Learnings, Earnings, and Missteps: Lessons From My First Year of Freelancing

It’s the end of the year, so you know what that means! It’s time to reflect on all the choices made throughout the year and create new goals to crush for 2020. In the spirt of reflection, I’m taking a look at all the things I learned my first year as a freelancer:

Exercise My Expertise

When I started, I had an idea of what good copy looked like. I knew concise, to-the-point, messaging worked best. I understood cleverness and wordplay had its place, but if it got in the way of delivering a strong message, it wasn’t worth incorporating. 

Yet, when people reached out to me requesting wordy, over-the-top copy, I did it without hesitation. 

Why? Because as a newbie, I wanted my clients to be happy, and I worried about offending them with my suggestions.

Instead of speaking up, I wrote copy that made me cringe with every keystroke. I’m talking product descriptions peppered with needless adverbs and adjectives. And web pages with run-on sentences that make you forget what you’re reading.

My clients loved every word, but I didn’t. 

As my confidence grew, I realized I’m getting work because my clients see me as an expert. And as an expert, I owe it to them to offer suggestions that will help their business. 

If they accept them, great, and if they don’t, I do it their way. 

I Get What I Give

I’m not being hard on myself when I say I could have done more this year. 

When I look at the amount of work I got (and the money I earned), I realize I’m lucky to have gotten this far without a lot of promotion. But, I also can’t help but wonder how much I could have done if I put more effort into it?

You know, like posting more on social media, seeking out work instead of waiting for it to come to me, creating this site a lot sooner.

But as the saying goes, when you know better, you do better, and I plan on doing a lot better with getting new business. 

I Handle Criticism Pretty Well 

I worried a lot about doing a “bad job” when I first started writing professionally, but when I got my first piece of harsh criticism, I didn’t run and hide. I took the words of the client seriously and used their feedback as a chance to improve. 

That experience helped me learn to appreciate constructive criticism. It made me want to learn more, practice, and work harder. 

It’s Okay To Say No

I used to say yes to every project that came my way because I needed the experience. 

And yes, I needed the money too.

Now that I’m (kinda sorta?) finding my groove and figuring out what I’m good at, I realize not every client or project is for me.

Unreasonably demanding and disrespectful clients rob me of time I could devote to my other clients. As far as opportunities that don’t fit my skills (or interest), I think they deserve to go to someone more willing and capable. 

When I have any doubts, I just… don’t.

______

I guess that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed my first official blog post. Let me know what you think, and if you have any lessons from a major career move you made, I’d love to hear about them!

12/20/2019

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