Every year I urge freelance copywriters to invest a day evaluating the prior year’s numbers — and explore what would make them happiest in the new year.

The goal is to avoid drift by making purposeful choices. You want to grow your career in the right direction (if you’re going to fail, you might as well fail up).

Typically, I focus on numbers. Were your revenues an improvement over your prior year? Did you make progress in the right areas? Were some clients using more time than they were paying for?

Typewriter keys

My goals in 2015? Less marketing, more journalism.


Then there were the bigger questions:

  • In a fast-changing marketing universe, are your revenue streams in danger of disappearing or drying up?
  • Are you too dependent on one client?
  • What kind of work do you want to write in the upcoming year?

(I outlined the process in last year’s post)

My Review

This year, the numbers weren’t my focus. I was looking at my life.

In 2014, my oldest daughter entered kindergarten. And my youngest is now old enough to take gymnastics/dance/skating/skiing lessons.

In other words, we’re entering the Taxi Years.

As the freelancer in the family, I have more flexibility, so I absorb much of the taxi work. Which, it seems, just tripled.

It’s not a complaint; it’s a reality. Done properly, kids take time.

What’s Coming?

With less time to work, I needed to prioritize my writing.

Since 2005, I’ve written The Trout Underground fly fishing blog. For many years, it was the most heavily trafficked blog in fly fishing, but life intrudes, and for the last four years, I haven’t sunk much time in it.

So this year, I killed it.

The numbers were still surprisingly healthy and I loved writing the blog, but after writing more than a million words about fly fishing, I decided the next million might be better invested elsewhere.

My wife and I also agreed it was OK to downplay my marketing work. We’ve worked hard, so a little less money won’t kill us. Instead, I’m focusing on our kids — and on writing  more meaningful editorial work.

With two daughters in the mix, the future has become more than an abstract concept. They’re going to live the future we create today.

So I’ll be pitching and writing about the issues that will shape our future (erosion of privacy, income inequality, environmental degradation… sadly, there’s no shortage of worthwhile topics).

My first queries go out next week.

So that’s my 2015. Less marketing. Less money. More daughters. And more journalism.

What’s your plan for 2015?

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.