Why I decided to slow down this year
If you’ve been reading this blog for a little while you’ll know that 2017 and 2018 were huge years for me. I went full time as a freelance writer in 2017 and hit $100K worth of commissioned work by the November. In 2018 I worked part time, but still managed to hit a similar income level ($120K). But despite having a couple of hugely successful years, this year I’ve decided to ease up a little.
Why I decided to slow down this year
A lot of people have asked whether I’m still aiming for a particular income goal this year.
And I have to admit, even though I’m still setting a monthly income goal, I’m much less tethered to it than I was in the past two years.
That’s for a couple of reasons.
In 2017 I was the primary (and only) income earner in our family, so I had to make sure that I made enough money to ensure our family of four could well, have enough money to do all the things we needed to do.
As you can imagine, I felt pressure to earn a good living, and this wasn’t necessarily because we needed for me to bring in a specific amount of money every single week (because we had a financial buffer - something that I think is a MUST for any freelance writer starting out), but because so many people said earning good money from writing couldn’t be done.
I’m an eternal optimist, but even so, when loads of people tell you something can’t be done, you do start to wonder if you’re the loopy one and they’re onto something.
So even though I’ve talked very openly about money on this blog and what I’ve earned, it’s still not something that I feel very comfortable doing.
But I felt like it was important for me to be upfront about my earnings - especially as I was telling people that writing can be your calling and it can be lucrative too.
But money is not my main motivator for writing. Not even close.
I write because I love the challenge of arranging words just so; to strike the right balance and meaning.
I adore the flexibility of freelance life, but I know that for lots of people, freelancing and flexibility are almost like oil and water.
So this year, when my partner returned to work three days a week it has meant that the financial pressure has eased.
And that’s a lovely feeling.
Of course, my family never needed me to earn over $100K each year.
That was a challenge that I ended up setting myself to see if it could be done. I had been so inspired by Jennifer Gregory’s blog and her honesty that I wanted to see if it was possible to earn that kind of money in Australia.
But I want to be clear that trying to hit 6-figures wasn’t something I was stressed about - in fact, I loved setting an income goal each month and watching as I (mostly) exceeded it, but I wouldn’t have been devastated if I didn’t reach it, because that’s another opportunity to learn about how you can improve.
But, this year has been undeniably lovely in that I’m still working hard, but I’m not at all worried if I only have $1K worth of work commissioned by the middle of the month.
And that is a great feeling.
The last couple of years have taught me that the industry is fickle, and while some parts of it are struggling, there are huge pockets that will pay very very well for great content and articles.
It’s made me realise that one of the things I love about writing is that I get to create.
And while I love the challenge of pitching, it can be exhausting.
And as a writer friend said to me yesterday, “Doing the work is never quite as exciting as winning the work.”
I’m in a very lucky position where several editors come to me regularly with commissions, and I have two anchor clients who pay very well for the content I produce.
But part of me wants more.
I want to create my own …. something …. rather than relying on editors and clients to be commissioning me, and I want to help writers in a way that I feel was really lacking when I was looking at going full time. And I guess that’s where my course comes in.
What drew me to social work initially was ‘helping’ people (I know, there’s a lot wrong with that simple word!), and I’ve realised that what I love about being a freelance writer is serving and helping other writers.
I get a several emails, messages or DMs every day asking for help, and nine times out of ten I’ll do my best to help.
But lately, I’ve received so many requests for help (ranging from asking me to read articles to providing editors’ contact details), that I can’t keep up.
It has made me wonder whether in my eagerness to help other writers I’ve prevented them from doing some of the leg work themselves.
So I’m slowing down.
I’m slowing down with my responses to writers who email me out of the blue, I’m slowing down with the kind of work I’m focusing on and I’m slowing down to take stock and work out what I want to do next.
I’m slowing down so that I can focus on what really matters, like getting my course up and running.
I’ve taken more days off this year than I have in the past two years.
It means that I’ve met up in person with my mentor in Melbourne, attended a friend’s book reading, gone to ASTW (Australian Society of Travel Writer) lunches - things that seem so simple, but they are things that I would have liked to do in the past few years but would have felt that I couldn’t afford the time away from my desk.
So this year, I’ve made the decision to focus on working on my business, not just in it.
I guess in some ways I have proven to myself that it is more than possible to earn a great living from freelance writing, and now I just want to fully enjoy it.
How is the pace of your year? Are you slowing down or speeding up?