It’s that time of year where I look back at some of the big things (good and bad) that happened in 2019.
This year marks eight years as a full-time freelance graphic designer! And what a life-changing year it’s been.
Things that went well in 2019...
I became a dad
The highlight of my year! I can’t put into words how incredible becoming a father to such a happy, beautiful little girl has been.
She gives me a reason to work smarter and with intention. Establishing a better work/life balance, live a healthier lifestyle, and not wanting to spend money on random meaningless things.
Rebuilt my freelance brand
For the longest time I felt like my branding and website were stale. I had no motivation to add new work. Mentally, it felt like working at a messy desk with no elbow room.
With this much needed redesign, my branding feels like me and something I’m proud to rock for the next 5+ years.
If you want to read the entire process behind my redesign, check out my post: Turning Up The Volume On My Freelance Brand (My 2019 Rebrand).
More killer client work
I’m incredibly fortunate that I get to work from home and watch Rowan grow every single day. None of this would be possible without the rad clients and art directors who’ve continued to reach out and trust me with creating designs for their projects.
Things that didn’t go so well in 2019...
Didn’t follow-through with most of last year’s goals
Although it felt like an incredible year, when I look back at my goals I hardly followed-through with any of them…
- I didn’t share more on Instagram in order to grow my brand
- I didn’t make ANY new YouTube videos
- I didn’t release as many digital products as I should’ve
- I didn’t stay consistent with healthier habits
- I didn’t save much for my new studio
The good news is, I know why I didn’t follow-through with any of those goals...
I didn’t take enough action.
I overthought everything.
I made excuses.
2020 is going to be different.
Rather than arbitrarily making nice-to-do “goals”, I’m going to make monthly goals, then break them up into actionable tasks.
I’ll set deadlines and pull those tasks into my daily to-do lists. I’m actually going to take action this time around!
Didn’t earn as much money
This year I made a few thousand dollars less compared to last year. When I realized this, it was an instant feeling of disappointment.
However, I actually never realized this during the year. We never struggled financially and I was still saving most months.
If anything, this realization gets me fired up to work smarter and plan ways to help increase my income.
I spent the entire year overthinking everything!
Overthinking steals time and energy, and produces nothing worthwhile.
Anxiety drowns me in “what ifs”. Forever envisioning the negative outcome. Whether it’s what we can’t change or can’t predict.
Anxiety creates depression, which makes me dwell on losses and missteps.
I get caught up in what others might say or think about what I share. I'm afraid I might come off as inexperienced or sounding dumb in things I have to say. And I hate saying it out loud, but it's true, that I also crave validation from peers/heroes who don’t know I exist. And the list goes on...
Sadly, this sort of overthinking becomes routine.
Being aware is the first step to beating this toxic mindset.
I’m working on catching myself in the act of overthinking, and either convert that thought into a problem solving task or simply let it go and push through to something that actually matters.
My 2019 Freelancing Income Breakdown
Let’s face it, everyone wants to see the freelance income report. I’m all about transparency, and that’s why I choose to include my income. It’s also my favorite part to look back on and compare to past years.
Hopefully by sharing how I diversify my income, you can find some motivation and learn from what’s working for me.
Quick note: these numbers/graphs represented are gross revenue, meaning before fees, taxes, or expenses.
My 2019 Monthly Freelance Gross Revenue
Like every year, my income is sporadic! Because of this, it's crucial that I diversify my income with multiple sources of cashflow. Client work is my bread and butter. But I can't solely rely on it.
July stood out to me as it appears to be very low. It was the month Rowan was born, so at first I thought the stress and anticipation was what caused such a low dip. However, that was actually quite a busy month looking back, and it's why August shot up – because all those invoices from July's work came in!
Here's how I diversified my income this year...
My 2019 Freelance Income Streams
- Client work: goes without saying client work is my largest source of income. It’s the foundation to my business as a freelance graphic designer and it’s why I do what I do. This will remain my top priority for years to come.
- Creative Market: I continue to be surprised by how much extra income I earn through Creative Market. Even though it was slightly lower than last year, I now know it’s a result of not following through with new products and the impact that made. If you haven’t, check out Creative Market and consider starting your own shop!
- YouTube: There's so much potential and all it needs is more of my attention. The fact that I can pay at least one bill from my videos is incredible. 2020 is the year I stop overthinking and start putting out more videos.
- Affiliate Links: I don't put much effort into using affiliate links, but know it will grow when I put more effort into things like my YouTube videos. How does it all work exactly? I use Amazon affiliate links when recommending products I use, as well as Creative Market referrals when recommending it to other designers. It’s all very organic and built slowly over time.
My Goals for 2020...
I have three broad goals for my freelance business next year:
- Increase revenue
- Grow my brand
- Stop overthinking
To meet those goals, here's how I'm going to take action:
- Widen my net into entertainment merch with licensing companies: i.e. companies who handle merch for Disney, Marvel, Pixar, etc. To do this, I’m going to simply cold-email and use my existing connections to make new ones.
- Follow through with making more digital products. Make more mockups, texture packs, and I want to release a font or two.
- Consume less and create more. I want to make more videos and share more on Instagram to help grow my brand. I’d be crazy not to utilize these platforms for growth. Setting monthly goals, pre-planning posts, and giving myself a deadline for every task will be crucial for success.
- Prioritize physical and mental health. These are just as if not more important than any other goal. If I’m in good health, then I’ll be able to do my best work. I’m going to add personal and mundane tasks into my daily to-do lists. If I let any tasks sit in the back of my mind, it will never get done. Especially now that Rowan is here, I want and need to set a good example.
- Launch my shop and document the merch process. This one is super daunting, so I thought it’d be awesome if I documented every step of the way on YouTube and got your help in bringing my shop to life together. Documenting it and iterating in public will also hold my accountable.
Getting all of these ideas and goals out of my head and onto “paper” is weight off my shoulders. It’s all still very overwhelming to think about. But as long as I break these goals up into tasks – no matter how small – that’s progress. A 5–10 minute task is way more doable than simply thinking I need to “launch my online shop.”
That’s a wrap for this year’s review! If you’ve read this far, thank you! Thank you for taking the time to read and for following me in my journey freelancing. Hopefully you were able to pull some inspiration from all this.
See you in 2020! Much love from me, Anita, Rowan, and Benny!