2015 Emma's year in review
December 31, 2015
In July of this year, I launched Stories by Emma, my own content marketing business. Over the summer, I talked to lots of friends and family about what I was doing, but as the luster of a new venture burned away, I stopped sharing what I was doing, and wasn’t reflecting on the progress I made.
But then I saw Kaleigh Moore, one of my absolute favorite people to work with, post about her experiences in 2015. In her blog post, she talked about refining her business niche, collaborating with other freelancers, and some fun stuff like trips she took and courses she learned from.
Kaleigh is one of the freelancers who inspired me to go off on my own, and now she’s encouraging me to reach further to share what I’ve learned. I depend on freelancers like her to keep me engaged. After all, running your own business can be lonely.
Here’s my 2015 year in review:
I learned a lot about running a business
When I worked at Grasshopper, I wrote a lot about starting and running a business. I was able to gain a lot of insight from talking to entrepreneurs, but I didn’t have the first-hand knowledge of what it means to run your own shop. Here are a few insights I gained this year:
- An accountant is your best friend. I’m not very good at managing money because I find it tedious and boring. When I see a lot of financial jargon, I start to panic (seriously, I think my heart rate reaches 220 BPM). My accountant has saved my life. He just tells me what to do and where to send my tax checks. I do it, and it’s over.
- There IS crying in business. Last week I cried on the phone with some financial advisor at Fidelity because I was having trouble opening a self-employed 401k. I’ve also cried about health insurance. The crying has not affected my bottom line.
- Freelance friends make the difference. I’ve become friendly with a lot of other freelancers this year, and it’s helped me outsource some of my work, as well as find answers to tough questions such as “how much would you charge for x?”
- Not all clients are created equal. Some of my clients really get me. They get content marketing, and they understand EMMA. Some clients really didn’t get me, and that’s ok. I’ve moved on and am refining the types of clients I work with to work with the right people.
- Software is good. But not too much software. I’ve written a lot of long lists detailing tons of software tools, but I’ve found that sticking to a few works best for me as a freelancer. I use Google Analytics, Trello (synced with Google Calendar), FreshBooks, and Google Drive. I use GitHub to host my website and Jekyll for my blog (this solution is only ok, as it often requires Chris’s help). When I started, I used Calendly and a few other tools, but they just added noise to my work-life, and prevented me from interacting with my clients on a personal level. I phased them out.
I moved to California
I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and I even have a little townie anthem I do when I’m in my hometown. It goes “born here, raised here, live here, die here,” said in a raspy, Boston accent. Yep, Masshole through and through.
This year, Chris (my boyfriend) and I took a big leap and moved to San Diego. We strongly considered moving to San Francisco, but since we both work from home, we wanted space. San Francisco is a pretty expensive place if you want two bedrooms, so we opted to try out San Diego, knowing we might end up in San Francisco at some point if either of our jobs take us there.
California is weird and amazing. I find everything about it convenient (there are like 10 Targets within a 15 minute drive), but I don’t know. Can it beat the winding New England roads and salt box colonials? Time will tell.
Pros to living in California:
- Farmer’s markets with the best produce EVER. Also, succulents.
- Super sunny. Seriously, the weather!
- In the same time zone as my clients in Silicon Valley.
- Amazing hair stylist.
- Very convenient to get to the mall.
- Everyone is really chilled out and takes their time at the hardware store.
Cons to living in California:
- They drive in a weird passive aggressive way. Like, they won’t let you merge on the highway, but they’re not outwardly aggressive.
- Have to drive everywhere.
- No one cares that I’m from the east coast.
- Architecture is boring.
- No Boston accents. No Patriots fans.
- Don’t know how to make a bagel, meatball sub, or roast beef sandwich.
- My friends and family aren’t here.
Some other fun stuff happened
Starting my own business and moving across the country were the biggest things that happened to me in 2015, but here are some other fun things that happened this year:
- I worked with amazing clients. My clients are awesome. I’ve been privileged to work with Campaign Monitor, KISSmetrics, Skyword, Northeastern University, When I Work, and many others in 2015.
- Chris and I drove across the country. It was pretty cool. Kansas is not very cool.
- I started boxing. More like a fitness version of boxing, but still. I have pink gloves, and it’s a great workout. I try to go to 2-3 times per week, and I’m running again as well.
- I got amazing support from my friends and family. My friends and family are the best. They offered their love and support to me all year. I love you!
- I worked for Grasshopper for half of the year. I had a great experience working at Grasshopper and continue to keep in touch with my former colleagues.
- I read a ton of books, including the Elena Ferrante books. I READ SO MANY BOOKS. And my friend Steph and I have an informal book club where we read the same books at the same time. Right now I am reading The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.
Just a sampling
A year is a long time, and so many things happened in 2015 that I can’t remember them all. At some point, I went to Vegas. Actually, I went to Vegas twice!
There were a lot of challenges in the past year, but a lot of positive changes happened, and I can’t wait to see what happens in 2016.
Happy New Year!
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