A clean slate

I’m not sure about you, but I always enjoy getting a blank calendar and just imaging the possibilities. I’ve never been a big one for resolutions — I’ve made them, but they’ve never stuck — but I do like being able to start something new — a new story, a new project, a new year. 2016 marks my 10th year of freelancing — something I still can’t believe. It seems like yesterday I was working in a newsroom, dealing with all the stresses and adventures of putting out a daily paper.

When I began freelancing, I viewed it as a fill-in until I found my next job. I did land a few part-time jobs during the first few years, but I still kept freelancing. Nearly four years ago, I quit my part-time gig to just focus on freelancing. I’m so glad I did that. I’ve seen my freelancing business take off since I didn’t have to split my focus between that and another job. This past year, I saw my freelance business income grow by more than 25 percent. It was a great year — I connected with a specialty trade publisher who I now write regular magazine and online features for. I also took over Midwest Agriculture Almanac, a quarterly ag publication, enhanced its website and grew its social media presence. I also got connected with a few people with great ideas to help it grow even more. I’m excited about those possibilities for 2016.

I’ve learned a great deal in 2015, including that despite a voice in my head that said I wasn’t “successful” or “successful enough,” I realized I am a success. It hit me full force after reading a blog post by a writer with an impressive social media and online following where she talked about her earnings for the year and broke them out into different categories. It turned out, my income was practically the same as hers. (Kudos, by the way, to anyone who will publicly say how much they earn.) I know there is more room to grow and I’ve developed goals and a plan on how to reach them. The first step is to track how much I work and what I’m doing. I can then figure out what kind of work and clients provide the most value. I will then focus more on reaching those goals. I don’t want my freelance writing to interfere with my family time, which is why I started my own business to begin with.

Writing a weekly blog post is one of the goals I have for 2016. I’ll mainly focus on freelance writing success tips and how newby and experienced writers can avoid pitfalls along the way (I will share some of my not-so-good experiences in the hope that it helps others.) I’m excited to see where 2016 leads.

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