So, it's been a while since I've put any real work into The Happy Arkansan.
I tried my best to jump right into the action with an informative post that helps millennials thrive, but I've been dealing with a lot, and I think I owe a few explanations.
I could say that I've been absent since March 2021 since that was the date of my last real post that I worked hard to execute, but I feel the real date is March 2020.
These last few years have been very challenging for me as a lifestyle blogger, so let's go back.
2020: The Year Of Blah
So, let's start with the year that started all this mess: 2020. Looking back, I realize that I made quite a few posts in 2020. That was largely due to my fantastic freelance helper, Savanna Pruitt, who kept my blog alive that year. I wrote a few things, like my guide to finding a day job during the pandemic, but I was mostly absent.
Part of it was being scared. I spent a lot of time in 2019 and early 2020 taking pictures and being in public. When the pandemic hit, I was basically scared to leave the house (I still am sometimes.) I barely took any pictures that year, and I didn't really feel comfortable getting back on camera until the end of the year. By that time, my self-esteem had taken a large hit, and I just didn't feel the same as when I was on camera every week for the blog.
Part of it was because I was busy. In 2020, I got my first full-time job, and it took a lot out of me. Going from a blogger/freelancer to a full-time marketing coordinator and freelancer was a massive transition for me. Work took a lot of my creative energy when I didn't have much to go around.
I don't regret my 2020 decisions. I needed that stability. Every other way I knew to make money was flopping at the time. Companies were doing fewer brand deals, and I was taking fewer pictures. My clients didn't know how much outside help they needed, and people in tech were getting laid off all the time. I am glad that I found a place where I could hone my skills, solve some problems, and work in HR tech.
2021: The Year Of Loneliness
2021 was an interesting year. It started great, but by the end, I felt isolated and spent a lot of time crying at my desk.
That's a bit dramatic, huh?
Well, I am a bit dramatic.
I started my year with a title bump to Content & Social Media Manager, but I quit that job in December. An entire year that taught me a lot about:
- What I needed in a career
- What I wanted in a career
Content marketing is a strange field. Companies know they need to invest in it, but pulling off an entire content marketing team can be challenging. As a result, most content marketers end up being teams of one in a larger marketing department. And that works as long as the marketing team is supportive.
By the end of my tenure, I didn't feel as supported as I needed to in my first full-time role, so I decided to do my own thing for a while.
I ended 2021 by saying goodbye to my desk that I had for four years. Seeing my cleaned-off desk was strange. All the random spots where the paint was chipped looked like battle scars. My desk had gotten me through so many hours of work on this blog, my day job, and my freelance career.
I wanted to start 2022 on a good foot, so I got rid of my current desk and shopped for some new office digs at The Home Depot and Secret Lab. I also spent some time reaching out to potential clients and setting up meetings for January. While my decision to quit was rather sudden, I am glad I could spend some time reaching out to potential clients before 2022 started.
2022: The Year Of What The Heck
So, I'm not going to lie, this year has been the year of what the heck!
I learned a lot during my first few months freelancing full-time. I overextended myself and took all the meetings. It took a while, but I had to learn to network while setting boundaries for my quality work time. I'm one of those people who can arrange a meeting for 2 PM and spend the entire day worried about it. After a while of struggling, I was able to be more selective about giving out my Calendly link so I could spend more time working.
I was a lot more successful during my second round of freelancing too.
I made anywhere from $3,250 to $6,015 per month as a solo freelancer my second time around. On average, I was making about $4,000 every month. It was a great income, all things considered, but it required a lot of sacrifice on my part. I remember the $6k month being extremely grueling. I was writing my fingers to the bone, and I couldn't spend much time with my family, which is important to me.
In August, I got a random message from a past client who was looking to expand their team. I spent a few days stressing about the decision, but I struggled to see a clear path to success in my freelance career. The money was there, but the work/life balance certainly wasn't.
I took a few meetings with this person (and their Head Of Marketing.) These conversations went well, and I enjoyed the possibilities of the work. Within two days, I signed an offer letter. When you know, you know?
My new role makes me excited. I get to work in a niche I'm interested in (HR Tech) while working with genuinely passionate people. I have a path to continually make more income as well.
I've spent the last few months trying to wrap my head around my new role. It has been rewarding and challenging, but it has also freed up so much of my time. As a result, I can spend a lot more time with my family. More than that, I can spend guilt-free time with my family. When I freelanced full-time, I spent time with my family, but I always felt guilty that I should probably be working on a client piece or sending a cold pitch. Now, I get to relax after work and enjoy my family time.
So, What's To Come?
So, now that you know what I've been up to for the last couple of years, where do I see this all going? My goal is to get back to what makes me happy now that I have more free time.
Well, I'm hoping that 2023 is the year of The Happy Arkansan.
I've learned so much in the last couple of years. I've grown, advocated for myself, built some great relationships, and I'm ready to share those learnings with someone.
Here's the thing: I've always leaned on this blog as a way to connect with others and share my thoughts with the world.
I can't promise to go from a few blogs a year to 10 blogs a month. That would just set me up for failure. I do want to get back to writing at least once a week, so that will be my goal for 2023.
So, let's see what I can accomplish when I put my mind to it for a year.