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A Year in Review: 2017

In terms of travel, this year was BY FAR the least traveled year for me since graduating college. I said that in last year’s review but this year was even worse. I didn’t leave the country the entire year until DECEMBER. I didn’t even see much of the States until November. I overall stayed in Baltimore and then Atlanta.

Most of this year was spent working towards two goals:

  1. Build up a freelance writing business, and
  2. Manage my chronic TMJ pain

Those are pretty big things and honestly sucked up a lot of my energy. I don’t feel like I got to live my life fully most of this year. Instead, it felt like I was planning and waiting and saving for a future that just never seemed to arrive.

Having fresh oysters in January 2017
Enjoying the raw bar in Baltimore in January 2017 to celebrate getting a new freelance client

First I wanted to put away a 6-month emergency savings. I simply didn’t feel comfortable heading out into the world as a “digital nomad” without any emergency savings. But as I was saving, my TMJD, which I have had for a few years, got progressively worse to the point of affecting my everyday life. So I turned my attention towards that instead of taking off to some distant land to live “the dream”.

Finally, by the end of the year (and I mean the LAST MONTH of the year) I was able to stop focusing on my TMJ treatment and leave Atlanta on the adventure I had been saving and waiting for.

And now I’m so pleased to be typing this up from Thailand!

My favorite posts from 2017

7 Habits of Highly Unproductive Freelancers – This one just sort of flowed out of me. I saw some statistic somewhere that the most clickable blog titles started with “X Habits of…” so I decided to try it out, but with my own spin. I’m the QUEEN of procrastination and being unproductive, and I know a lot of other self-employed folks struggle with this as well. I was also super excited to finally find a way to use those weird photoshoot photos Goldie and I took a few years ago.

Visiting the alpaca farm with my parents in Baltimore
Checking out the alpaca farm in Baltimore when my parents came to visit, March 2017

What I Learned from Being Rejected from 34 Jobs – This post was therapeutic for me. Turning my job rejection letters into art felt kinda amazing. I wanted this post to not just be about my personal story though – I wanted there to be takeaways for other people going through job transitions or trying to find the right fit career-wise.

How I Made $5k in my Fourth Month as a Freelance Writer – I *never* thought I would write an income report post. But man I was so psyched to have reached a goal of mine: to make $5k in a month freelancing. This was a real milestone for me because I finally could feel that it IS possible to make a living doing this. It’s not just something you read about on the internet.

Accomplishments

  • I tried my hand at building email lists, both on my own blog and for clients. I increased my subscribers by about 85%.
  • I got my client’s blog posts to rank in the #1 and first page spots in Google search!
  • I saved a 6-month emergency fund and contributed 10% of my income to a Roth IRA account each month
  • I built up the Baltimore Fun Hacks Instagram account to over 500 REAL and ENGAGED followers (quite a feat on a platform filled with bots and follow-for-follow accounts)
Sitting by the river in Atlanta in May 2017
Sitting by the river on my favorite rocks in Atlanta in May 2017
  • I made about $2200 in affiliate sales income. This is way better than my $138 or whatever it was last year but there’s still soooo much room for improvement (see goals below)
  • I worked with 15 clients on writing/marketing projects

Did I hit the goals I set last year?

In my 2016 blog review, I said I wanted to…

 To either get serious about branding my blog myself or get a designer to help me but either way, I want to see my site branded better  

I tried to make it happen but was overwhelmed with working on my freelance business. Resetting this goal for next year (see below).

 To do more collaborations and get more stuff published around the web  

I got a few guest posts published:

And I was featured on The Wherever Writer: Freelancer Profile: Copywriter/Content Marketer Michelle of Mishvo In Motion

With Jordan Sernik in July 2017 in NYC for my birthday
Birthday trip to NYC, got to see Jordan in July 2017

 To get a nicer camera and learn how to use it  

I honestly didn’t have much to photograph this year so it makes sense that I didn’t upgrade my camera.

 To become a location independent freelance writer bo$$  

Freelancing is such a rollercoaster: I still struggle to say I’ve accomplished what I wanted to when I set out. But I have to acknowledge that even if I haven’t made it to my desired levels of financial stability, I still have made incredible progress in the freelance writing realm of things this year.

As for the location independent part, I have finally made that happen, even if it took me all year!

 To learn/practice/hone different writing styles and techniques  

I tried my hand at a blogging with a semi-journalistic style with this post on the Wonderschool blog. I put together some poetry I’ve written over the years into a Word doc that I’m not sure what to do with…It’s still pretty lean though. I would like to keep experimenting here. I’ve thought of maybe trying some sort of journalism/comms course.

Hanging out with friends in Atlanta in August 2017
I got to catch up with some Atlanta friends, August 2017

 To create a consistent source of passive income  

Passive income, yes. Consistent, no. This goal is rolling over into the new year (see below).

 And overall to live more excitement and write about it  

Haha definitely not. 2017 was not very exciting at all, until the very end. I think 2018 will be though.

Goals

Work on visual branding on my blog and social media

I’m still struggling with branding. It’s frustrating because I can brainstorm branding and marketing for other businesses all day long but when it comes to doing it for myself, I just can’t narrow it down to one cohesive digital story. I have too many parts of myself that I want to share online – I’m a complicated person okay!!

So I really need help.

Waterfalls in north Georgia
We took a day trip to north Georgia to hike some falls and see Helen, GA for Gatien’s birthday in September 2017.

Create strategies for traffic acquisition and monetization

I want to stop being a baby about monetizing my blog. I have been hesitant about monetizing my blog for over 7 years now, always afraid of ‘selling out’. It’s tough when you want your blog to remain a personal, evolving art project but you want to make money off it as well. I’ve struggled to find a balance.

More than that, though, I’ve struggled to change my mindset about my blog. The honest truth is that I want to be a blogger for a living. I never fully accepted that or admitted that to myself until the end of this year.

The next step is to create real systems and strategies to try my damnedest to make my blog a large source of income for me. This goes hand in hand with the branding goal and needs to be broken down into SMART goals probably.

Make $1000 a month off my blog

Right now I top out around $300 a month from my blog. I want to get this to $1000 this year.

On a more personal note…

It feels like the main themes of this past year have been reconnecting with people and reconnecting with myself and my body.

The past three years or so have overall been pretty dark for me for a variety of reasons. It’s complicated so it’s hard for me to say where the thread begins and ends…But regardless, this year I worked on reconnecting with people after I realized I had been isolating myself.

I also have had a lot of body things happening like rosacea, chronic pain in my jaw and tailbone, getting off birth control and losing weight and facing the return of my cystic body acne…

Getting local NSAID delivered via electricity during TMJD treatment at the physical therapist
Receiving a local NSAID delivered electrically for my TMJ pain at the physical therapist, November 2017

I feel like I’m now starting a process of reconnecting with my body, which has felt like it’s been betraying me for a while. I’m lucky to have never gone through something like this before in terms of loving my body – I’ve always felt overall pretty good about it – this is a new and distressing feeling.

Goals-wise, I would love to work on loving myself regardless of what my body feels and looks like. I know this will probably be a really intense thing spiritually but I also know I need it.

By the beach in Baan Tai, Koh Phangan, Thailand
Finally left the country, landed in Thailand, December 2017

Well that’s all I got for this year friends! Sending you some warmth from the south of Thailand. Here’s to 2018.

<3

Mishvo

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2 comments

  1. A v I v A says:

    I also have chronic pain. It’s nice to see you still able to live your life and work on dealing with it head-on. If you haven’t checked out the #spoonie movement, community is a click away. It’s really been full of resources and people who understand. I highly recommend it! Really enjoying your blog and your content, definitely working on a deep-dive!

    • mishvo says:

      Hey Aviva! Yeah my friend who has POTS and mast cell disease told me about the spoonie movement. I love that there’s so much support out there (at least online) for chronic conditions because honestly it has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through. Thank you for your kind words! I’m planning to do some more comprehensive posts about my experiences with TMJD and coccydynia in terms of treatments I’ve tried and what I’ve learned at some point soon. What kind of chronic pain do you have?

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