- A new decade. The year of Brexit. The roaring 20s. It sounds pretty overwhelming but, akin to the daunting transition into my 30s, it is just another year.
In spite of personal challenges, 2019 was my most successful year yet. The above infographic pretty much sums up the last 12 months, but the salient points are:
- 25% growth year on year
- 21 new clients
- 10 events
- 86% increase in website traffic
This wouldn’t have been possible without the awe-inspiring connections I made. Without them, I couldn’t have bounced back.
I remember exactly where I was the Christmas before last – sat on a plane to Benidorm, of all places. With no screens or phones, I decided to draw out a content marketing strategy for the year ahead.
A shaky start
Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you. Just four days into 2019, I learned of my father’s terminal illness. Any ‘big plans’ had gone out the window as my family and I battled to see him as often as we could.
When the time came, it was March, and I was scheduled to go to the Caribbean just six days later. A fresh start. Palm trees and rum punch are no substitute for grieving, but they certainly help. I got back in April ready for the new financial year and new challenges.
Lesson one: take a break.
The takeaway from a heart-breaking Q1 was that everybody needs a rest. One of my clients, the lovely Ryan at Hydra Creative, warned me not to throw myself into my work while grieving. I’ll admit I didn’t quite take this on board. I’d just started working with clients like Vodafone, so the laptop definitely came out on holiday!
That said, I realised, everybody is human. I was upfront with my clients, all of whom told me to take as much time as I needed. When you’re a freelancer, there’s the ongoing fear of ‘feast or famine’. I may not have been feasting, but I soon realised that another opportunity would always come along.
Lesson two: know when to say no.
It’s a brutally honest cliché: death makes you want to live life to the fullest. Dad’s passing was a lesson in perspective, and more importantly, understanding when some things are not worth your time. 2019 was fantastic for building my client base, but there were two opportunities I had to turn down.
One was a very stimulating, but ultimately time-consuming, research project. The offer was by no means reflective of the workload required, so I said my thanks and moved on. The second, again, would involve hours of preliminary work, not to mention unfeasible travel. A year ago, I’d have bitten their hand off. Not now.
Lesson three: get out there and meet people!
You may have seen my post about 2020 content marketing events. I cannot stress this enough – meeting people makes all the difference! Some stand-out opportunities include Leeds Digital Week, where I met the dynamic duo Carrie Rose and Stephen Kenwright, as well as SearchLeeds. Beyond the obvious networking benefits, I added to my skill set too.
This carried on right through summer into Q4 (with a couple of marathons in between – you know what I’m like). BrightonSEO has to be a personal highlight. From learning all things technical to some hilarious drunken stories, it was as social as it was educational.
Then of course, Christmas came along. With it, a whole host of events. York Business Week was another highlight, and I’m pleased to say I’m now working with many more local agencies. That’s not to say I neglected other clients, of course. A London Christmas party with the Collective Content team was another winner.
Lesson four: just be yourself.
This was one of 2019’s most valuable lessons. Authenticity, it would seem, is more than just a trendy buzzword in marketing.
In June I started taking anti-depressants. I lost my grandmother three months after my dad and was struggling to cope with workloads. The doctor recommended a mild selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor called sertraline. It took some adjusting, and I must admit I had a bit of a funny turn. Still, chin up. I took a holiday, came back, wrote a blog post and moved on.
It turns out, these honest posts go down quite well. My personal favourite, ‘Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours burn any brighter’, attracted an astonishing 120,000 reactions on LinkedIn. Spoiler alert – it was basically a rant!
I’ve decided to tone down the perfect image on social media and just be real. This is Katie Lingo – one woman who loves carbs and 80s power ballads. She swears, laughs at herself and produces some damn fine content if it’s needed.
So yes, expect more cat pictures, profanity and general oversharing on the socials. There will be the occasional industry-relevant, valuable content, of course.
Onward to 2020
2019 was a funny old year – the last year of my 20s, a personal best on the marathon front, and a time for family. It was without a doubt, though, one of the biggest learning experiences of my life. I’ve written about…
…to name but a few. Now, for 2020 it’s all about building up those relationships with everybody I met in 2019! I’ve also signed up to a CIM course – the more you learn the more you earn and all that jazz.
Once again, a huge thank you to all my clients, family and friends for teaching me the biggest lesson of 2019.
There is always a reason to smile.