2014 – An uphill battle

This year has been a true battle both financially and mentally. But at the same time I have gotten a clearer path of where I want my business to be in 2015. I had really no proper goals for 2014 so I had no idea of where I was heading. So I decided to get an overview of 2014 by writing this review and set some goals for 2015.

The year started

with quite a good first month. By that I mean it was enough to cover the minimum living expenses. I had a couple projects going continuing the collaboration with an ad agency that I started in late 2013. I also finished a web project with one of my own clients. Only problem was that I didn’t manage to set aside VAT payments for 2013 which was due in march. Thankfully I manage to arrange a payment plan.

Around spring time I started to look for other ways to do my business. And kept on thinking that there has to be a better way, and to get paid what I was worth. This led me to Troy Dean at WPelevation! This was the start of a new era in how my mindset changed. I joined his community for about 2-3 months, but unfortunately since business was suffering I decided to leave WPelevation.

But I thought things would turn around when a fairly new design agency, Nordic State, took me onboard as a freelancer, this was in april. And well, I haven’t done any work for them yet unfortunately. I still keep in touch with them, so if something comes around I’ll be happy to work with them

This didn’t mean that I stopped looking for ways to improve my business. From Troy I came across Brennan Dunn and his Double Your Freeancing Rate (DYFR) course as well as The Blueprint. I went through his stuff through the summer and this opened my eyes to more value based pricing. I raised my rate immediately after this!

From spring and through august

things were really slow. The only exception was 4 day freelance engagement for another web agency. And I’m guessing that I got into a denial state of mind and didn’t want to realise that I had to take some action. But I finally came to my senses and terminated my contract for my office and started working from home, I also got myself a summer job delivering mail. So I made it through the summer, but it was a blow to the face, cause by this time I had gotten into a lot of debt and I was behind on my taxes and VAT payments.

The summer was over and so was the summer job, and I knew that I wasn’t ready for going back to being a commodity. So I found myself a part-time job (60%) so that I could focus more on getting my business on the right track and not being to needy when I would get a project.

The collaboration with the ad-agency didn’t pan out as I thought either and I started to realise that the work was getting more and more commoditised, and I started to resent the jobs I got from this end. And as if that wasn’t enough, they started to not pay me on time. After a while (late october) I decided to end this collaboration. It was draining my energy, both the work and not getting paid. I still haven’t gotten the last payment which is about $1700.00.

I started to look at what other distraction I could get rid of. So I cleaned up my inbox and unsubscribed everything that wouldn’t help my business. And subscribed to those who that would. I started following people who has influenced me a lot this year:

All of this led me to uGurus and Brent Weaver’s $10K Bootcamp! This has been by far the best investment I have made! Yes, it was a huge investment and I spent my last dollars on it, but it will make huge impact on my business going into 2015.

This fall has been extreme to say the least!

As I mentioned I was behind on my taxes and I also owed taxes from last year. And from september to november I had to come up with $9.5K, and as if that wasn’t enough last years and this years VAT would come on top of that! I was definitely starting to feel depressed and I struggled to get projects done. But I was determined to not give up! Although I truly understand why most people would just throw in the towel and give up. I was considering it, trust me…

I didn’t manage to get enough projects to pay everything by the end of 2014, but thanks to friends and family who believe in me I have paid all the taxes for 2013/2014. And I will also be able to pay of the VAT for 2013/2014 now in january.

I feel ready to start this year fresh and clean!

The plans and goals for 2015

This year I’m no longer a freelancer, I am an Digital Strategy Consultant.

«I want change, and I want to change!» is this years slogan!

I’ve learnt a lot through-out this year and it’s been an constant battle, but I’ve kept on fighting. And you can only go one way when you’re at the bottom, and that’s UP! I’ve never been more ready to start taking my business to a new level. That being said, I need to set myself some goals for 2015.

Business + Career

  • Create 3-4 products from my digital strategy consulting services
  • Get 5 great result based testimonials.
  • Automate processes to save time

Finances

  • Pay taxes and VAT on time
  • Continue to pay off debt
  • Create 2 retainer products (maintenance/hosting and SEO/content)

Health

  • In general eat a more healthier and balanced diet
  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Make sure I get at least 6 hours of sleep

Friends, Family and Relationships

  • Spend quality time in the weekends with friends and family (no work, all play)

Lifestyle + Travel

  • Keep doing consulting part-time at least through-out 2015
  • Finish renovating our master bedroom
  • Set aside enough money for 3 weddings this summer. One in Spain and two in the northern parts of Norway

Personal growth

  • Writing a weekly journal so that I can keep track of where my business is heading and use it as some kind of accountability.
  • I will continue gaining new knowledge and educating myself through Freelancelift and going over $10K Bootcamp material
  • Only take on projects I feel is going to be a GREAT fit
  • Push myself more to go beyond my comfort zone

Whether or not I reach these goals is not the most important aspect, but it’s keeping me focused. And it’s going to be fun to see where I’m at this time next year.

So how has your year been? Any stories to share? I would love to hear them!

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18 Comments
  • Justin Jackson

    5. January 2015 at 23:38 Reply

    Great update Ken!

    Love your goals for the new year. Best of luck!

    • Ken Westgaard

      5. January 2015 at 23:47 Reply

      Thanks Justin! Yeah, I think they are realistic goals, which was the most important thing. Last year was rough and this year it’s all about slowly and steadily building a healthy business.

      Best of luck to you too Justin!

  • Jennifer Buzza

    6. January 2015 at 05:09 Reply

    Ken! Really?! Well what an honor to have worked with you in the $10k bootcamp!
    If I may, I’d recommend breaking your goals down even further in to quarterly goals.
    And, if you haven’t already, join the monthly mastermind!
    I’m excited to keep up with your progress – you’re inspiring! Happy New Year!

    • Ken Westgaard

      6. January 2015 at 09:35 Reply

      It was an honor working with you as well Jennifer! Quarterly goals is not a bad idea, I’ll look into that, thanks! No, I haven’t joined the Mastermind. It was a bit too steep for me at the moment after $10k Bootcamp, but I joined $10k Live.

      I’ll be sharing my journal on a weekly basis to keep you updated. Happy New Year to you too Jen!

  • Eric Rowen

    6. January 2015 at 20:54 Reply

    Brave to put yourself out there – congrats. I hope you not only achieve your 2015 goals but surpass them.

    • Ken Westgaard

      6. January 2015 at 21:30 Reply

      Thank you Eric. It’s about being honest with yourself and face the fact that things are tough. And that’s ok. Everytime (well almost everytime) someone asked me about how things were, and tried to be as honest as I felt comfortable with.

      I hope so, guess we’ll have to wait and see. 🙂

  • John Locke

    6. January 2015 at 21:02 Reply

    Hi Ken:

    It sounds like it’s been an arduous battle for you this last year or two. I think you are really taking a step in the right direction by moving away from commoditized work. It’s not in the best interest of most employers to treat you fairly when they perceive you in this light.

    I follow most of the same people on your list, and there is plenty of good advice to be had there. The only I would add is focus on landing clients of your own, so you are not 100% reliant on being a contractor in the future.

    I wish you success this year, brother.

    • Ken Westgaard

      6. January 2015 at 21:33 Reply

      Exactly John! That’s what I found out as well. I have few plans in store to landing clients too that I’ll be posting here. But thank you for your input John.

  • Enrique Sanchez

    6. January 2015 at 22:14 Reply

    Hello Ken:

    just stumbled by accident on your post. It is amazing and/or eerie how my situation, circumstances
    are similar to yours. it is as if you were telling my story for last year.
    Congrats on having the courage to post this. It´s been inspiring for me.

    I too, concur that one of the biggest mistakes was not having proper goals and/or vision.
    I am starting the 10K bootcamp in February, and right now I am working in a very detailed
    plan for this year. If I may suggest, here´s a link to a very useful PDF that has a goal setting workbook.
    I hope it may help you.
    http://liveyourlegend.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2015Goals1.pdf

    keep it up, I know you will reatake your path for success this year.

    Enrique

    • Ken Westgaard

      6. January 2015 at 23:03 Reply

      Hey Enrique! I’m glad you found it inspiring. It was actually Brennan Dunn’s review for 2014 that inspired me to do the same. You should check it out: MY YEAR IN REVIEW FOR 2014
      It’s almost like your moving around blindfolded when you don’t have any proper goals. I will definitely check out the Goal Setting Workbook and I wish you all the best with the $10k Bootcamp, you won’t regret it! EVER! 🙂

  • Troy Dean

    7. January 2015 at 00:18 Reply

    Hey Ken, thanks for the mention and I’m so glad that I was able to have a positive impact on your business in some small way. Keep up the great work and I look forward to keeping in touch.

    • Ken Westgaard

      7. January 2015 at 08:44 Reply

      Thank you Troy. I remember I stumbled upon your WPelevation course, and it was with that course that the whole mindset change started. So I wanna say thank you to you Troy. I’ll keep you in the loop on my progress.

  • Nancy Sheridan

    7. January 2015 at 16:28 Reply

    Journal … great idea to reflect on missteps and setting new goals. FYI – I signed my first 10K project in December … so keep the faith and what we learned in boot camp … you will win the battle.

    • Ken Westgaard

      7. January 2015 at 19:15 Reply

      Congrats Nancy, I’m really happy for you! Things will happen, it just take a bit longer doing it part-time I feel.

  • Hau Ngo

    9. January 2015 at 23:35 Reply

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I only hope I will have the courage to share my struggles so publicly.

    Thanks for posting the links. I could use a few inspirational guides for my goals on 2015 as well.

    Hope to see more of your posts to the Freelance Lift slack.

    • Ken Westgaard

      10. January 2015 at 00:01 Reply

      You’re welcome Hau and I’m sure you will. The respons so far has be remarkable.
      You will definitely find a lot of inspiration amongst those people. I’ll keep you guys updated!

  • Clovis

    17. September 2015 at 10:17 Reply

    Thanks for the great read. If you don’t mind me asking, is your business now doing better after the 10k bootcamp? I want to take it so I’m currently finding as many reviews as I can on it. Thank you!

    • Ken Westgaard

      21. September 2015 at 11:13 Reply

      Thanks and you’re welcome. I would absolutely say yes. I don’t do this full time off course and being an introvert things takes a bit longer, but I’ve achieved more in only a couple of months than I had in my two previous years doing it full time. It’s aa huge investment, but it also your greatest investment. If can afford it and it feels right, I say go for it! You won’t regret it. 🙂

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