11 Things I'm still working on after 11 years of freelancing

A freelance-versary post! Every anniversary year is one to celebrate. Instead of sharing what I've learned, like I've done in the past, I'm sharing the stuff I'm still working on.

11 Things I'm still working on after 11 years of freelancing

📝 Notes from Jenn:

Source request: I am working on an article that is based on the broad question “what makes coffee, coffee?” and the follow-up “who gets to determine what gets called coffee?” For example, the use of different yeast in fermentation, the introduction of additives at the processing level, and bean-less coffee. Do you have strong opinions on what should be counted as coffee? I’d like to talk to you!

🛠 Current project: I finally finished all three of my self-watering planters for edibles. Some have already sprouted! Two I’m particularly excited about are the dwarf varieties of sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes that get to around 3-4 feet max height: perfect for a small patio.

🔏 Last week, paid subscribers received an update on my current projects, including a new service offering that I’m testing out and a newsletter branding change.

🍩 What I ate/drank/snacked on: This flavor combo caught my eye when I looked at the menu at Pizzetta 211. “Morel Mushroom, English Pea, Tendrils, Mint, Pecorino.” I have never had peas or mint on a pizza before, let alone thought they’d be good on there, but I was so surprised and pleased!

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11 years of freelancing & 11 things I’m still working on

On Friday, I celebrate 11 years of freelancing.

It feels like just yesterday when I wrote about a decade of doing this. In wedding anniversary materials, I should be gifting myself something made of steel (blah blah about being married to my work). In the past, I’ve done posts listing the things I’ve learned, but I’m switching it up to 11 things I’m working on.

Thinking back to my early days of freelancing, I remember comparing myself to others further in their careers. I thought they knew everything and were so put together. So I’m here to combat that belief: I don’t know everything, and I’m still kind of messy.

Here are 11 things I’m still working on (lots of reframing work happening here):

  1. You do not need to conform yourself to what others are doing. Lean into what makes you unique. Cultivate that. Give it the space to grow.
  2. Your core values won’t change, but they may evolve in priority.
  3. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you need to work in the field.
  4. Be humble. Fail, often. In fact, get used to the feeling of failure (more on this in a different essay). I’ve rephrased this in my head to “be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” For example, when learning something new, enjoy the process instead of aiming for an end product.
  5. If you’ve “decided in your head,” it means you’ve already cemented this decision and you’re trying to figure out how to tell people. Fuck that. Be like Nike and just do it.
  6. If you find yourself feeling jealous of someone, it’s not usually about their concrete accomplishment, but the fact that they were willing to take that risk.
  7. A work-life balance is less about the time spent at your desk and more about how you feel. “Do you feel like you’re working more than you want?” is the better question to ask.
  8. This being said, you may need to work more if you’re working on a new thing. But this “more” is temporary.
  9. Write it all down. It doesn’t matter what it is or if it’s half-baked. Chances are, you will find a trend or pattern in your thoughts and ideas.
  10. Be open and receptive to changes, ideas, and opportunities. “Serendipity” — I’m not a religious person, nor am I that spiritual, but I can vibe with the idea of “put it out into the universe and be open to what comes your way.” What’s the harm in that? You’ve lost a few minutes to talking to the universe? Okay, but let’s reframe that as you spent a few minutes focusing on your wants.
  11. Reframe anxiety as a friend, not an enemy. Or…a coworker. It may seem like it’s stopping you from doing things, but in actuality, it is looking out for you. This coworker can have the best of intentions and hinder some of your progress. Approach anxiety like a well-meaning-but-annoying-at-the-time coworker: acknowledge the help, thank it for its worries, and move on.
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📤 digital marketing

  • 7 Formulas for Writing Introductions That Convert Scanners Into Readers [Content Marketing Institute]: “Readers pay attention to only about 20% of the words on a web page. They prefer to skim tables of content and subheads. They want to know if your content is worth their time and effort.” (This is great advice for those who are SEO and business-centric. Not so great for narrative writing.)
  • How to Differentiate Your ideas: The XY Premise Pitch [The Blog of Jay Acunzo]: “At our worst, when we seek quick answers or consume too much industry content, our ideas become anchored to others like us. This means our attempts to differentiate sound like comparisons, and that’s a weak way to differentiate.”

👀 interesting reads

There’s a strong case for addressing imposter syndrome just in terms of increasing the positive impact you can have with your career: imposter syndrome can hold you back from doing the things you are absolutely capable of doing to help others.
Torey likens completing the sets to "​​a craft version of a marathon," saying, "Once you’re done, there’s this little microcosm and you get a real sense of accomplishment, especially if it was a ton of pieces."
No Dig enriches the soil without disturbing it and reduces labor and weeds by using compost spread on top of the soil. You plant into the compost and let the roots find their way down into the soil beneath.
artful leaf outlines on left, "plant update" immediately to the right
A few months ago, I picked up three flower bulbs and they have all sprouted! This one is of a peony bush.