22 things that shaped my business in 2022

As a freelance working parent there are so many things that shape my business throughout the year. Things I have control over and things I don’t. Things that impact all year and things that affect a day, a week or a month.

So here’s my list of the 22 things that shaped and influenced Birdsong Copywriting last year. Any you can relate to?


1. Time Tracking. Keeping a close eye on how long I spend on each part of a project, and how much time I spend working on my business rather than in it was a game changer last year. It’s made me more profitable, more accountable and more productive.


2. Mentoring. I started working with the lovely Laura Smith at the end of 2021. She shares the same values as me when it comes to making freelancing work as a mum and she’s helped me massively build my confidence and my business throughout 2022.


3. Goals. This still feels like a bit of an icky word for me. I like working towards something, but if I don’t reach it I tend to fall into a spiral of failure and low confidence. So, I didn’t make a big thing of it. I simply thought of a few areas that I’d like to make changes in – added them to Trello (see point 4) and kept referring back to them every now and then. I mean it’s not revolutionary, BUT it helped. And looking back I can see the progress I’ve now made.


4. Trello. I’m a notepad and pen kind of girl, but I kept finding I was writing notes everywhere, or I’d have to restart a to-do list every few weeks as it all kept changing. So, one day I just took all my notes and added them to Trello. I’m not an expert user AT ALL. It doesn’t look pretty. But it works, and it’s helped me feel much more organised with everything from content ideas to client projects so that’s a good thing right?


5. Journaling. I still use a pen and paper for journaling. I don’t do it every day. And I don’t really follow any prompts or challenges (I usually get bored of these halfway through) but it has helped me numerous times to work through problems, ideas, and moments when I just feel a bit bleurgh. Either that or I just have a good chat with myself!


6. The unpaid invoice. I didn’t think it would happen to me. I have T&C’s in place, I take a 50% deposit to start projects. But sadly, halfway through the year, one of my clients decided not to pay the balance on their completed work. And this led me to number 4…


7. Small claims process. I sat on the debt for a little while. Conditioned to be nice and give others the benefit of the doubt. But despite weekly emails, added statutory interest, a warning letter of action, and even court action being started – the bill of over £1000 is still outstanding nearly 7 months later. The CCJ process is now underway. It’s been fairly easy to do – so fellow freelancers, please don’t be scared to take things further if you’re in the same boat.


8. Turning 40. I started the year feeling a bit apprehensive about reaching this milestone. But, as with so many things, the bark was worse than the bite. I feel like I’m finally starting to come into my own skin, to take life by the wotsits, and to just bloody do it!


9. Five days a week. My youngest started school last year. She’s only just 4 so it’s been emotional and testing in many ways. But it meant, that for the first time in 8.5 years, I have 5 days child-free each week. And am I going to work all of those 5 days? Absolutely not! Having a child-free day (I say day, I of course mean 6 hours) to myself each week has been glorious, and I’ve already spent more quality time with friends and family.


10. Reading. I read 15 books in 2022, a mix of fiction and non-fiction. I’d not read that many in years and it reminded me just how much inspiration, escapism and joy it brings me. My favourites were Birdsong in a Time of Silence by Steven Lovatt and American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.


11. Like-minded folk. There are A LOT of groups out there to join as a freelance copywriter. And to begin with, I joined them all. But the ones where I’ve found the most support and the most like-minded people have been Confident Copywriting – a coaching group run by the fabulous Belinda Weaver, and DIFTK – a group of freelance working parents sharing the highs and (very often) the lows of working for yourself when you have kids. I can’t recommend either enough for support, encouragement, solidarity and development.


12. A holiday abroad. Our first as a family. In my 20s, before I was a parent, I worked in the travel industry visiting some of the most incredible locations and hotels in the world. Travel was a high priority on my list every year. I once spent an entire £5000 bonus straightaway on a trip to New York and a Caribbean Cruise for me and my then-boyfriend (now husband). It’s always been one of the things that brings me joy and escapism, so, I was excited that after a tricky few years financially for us as a family, my income allowed us to start sharing this joy together.


13. 36. The number of weeks I worked in 2022, and one of the main reasons I started working for myself. I feel so grateful to have the flexibility to take school holidays “off” (hardly a break when you’re chasing after 2 young kids), especially over the summer. It’ll shape the way I work in 2023 – I just need to make sure I can juggle the workload and cash flow a little better. But it’s a non-negotiable for me.


14. Boundaries. One of the biggest challenges of making the move to self-employment after over 20 years of being an employee is realising that there are no rules – and then creating your own. But boundaries around time are so easy to move, especially when you first start out. This year was the first that I started to feel more confident that the hours I work are enough. That I don’t have to answer my phone the minute it rings. I don’t have to immediately respond to every email. And I can say no to clients that aren’t right.


15. Social Media. A boundary I’ve found a lot easier to put in place is around social media. Being aware of when I’m procrasti-scrolling (as I call it) and the inevitable comparisonitis that follows is something I’m gradually learning to manage. It’s tricky when you need to market your business through the likes of Instagram or Facebook but being stricter with when I use both has helped.


16. LinkedIn. This is somewhere I’ve finally started to find my feet and you might well be reading this because of my post there. I wouldn’t say I love it, but even from just tentatively dipping my toe in in the last few months of the year I’ve found some great connections and work opportunities. So, it’s something I plan to keep working at….and maybe I’ll learn to love it.


17. Brand photos. Getting up at 5 am to get to a 7 am shoot might not sound like everyone’s cup of tea but for me, it was the perfect way to capture the peace of the Suffolk coast that I love so much and that I wanted to be a part of my brand photo shoot. The images have helped me to feel more professional, more visible and more “me” than the dodgy selfies I had to take previously. And it was nowhere near as scary as I thought it might be! Thank you Emma Cullen.


18. Cake. I took cake to my photo shoot – of course. Baking is one of my other loves, it’s nostalgic, therapeutic and almost meditative for me. And for those of you that have followed me for a while you’ll already know that I was so proud to make my brother’s wedding cake in 2022. I plan to make more time for it in 2023 – perhaps a cake-making sideline??


19. Covid. Bloody Covid. The downside after a wonderful family wedding. We all went down with it together and I still can’t decide if it was a blessing or a curse. Time off unpaid of course and flexibility with my workload – but we got through it – so this is a reminder for myself as much as anyone else as there’ll always be something to derail you but you’ll come out the other side.


20. 4am. My kids do not sleep well. And therefore, I now often do not sleep well. However, one upside is that I’ve realised that my brain can be incredibly active and creative at 4 am. I’ve lost count of the number of notes I’ve started on my phone in the early hours with ideas for both my client work and my own business. Who knew this was my most creative time of the day?


21. Voice notes. Come to think of it, a lot of my creative thoughts and ideas also come when I’m doing something other than sitting at my desk…walking, driving to pick up the kids, doing the housework, and having a shower. And that’s where voice notes come in… It wasn’t until I listened to them all back though that I realised I yawn in every one…see previous point.


22. Definition. And finally – it’s taken 2 years but I’m now much better at defining the people I want to work with, the work I want to do, and how I can bring these together with the experience I have. That’s a whole other post though…

In the meantime, follow me on Instagram or join me on LinkedIn and see how my 2023 is shaping up…