Fallon Michael's photo of eyeglasses on book beside macbook for Marisa Wikramanayake's blog post about their 2021 year in review
Freelancing,  Productivity,  Updates

My 2021 year in review – amazing goals success or failure?

The 2021 year in review – were all the goals met and hit and what of COVID-19?

2021 year in review: Goal 1: Do more journalism work


So with all my goal setting I set up actions that I thought would get me closer to achieving this goal. I deliberately didn’t set a target for this goal because it was more of an experimental year to see how much I could do.

Actions I took: Trying to pitch 5 stories a week and tracking the acceptances etc in a spreadsheet. You can get a copy of this on my Patreon.

Results: I wasn’t expecting a specific number but I wanted to work out what my acceptance rate for pitching was and to build a habit of doing it regularly.

I didn’t hit the 261 that the roughly 5 a week would have given me. I didn’t hit 100 pitches. I hit around 64 pitches.

That is still 64 times I tried to get in touch with an editor to pitch a story or say “Hey I am available.”

And yes I got more journalism work out of it. I had an acceptance rate of about 12.5%. I managed to write 8 stories this year.

That doesn’t sound like much but it helps me plan for next year and…

Journalism work came to me in another form. I started subediting stories for a daily radio news bulletin that then got translated and broadcast in 22 different languages. It was all COVID-19 related public health information. This became a regular gig that paid me fortnightly. I counted it as journalism work in my accounting software.

So I think I can say I achieved this goal and sort of got a rough idea of a) what I am capable of pitching in terms of time and energy, b) the months and contexts in which I don’t pitch as often and c) the sort of acceptance rate I can expect to get.

Stay tuned to see a rundown of what stories I wrote and and how much I made.

2021 year in review: Goal 2: Get more mentoring clients


Again I didn’t set a target for this goal. But I knew I wanted to do less editing work and more mentoring work. This would then free up time for me to work on journalism work.

Actions I took: I didn’t take an action per se but rather an inaction. Usually I would keep an eye out for editing projects with individual clients and put my hand up to quote and take them on but this year I actively didn’t do that. Instead, I took on projects from publishers as they came through and the mentoring clients that came my way.

Usually a structural edit for a client takes about four weeks which sort of takes up all of my work time.

Results: Because I wasn’t doing a lot of work for individual clients, I had more time to do more pitching and journalism work. It also meant that when people got in touch to ask for mentoring I was able to say yes more often.

I was also then able to say yes to organisations who got in touch to ask for me to provide mentoring and manuscript assessments through their programs as well.

One of them is Kill Your Darlings who provide manuscript assessment services and I became one of their assessors a couple of months ago.

2021 year in review: Goal 3: Build an audience on Twitch & Youtube


This goal was partly me also wanting to do something different and a little bit more creative. I wanted to learn how to stream and to practice speaking to camera and understand how to set streams and such up and work out what worked especially before I created any sort of video course or videos for Youtube.

There was a measure for this goal – I wanted to hit the achievement targets on Twitch and get to the point where people could start subscribing if they wanted to.

Actions I took: I decided to focus on Twitch first. I set Twitch up and some of my gaming streams go straight through to a Youtube channel but my main Youtube channel for anything writing and journalism related, I still have not done many videos for. I have yet to work out what people may want to see and therefore what to put on it.

I set up a schedule of livestreams where I wrote while streaming and answered writing related questions and also ones where I pitched stories to people and talked about journalism and took people through a sort of behind the scenes look at journalism along the way.

Results: I got a lot of good results out of this even though again I didn’t set a very specific goal to hit.

This was because this was a very complex project – it involved my writing, a new skillset, a new audience etc.

One result I got was that I managed to write a lot of my crime fiction novel in quite a short amount of time and this allowed me to also keep up with my Patreon updates of scenes. I hit the 50,000 word mark far faster than I expected to and there is still a bit more to write to finish the plot but I am happy that I managed to get this done.

Another result is that I managed to get 82 followers at the time of writing this and I have hit every criteria for moving up to the Twitch affiliate level except for the average amount of people that need to be chatting during a stream.

And I had a lot of fun and I got to meet the Twitch writers and join their discord chats.

I am slowly learning more and more about streaming and how to do it and what the terms mean.

I am hoping to host a few livestreams soon for new and current Patreon patrons to hang out with me while I write two short stories for some upcoming anthologies. If you want to join me on Twitch in the meantime, you are most welcome to do so.

2021 year in review: Goal 4: Build an income stream on Patreon


This has been a goal that proceeded to go up and down over time and not really get anywhere close to where I would like it to be.

Part of this is due to the fact that I currently have no idea where to even begin with this.

Because I am not a writer who has an existing platform that I can leverage. A lot of the people I could emulate right now are those who have existing fanbases from other work they have published or done. I currently have followers on other networks, a mailing list and people who read this blog but here’s the thing – not very many are keen or able to put in money.

When my blog or anything does have information that is useful, of course that is lovely and very nice but perhaps a majority of them don’t derive any sort of excitement or usefulness from what I write on here and or what I offer on Patreon.

And I don’t know how to build an audience from scratch for Patreon. But I am working on it.

What I currently offer on Patreon is this:

  • scenes twice a month from what has been written of the book
  • news and updates about what I am up to
  • posts about what it was like to pitch particular articles and how I researched and put them together

And I offer these for about $1.50 AUD per month to about $7 AUD per month.

Right now I have four patrons and I get about $12 AUD per month. I think it is safe to say I have not cracked how to make Patreon work for me just yet.

It also brings up another question: what goes on the blog for free and what goes on Patreon for $1.50 per month?

Or do I just go with the altruistic mode of if you want to support my work, you can and I will tell you what I am up to as I do rather than hey you subscribed at this tier, is this what you want?

So if anyone has any thoughts, ideas or suggestions for what you would like to pay for via Patreon, please do let me know.

And if you want to go have a look at my Patreon in the meantime and give me any feedback, please do.

2021 year in review: Goal 5: Put out a course


I have been long toying with the idea of putting out an online course. Something was easy to handle for the student, affordable and could keep going. So I set it as a goal this year but didn’t really achieve it.

I did not take any actions with it save to look at a few means of offering the course, platforms and such. Some take on the marketing side of things for you, others don’t. I wanted to see what I could do without having to do too much to disrupt how people moved from the website to the course site or page.

I made a list and I still could not decide. Then I realised that if I was offering a video course, I needed to upgrade my technology to make good videos and edit them. This required scripting.

These are all good steps and important steps to take and steps I want to take. But I did not have enough time. And before all of this, I had to work out the structure of the course, what each lesson would be and what it would involve. And how it would flow from one lesson to another and how students would have real work to do and get real results and how they would be able to get in touch with me as well.

To move forward with this goal, I need to list out these steps and get moving on the first one of them – working out the structure of a course and scripting it out.

Then I can decide the format, pricing, if video is needed etc.

If anything what I did do in the last year was the sort of exploratory phase of “Hey I have an idea, what’s needed to make it work?”

If you want to know how I am progressing with this goal, then sign up to my Patreon or my mailing list.

2021 year in review: Goal 6: Build a regular writing practice


This I can say I sort of at least hit the ball halfway.

Why?

Because at times when there was a lot of work on or I was too ill or stressed, I could not and did not sit down and write for an hour every Tuesday and Thursday on stream or off stream.

I was hoping it would become a regular habit where it happened every week or nearly every week without fail regardless of whether I was livestreaming or not.

But it did also work because it did happen. I sat down and I livestreamed and I wrote and I did that more often than I didn’t and got words on the page.

But it isn’t quite perfect yet.

Actions I took: So I decided to make myself accountable by livestreaming twice a week for an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays and those were my writing the book days.

Another layer of accountability was my Patreon so that patrons expected and got two scenes from the book each month.

Results: Like I said earlier, this worked. I got the book to hit the 50,000 word mark and I am plot wise, pretty much near the end of it but there are still a few things to work out.

The whole thing has been paused while I try to work out a schedule again.

The biggest thing I found while I was doing this was that the timing of when I sit down to do this and what day of the week it is has to be spot on and something that works for me and my lifestyle at the time.

And that that timing may change as my life or workload changes but that also I have to protect it. The biggest thing I had to protect it from was union meetings encroaching on it.

So moving forward I need to work out a better time to do it and to get into the habit of sitting down to do it at that time and saying no to anything else that needs to happen at that time.

These are not things you get good at overnight. It will take time.


I had more goals. I had a long list of them and not all were going to be achieved in one year though imagine if they had been. But moving forward is also always a start. Making a start is something. There were goals around income but we will talk about those in a future post and break down how much I made and from what. Likewise, there were goals around advocacy and other elements of my life.

Some were very vague because I didn’t know the shape of things to come. I may have some ideas of what I want to achieve with my advocacy for example but there may be other things that pop up during the year that I would need to work on. So it’s hard to state quite equivocally with some goals what they are going to be.

And what I wanted to do more than anything else in 2021 was build habits and practices. Sometimes when you are trying to work and earn money and it is a bit of a struggle, you don’t always have the time and energy to prioritise work practices while scrambling.

So when you can stop and take a breath, it’s good to look at how you can make things easier for yourself, how you can set goals, assess them, see which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to get rid of.

What was your 2021 year in review like? What goals did you manage to hit? Which ones are you still working towards? Are there ones you need help with? How did the year and everything we have been dealing with affect your goals?

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