Last December, I chose a “word for the year” with a great deal of self-consciousness and embarrassment.
Because openly caring, plainly trying, and eagerly naming what I want used to feel shameful.
But this December, I found myself leaning over to my boyfriend in the airport and announcing my word of the year for 2021 with far more pride than skittishness.
This shift – from being chronically ashamed to having laid the foundation for stable self-confidence – is the biggest thing 2020 brought me.
Of course, I’ll also remember this year as the Year of Covid. The panic I felt in the spring. The week I was sick with the virus. The fact that I missed my cousin’s wedding. Staying-at-home, relentlessly. The crazy gratitude that, so far, nothing more serious has occurred in my life due to the pandemic.
But this shift feels profound enough to mention first.
Keep reading for my 2020 Year in Review.
What went well for my business in 2020
That mindset change? Stop being a “freelancer” and start running a business.
At the beginning of this year, I was running all over town (metaphorically) doing any odd job that required a copywriter.
As a result, I was completely reliant on referrals. I used to be proud that my business “ran on referrals,” believing it was a sign that I was good at what I do. And it is that, kind of.
But it also takes away your agency to generate leads, your ability to say no to bad clients, and your ability to project out income goals. I was tired, had no free time, and often felt out of control.
When I started thinking like a business owner instead of a freelancer, everything slowly changed. I began to be the “boss” of my business, creating packages that helped my clients better and put me in the driver’s seat, doubling down on getting good at one thing, and attracting leads from sources other than referrals.
Specifically, here’s what went well for my business in 2020:
- Focused on being an “SEO website copywriter” instead of a “freelance copywriter.” It was much easier to focus my marketing with a niche, and I could charge a lot more as an expert than I could a “hired writer.”
- Stopped being shy about doing SEO and putting my skills to work! I landed my website in the top 3 of Google search results and got clients immediate results (like Porpe Artifacts jumping to page 1 instantly after her Powerful Messaging Makeover).
- Attracted clients who I resonate with on a values-level, whose work I genuinely believe in (like Indica Dreams, Eduminded NYC, Merchant Method, Lena Zaric Jewelry, and Inward Voyage – to name a few!).
- Started teaching what I know via webinars and through my Instagram. It turns out, I really enjoy sharing my knowledge, and it’s opened me up to the idea of moving further in the teaching direction over the next few years.
- Thought about inclusivity in a serious way for the first time. I finally feel like I’m owning the fact that I want to make an impact – and that impact absolutely must be inclusive for everyone, which won’t happen by default or accident. I owe much of this insight to Crystal Lily Photography’s inclusivity coaching.
- Streamlined my client processes so that I’m working with fewer people at once to provide a more premium experience (like doing in-depth voice-of-customer interviews!).
- Hired a virtual assistant, Heather Egbert, to help me do the technical aspects of my marketing, which has allowed me to do things like set up an email list, create various lead magnets, host webinars, and more.
- Started batching all my meetings on Tuesdays and Fridays, so that I have more uninterrupted time to focus on client work and business strategy.
- Got invited to join the Tuesdays Together Los Angeles leadership team, and, so far, I am so honored and thrilled to be a part of this organization.
- Started offering an editing service. I discovered that I’m really good at this type of critical editing, and it’s so needed in my communities. It lights up a part of my brain that I had nearly forgotten about!
- Began to think strategically about decisions and how I spend my time vs. filling my time with busywork like posting on Instagram. Now, I aim for every task to be tied to a larger goal.
What did not go well for my business in 2020
Shocker, this year included some hiccups. I think I can sum up what did not go well in 2020 under the theme of “lacking focus and clarity.”
Here’s what I mean:
- I’m still struggling to get clear, efficient marketing funnels in place. Currently, my biggest channel for client generation is SEO. And it works well with minimal effort… but I’d also like to have marketing funnels that give me more control over lead generation.
- My packages are world’s better than they were last year (when I was doing everything custom and a la carte), but I don’t think they are quite right yet. I want to have packages that give my clients more than “just a website,” but I’m not sure what that will look like yet.
- I got distracted by projects this year that excited me in the moment but ultimately were abandoned because they weren’t tied to any specific goal… so I ended up wasting time. For example, I started creating a “how to hire a copywriter” guide without any idea of how it fit into my marketing strategy. I might pick it back up later, but for now, that project is dead.
- I majorly failed at saving for taxes this year, so I’m expecting a sizable tax bill in the new year. I can rationalize this by blaming it a few lean months because of COVID, but honestly, this one is a reflection of the fact that I am not as tight with my business finances as I need to be.
- Originally, I had a goal to be more visible in 2020, but I didn’t devote much time to this goal. I wanted to do more guest blogging and guesting on podcasts, but other things always felt more urgent.
- I learned my lesson with Pinterest: You need to have your blog optimized to capture that traffic, or else you’re wasting time and money on that platform. I’ll probably revisit Pinterest in the future, but first, I need to look at my blog content and rethink what I write about through the lens of building my email list.
How my personal life changed in 2020
The health of my personal life directly impacts the health of my business, and I’d guess it’s the same for most entrepreneurs.
So while I used to think that my personal life was not important to talk about… now I believe it is crucial to share this stuff with fellow business owners.
Here’s how my personal life changed in 2020:
- I’ve been in therapy for over a year now. Having this monthly appointment is a promise to myself that I will not return to the habits that landed me in therapy in the first place (namely, 100% ignoring my feelings, lol).
- I finally confronted the impact of growing up in and later leaving the religion of my childhood. I even started a virtual book club and support group for others who have left evangelical Christianity, and this group has become very important to me.
- Physical health challenges this year led to significant changes in my lifestyle, mostly focused on living and eating in a more balanced way. One of these changes was to stop being a vegetarian. Vegetarianism was a moral decision for me, so it took some time to reflect on how I could give my body what it needed without crossing my moral boundaries. The answer I arrived at was to eat only meat raised and butchered ethically from local farms in Southern California, like Primal Pastures. Shoutout to An Tran, my nutritionist, for helping me through this!
2021 goals and intentions
Looking ahead to 2021, here’s what I’d like to get more of:
- Fun. I want to take acting classes, start martial arts, and infuse more playfulness into my life. My tendency is to be serious, serious, serious. While I love that intensity in myself, it is deadening if not balanced by lightness.
- Focus. I want to have laser focus in my business this year, eliminating costly distractions. Here’s where my focus is now –
- Booking out my services 4+ months in advance
- Creating packages that feel 100% aligned with my goals and my clients’ needs
- Building an audience (email + Instagram) that will be there when I decide to scale my business
- Having marketing funnels that work and are scalable
- Understanding my business finances better
- Friendships. I have beautiful, life-long relationships with my friends from high school and college, but they are all on the east coast. I’d like to develop local friendships like this.
To bring this full circle, that word of the year I whispered to my boyfriend in the airport?
In 2021, I want to officially usher out the self-protective, closed-off default mode that I fell into years ago… and welcome a new sense of openness.
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