I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve sat down to write a yearly review.
I’ve got a chunk of time and felt compelled, so here we are.
This will be both a professional and personal review of my last year.
TLDR: It was amazing, fulfilling, loving, eye-opening, character building, stressful and hard work. All at the same time.
I didn’t turnover quite as much from my freelancing business this year as I did in the previous year. 17.5% less in fact.
I put this down to three main factors:
- I’ve taken lots more time off (for a number of reasons).
- All my “spare” office time has been focused on personal projects outside of this business.
- Being way more picky about the projects I work on and the clients I work with.
This might sound strange, but the drop hasn’t worried me at all.
The lower turnover was a result of my choices and circumstances I’ve controlled.
I still made more than enough for the year’s results to have no effect on my business or my family.
Coding continues to invigorate me in general.
I find it empowering to know that I can build out any of the ideas that come to my head.
I love that there’s always more to learn.
At this moment in time, I can’t imagine myself ever working outside of digital.
With all that said, throughout the year, there have sometimes been periods lacking fulfilment.
Nothing major. Nothing that would make me want to close my laptop for good. But a little voice in the back of my mind saying, “Is this it?“.
During the third quarter of 2019, I’ve been taking the initial steps toward making some career based adjustments.
I’ve been working for myself for over ten years. During this time, I’ve become pretty good at it.
My interest in the business of freelancing, efficiency as a solo business owner and digital marketing has always been high.
It’s a topic I’ve studied profusely and I attribute the success of my freelancing business to this.
My experience and studies have brought along a skill set enabling me to freelance as a web developer to a high level of success. I’m super thankful for this and grateful for everyone who has helped forge me along the way.
I’m a big believer in passing on knowledge. Everyone wins when we share expertise. Writing articles about freelancing has been a cathartic exercise for me since 2016.
Since August, I’ve stepped up the sharing of my freelancing knowledge in the form of tweets containing tips and advice.
Freelancers! You’ll have heard this before, but I’m still seeing people getting burned.— Tom Hirst (@tom_hirst) August 28, 2019
Do not lift a finger until you get a deposit.
50% preferably. A third at least.
In my experience, no client is fully commited to a digital project until they’ve parted with some money.
This continues to be really well received; leading to people enquiring about potential mentorship opportunities.
I love talking about freelancing and I get a ton of fulfilment from giving others a leg up.
So in the near future I’ll be launching a one-on-one mentorship programme to help other freelancers get ahead.
My freelancing mentorship programme will run as an aside to my own freelance business.
I have awesome clients who I’m immensely lucky to work with and I’m looking forward to continuing my existing engagements in 2020.
More about freelancing mentorship soon.
Update 22/01/2020: If you’re interested in learning how to get paid what you’re worth, work smarter and find balance through freelancing, you can enrol on my freelancing mentorship programme today by clicking here.
My life has changed quite a lot this year and I’m changing as a person.
I don’t believe that you have to be the same person you always were. You can adapt to your circumstances and sometimes, quite simply change because you want to change.
As I’m always trying to better myself in business, I’m always trying to improve as a person.
Six years or so ago, I started to work out regularly and this was an important turning point that lead to me being a better version of myself.
In 2019, I continued to prioritise this, meeting my exercise goals and in return, keeping my head straight.
In my opinion, taking care of yourself is the biggest gift you can give to your loved ones. It allows you to be better for them.
This past year has perhaps been the one where I’ve noticed the biggest difference in myself.
A lot of this has been brought on by the changes in my life:
Selling a house is stressful. Buying a new house is stressful. Renovating said new house right away is bloody hard work. And doing all this while expecting a baby could be described by some as lunacy.
I managed the renovation project in the summer alongside my uncle, which catered for a lot of my time during this period.
We’d been looking to move on from our house in Barnsley for a while. As a house we built ourselves, it was sad to see it go but we left it in safe hands.
We picked a general area and after a few months of searching, in April of this year, we completed on our new house in Sandal, Wakefield.
As regulars to the surrounding area, we’d driven past this certain row of houses many times, always remarking how much we’d like to live there one day.
Once a house on the row appeared online, I knew we’d buy it. Even before we’d stepped inside to take a look.
Although a larger financial commitment than our previous property, in short, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
The day-to-day life of my small family is brilliant here and there have been no down sides to the move whatsoever.
About my small family - in October we were blessed with the arrival of Ruby Carys Hirst.
As soon as I saw her, I knew she had changed me forever.
Before I met my wife, having kids wasn’t really in the plan. With that in mind now, I can’t believe what I was thinking.
Being a Dad is incredible.
I once read having kids described as, “making your life 10x harder, but 100x better”.
I’ll go with that.
While I’ve always been a champion of work life balance, the arrival of our first child has raised its importance to me.
This year I’ve introduced additional measures that allow me to work hard and smart during work hours; with plenty of time off to enjoy alongside family and friends.
In my continued quest for balance as a solo business owner, I owe a lot to my fantastic wife, parents and family as a whole.
I’m privileged to have their continued backing, guidance and support. This year and in years gone by.
If you’d have told me what I’d achieve in the last couple of years, back in 2015, I wouldn’t have believed you.
In 2018, my freelancing business had it’s most successful year ever and I got married.
In 2019, I had my second best year as a freelancer, we made a big jump on the property ladder and we had our first child.
But primarily, life has never been so fulfilling.
And writing this review of 2019 has made that ever more clear.
Continual improvement is important to me. It’s something I’ll always strive for. I’m driven like that.
Nonetheless, I’ve found it’s also important to take on board perspective in equal measures.
Sometimes you can get so lost chasing the dream that you fail to remember you’re already living it.