2018 In Review

I’ve been doing these year in review posts for a while now...and it’s that time again. If you’re curious about years past, you can check those out here:

But let’s get back to 2018, shall we?

This is year five for me of full-time freelance writing (in fact, I recently did a five year recap...woo for retrospectives!)

So what happened over the past 12 months?

The Year of Balance

Now that I’m pretty settled into my niche and freelancing career in general, I feel like this past year has largely been focused on working out the kinks. By ‘kinks’, I mean the things that were a bit less than ideal for me in my day-to-day work. So, no major shifts, just a lot of fine-tuning.

A big part of that was building a stronger sense of connectedness and community into my work life. For me, working alone and from home can be deeply isolating (especially in the winter when everything is gray and dreary), so I’ve worked hard to put myself “out there” more and to be less of a lonely hermit. I love my dog Brooks, but he doesn’t talk. Unless he wants lunch.

These efforts included:

  • Trying a local co-working space. It was a gorgeous, light-filled space that I loved...but most days I was the only one in there...which is not really what I was going for. So I eventually gave up on that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Regular coffee dates with a fellow writer. I’ve known Courtney Westlake for a while now (she’s a freelance writer that lives a town over from me), and she and I have been doing monthly-ish coffee dates at different cafes around where we live. She’s lovely (and really good at getting me out of my office cave!) and I’m so grateful for her company and encouragement. Find you a local freelancer friend like that.

  • Taking better care of myself. I have a tendency to over-work, so this year I tried hard to schedule time for self care activities like a weekly yoga class, hiking, a massage, etc. I even took some half-day Fridays in the summer to get in some pool time. I’ve found that if I *literally* put it on my calendar, I’ll do it. But if I don’t, it gets pushed to the back burner. It’s taken some mental rewiring to make it stick, but so far so good.

But that’s not all I did. I also continued to interview a diverse mix of writers and editors for the Yeah Write Club newsletter, including a few pretty well-known names like Erik Larson and Jon Acuff. I love doing these Q&As and hearing how different people tackle their work. If you’re not signed up for that yet, get on it!

I also read a lot of books throughout the year (you can see all of them on the ‘Books’ highlight over on my Instagram.) Some of my favorites were:

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I also continued my coaching work, working one-on-one with students for both the four-week program and on one-off calls. I am SO PROUD to hear that past students did amazing things this year. One was recruited by HubSpot. One landed a gig with Brian Clark of Copyblogger. Others got bylines in publications like The Muse, Foundr, and Entrepreneur. So awesome, all of it. 👏👏

Volume-wise, work was really busy for me from February-November. I wrote tens of thousands of words for my SaaS/eCommerce clients like Aweber, Manifold, ReCharge, and BigCommerce and had my most profitable year to date. Woo! I'm super grateful to have had some fellow freelancers support me on some projects, which helped me maintain my sanity.

Other highlights:

  • Worked with my first-ever college intern

  • Co-hosted a new season of the Creative Class podcast with Paul Jarvis

  • Spoke to my high school English teacher’s class

  • Was part of a ‘Women in the Workplace’ panel (about gender equality) at a local university

  • Won a contest by the local newspaper and got to name a baby horse (!)

  • Went to a place where you can do axe-throwing for my husband’s b-day and was very bad at it but enjoyed it VERY much

Work Travel, Life Travel

My only conference this past year was Content Jam in Chicago, but while I was there I got to catch up with some of my internet pals IRL (like Lianna Patch, Joel Klettke, and Andy Crestodina.) I also met Jeff Large at the after-event and in November we ended up recording my favorite podcast interview of the year.

Look at this blurry photo we took...so great, right!?

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I had two co-working getaways in early 2018: One in January with Allie Decker down in St. Louis, and one in February with Emma Siemasko in Palm Springs. I love getting one-on-one time with other freelancers who “get it” and these meetups were no exception. It was nice to escape to the California desert in the dead of winter. The Ace Hotel was the perfect spot for us.

Brandon and I took some fun trips, with our longest being a road trip to Washington D.C. We ate lobster rolls and went to 12345245 museums while we were there, which was fascinating (and exhausting), but worth it. I stole this photo he took at the modern art museum.

Other trips included:

  • Columbus, OK

  • Louisville, KY

  • Indianapolis, IN

  • Nashville, TN

  • Galena, IL

On another trip to Chicago, Brandon and I checked out the AIRE ancient baths, which was an awesome experience. Highly recommend. Super relaxing salt baths of varying temperatures, really quiet, everything smells good. 10/10 would do again.

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Goals for the Year Ahead

In 2019, I’m planning on doing things like:

Co-hosting my first small retreat.

The biggest thing on my list right now is the retreat that Emma and I are co-hosting in April. This will be my first taste of event planning, and I’m really looking forward to it. Along with personal and business development sessions, we’ll have a yoga class, hiking, and dinner with a private chef. CAN’T. WAIT.

Products!

Very soon I’ll have my *first ever* products available for purchase! This is very exciting and I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been working on. Hint: There will be super useful templates!

Aiming high with pitches and bylines

I worked with a coach at the end of the year to refine my pitches and get closer to my goal of landing a NYT byline, and while I haven’t done it yet, that’s one of my goals for ‘19. I’m close. I can feel it :)

Did you do a post like this—or do you have an accomplishment from 2018 you’re really proud of? I wanna hear about it. Tweet me @kaleighf.

This article originally appeared in my newsletter, A Cup of Copy. Sign up and get these free tips sent right to your inbox every other Wednesday.