Welcome to 2024!
I’m glad you made it here with me, because as much hope as I have for 2024, 2023 really seemed like it was a year of “quiet crumbling” for businesses.
I’ve had so many private conversations of surprise business challenges and near-catastrophic issues (even the people I get my meat from had to navigate the year after the loss of the entire WholeFoods account). It was the same for me personally.
As soon as the public health emergency was called off in the U.S., I felt everything grind to a halt. My first emotional response was one of isolation – even though I had my reserves and a plan, I felt like I was the only one out there dealing with the challenges.
Until I started talking to people…
The head of one of my partner agencies said she’d been dealing with the slowdown for months. One client said it was the first time in decades he’d simply signed no new customers. Another client shut down all spending because they needed to regroup and reposition themselves.
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.James Baldwin
And I think this is all just a reminder of a challenging but potentially inspiring truth – the world has changed, and we’ll need a new mindset to adjust. Meaning, that while 2023 was a year that asked questions, I believe that 2024 is going to be a year that answers them.
So to kick off 2024, I want to share the lessons I’m seeing for Black freelancers, what I’ve learned in my business, and what we’ll be doing in 2024 to get each other even closer to our dreams and goals.
There are years that ask questions and years that answer.Zora Neale Hurston
Freelance lessons for 2024
There’s…so much going on in every market right now. We’re navigating a level of uncertainty we’ve never seen before – but the worst part is that few seem to be openly honest about it. This makes it difficult to find good guidance…but I do think we can look at 2023 for some direction.
Never succumb to the idea that you’re alone
As freelancers, being one-person businesses makes this challenging…both in successes and failures. I heard so many freelancers this year say that they felt isolated, which I think is an sign to take action in 2024.
We can’t wait until things feel off to find business community. We have to be engaging and contributing even when things are busy and bright. That’s why we have the Facebook group in the BF Mastermind, but this shouldn’t be the only one on your radar. You should stay active in communities for your skill set and niches, and make a habit of keeping up with your network.
This means joining spaces, but also engaging…so set reminders and add recurring tasks to your to-do list. Consistency is key here.
The fundamentals will never let you down
I had a rough 2023…I bent, but I didn’t break, and a big part of that? Was the fact that I’d kept up the business fundamentals in years’ past. As much as the world is changing, a few basics, like listening to your niche in your freelance strategy and keeping a healthy pipeline will never let you down.
It’s why I never shut up about marketing habits around here. But this shouldn’t be your only source.
I’m personally starting the year with an intensive sales program and am taking time to refresh habits and explore new approaches that align with today’s needs. Keep an eye out for any professional development resources that can support your needs.
Complexity is the new normal
You know that “quiet crumbling” that I mentioned? Well, it’s not just an end, it’s a beginning…and that beginning is one I believe will lead to more even more nuance in our businesses. This means simplicity will become invaluable, but it will be challenging to parse who’s oversimplifying things, and who’s done the work to find the true through lines and themes.
So what’s that mean for you? To keep up with modern challenges, prioritize connecting with people who are looking forward and not leaning too heavily on the trends of yesterday (especially pre-pandemic).
If you haven’t done it in a while, refresh your freelance strategy from the ground up.There’s a good chance you’ll need a new mindset and maybe even to take some time to root out where your business is dictating your life, vs. the other way around.
Lifestyle is still first
With increasing complexity and a more challenging financial landscape, it’s easy to fall back on trying to grind our way to the business we want…and that will only become more tempting in the future.
Know that forces across the board are pushing you to live a life that’s less yours, and more in service of institutions and systems. In 2024, you’ll need to be even more clear about the life you want…and be willing to operationalize the healthy boundaries that are necessary in your business.
What this means for BlackFreelance
It’s my responsibility to make sure that this platform is a place you can access resources and support that are necessary for today’s freelance success.
So for 2024, we’ll be focusing on sales, mindset, and professional development in general…but I also want to hear from you. Every bit of feedback is HUGELY helpful in shaping BlackFreelance and a benefit that resonates to freelancers around the world.
So I’m excited to go into 2024 with you as a fellow freelancer, guide, and friend. Talk to you soon!