It’s the season for taking stock and end-of-year lists. For myself, I made a pretty big life change in 2010. I voluntarily became a full-time freelance writer in January 2010. Leaving a salaried position with a company that I helped build was difficult, but who said personal growth was easy?
Of course, like every other person on the planet, I made plenty of mistakes in 2010. I don’t think it’s instructive to dwell on the screw-ups or the, “I shouldas …”
Instead, I’ll focus on what worked for me and my business in 2010.
Here we go …
1. Making Meaning
Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki talks about “making meaning, not money” on his blog and in his book, The Art of the Start. The idea is to make your product/service more than the sum of its parts. I made this my mission in 2010, creating content that helped people bring their messages to a wider audience. As a result, I had far more clients than I thought I would. More importantly, I gave them content that was meaningful. And so, I had lots of happy clients.
Belonging to The Northwest Networking Professionals helped my business and sanity. Being surrounded by rock star business owners navigating the same entrepreneurial waters helped me throughout the year. Many group members hired me, including Jaya Krupp.
More importantly, they all became my evangelists. For instance, Bryan, Amy Thackery, Summer Buel, and Seth Warren all sang my praises to their other networks. Seth often says that networking is valuable because even if the person you meet doesn’t hire you, maybe s/he knows someone who needs your expertise. He’s absolutely right.
I also networked on Twitter, meeting some fantastic fellow writers, including Natalia Sylvester, P.S. Jones, and Emily Suess, as well as editors Mark Allen, K. O’Moore-Klopf, and Dawn McIlvain Stahl. We haven’t met face to face, but their Tweets and blog posts are often inspirational and always fun.
I focused on inbound marketing and word-of-mouth marketing to make my business more visible, but paying for advertising on Freelance Designers was very helpful. This site gave me several referrals, many of whom became clients.
4. Maintaining Bridges
One of my clients last year was my former employer. I’m not sure if we’ll work together again, but maintaining that relationship helped my business grow. This relationship also sent a few leads my way, which led to ongoing work.
5. Staying Active
Slow times hit every business and mine was no exception. During work slowdowns, I focused on internal SEO projects, blogging, helping my wife Sara with her business, and fiction writing (my first true love).
The biggest difference between the me of January 2010 and now is that I have much more confidence. At the start of the year, I had zero clients. But two days after I left my job, I had my first clients, Nathan J. Wagner and Jack Myers and plenty of work.
I never looked back. 🙂
What’s next for 2011? Drop by in a day or two for Aspirations: 2011. Happy New Year everyone!