients, I finally put my own knowledge and experience to use and wrote two of my own: How to Start Freelancing and LinkedIn for Freelancers: Building Your Brand and Business.
I still have a lot of work to do in terms of publicizing these and getting them into more people’s hands, but it was a great accomplishment to create something that I wanted and begin building my own library of content.
I went to Europe for two weeks
After dreaming about travel for a year and a half, I planned an international adventure, spending one week in Copenhagen and one week in Paris. I couldn’t bring myself to completely stop working, but I significantly reduced my schedule so I’d have plenty of time to enjoy each destination. I went for lots of long walks. I sat at outdoor cafés and sketched and wrote in my journal. I even opted to do a photo shoot to capture my trip and visit some iconic spots in Paris. It was perfect. This is exactly why I became a freelancer and I want much more of this in the future.
What’s in store for the future?
Looking to the future, I am hoping for a few things:
I want to do a much better job of scheduling and taking time off completely. Working holidays are fine, but it’s also important to step away from my computer for at least a week and truly disconnect. This was much easier for me before the pandemic but I’ve really struggled to do this these past few years.
Similarly, I want to go on a retreat—whether it’s for yoga, Zumba, or a business mastermind, I’d like some time away from the routine to get a little perspective.
I have been really happy with how my little Skillshare course on LinkedIn for Freelancers has done, so I’m beginning to think about creating another course or two.
After working out of my living room for four years, I would love to live somewhere that I could have a dedicated office. This is tricky given the cost of living in the Bay Area, but I am setting my sights on it!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I know it’s a really useful exercise for me to reflect on what’s happened in my life and business in the past year, and I hope you get something out of it, too! Next year will be a big one—five years! I really need to plan something special for that one.