Coming at success from another angle. Plus, my 2023 word of the year.
Year 2022 looked very different from Year 2021.
(And Year 2021 looked very different from Year 2020 — isn’t freelance fun?)
Before I dive into all that, I want to acknowledge that January 8 was my freelance anniversary. I left my role as national copy chief at Time Out North America in 2018. I have been freelancing full-time for FIVE YEARS.
Not only that, but freelancing full-time is the longest job I’ve ever held 😮
It boggles the mind. Every year I’ve freelanced has looked so different.
That said, here is what I’ve been up to in 2022, and how it compared to 2021, by the numbers.
Note: By the numbers, 2022 was not as successful as 2021. Below, I talk about looking at success from a different angle.
🟣I edited 1,268,571 words, compared to 1,365,228 in 2021.
🟣I made about $1,000 less than in 2021.
🟣I gained 2 new clients (a one-timer and a returning), whereas I gained 8 new clients (all returning/regular clients) in 2021.
–In 2022, 1 new client was from a referral, the other was from a job posting within a network I belong to.
–In 2021, the 8 new clients were from:
- Upwork (2)
- social media (2)
- an application I completed in 2018 (1)
- referrals (3)
🟣I grew my email list from 24 to 44 (in 2021 I started from 0).
🟣I increased my Instagram following by 114 people.
Okay, now let’s take a look without numbers. Here’s my reflection on both 2022 and the definition of success.
Whereas 2021 was all about challenge and business growth, my 2022 word of the year was balance. And I practiced it. I traveled across the country nearly the entire year, moving every 10 to 21 days from April through December. I visited friends and family I hadn’t seen in ages and went to places I had never been to (my email subscribers know where I went!).
I made less money in 2022 than in 2021, partly as a result of my constant travel. Once I knew what my income would be, disappointment crept in because after doubling my income from 2020 to 2021, I expected to make even more money the following year. Yet in January 2022, a big client I had acquired in mid-2021 told me it was ceasing content production and no longer needed me.
That hurt. Not only did my monthly income significantly decrease right away, turning my optimistic financial projection for the year into an unlikelihood, but I was *shook* over how easily I lost a client I had worked so hard to get the year prior. I realized lead generation and client acquisition will always take up a portion of my time, and that idea exhausted me.
Still, when I took a deeper look at my year, here’s what I saw.
I made less money in 2022, but not by much, and I edited fewer words. Considering I lost a big client, that’s a good outcome.
I didn’t gain as many new clients as I didn’t focus on client acquisition as much. However, I deepened my professional relationships with existing ideal clients who I expect will need me for a long time, setting the stage for a strong year. (Two of them approved rate increases for 2023.)
My Instagram followers increased slightly, but I gained new followers even during my accidental leave of absence from the platform from September to January. And my email list increased without much effort from me, which means the lead magnets and systems I created last year are working for me even when I’m not.
Taking all of that into account, I thought about what I wanted from 2023 and the word that would encompass those goals. Here’s what I landed on:
My 2023 word of the year is intentional.
- I want to tackle one carefully selected project at a time, one that will actually lead me to ideal clients and provide value and isn’t just something others say I should do.
- I want to find ideal clients who want to work with me on a regular basis for the long term.
- I want to connect with other freelancers to find great clients and build a community that I can consult when I need advice (and vice versa).
After two years of willy-nilly activity—launching multiple projects simultaneously in 2021 and hopping from place to place in 2022—I want to be very intentional about what I give my time to.
And I can’t wait to see what that brings by the end of the year.
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