This time last year I was in the UK and was contemplating 2018 – a huge year where I had been commissioned over $120K worth of work.
When I look back to the goals I set for 2019, they were fairly modest, but I still didn’t achieve them all.
I wanted to continue doing work that I loved (check), seriously move into travel writing (check), launch my online course (miss), start exercising regularly (check) and ensure I maintained my work-life balance (hit and miss).
The year that was
I’ve had some incredible highlights this year – five overseas press trips (Thailand x2, India, Canada, Philippines), at least 10 domestic ones, some wonderful new freelancing friends, workshop presentations, a podcast appearance, and articles in lots of new publications.
I’ve also had some serious lows – there have been times when I haven’t had the courage to stick up for myself, the strength to say no to work, feelings of despondency about how long it’s taking to get my online course up, technology problems with my website, and times when I haven’t trusted my gut.
But I have to remind myself that I also had highs and lows when I was a social worker.
But the highs were never as good as the ones I’ve had when I’m freelancing and the lows have always been opportunities to learn and improve (once I get over my bruised ego).
I must admit that I’m ending 2019 feeling pretty weary.
The weird thing about setting goals and achieving (most of) them is that it can leave you feeling a bit flat.
For the last three years, I’ve made an income beyond what I thought was possible from freelance writing.
I’ve broken into travel writing and feel so incredibly lucky that editors are coming to me with work.
But I also feel like I don’t have enough time to do all the things.
I feel like I’ve barely pitched this year, yet I’m still slammed with work (in January alone I already have 17 articles to write).
I’m worried about the impact my travel is having on the environment.
I’m worried about how I’m going to juggle running my course, travel writing, corporate writing, running this blog and maintaining a healthy family life.
But I think (I hope) that at this time of year, this tiredness and worry is totally normal.
It’s hard to switch off when you’re a freelancer and that’s what I’m going to do more of in 2020.
But I’m not switching off this blog.
I started The Freelancer’s Year on a bit of a whim in December 2016 and here I am three years later having posted every single week. That’s over 150 blog posts.
Not a week goes by when I don’t hear from some of you via Twitter, email, Facebook, Instagram and I love your stories and your questions – so thank you.
And 2020 is the year that my course is (finally) going to launch.
I’ve got a stellar developer working with me to get it all up and running.
I can’t wait to send out my email invitation to people who have let me know they’re keen to be beta testers.
Okay, so, thanks for reading my ramblings.
Here’s my December wrap up and yearly income report.
IN TERMS OF FEATURE ARTICLES FOR MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS, THIS MONTH I:
Pitched: 2 (this includes re-pitching ideas that have been rejected)
Commissions from pitches or query letters: 1
Offers: 3 (where an editor approached me with a commission)
IN TERMS OF FEATURE ARTICLES FOR CORPORATE AND B2B CLIENTS: (I DON’T PITCH THESE)
Lowlights of December
I had an incredible overseas famil offer come my way this month, but I had to turn it down.
Because it was mostly on water and I am really not good on water.
I’m the kind of person who gets seasick at an aquarium (it’s pathetic I know), so I said no.
It was definitely hard to knock back the opportunity, but I know it’s the right decision.
Then towards the end of December, I had filed all my articles and was feeling so good, when I received an email from an editor saying that she now needed me include an interviewee in three of my articles.
It was the week before Christmas and trying to find a specific expert on a particular topic was so difficult.
But what felt harder was cranking into gear again when I’d loosened my proverbial belt into holiday mode.
In the end the editor found the expert and I worked a day on the weekend to get the stories done. She also offered extra compensation, but that feeling of total relief of being done for the year had been wiped.
Highlights of December
An ‘old’ editor of mine (she used to edit an inflight magazine but is now freelance) got in touch to say that she was filling in at an inflight magazine and asked if I had any ideas for a certain region.
I replied quickly with an idea that I had been thinking about for a while and she commissioned me on the spot.
This happened via DM on Instagram. Late on a Tuesday night.
It just goes to show that if you’re not actively following and interacting with your editors and clients on social media, you may be missing opportunities.
Another editor who I had worked with over a year ago emailed me to ask me to invoice her as she was using one of my articles in another magazine she edits.
She asked me to invoice her for second rights, and while it’s not much (25c/word), it was a little unexpected boost to my income.
Speaking of which …
My income for December
As usual, I set my income target at $5,000 for December.
And I must say, by the middle of December that target was looking mighty unlikely.
I think I had about $800 commissioned by 10th December.
But a couple of different corporate clients got in touch with heaps of work and I ended up smashing my target.
I was commissioned $11,585 for December.
I invoiced $10,171 for December.
My income for 2019
By the end of 2019, I was commissioned $98,787 worth of work.
By 31 December 2019, I had invoiced for $100,191.
Breakdown of income editorial vs corporate
Lots of you have asked me about the percentage of work that is corporate vs editorial.
It’s not cut and dry because some of my work is sponsored content and some is advertorial for magazines and newspapers that I also write editorial content for.
But corporate content brought in about $45 – 50K for me in 2019.
Most of my editorial income was from travel writing. Something that I never dreamed would be possible even a year ago.
But as we all know, it’s not about the money.
It’s about what money can give you – time, flexibility, the opportunity to give to others.
That’s what really motivates me.
Wishing you all a wonderful beginning to 2020. Thanks for reading, and as always please let me know if you have particular topics you want me to cover in the new year xx