Updated: Jan 6, 2020
TL;DR: Freelancing gets better every year.
In a few months I’ll celebrate four years as a freelance copywriter. And it’s true that each year gets better and better. For the sake of reflection, I wanted to reminisce about some of the accomplishments, adventures, and challenges Sarabeth and I experienced in 2019.
I grouped the happenings of last year into tidy categories to make this article easy to skim (and write).
Here are some of the highlights that made 2019 memorable:
Sarabeth and I had the pleasure of working with many new SaaS companies last year, including AppSumo, Paessler AG, DashThis, and SupportNinja, among many others.
Half the fun of freelancing is getting to meet and collaborate with so many people and teams. We’ve met incredible people this year and we’re proud of the content we helped create.
We wrote ultimate guides, whitepapers, landing pages, website copy, case studies, press releases, sales collateral, video scripts, and ghostwritten guest posts. 😎
This year Sarabeth invested a lot to learn about user experience writing (UX writing).
She is in a 3-month part time UX Design program with General Assembly and attended multiple workshops throughout 2019. Not to mention, Sarabeth wrote 3,000+ lines of microcopy for a gamified language-learning app called Xeropan. She also worked on UX writing projects with a meditation app and a large bank in the middle east.
I’ve decided that ghostwriting is one of my favorite projects. This year I helped several tech executives author content, as well as get some of their ideas published in major blogs and online magazines.
If you know any tech leaders looking for a ghostwriter for their book or blog, please reach out!
Even copywriting doesn’t fully solve the itch I have for writing.
Every year I aspire to write for myself more. With that said, in 2019 I had some notable personal writing wins.
I wrote several posts for Foundr, as well as a few articles for The Startup and Thrive Global, respectively.
But the most important personal writing decision I made this year was launching a newsletter.
Writing every week and working hard to grow the list was one of the most fun projects I took on last year. Subscribe here :).
Speaking and conferences
We spoke at a whopping one event this year: Business Tech Expo in Austin.
But we also managed to attend some fun events in 2019. As I mentioned, Sarabeth attended multiple UX workshops. I attended a few writing events.
But one of our favorite events was also one of the smallest. Writers League of Texas hosted a panel discussion at Book People featuring Ted Chiang’s book agent. (Chiang is the author of Story of Your Life one of Sarabeth’s favorite books she read this year. The movie Arrival was based on the titular story.) We got to hear the process of getting a book accepted by an agent, as well as what it looks like behind the scenes in big publishing.
I’ve read many books along this subject. There’s something special about hearing those stories from a real agent. Sarabeth and I talked about that event for weeks afterward.
Happiness on four paws
One of the biggest changes to our life last year occurred on the first day of 2019. We got Oliver, our australian shepherd-poodle mix puppy.
There aren’t many decisions in life that have such a clear benefit. I feel like I'm celebrating adopting Oliver every day. Pure joy.
We went on several fun travel adventures this year.
In the spring we took a two week trip to Europe, visiting London and several cities across Ireland (including Dublin for Saint Patrick’s Day!).
In the summer, we coordinated a West Coast trip with our dear Scottish friends Mike and Emma. The four of us flew to Vegas and rented a convertible to drive to L.A. and San Francisco. From San Fran, we flew to Portland and drove to Seattle as the last stop on our trip.
We also traveled to Florida twice, both times to visit my family. We made about a dozen trips to cities across Texas, mostly to visit Sarabeth’s family.
Sarabeth and I decided to have a competition to see who could finish the most books this year.
The final numbers: Sarabeth = 24; Alex = 22. (I’ll beat her next time.) (Sarabeth: muahaha!)
And there’s at least 50+ others with bookmarks sitting around our apartment that we both started and eventually put down…
Alex’s five favorite books of 2019:
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday
I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss
The Reluctant Mr. Darwin by David Quammen
Sarabeth’s five favorite books of 2019:
Range by David Epstein
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
Strategic Writing for UX by Torrey Podmajersky
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
BONUS! Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (2018 nobel-prize winner)
Long walks around the lake: Sarabeth and I found a new favorite pastime: walking together around Lady Bird Lake while listening to podcasts. These walks can take up to two hours. On a good week, we do this walk 3-4 times per week. On a bad week, we still make time to do it at least once.
It’s our new shared favorite way to exercise Oliver (and each other) while listening to our favorite shows. We’ve started to incorporate short intermittent runs as we go, so we’re improving our speed and getting more cardio too.
Shows: We found several new shows this year. We primarily watch things on YouTube. We very occasionally watch content on Prime.
Our favorite Prime show: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Preparing for the move: We’re excited to finally invest in a home office. Sarabeth and I spent several weeks browsing apartment options around Austin. We finally found a new place that we love. Moving day is Saturday — which can’t come soon enough.
I even discussed it earlier this week with none other than Tim Ferriss