4 Ways I Failed in 2020 (A Freelance Writer's Year in Review)

2021 celebration. New year, here we come!

I don't remember much of November and December, but I can tell you one thing: writing content for my own business did not take priority.

Between client projects, moving to a new town, and navigating the social distant holidays (hi New Normal), I didn't set aside time for writing or marketing.

And the thing about writing is—the more time you go without doing it, the harder it is to come back. Your all-or-nothing brain tells you there's no point in jumping in if you're just going to fall short or get burnt out again.

Well, we're not going to get very far with that attitude, are we?

Fine, sure, no one is at the edge of their couch cushion waiting for you to share your story. But what if your story is exactly what someone needs to hear right now?

I don't have all the answers, but I hope some of my takeaways from 2020 will help other new entrepreneurs start 2021 with some momentum.

Here are 4 ways I failed in 2020:

photo of woman hiding under the blankets

1. I didn’t write 24 blog posts.

I wanted to publish two blog posts a month on my website. So I could do exciting things like build my brand and establish authority.

Instead, I published seven. Six on my website and one on Medium.

I gotta tell ya. My lack of consistency made me feel like a complete fraud. (Nothing like feeding your imposter syndrome by avoiding the very thing you provide clients).

More often than not, I didn't prioritze content writing for my business. I didn't prioritize marketing in general. I took projects as they came and promised myself I'd figure it out later, instead of protecting the time I needed each week to devote to marketing.

Want to avoid this failure? Mark your calendar.

If you're Type B-leaning like me, don't worry about planning every second of your day. Just set a goal for how many words or hours you want to write, and block time on your calendar to make it happen. Then, even as you take on clients, always keep that time sacred. Otherwise, you'll burn out real quick.

embarrassed puppy wishing she went to more networking events

2. I didn’t go to 12 networking events.

Ahh, in-person events. How I LOVED to hate you. Living 10 minutes from Manhattan used to make events and networking so easy.

Back in 2019, I'd try to go to one event a month (and I'd sprinkle some lunch or coworking dates in between). In 2020, I made it to three or four events before the dark ages began.

After lockdown was over and more and more people started living the new normal—virtual events left and right—I didn't join in. I could've led the way by wrangling some friends, scheduling some virtual coffee dates. Anything. But I got tired.

I spent all this time interacting with people on social for my personal and client social accounts. Then at night, I'd be FaceTiming with friends and family. It got to be too much.

Be extra kind to yourself this year.

In 2020, little ole introverted me reached her limit. There were no subway rides between client meetings and events. No quiet commutes to reflect or let my brain rest. I couldn't be outgoing with strangers (or even friends!) after so many weeks of constant output online.

Whether you're an introvert or not, give yourself space to decompress. Being online and talking to people all the time isn't sustainable. You need rest.

picture of cup of tea, book, and glasses on a cozy bed. You don't have to network constantly, especially now. Be kind to yourself.

3. I didn’t share 52 Instagram posts.

This one makes me chuckle. 52 sounds like a whole lot doesn't it? Is *not* posting every single week really a failure?

For a while there, I was sharing on stories and enjoying the community on Instagram for way too many hours a day. Then, surprise to no one, I burnt myself out.

In your first year of freelancing, the feast or famine cycle is real. There’s this weird thing where the feast mode makes you too burnt out to market yourself, and then in the famine, you’re too burnt out to start over again.

Remember to be easier on yourself. If weekly posts are too much for you, that's OK.

Set realistic goals.

I was sprinting when I should’ve been pacing myself.

I didn’t plan for weeks of low energy, or having to postpone our big wedding, or moving apartments (And none of us planned for the P-word we’re all tired of hearing but leaves us walking around with heaviness in our hearts).

This next year, I want to find ways to be consistent in small ways. Because small movements are better than staying still.

Picture of me feeling awkward because I didn't hit my income goals during my first full year of freelancing.

4. I didn’t hit my income goals.

I know. I hear the collective gasp.

You mean - you didn't manifest your highest self and triple your income?!

At first, I was really disappointed in myself. (Back to the drawing board I go!). Then, instead of comparing my income to a random number I pulled from nowhere, I compared 2019 and 2020.

And guess what? I almost doubled my 2019 income in 2020. That's something to celebrate, right?

Embrace small wins.

Y'all. No matter how many six-figure boasts you see a day, there is no such thing as an overnight success.

Dream big, yes.

But break that dream into smaller milestones. And, take a moment to appreciate the steps along the way. (You'll hate yourself a lot less if you do!).

What do all of these failures have in common?

I guess expecting myself to sprint every day was…

...a bit much?

All-or-nothing isn't going to take you as far as consistency.

This year, I’m going to set smaller goals and try to appreciate the little steps in between. Who’s with me?


Tell me, how did you fail this year? How do you want to improve in 2021? Find me on Instagram or Twitter and say hi. Us freelancers gotta stick together.