Facebook, personal journals, business journals, emails, and Instagram were all mined to discover and document exactly what this past year has taught me.
2014 brought a lot of change. There were many lessons that hopefully you can identify with or glean insight from. Here are 18 lessons that 2014 taught me about life, freelancing, and business:
1. Life rarely goes as planned, but having a plan helps.
I planned on working my full-time job as a restaurant manager until the copywriting business made enough money to take over. That didn’t happen, but because I had a plan, it was easier to transition from work to business.
There were so many times in 2014 that I wanted to quit and just start my business. Having a plan reminded me that it would have been stupid to impulsively quit and gave me an end-point to focus on when I was ultimately frustrated with my day job.
2. Relationships are your most important business tool.
No effort has impacted my business more than the relationships I’ve started.
3. Allow each other to work through conflicts.
In life and in business, spitting out answers doesn’t solve problems. If someone is venting, searching, or coming to you for answers, work with them through the problem. Spitting out answers feels hollow most of the time (unless those answers come from personal experience). When you’re working through conflict alongside someone, you need that process as much as they do.
4. Wasting time irks me, but procrastinating is so easy.
I have so many ideas, but actually taking steps to building on those ideas is a major barrier. That first step is a doozy. Once you take the first step, though, it’s like the snow on the mountain lets go; distractions collapse, hesitation dries up, and even your legitimate priorities and responsibilities can suffer if you’re not careful. Just take that first step.
5. How to put the reader (customer) first.
Always be thinking about what the reader is going to take away from the article, or what the customer is going to get out of experiencing your marketing. Have that mindset every time you create something and it exponentially increases the attractiveness of your creation.
6. I’m in it for the results.
This isn’t a good thing. Well, as a marketer it is, but as a person, it’s not. It means I do things for a reaction, it means if it’s not going to get a response from people, I don’t want to do it. It means my relationships are built on an expectation of returns … I hope to change this in 2015.
7. I was never bothered by the Lordship of Jesus until I started building something of my own.
8. A story needs discovery.
There’s no adventure and little attraction without discovery.
9. Brainstorming is essential to my existence.
I knew this before 2014, but this year has made it abundantly clear that brainstorming gives me energy.
10. Square lined notebooks are my favourite productivity app.
I’m not a designer, but square lined notebooks make mapping out ideas and concepts so much easier! Everything can have it’s own square and I can actually measure out column widths or bubble sizes.
11. Journalism and business have found a cozy cove in my heart together.
I want my business writing to be journalistic in approach and nature, focused on giving the reader the best, most relevant information in the easiest way to consume. I want my writing to delve deeper in to the questions that business owners and executives have.
12. I really am a cat person.
13. Images and lists are important to successful social media.
Twitter is one of my primary social media focuses. It is challenging to stand out in the twitter feed. But something I learned quickly is if you turn a tweet into a small list, it’s gets more recognition.
And of course images stick out well to. Creating images in Photoshop is fun, but when I found Canva.com it was heaven. They make it so easy to create social ready images. They have tons of icons, fonts, layouts, and graphic control to make stylish images for social media.
It’s addicting. Creating an image that points to a specific offer, getting imaginative with the copy and pictures, and seeing it pop out on a news feed is extremely satisfying.
14. Don’t let your portfolio sour.
Recently there were a lot of visitors to my portfolio page and I realized several of the projects were outdated, or just not the quality of work I wanted on display. The worst part was I had procrastinated on putting up a recent project that was really good.
I finally updated the portfolio, but I can’t help but wonder if I would have gotten a few emails if I had pruned and updated the portfolio earlier.
15. You need more than $100 to make good use of social media ads and PPC ads.
I knew this when I started my PPC campaign, but I wanted to test out the process and get a feel for the system. If you are going to drive quality traffic to your offers with PPC ads, you have to put more than $100 money into it.
16. Cold emailing may not be the sexiest form of outreach, but it works.
When I publish a blog post, I find similar articles that were written and shared, find the people who wrote those articles and shared them through social media, then email them and ask if they would share my article.
I was sceptical when I started this practice, but it works. If I email 20 strangers, I’ll get a response from 4 or 5 people with encouraging feedback. Many will share the article with their followers. It’s how I’ve built my audience the most so far.
There has only been one person that disapproved of my random outreach. But they were polite about it.
The fundamental problem with this form of promotion is that if I’m not emailing, I don’t get any traffic. This year I’m resolving to focus on more efficient audience building and promotion strategies, two of which will be guest posting and seminar speaking.
17. Finding a person’s email addresses is addicting and slightly creepy.
Seriously, once I found the simple process to dig out someone’s email address, it became something of an obsession. It may seem creepy, but like I said above, it’s worked for me.
Finding an email address isn’t always easy. I’ll find 8 of every 10 address I hope for, which isn’t bad.
18. Much of the time, forward progress is simply making a decision and sticking to it until you succeed or fail.
If you have a plan, it’s easier to make decisions, even when you’re not sure about the direction you’re taking. If you find out that your direction is off, then making mid journey course adjustments aren’t too difficult.
Setbacks or course adjustments aren’t failure. And failure isn’t when your plan falls apart. It’s never attempting or giving up. That being said, if you set off in the completely wrong direction. Stop, go back to square one, and start again.
Looking to 2015.
My wife and I will be travelling a lot and we’re really looking forward to it. There are so many personal and business opportunities in travelling. I can’t wait to see what discovery this adventure will bring.
I hope that the Open Sky Copywriting family will grow this year to include other writers, readers, and business partners. Let’s toast to a prosperous and educational 2015.
Cheers! Happy New year!