When I have looked back on past posts defining my expectations for the year ahead, change seems slight and incremental. Little changed between the January and the December though I’m typically heading in the right direction. But this year, all bets were off. The post from December last year looking forward to 2020 seems like 1000 years ago now. Little did I know then, just 6 days before Christmas, that the worst pandemic in over a century was on the horizon.
Depending on who you ask, on 18th December when I published that article, just 50-60 people were infected with the virus we would come to know as COVID-19. It would take another two weeks for the health officials in China to tell the world they had a problem and that we were now all at risk. Meanwhile, all eyes were on Australia and the massive bushfires there. I bet you’ve already forgotten about that, haven’t you?
My Year in Summary
Freelancing & COVID-19: It would take three more months before the Prime Minister went on national television to announce a lockdown and all the business and job protection measures that also fell in that month. I lost most of my work in the winter when clients in other countries shut down. I had no idea how I could afford to survive long-term but knew I had to explore other opportunities and take on a job if necessary. At a time when people were being laid off, businesses failing, and many more furloughed, I did not fancy my chances. But I’ve ridden the storm where so many others have not.
Photography: I signed up for a Photoshop course which was subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic. We did our duty and stayed in and that meant little in the way of photos taken this year. We did go out when permitted but living in a high tourist area, we weren’t comfortable surrounded by so many people at the first sniff of the temperature going above 10C and the sun making an appearance. Most of my photos this year were taken around the flat, at our new allotment (which we took on in January) and on walks near home. I reviewed the SmugMug and though I’m still awaiting my first print sale, I added a blog and getting more traffic these days. I sold rights to several photos through Twenty20 and got my first Alamy license sales too. I bought some backdrops which has allowed me to explore product photography and still life a bit.
Fiction: As planned, I finished and publish Phobetor’s Children. It was a close call. When I got the beta feedback from roughly April, there was a consensus that some elements simply had to go. The short version of my editing process is that I cut some 25,000 words out of the original draft and added about 9,000 words of fresh material. That’s a lot of editing. It’s the equivalent of cutting all but two chapters of Dead Heat. In the early months of the lockdown, I struggled to get into the right headspace for editing and so I worked on A Salmonweird Sleighing. Now Phobetor’s Children is out, I am back in the Salmonweird universe.
Learning to market: With a lot of time on my hands, it was time to brush up on marketing. I started this even before our lockdown. I did an Instagram course and now, IG is my primary platform. I love it and now have four accounts – photography, writing, freelancing, and a personal account. I signed up for courses, downloaded free guides, and engaged more. As a result, this has been my best year for book sales. I’m getting better but feel I still have room to be a better marketer.
Video: This was the year I finally engaged with video. It started as personal updates on our allotment, but I soon started doing book announcements and even a few lives on Instagram like the Phobetor’s Children release day live (see below). I also learnt to use Adobe Spark and put together some book trailers.
The blog: Another revamp and another content purge, this blog now contains around 220 blog posts, down from 450, down from 1000, down from 1500 (some 10 years worth now). It’s now in a place where I am happy with everything still on the site and don’t expect a mass deletion for many years. I am roughly posting once a month on each blog (here, salmonweird.co.uk, and SmugMug). That’s a comfortable rate when running three blogs.
What Will Happen in 2021?
I don’t have the slightest idea. Nothing is certain. Yes, we have a vaccine for COVID-19 rolling out in the UK as we speak. But what will happen with Brexit now Biden & Harris have beaten the Trump administration? How long will we have the furlough payments and self-employment income support scheme?
The future seems fluid and I’m thinking once again about what my self-employment will look like in 2021 and beyond. I’m trying to future-proof my work. I’ve lost freelancing work this year but book sales are improving. It has not filled the gap by any stretch of the imagination. I have some ideas of other things I might offer. These are mostly passive income plans though and they are not directly related to writing more books.
This will likely be my last post of the year. Tell me about your 2020? And what are your hopes for next year?