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2014 Annual Review: An Honest Look at My Personal and Professional Performance Last Year

This is an excerpt of my 2014 annual review, which I wrote on the last week of December. I’m publishing it here to set a public benchmark for myself—a stick to measure myself against on December 2015. My main goal is to avoid repeating my mistakes last year, and to improve on all facets of my life this year.

I’m very nervous about publishing this review, especially my income and failures but I’ve decided to suck it up and just go with it. I’m doing this to hold myself publicly accountable of everything that happened to me. I want to own up to my shortcomings instead of blaming it on my unpredictable health and other external factors.

I’m not just doing this for myself either. I’m publishing this to make others realize that the life of a freelancer isn’t all vacations and working in pajamas.

Here we go… Charley’s 2014 Annual Review

Personal Goals

  1. Invest 20,000 Pesos in a Time Deposit or Mutual Fund to Build my Emergency Funds
    1. Status: Failed
    2. Reason: I’ve saved up 10,000 and 15,000, and about 13,000 on different months, but I wasn’t able to invest any of it because I used it to eat out when I had major fights with my partner. I also used it to pay for my living expenses on months where I barely worked. It seems that building an emergency fund will be harder than I expected.
  2. Be Good Enough to Bike Outside
    • Status: Success
    • Reason: Okay, this might seem a petty goal for you but I just learned to bike last year—on my 25th birthday to be exact! Took me about 30 minutes to learn even when I was using a heavy mountain bike. A few months after that, I went to test my skills at the UP bike lane. I was so scared, but I survived without a scratch. And I can do U-turns well! Success!
  3. Go on my First International Trip
    • Status: Failed
    • Reason: Wasn’t able to save enough money because I didn’t work for 4 months. I also used some of the money I earmarked for this on local travels instead, like my 2 impromptu trips to Baguio, Rizal and Batangas. While this goal is a failure, it’s not a total loss because I managed to get my passport this year.
  4. Learn how to Ice Skate
    skating
    • Status: Success
    • Reason: Went on my very first ice skating lesson late in November. 🙂 I learned how to do forward and backward swizzles, two-foot glide and the one-foot glide. Yes, I still fall but not as much. I don’t feel embarrassed about it as well because I’ve seen tons of skaters more advanced than I am and they still fall, hilariously if I might add.

Work Goals

  1. Put up a basic writer’s website
    • Status: Success
    • Reason: My freelance writer site, however simple and lacking in design, is up and giving me quality client leads.
  2. Publish at least 6 guest posts in different popular blogs on my target niches
    • Status: Published 4 out of 6. Failed
    • Reason/Notes: Published 2 guest posts on Brazen, 2 on PicktheBrain and 1 on YourOnline.Biz. Even though I didn’t hit the target number of posts, I consider this a success because these guest posts brought me 3 new clients. The posts are also doing well because they were syndicated in different websites and shared hundreds of times.
  3. Publish 3 articles for a magazine in my target industry
    • Status: Failed
    • Reason: I took a 3-week vacation sometime in March so I could focus on learning how to write pitches or queries for magazines. But for some weird reason, I got overwhelmed and depressed during this time. I didn’t know what to do, I was so confused with everything that I had to learn and I gave up. Until now, pitching magazines still seem like a daunting task to me.
  4. Get 2 clients willing to pay my set rates for ghosted and authored work by pitching and marketing my services.
    • Status: Success
    • Reason/Notes: Sent an email pitch to 5 people. One of them replied but the deal didn’t push through. That’s okay, because in terms of prospecting, 1 reply out of 5 emails is still a good result.
    • Applied to a few jobs—got 1 for guest posting but it’s not a regular source of income. Pays $50-75. Got 1 referral from a friend, but the client pays late and wants too many phone calls. While he’s not an ideal client, I managed to convince him to pay 3x more than what he usually pays, so I got $60 per 600-800 words.
    • I got two one-off clients: one in the coaching industry and another in the recruitment industry. Both of them said they’d hire me for other work in the future.

Other Things I Did or Accomplished

excited

  • Got myself closer to two of my favorite authors and mentors, Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferriss by connecting with Charlie Hoehn. Last November, he announced that he’ll be giving one of his courses for free in exchange for detailed notes. I submitted an entry and was chosen, probably from over hundreds of applicants. Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re best buds now but it’s a start
  • Met Ramit Sethi when he visited Manila. ramit

He’s one of the people on my must-meet list. Despite his strict and scary demeanor on his emails, he’s incredibly friendly and approachable.

  • Met new friends through the IWT Manila meet-up.new friends and acquaintances at iwtramit in manila
  • Went on all Pinoy500 meetings and met almost all of them. Got great support from the groupGot my first client who agreed to pay a down payment before I start working. Invisible script shattered!
  • Got syndicated by Chicago Tribune and Business Insider three times!!!
  • I got so much work I declined some job offers that were below my target pay or not in my target niche. Hoorah!
  • I was offered a regular contributor role at Careerattraction.com after 1 guest post
  • Conquered my fear of heights by joining a trapeze flying classtrapeze2 trapeze
  • Conquered my lactose intolerance.. first by drinking different types of milk, then by eating different types of cheese (cooked), then graduating to cheese plates. I love cheese!

 

An Overview of My Income for 2014

Income USD PHP conversion Notes
Lowest monthly income $100        4,200.00 Php This was in October when I only worked about 3-4 hours. I was burned out after two months of working full time hours in August and September
Highest monthly income $1119.64      47,024.88 Php This was in August when I accepted 2 copywriting projects
Average monthly income $512.0117      21,504.49 Php Monthly income for an average of a 4-6 hour workday, divided by 12.
Total annual income $6,144.14    258,053.88 Php  

Other notes

  • Highest Paid Project: $750 (Presentation)
  • Highest Paid Article: $400 (Rush article)
  • Lowest Paid Article: $8 (Blog post). I’m happy to report that I no longer accept work at this rate.

My findings and observations:

  • The months I barely worked severely affected my total earnings for the year.
  • If not for my savings due to good months were I earned more than enough, I would have been in debt.
  • Total months I didn’t work at all for whatever reason (sad, sick, etc) = 3. It’s 4 if you count October where I ‘barely’ worked.
  • High-earning (productive) months, are often followed by at least 1 low-earning (non-productive) month. Ex: Jan-Mar I earned $600+/month, but I got burned out and had to rest

That ends my 2014 annual review. Next up, I’ll post more in-depth findings based on my observations, like what I did to achieve my best results and the different areas of my life that need improvement.

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