Looking back at the year, I am both amazed and astonished.
I’m amazed at the sheer number of clients I’ve worked with and the level of growth I’ve reached. On the flipside, I am astonished at how quickly the time went by, and at how much was still left on the table to be done in the future.
In 2019, I flew to London without hardly notifying a client — because there were only two projects in the air that would not be affected by a week out of town.
This year, on the other hand, I scheduled an entire month off. That month turned into two weeks off and then just one week off because it was SO hard to say no. I’ve learned that if I want to take time off, I need to over-communicate it by putting the dates in my email footer and of course, turning on my vacation responder.
But taking time off is so much more than that — it’s booking projects three months prior with an awareness that projects can not go over their deadlines without it impacting my personal time. Now, when I want to take time off for more than 3 days, I schedule it in my calendar as early as 6 months in advance. That way, when I’m booking projects close to that timeframe, I can be sure that my time off won’t be impacted. I also tell potential clients, even while booking, that I will be out of town so there are no surprises!
About a year ago, I first heard of the every-three rule — that with every three booked projects, you can and should increase your prices. This is very common in the wedding photography industry. I waited the longest time to start implementing this, and still don’t quite follow it to a T, but when I pay careful attention to how far out I’m booking projects and what competitors are charging. I’ve talked about this with my clients when it comes to their pricing too! My clients are always upping their prices to coincide with their website launches.
It’s true — the longer you work and the more value you provide, the more referrals and clients you’ll start to book. This year definitely reached a breaking point for me — that I need to really choose my clients. Gone are the days of saying yes to every single project. Instead, I want to reserve my schedule for projects that are in alignment with my exact skillset and preference (yep, some projects are more enjoyable than others!).
For example, a dog breeding company reached out with serious interest in booking me for three website copywriting projects — three! With hesitation, I booked a discovery call just to see if their ethics and practices aligned with mine (and mind you, I foster rescue dogs!). When that client didn’t show up on time for the phone call, I took that as an opportunity to respectfully decline the project. And guess what happened? I was left with more time in my scheduler for dream clients (like Holly with Anything But Gray Events who donates proceeds to a nonprofit for dogs!). I want to serve companies whose values match mine — so bring on the rescue-dog-loving creatives!
Ouch. This one is a painful realization. I failed to complete so many strategic behind-the-scenes to dos because if a client booked me, my personal business project got pushed to the side. This is why I am considering take two months off of client work next year. It’s crazy, but I think it’s the only way to seriously focus on my business.
I started my business with trades galore. I audited websites in exchange for brand photos. I built my website from a free template. I didn’t dare spend money before it was earned. This year, however, was an eye opener for me when it comes to trades. I reached the point at which my time was scarce and trades I had formed were challenging to fulfill. I had to stretch myself, working 40 hour weeks and weekends. (Ahem, not why I started my own business. Where is the freedom that was promised?) This is why I am taking at least 6 months off of trades to re-evaluate where my time is best spent, and to consider what I need to invest in for the future.
Prior to this year, I had never spent money on a coach. I realized, though, that I was not prioritizing my self-care and that without it, my business would fail. That’s why I invested in Emma, a stress coach for business owners. That accountability and support has been incredible, and we’re just getting started.
2020 was the year of vulnerability for both myself and my clients. Without a bit of grace and understanding, there would be so much frustration. Instead, we were honest and kind. My clients opened up to me when their lives were impacted by suicide, financial hardship, illness, kids and anything that life could bring. And I, also, was vulnerable when I lost my best friend and dog in the middle of the night on a late July weekend. Suicide, illness, hospitalizations, surgeries, potential furlough and more were in my personal sphere and it. was. hard. As a creator, especially, I simply cannot provide my best work when my mind is lost in another galaxy. Communicating this with clients, and then revising timelines, was essential, and is one of the reasons that I am extending timeline lengths for next year — to let life happen without interfering with work.
I started working with The Kate Collective in 2019 to provide website copy for her clients. That relationship snowballed into an amazing friendship and collaboration with shared clients throughout the year. I adore Katie and can’t wait to see what comes next for us both. You’ll see!
This year, I started receiving other referrals from web designers like Rachael Earl and Jacki with Foil & Ink. Those referrals allow us to give our clients an all-in web package with converting, SEO copy and a strategically designed, custom website. Plus, the collaborations have been invaluable with behind-the-scenes conversations that give our clients only the absolute best with a seamless experience.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share this, but I have always adored transparency from other entrepreneurs. I set my goals at a realistic pace this year — knowing that business would flow naturally. Little did I know that I would hit $10k months in the middle of a pandemic. One of my goals for next year is to review the areas in which my time is most profitable, and to focus on those.
With that, comes an outline of what next year will hold.
For the past five years, I have worked with the fitness, tech, creative, wedding and finance industries. This coming year, however, I have decided to focus on the niches in which I have the most experience, the ones in which I can truly give an edge to my clients. In 2021, Salted Pages will only be taking on projects with creative entrepreneurs like photographers, web designers, stationery designers, florists and those who offer services for entrepreneurs.
Stay tuned for a copywriting guide, email templates, website checklists and more!
Katie from The Kate Collective and I talk all the time about the dreams for our business. After this year went by and our dreams were left still budding, we’ve decided to keep each other accountable with monthly check-ins and plans with lists to ensure that we fulfill them! I’m so ready for this!
The number one thing I want to do next year is to be intentional — with the projects I book, what I choose to spend my time on and how I run my business.
So, tell me, what are your lessons, wins and will-dos?