Normally, around this time I’m quite reflective.
It is common for me to spend hours reviewing the past year and hours more planning the upcoming one. As you may recall from the year of blogging review a few weeks back, I wasn’t in a reflective mood then. Turns out I’m still not.
In some sense, I feel more content to take things as they come. It also feels a little like avoidance. Something to monitor.
Anyways, on today’s walk I spent a few minutes considering high level aims for 2020.*
1. 2.5x My Monthly Average Income From Writing
This might seem like a lot (and 250% growth in anything probably is), but when you’re starting from small-small numbers like I am, this isn’t much of a stretch.
(Think the difference of going from $5 to $10 vs. $200,000 to $400,000.)
Plus, I need to be able to make more money or seriously reconsider the plausibility of this career path.
A rough timeline from the past year for perspective:
- Begin pitching stories to publications in January.
- About a month later, start pitching to pubs that would pay actual-real-dollars (as opposed to, uhh “portfolio building” or gift cards).
- Obtain first paying gig between May-June.
- Around July, begin having consistent work from several clients (a retailer, an app, an outdoors blog) with a smattering of one-off pieces from other sources.
- In September, start making a (somewhat) regular income that could (somewhat) comfortably cover expenses in a country like, say, Mexico.
Let’s call it 8-9 months to make a barebones income.
Is the time to completion reasonable?:
Well, if it took 8 months to start making consistent revenue, maybe I can double the figure in another 8 months. Using the law of “everything takes longer than you expect,” let’s 2x it to 1.5 years.
(Obviously, this a super rough estimate).
Here are a few extra variables to consider:
- So far, better paying gigs have a longer lifecycle (from pitch to final submission to pay). Let’s say they require 1.5-3x more time overall, which is about commensurate with the increase in pay. This seems silly now that I think about it. (Partly, I only have a small set of examples to work with which is skewing my understanding. I imagine at a certain level the increase in pay outstrips the increase in work required).
- Per week, I manage ~20-25 hours of “productive” work. This figure primarily consists of actions that lead towards money-making (i.e., research, pitching, writing, etc.). Additional time is spent on maintenance things like email or social media management.
- I have a little more capacity, but quickly encroach upon diminishing returns.
To rephrase: 25 hours = barebones income.
There isn’t a lot of wiggle room to increase working/billable hours because it becomes time/money inefficient. But, something to explore further.
Ultimately, in order to 2.5x my income, the easiest pathway is to obtain better paying jobs.
Maybe it’s reasonable that I’ll 2x my income by the end of the year, and it’s better to consider 2.5x a stretch goal.
Some additional notes and questions:
- I need to spend more time pitching. Especially to publications that pay in the $1-$2/ word range.
- I’m going to pitch more journalistic pieces. This is a genre that is enjoyable, interesting, and better paying (I think).
- I will likely try to get a PT gig to help even out the volatility in monthly revenue.
- To keep writing a weekly blog post or not?
- Try to monetize the blog?
- Is this career viable? What is my quit point?
2. Climb V9 Outdoors
This was the easiest target to decide on.
2019 was the first year that I climbed consistently, each month without fail. I started pursuing the sport more seriously in 2018, but there were several large gaps where I didn’t do any climbing.
I’ve found that progress requires consistency. In 2019, I was able to go from sending V2/V3 (outdoors) in one session to sending V6 in one-to-three sessions. My only V7 send went down in two sessions.
By the end of the year, if I specifically train for a V9 project that fits my style (and on top of general training) I think it’s reasonable to get a send. Additionally, I’ve only just started to hangboard, which already has, and should continue to have, dramatic returns (before tapering out as the year advances).
The progression will follow something like:
- Climb 20 V6s
- 10 V7s
- 3 V8s
- Project V9
If I work a handful of projects per month, this seems reasonable over the course of a year.
Some additional notes and questions:
- Increase time spent climbing outdoors. Aim for 2-3 days per week on real rock.
- Refine my health and nutrition. For example, I’d like test dry fasting for 48 hours, return to intermittent fasting consistently, track energy levels and recovery.
- Develop specific project training/periodization regimens in order to target weaknesses or increase strengths required for particular projects.
- Experiment with losing weight to see how it affects my ability to climb hard.
- I’d like to be able to do a pike press and a front lever.
- Increasing flexibility: worth it?
3. Start Vlogging?
This one both excites me and makes me nervous. For that reason alone it seems worth pursuing.
Being more realistic (or trying to justify it ex post facto):
- Video production would expand my skillset (and offers a potentially higher revenue stream).
- There are new series’ that I’d like to do where video is a better medium than writing.
- Having a face and personality to a byline (aka name recognition) I think is helpful for a freelancer.
- There is an opportunity in the climber-vlogger space.
Welp, that’s it for me.
What are your goals for the year?
*It was a mainly a reflection on ideas that have cropped up over the past few months. I’ll probably do a deeper review come January.
3 thoughts on “A Look to 2020: Tentative Goals for the Year”
Aaron, I’m interested to see how your writing pans out, and I appreciate the transparency here on “making it”. I love writing, but haven’t made any “real” efforts to monetize it. And V9! I’ve been climbing for a decade and I’d by psyched out of my mind to do V8 this year. I’m also a terrible boulderer. If there’s ever a time I shine, it’s on a rope, not over pads. Cheers to a new year and a new decade!
Thanks so much, Mr. CC! I appreciate your focus on pragmatic life planning, it’s a cold water bath about the importance of money management. I wish you well in 2020 as well, and I look forward to reading your upcoming posts!