This year’s been a benchmark year for me as a freelancer.
With all the garbage 2016’s brought with it, for my freelance business, it’s actually been a good run. I hit my earning goals of matching my full-time monthly income while working part-time. I’ve plugged into a great referral network in my niche, and I’ve gotten control of my sleep habits (HARD).
My 2017 can be even better, and I want to make sure of that by leaving a few bad habits, as both a freelancer and entrepreneur, back in 2016.
Being Disconnected from My Work
My first year freelancing full-time, I could NOT bring myself to even think about working in the field where I’d been employed, not even as just a writer. I’d dealt with so much, that even the thought of writing on those topics and getting involved with those business processes made me physically ill. The problem with that though, was that I was cutting myself off from a LOT of quality income.
To survive emotionally in an abusive job situation, I’d learned to distance my feelings and my mind from my work. That habit served me for a time, but now it’s a detriment that I should acknowledge work to correct now that I’m no longer facing the same threats.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my calendars and most people who saw them would think I’m very organized (ok…kinda organized). I haven’t though, been referring to them regularly (those emotional survival habits from a bad work environment again) which completely defeats the purpose.
Next year, I’m going to be building out calendars that don’t stress me and that actually contribute to my bigger goals.
Loose Business Ends
I’ve always worked under an LLC, but have been dragging my feet on business insurance. Time to get on that (and quarterly taxes…cuz…yeah.)
Not Taking Real Vacations
If you’re used to just grinding work out, taking vacations is hard. Let me tell you something though — it’s even harder when you’re working 4 hour days, 3-4 days a week.
I feel like I shouldn’t need, or don’t deserve rest since I’m not pushed to the brink of a mental break. That’s completely wrong-headed though. Everyone needs to take time, if only for the sake of change and refreshment.
The Last of Toxic Organizations and People
My early 30s were a time of cleaning house.
I cut out churches, community organizations, jobs, friends, relatives, and even online platforms (and friends) that were netting a negative impact on my life. Some of those processes though, were gradual, and there were little strings hanging on. Of course, some people and things were trying to claw their way back in. I’m not going to spend 2017 doing maintenance on connections that should have been fully cut long ago.
Using Social Just Because
I say it all the time around here — a freelancer’s social media engagement has to have a purpose.
It’s not enough to just pass time sharing and responding. The challenge there though, is that it takes time to figure out what kind of online work is productive and what is you just spinning your wheels.
I’ve personally spent a good year+ in a couple spaces that aren’t getting me the best return. In 2017, I’m completely changing the way I use some social platforms as a freelancer.
I looked at my Abandoned Projects folder the other day and kind of shudder-smirked. It was a long list of ideas, a lot of which I’d completely forgotten about.
Launching can be addicting. The excitement and the endless potential of a new project is a lot more attractive than pushing through the dip and the very necessary task of asking yourself the hard questions around your business.
I’m not starting anything new in 2017. I’m only going to refine the things I’ve launched over the last half decade.
Not Investing in Advertising
Word of mouth isn’t always enough. Sometimes you just have to pay for engagement. I’m not talking tons of money, but I have a couple of projects I’m serious about that I simply need to put a little bit of money behind.
Not Examining My Buyers’ Journeys
Anyone who spends money with you is in the middle of a journey. (If you don’t understand the concept of the Buyer’s Journey, read this. It applies to you. Promise.) If I’m being honest, I haven’t focused closely enough on clarifying that journey and really aligning my offerings with it. Gotta change that next year (which is part of the reason I’m not launching anything. I need to redirect that energy into refinement.)
Treating non-Businesses Like They’re Businesses
I’ve got a couple of projects that I poured thousands of dollars and years of work into. I thought they could have been lifestyle businesses, but the truth of their markets (and the members’ spending habits) is that while they’re great, they’re best as pure projects with no earning goals.
The thing is, that I’m seeing them grow more than ever. That might be a sign that timing was an issue and that one day, they can be profitable, but it’s also likely a sign that they don’t need to be a source of income, or any kind of paid offering, at all.
When I accepted the reality of my job and likely future as an employed person, I was relieved and inspired to start focusing on nurturing income sources for myself.
Before long though, that inspiration turned to panic under increasing job stress. Every bad run-in with a manager sent me working furiously on my exit plans.
I launched quite a few projects because I needed an immediate way out of my work situation. Some of that fear stuck with me even as a freelancer and, even though I’d come to accept passive income projects as more retirement plan (important) than a primary source of income, I was still starting projects with the idea of “fast money” in the back of my head.
Finding my freelance groove has given me peace again and I can focus on online business projects in ways that are healthy both for me and the people who choose to buy from me.
I’m looking at 2017 as a year of solidifying for me, but also for everyone here at BlackFreelance. I’m seeing a lot of people finally starting to take a serious look at freelancing and their freelance careers and think we’re all headed into a year of growth and development.
So what about you? What’re you leaving in 2016?