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How I Failed in 2015 (and Why I’m Okay With It)

how I failed at freelance writing
freelance-writing-fail
Can I just say it?
Failing… SUCKS.

When my freelance business finally started taking off in 2014, I was certain to I was going to make 2015 my year.

It was going to be the year that I hit all my business goals and do everything I set my sites on.

But…

I failed in that endeavor.

However, as the year winds to a close and I look back at all that 2015 had to offer, I can also confidently say that it has been one of the best years of my life.

It sounds a little confusing, I know, but I plan to elaborate on this right now.

How I Failed My Business in 2015, and Why I’m Okay with It

Failure #1:  I Let My Income Plateau

Even though I am a one woman business, growth is still important to me.

More importantly — growth of income.

But month-to-month through 2015, my income has remained rather steady, and I didn’t do too much to increase it.

This wasn’t due to laziness, though.

I spent the better half of 2015 being VERY pregnant, and towards the end of my second trimester I ended up getting what is called “Pregnancy Induced Carpal Tunnel” (along with all the other fun stuff that comes with being preggers).

As you can imagine, the pain and overall lack of sleep put a damper on how much work I could do.

Even still, I hit my mark of $5k in the month before my youngest was born, but I only pushed myself to do that so I had some income cushion come the next month while I recouped.

Why I’m Okay With This “Failure”

I’m one of those people that even though I like to be honest and realistic with myself, I also like to push myself to do better and to grow.

With that being said, I realize now that my goals of actually increasing my income this year was too much of stretch for everything that I had going on in my life since that meant working more than my body could physically handle.

My family comes first before all else in life.

Even though I wanted to take my business income to the next level, in reality I couldn’t without wearing myself out more than I already had.

I’m a stay-at-home mom — my kids rely on me every day for just about everything.

And somehow, 2 kids equals 3 times the work! (If you’re a work-at-home parent with more than one kid, then I know you understand.)

I’m confident enough that if I had to go at this full-time that I could start making $10k per month in order to take care of my family, but that’s not where I’m needed right now.

Right now, I have a baby and a toddler who needs their mom to, you know… feed them, bathe them, play with them and read them Superhero books from dawn till dusk.

I’m more than okay with that.

Failure #2: Not Creating More Content on My Blog

My goal in 2015 was to pump out more content for freelancers and online soloprenuers (that’s what we freelancer writers really are these days), but I failed miserably at all of that.

This had a lot to do with the same reason above:

I was focusing on my family, not on profit or building my blog.

Even still, I feel like I have let my readers down, and I’m sorry for that.

I have so much up my sleeves that I know can be helpful to you, and I haven’t shared much of it.

That sucks…

The second reason I didn’t do this is because I didn’t have a clear vision of the type of content I wanted to create on the blog.

But I hunkered down and figured out the path I really wanted to take Freelance Freedom Fighter.

How I Plan To Change This Failure in 2016

As I mentioned above, this blog hasn’t had much direction when it came to clear topics to cover and portraying my voice.

I mean, I’m a freelance blogger. I want to help others break into this area of work.

That much I do know, and those are the type of articles that I’ve covered thus far.

But I’m much more than just a mom who writes words for a living.

I might call myself a “blogger”, but that’s too simple of a title.

In essence, I’m a self-taught content and online marketer.

I’m in the business of business. And I’m an entrepreneur which means that I’m always looking for viable opportunities worth my time.

Writing and the opportunities out there for increasing income as a writer or blogger are honestly quite staggering.

For example:

  • Did you know that breaking into Social Media management is super easy if you’re a competent blogger?
  • Are you aware that photography skills go hand-in-hand with travel writing and that you can make money selling your photos as part of your articles?
  • Did you know that you can make 6-figures a year through a writing niche know as Copywriting, and if you’re really good, you can make 7-figures?

These are just a few things that I spent 2015 exploring.

So starting 2016 I’ve decided to add a few more categories to the blog:

  • Diversify Your Income | This will include areas where writers can expand their skills into other markets like Social Media Management, Travel Writing, Copywriting, becoming a VA (virtual assistant), etc.
  • Start an Income Blog | If you’re going to be a freelance blogger, then you need to have a blog to market your skills or as a place to start building passive income. I’ll cover articles on the whole array of blogging and the mistakes I made along the way before getting Freelance Freedom Fighter to the point I like it.
  • Mama-preneurship | I’m a mom who works from home while taking care of 2 kids under 4. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. I wanted to create a space on the blog to show stay-at-home parents (moms and dads alike!) that you can build an online business even when you life is like, stupid busy.
  • Self-Development | Mindset is a huge part of what it takes to be successful in any entrepreneurial endeavor. This section will cover topics about how to boost your confidence, shift your overall mindset and help you succeed in this sojourn of self-employment.

By adding these to the blog, I felt like it gave a better scope of what it actually takes to not only be a freelancer, but also as a business owner.

I’m not a one-trick pony.

Neither are you, and I didn’t want to hinder the blog by only talking about writing.

Even though I had a couple bumps along the way, I still managed to do quite a bit in 2015 that makes up for the things where I missed the mark.

My Wins for 2015, and How They Make Up For Just About Everything

I Started a Copywriting Agency

To be honest, I can’t take credit for this one.

My gal-pal, Gina Horkey, is the one who initiated it and we teamed up with our friend Carlos to form a copywriting team where we take on bigger client projects and tackle them together.

Our goal was to get our first client in November, but we haven’t snagged one just yet.

Even still, I love being on a team with them and being what I like to call the “third leg” of the operation.

We have some goals in place and plan to take our project as a team to the stars and beyond!

I Became a Contributor on the Huffington Post

Even though the HuffPost doesn’t pay for the posts I’ll be writing, getting myself on this platform was a goal I put in place for this year. However, with so much going on in life, I put it off to the last minute.

I talked to a few of my blogging pals about this, and it was my friend Adam Davis who came in saved the day (Thanks, Adam!!!!).

He gave me some awesome advice for landing a contributor role, and as of December, I am now an official contributor to the Huffington Post.

I’m very excited about this opportunity and I plan to use it to establish myself in the entrepreneurial/business niche and to get in front of prospective clients. (It’s all about strategy *wink*.)

I Raised My Rates

At the start of 2015, I had my rates set at .10 per word — which I would consider the bare minimum for a writer to accept work.

But after having my youngest, I needed to cut back on work without losing a lot of income. So I did something very scary:

I raised my rates — again!

I now have my minimum rate for blog articles at .20 per word and ghostwriting work starts at .30 per word.

And in case you’re wondering, I haven’t had an issue negotiating that price.

If someone won’t take that price, then we go our separate ways. I’m fine with (politely) saying no, which is also something I learned to do this year (Thank, God!).

I Reinvested In Myself

Most people starting out in their entrepreneurial journey are afraid to spend big bucks on themselves and their own education — be that a coach or a course to level up their skills.

I, though, think that the best investment that any solopreneur can make is in themselves.

The education that you receive from others, and actually spending the money to get it and working to make that knowledge your own is invaluable.

Any tried and true entrepreneur will tell you that investing in yourself is what helped them succeed in the longrun, and so that is exactly what I did.

I enrolled in 4 courses this year I have been working through them little by little. I also bought quite a few books to add to my home library.

That sounds like a lot, but I’ve learned so much from them all of them, and have already implemented much of what I’ve been learning so it’s paid off in more ways than one.

It’s easy to get caught up in the all of the shiny courses and things out there, so I had to make sure to be reasonable with what I enrolled in.

I don’t regret any of the money spent, and I’m excited to use what I’m learning so that I can take myself and my business to the next level.

I Became a Social Media Manager (by accident!!)

I find it funny how I seem to stumble into most of my freelance opportunities by accident.

I never set out to be a paid writer, but the opportunity sort of fell in my lap and I ran with it.

Same is true in this case.

I didn’t set out to do this type of work, but turns out that it’s a very easy transition from blogger to social media manager.

This is a new chapter in my journey, and I plan to expound on how others can do this in the blog too.

I Spoke at My First Conference

Like, holy frak! (Any Battlestar Galactica fans here?)

This was a nerve-wracking experience to be sure, but I did it anyway. I was very nervous (to say the least).

Thankfully, I managed to get through the entire presentation without forgetting anything or dying, so that’s good.

Whether or not I’ll do this again, I can’t say.

But I checked it off my bucket list, and I’m proud of the fact that I managed to summon enough courage to do it.

What I Plan to Do in 2016

I like putting my goals on the blog since they help me feel more accountable for them. Here is what I plan to do in 2016:

  • Settle into a copywriting niche. This has been much harder than I thought it’d be, and I haven’t settle into one just yet.
  • Submit my first magazine query. I’d like to explore food and travel writing, but it all starts with the query letter so that’s where I’ll put my goal.
  • Launch my first free mini-course. I feel like I have a lot to offer that can help people do what I do and I want to offer some of that for free so I’ll be working on those and getting them to you shortly.
  • Revamp my About Me and Hire Me pages. They need to reflect what I do, what I offer and who I am better than they do.
  • Explore video marketing. Some of my favorite blogs and bloggers put themselves on YouTube where they offer insights and help you get to know them better. I’d like to do something similar so that we can get to know each other better.
  • Attend more conferences. Conferences and face-to-face marketing isn’t my strong suit and I want to get out of my shell more. Plus, there is so much to learn! Hopefully, Gina and I can find on to go to together so that we can finally meet in person!

I have a few more I’m considering, but I want to be realistic. Having these goals is just one part of actually getting them done. Now I need to get them done!

2015 has been a big year in my life for so many reasons. I have plans to make 2016 one as well.

I’m only 25, and I (hopefully) have quite a few more years ahead of me where I can explore life and career opportunities.

Thank you to all of you for helping to make this year truly epic, and let’s make 2016 the year we rock it!

What are you goals? What do you want to see on the blog? How can I help you in your freelance journey? Comment below 😉

Ari Rule

I'm Ari — a freelance writer, digital marketer, and side-hustle guinea pig. HustlePineapple is where you'll find my best tactics for freelance success, blogging and social media tips, and ideas for profitable side-hustles. Connect with me on Twitter or Instagram @HustlePineapple

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22 Comments

  1. I really appreciate the honesty in your post Ariel! As a stay at home, homeschooling mom to seven, with a fledgling business, I totally understand not growing the business at the expense of the family. I like your specific goals, and am looking forward to your mini-course when it’s available!

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! I only have 2 to worry about. I can only imagine how busy life would be with 7 kids and having them all homeschooled! I actually spent most of my life homeschooled too, and my mom is the one who helped me find a love for reading and writing :). I’m sure your kids will find you as an inspiration as their educator and an entrepreneur.

  2. Awesome post Ariel – you ROCK! And yes, let’s find a conference to meet in person (LeadPages?). You’re an amazing webpreneur and mama and we can all learn a lot from you (and already have). 2016 is YOUR YEAR!

    1. Ever my constant cheerleader, Gina :). Love you! Where is LeadPages in 2016? Maybe we can meet — finally!!!

      1. You bet I am! I’m pretty sure it’s in Mpls, MN again (they’re headquartered here). They just haven’t secured dates, but it’s probably in the fall again (this year it was late October).

  3. Sounds like you had a busy year! Our eldest has just started school so that has free’d up a bit more time for work. Don’t know how you do it with 2 at home full time.

    I’m looking forward to the new direction of the blog. I’d love to know more about getting into social media marketing. I don’t even really know what that entails!

    Congratulations on getting to 20 cents a word, I’ve still got a way to go in order to reach that number but its my goal for next year.

    Good luck for 2016!

    1. Very busy, but honestly, I like a busy schedule. When I don’t have anything to do I just end up binge watching Netflix haha! With all your background in blogging, shifting in to Social Media would be a synch for you for sure. Raising my rates certainly cut out a few people which is a bummer but well worth it. You’ve been at the game for a bit and you write so well — .20 per word is definitely in your reach.

      1. Joe

        Yes, sounds very busy. How many hours do you think you work a week if you don’t mind me asking?

        Thanks, I will aim for 20 cents in 2016.

        Did you follow any training or guides to get into social media marketing?

        Thanks,
        Joe

        1. I average around 30 hours a week and I break it up through out the week. Though to be honest, my brain is always spinning with ideas so it’s like I’m always working haha.

          As for the training, I didn’t really take any. I studied the Social Media Examiner blog and still read it everyday, and I hear the Podium course by Hootsuite is really good.

  4. Vicky Cox

    Besides working on my blog, I want to advance my freelance writing and get better at copywriting. I definitely need to make more money in 2016. And Ariel, it doesn’t get much easier when the kids enter their teen years, but that’s what I love about the freelance lifestyle!

    1. Sounds like you and I have the same goals, Vicky 🙂 Thank you for commenting on the blog and sharing your thought. I love connecting with more of my readers! Let’s rock the new year!

  5. Ariel, I appreciate your transparency. I’m excited to see what you accomplish next year and am grateful that you’re giving us the opportunity to join you! I cannot wait for the mini-course! Congrats on the HUFFPO contributor status. As for my goals, I’d like to learn more about social media management, be pubbed on HUFFPO, and grow my income by $1,000 a month. With your help, I know I can!

  6. I’ve been contemplating a “Why I Quit” post. Similar to your failure post. You really didn’t fail. You accomplished a ton this year, while taking care of your little ones. It really is perspective. I’m learning that it’s okay to fail, and it’s okay to say enough is enough. Maybe it didn’t work out the way we wanted, but it’s still a learning experience!

    1. LOL, I deal with a Wonder Woman complex so it certainly is a matter of perspective. 2015 was definitely a year of learning and being okay with saying no to myself. I’m really looking forward to next year though. I have goals in place, but I’m trying to make them more realistic. I like the challenge, though ;).

      1. Challenges are a must!! And having a Wonder Woman complex is okay, with the perspective in place. I feel the same way. I took a leap this year and missed the ledge. Then I self projected my perspective about it on my husband until I blew up. He pointed out I was putting it on him, when really it was how I felt. After that I just let it go. There’s enough time for “Wonder Woman” again next year. I’m okay being a side kick for awhile 🙂

  7. 2015 sucked for me! I was planning to start my own business but, due to some problems of mine, I didn’t do anything I was planning.
    So, my goals for 2016 are (hopefully) to start my business, if Italian bureaucracy won’t drive me mad, improve my blog and make it more professional and try to start working as a freelance for magazines.
    Basically, my main goal is to make the right steps towards happiness, because I deserve it!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Noemi. I’m sorry to hear that your year didn’t go as planned. You absolutely deserve to be happy. Perhaps I could help you get things going in the right direction for 2016? 🙂 Feel free to send me an email. I’d love to chat with you more! You can do it girl!!!

  8. Pam VanLoon

    2016 is the year I finally get going online. Right now I am trying to finish a couple of classes and get everything set up. I will be doing a variety of things from virtual assistance, proofreading of all kinds, editing, basic bookkeeping and maybe get brave enough to do some writing, which I’ve always loved.

  9. Hi Ariel!

    It’s really inspiring to hear your rates; I bet that’s a story a lot of us would be interested in!

    I have a long story but the short version is that I’ve decided to focus on freelance direct-response copywriting, and my goal is to hit six figures by the end of 2016! Here’s the kicker – I’m a full time senior engineering student at UC San Diego.

    Happy New Year!
    -Darryl

  10. Hi Ariel,
    That’s so much inspiring! I love the way you prioritize your family. After all, its they who we live for.
    Wow! If I may say so, I too have bigger goals for me in 2016 and I hope I fulfill them.
    Hey congrats on your team, gal. I know Gina she’s a sweetheart with all the awesome courses she has, I know being on a team with her would be great for you.

    I’d love to discuss something with you, or rather ask your valuable suggestion, email?

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