A Year in Review – 2022: The Year That Was

year in review

I nearly decided to jack in this annual review malarkey this year. Mostly because 2022 was a rough year and I didn’t feel too much like looking back over those 12 months. Rough, not because of terrible things happening (although there were plenty of things in the wider scheme of the world) but more because the year didn’t pan out quite how I’d wanted it to. I’m trying very hard not to use the word ‘failure’ here but, honestly, I got to the end of the year feeling a bit… flat. That being said, I’ve had the last few weeks to reflect and look back on things and I’m seeing it less as a failure now and definitely more as a year of learning. I learned a lot in 2022!  But anyway, let’s not try to cram a full 12 months into a single paragraph. THAT doesn’t make for fun reading. Here’s a rundown of how things were looking as I went into 2022.

My 2022 Goals

Full disclosure, goal setting is a fairly new thing for me. I only really started doing it in 2020 so I’m still getting to grips with it all and, frankly, when I look back now, I see just how over-ambitious I was. Oh, the naivety! The main 2022 goals I listed were: 

  • Create two low-ticket digital products and one mid-size product and launch them
  • Launch three new big-ticket one-to-one services (the brand voice & messaging guides and two ultimate copywriting packages, one for service providers and one for makers/small eCommerce businesses)
  • Increase my mailing list to 500 subscribers (I started the year with 53)
  • Hire a new VA
  • Write up six portfolio pieces and get them up on the website
  • Create and write up SOPs
  • Renovate my office 
  • Get my photography prints up on my website for sale

On a personal level, I wanted to:

  • Finish the first draft of my novel by the end of the year
  • Develop a proper and regular writing habit
  • Reinstate my personal project: The Inner Strength Project
  • Get my reading room all set up and install a sofa bed

And just so I’m laying it all out there, I set a revenue goal for 2022 of C$75,000 (that’s Canadian dollars!).

2022 Word of the Year

Setting a word of the year is a relatively new thing for me, too. Again, the first time I did it was the year I moved to Canada (2019) and the phrase I chose seemed fitting—tabula rasa, which means “blank slate”. It served me really well and so I’ve been doing it ever since. 

So, for 2022, I set my word for the year as ‘possibility’. I felt like lots of things were possible and I wanted to embrace that. I’ll let you know my thoughts about that at the end of this post. 

If you’d like to know more about choosing a word for the year, you can read about it here.

A 2022 Rundown

So, how did the year pan out? I’ve searched through my Google calendar, phone pics, my 1SE app and my spreadsheets to try and get a good sense of the year since I’ve been diabolical at keeping a diary for a long time now (hmmm, maybe a challenge for THIS year?!). Here’s what I’ve managed to figure out…

January

Capilano Christmas Lights, light tunnel Year in Review 2022

In January I made the foolish mistake of getting back to my desk and immediately leaping into client work on the 3rd, something I learned lessons from for this year. It definitely felt like I hit the ground running and I didn’t feel at all prepared or ready for any of it. I started with two projects right away, website copy for two different wedding photography businesses that I was really excited to work with. Both very different businesses in their style and tone but I felt up to the challenge! I also got started working with a business coach on her new sales page. 

In the meantime, one of Stu’s Christmas presents to me arrived a little late but it was a beautiful new plant, which I dutifully called Sophia. I had big dreams of keeping her alive as my track record with plants isn’t… great. More on Sophia later. Stu and I also went up to Capilano in Vancouver, one of our favourite places, to see the Christmas lights, which was a lot of fun, if very cold! We also dealt with an epic ice storm the likes of which I’d never seen before, along with several power cuts—we were quickly learning that the new town we’d moved to a few months earlier was not great in extreme weather!

February

February was obviously a month of knuckling down and just getting the work done as I’ve not been able to find much to suggest anything else happened. That being said, I managed to find and hire a new VA in February and I was super excited about that. She was exactly what I was looking for and I couldn’t wait to get started with her. As you’ll soon learn, Sophia the plant fared better than my VA journey.

March

As the long winter continued with no promise of spring in sight, March was the month a lot of things started to happen and I felt the tingles of my word “possibility” in the air. 

I booked a life coach client who wanted a stack of blog posts written for her website and I was excited as it was one of the biggest packages I’d booked yet! I also started a website copy project for a local therapist, an industry I’d worked in briefly before but still had a lot to learn about. And I also first landed on the idea of Copy Intensives (although back in March they were called Brain Pickin’ Sessions) and booked a first client for one of those sessions. 

In mid-March, I flew to the UK for an almost month-long trip. This was the first time I’d been back since moving to Canada in January 2019 so I was super excited to see some old friends. AND I got to experience my first-ever writer’s retreat, making lots of wonderful new friends in the process! 

Gorgeous light coming through an old window, a chair filled with cushions sits in the window space year in review 2022

Old build and vine

Pond and garden

New friends! Year in Review 2022

The writer’s retreat really was a soul-cleansing experience for me. I’ve struggled for years now to try and build personal creative time (i.e. writing a novel) into my daily routine and we talked a lot about that together while we were there. I really do believe that experience changed me and how I prioritise my own creative time over my work creativity. But more on that later! We gathered at a stunning venue, Sedgeford Hall, in the Norfolk countryside and we couldn’t have asked for a better place to get creative and spend our time writing. The house was huuuuuge and there were so many places to tuck away and sit and write, even with nine of us there sharing the space. There was a giant kitchen area, with a tree growing inside (!!) that we gathered in every evening to cook and chat about our day. And the outside spaces were just beautiful. We had some unseasonably warm March weather while we were there, which meant we could spend a lot of time sitting outside and getting inspired. It was utterly glorious and totally sparked my writing fire back up again, which is exactly what I wanted! And it’s not often you get to take photos of a mermaid in a claw foot tub! 

A mermaid in a claw foot bathtub

While I was in the UK, I stayed with Carla (yes, my Creative Reboot co-host and favourite mermaid!). She was so kind to put me up for so long and I know it totally upended and interrupted her world so I’m forever grateful. I totally get how much of an upheaval it is to have people come and stay and still try to live your life, do your work and not get totally out of your routine. I promise you, Carla, I won’t ever subject you to that again! It did mean that we got to do some episode recording together though. A total first since we launched the podcast! And we even took a few photos together! We also had a wonderful shoot swap experience, capturing images of each other and then simply handing the raw files to each other so we could edit them ourselves. I got some gorgeous colourful photos from that experience and can’t wait for the chance to be able to do that again!

April

My trip to the UK continued into early April. Once we got back from the retreat, it was a whirlwind of getting some work done, doing some photo shoots and meeting up with friends. There was dinner and brunch and afternoon tea and it was just very lovely. Near the end of the trip, I was able to go and get my colours done by the very lovely Janine Swann, something I’ve always wanted to do and it was so interesting and enlightening! I’m a winter and I discovered there were some colours I had been wearing that just didn’t work for me at all. If you’ve never had your colours done, I highly recommend it. Check out Janine’s website, In Love With Colour, to find out more.  

Getting my colours done year in review 2022

Thank you, Janine Swann, for the photo! 

After three and a half weeks, it was time to head back to Canada (and my cats!!). I got back on Monday and on Tuesday I was heading to a meeting with some lovely friends, so straight back to it! I started working with a client on a retainer basis in April, my first retainer client and, I’m pleased to say, one of the loveliest clients. We’re still working together now and I always enjoy our meetings and chats. 

April was also when I finally got a set of long-awaited shelves for my office. I know this sounds like an odd thing to mention in a year review post but you don’t understand. I’d been waiting for these shelves since we moved in the previous November so I was so happy to finally put them up and get my office organised. There’s nothing like organising your workspace to help you breathe and start to see the way forward again. I don’t know if I can express how much those shelves mattered to me from this far out and looking back now. But this email I sent to my mailing list at the time sums it all up very well. 

On a personal note, in April Stu and I took a day trip out to Seattle (because we can!) and went for a wander in the sunshine around the very beautiful Woodland Park Zoo. This zoo is 92 acres and has nearly 900 animals living there, and it has a shedload of awards for its services in wildlife conservation. I have to admit, I’m less enthralled with zoos these days, since seeing the wildlife roaming free in Africa, but I really enjoyed wandering around this place for an afternoon!

Flamingoes in the park

May

We dropped straight into May with a day spent in Vancouver photographing the marathon. It’s a long and exhausting day, but always so much fun. It’s the first one we’ve done in a while as a lot of these big events were still off the market through 2021. 

May was also the month Top Gun: Maverick finally came out and, of course, we had to go and see it on the big screen. We definitely weren’t disappointed! We went all out and booked a VIP screening and had a thoroughly excellent date night! 

The only other things worth noting in May were that I had another Copy Intensive with a portrait photographer and the results from that were so good. I knew I wanted to properly formalise the process for this service at that point and she also gave me some really wonderful feedback and has been telling people about me ever since. Yay! 

I also dabbled in a little co-working at a space in Abbotsford as they were doing an excellent trial offer. My friend, Katie, and I met up almost every day for a week so I actually felt like a commuter for a while there. I definitely enjoyed getting out to work in new surroundings. A change of scene can really have an impact on your productivity levels. Considering I spent a lot of time hermiting away in my office for most of the rest of the year (or at least, that’s what it felt like!) I’ve definitely made it a priority to try and do a little more working outside of my home this year on a semi-regular basis with some of my lovely fellow business owner friends. And maybe a return to some face-to-face networking??

June

June brought with it some fun stuff (and not-so-fun stuff—you’ll see what I mean in a minute). For the second time, Stu and I went to see Brian Cox on tour in Vancouver. If you’ve never listened to him before, he speaks so wonderfully and articulately about the wonders of the known universe and his podcast is well worth listening to. He has this wonderful way of making you feel incredibly intelligent while you’re listening to him speak, although later or the following day you can’t actually remember what he said, much less begin to explain what you learned to others. And his sidekick, Robin Ince, keeps things light and funny, even when he’s pinging in digitally from this Vancouver hotel room because he’s managed to pick up the ‘vid! 

Later in the month, we had our first-ever trip to Las Vegas! Honestly, that should be a whole post on its own because we did a lot and saw a lot while we were there. I’ll be honest and say it’s not my favourite place I’ve ever visited and I certainly don’t think I’ll be rushing back there any time in the near future unless it’s to see a particular show. That being said, it’s most definitely an experience! I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the strip and seeing all those famous landmarks I’d only ever seen on TV. I especially loved seeing the fountains at The Bellagio dancing to Lady Gaga, the volcano at The Mirage, the gorgeous conservatory at The Bellagio and the gondolas at The Venetian. It really is a city of quirks and craziness. Our hotel was pretty epic too. We stayed at the Luxor Hotel, a giant pyramid of a building, which was a whole experience in itself. 

Year in Review 2022

Year in Review 2022

Sadly the trip was tarnished by the fact that I got sick when I got back and realised I’d somehow managed to pick up Covid. Deep joy. I was more than a little annoyed since I’d managed to avoid it entirely up until that point. I feel like maybe I should get a t-shirt that says ‘I went to Vegas and all I got was Covid!’ or something. Thankfully it wasn’t too terrible and I recovered quickly. 

Work-wise, I had a wonderful headshot session for the lovely ladies over at Just Peachy Salon in their new space and I decided to reintroduce portrait and lifestyle photography, just because I did miss doing it. I definitely didn’t bring back weddings though, and have no plans to any time soon either!

July

I was so excited for July to come around. I made plans to take the entire month off work because my parents were finally coming to visit! And it was such a great month with them here. We had pretty good weather for almost their entire visit (a bonus) so we were able to take them out to see the gorgeous sights that this province has to offer. 

Amongst other things we: 

Took them to Stanley Park and Gastown for a little bit of old Vancouver. 

We also took them up to Capilano on another day—it’s a favourite spot of ours and I knew they’d enjoy it too, although I was definitely amazed Mum made the cliff walk and the massive suspension bridge crossing without screaming in terror. She’s not a fan of heights! 

We headed down to another of our favourite spots, Fort Langley, for a wander one day. Fort Langley is a historic site dating back to the early 1800s and it still has that old-world charm even today. 

We explored some of the local trails, lakes and waterfalls (there are many around here!). It now seems particularly fortunate that we got to visit one of them—Bridal Veil Falls—as it ended up being decimated in the forest fires later in the year. 

A couple of highlights from the month were when I drove them up to Whistler one day. It’s a loooong trip of about 250km but it’s a journey that travels along one of the most spectacular pieces of highway around – the Sea to Sky Highway. We had a really great day, visiting the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, stopping for lunch in the sunshine and then heading back down the highway, stopping at some of the stunning viewing points and taking a ride up the Sea to Sky Gondola on the way back. 

Year in Review 2022

The other highlight was taking the parents on a day trip around some of our favourite places. We took the Crowsnest Highway through Manning Provincial Park to Keremeos, stopping at one of our absolute favourite spots—Cascade Lookout—where we fed the chipmunks and birds (the Clark’s Nutcracker comes and sits right in your hand if you hold it up and out high enough!) while looking out at the stunning views of Lightning Lake. At Keremeos, we had a stunning lunch at one of the local wineries and then took the road up through the mountains to Merritt before closing the loop by driving back down the Coquihalla Highway which has some spectacular vistas. 

Aaaand we went to a beautiful winery (are you sensing a theme here?!) where we had a spectacular meal, drank some lovely wine (well, I didn’t, I was driving) and ended up cuddling up with the kittens that were roaming around the place. They were seriously cute!

It was a wonderful month full of amazing memories (and actually writing them all out here has helped to remind me of that!). Seeing my parents go at the end of the month was tough but it was amazing to finally be able to have them visit.

August

I launched straight back into work in August with three brand shoots—one for a teacher-author, one for a coach and one for a fellow copywriter, which I got to jump on the ferry for a trip to Vancouver Island for! That was a lot of fun!

I was also asked to be a guest speaker on a panel for a copywriting event my copy coach was hosting. I definitely didn’t think I’d ever do any kind of public speaking but I have to say I really enjoyed it and I hope I get the opportunity to do more speaking events in the future. 

Year in Review 2022

Screenshot capture courtesy of Belinda Weaver, Copywrite Matters

August is my “birthday month” (yes, I said MONTH) so I’m usually happy for a little bit of celebrating in some shape or form. But this August was different. Because, unfortunately, my oldest cat, Lewie, had a medical emergency that kind of messed up any plans for celebrating. Long story short, I heard a thud from downstairs one morning, a not-unusual occurrence because who can keep a cat off a kitchen worktop?! A few minutes later though, he wandered into my office, jumped up onto my windowsill and started grabbing at his face and making gagging noises. When I jumped up to see what was wrong, the whole of his lower jaw looked deformed and I immediately thought that maybe he’d broken it somehow. Cue panicked momma phone calls to my husband, three vets and, eventually, the emergency vet that’s over an hour from home who told me to bring him straight in. Quite honestly, it was the longest drive of my life. And when I got him there, he was whisked off to be checked by the medical team. They came out after a few minutes (while I’d been signing papers that asked me what I wanted to do in the event of my cat’s heart stopping—fun times) to tell me they needed to do either an x-ray or a CT (one being significantly more expensive than the other) to see exactly what was going on. I had the most horrific drive home, in tears, and then had to wait for Stu to get back home so we could wait to hear when to go and get our boy. The ultimate result was that he hadn’t broken his jaw (yay!) but had lost a fang and needed dental surgery, which he had the following week. That’s where we learned he had a condition that caused his teeth to basically disintegrate from the inside and he actually needed another 8 teeth removed. 

Thankfully, he’s fine now (and was very shortly after, in fact), but Lewie is 12 years old and we’ve never had a problem with him before so it was a bit scary there for a minute! 

Obviously, we spent a small fortune on all his treatment so no big birthday plans for me! I ended up opting for a quiet one and the only real outings we had were to go and spend some time by the river while Stu fished and I read and we did a little kayaking (finally managed to get the new boat out on the water!).

Year in Review 2022

September

In September, I got to do some fabulous headshots with a super lovely physiotherapist who’s setting up her own business as well as a short brand shoot for a local massage therapy clinic I’ve worked with before. 

On a bit of a whim, I decided to rearrange my office and turn my desk around to face the window. It was kind of a “wanting to make space for my plants” move. Yes, Sophia was still alive—thriving, in fact! And I had been gifted a new beautiful plant for my birthday. I’d also like to make it perfectly clear that both plants are still alive and well. This is quite an achievement for me, you should know.

Year in Review 2022

And the big event of September… Stu and I flew to London so I could have my in-person graduation ceremony! In case you don’t remember, I graduated with a First Class Honours degree in 2021, a BA in Creative Writing and English Language. But due to the pandemic, there weren’t any in-person graduation ceremonies going on. I waited patiently and, as soon as the opportunity came up, I booked my space. 

Photo courtesy of my lovely and talented photographer friend, Carla Watkins.

I never had a graduation before having left school with basic grades and opted not to go to college (much to my Mum’s disappointment). I went straight into work and then moved back to the UK at 19, so I thought that part of my life was behind me and I’d never get the chance again. So when I embarked on my part-time degree back in 2017, I didn’t really have any thoughts about finishing or what that might look like. Finally being able to stand on that stage, in my gown, my family whooping and cheering from their seats, was one of the proudest moments of my life. For. Real. And I did it at the age of 42 (and BEFORE being diagnosed with ADHD–more on that in a minute!). So, just a little reminder for you there that it’s NEVER too late.

October

October brought with it a very smoky and unpleasant fire season, probably the worst we’ve experienced since moving to Canada. You know what? I bloody love living here but the forest fires are the one thing that I don’t enjoy. This was also the year the fires were the closest to us, being just down the road. The smoke lingered for weeks, too, and I wasn’t sad to see the rain finally come and clear the air. 

Work-wise, I got to work on some blog posts for a new wedding photographer client. And I jumped into my first Done in a Day Copy Intensive with a wedding planner, working on her existing website copy and sprucing it up. Working one solid day on one client’s copy was really refreshing and so I knew I definitely wanted to bring this business model into my offerings. It took me a minute, but I got the sales page up and running by the end of the year. 

And another milestone moment happened this month. I was diagnosed with ADHD. I’d suspected for a while that it was a thing and, for a long time I wasn’t too bothered about an official diagnosis. But when the opportunity presented itself, I decided I would prefer to say I definitely have it than to keep saying “I think I have it”. Learning more about ADHD and neurodiversity has helped me to learn and realise an awful lot about myself and the way I work. And understanding it is starting to help me realise how I can work with it instead of against it in a lot of areas of my life.

November

I did some more Copy Intensives and another Done in a Day session in November. Being able to work on short projects to help clients get the kind of copy they need quickly is seriously rewarding. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the long projects too, but having these shorter ones adds some nice variety to my work. I do love a bit of variety! 

I finally introduced my one of my big-ticket offers this month too—Brand Voice & Messaging Guides. After spending a long time learning and building the package, I was ready to put it out there and I promptly booked my first client for it, which is totally amazing. 

Possibility sprung up again for me this month, too, when I got the opportunity to go to a copywriting planning retreat with my copy mentor at a beautiful house in California, just outside of San Francisco. It was the shortest trip, just a few days, but definitely super powerful and motivating and I got to spend the weekend with two amazing women–Belinda, our copy coach and the super lovely Katie. The experience will live with me forever. 

December

I blocked December out from doing client work, something I’d done in 2021 and found really useful. I had big plans for getting lots of planning done as well as working on my first digital product that was still sitting in the planning stages in my ClickUp from earlier in the year. As it turned out, it would be something I’d carry into the new year (but it’s out now, you can check it out here!). 

Frankly, I didn’t get much done in December at all, much to my annoyance. But we did make it back to the Vancouver Christmas market and I took some time off over the holidays, which was well-needed.

Final Review

And there you have it. That about wrapped my year up. 

Looking back at those goals I made at the start of the year, I managed to launch one big-ticket offer. I hired (and lost) a VA because, unfortunately, she decided to give up her VA business and head back to the world of employment. I was super sad about that but I totally understood her reasons. And I did manage to develop a pretty regular writing/creative habit, which was probably the biggest win of the year for me. I haven’t finished the first draft of the novel yet but it’s well on its way and I’m super excited to keep working on it into 2023! 

As for my revenue goal? Well, let’s just say I fell massively flat with that. A combination of struggling to keep marketing and pushing for work along with the threat of a looming recession (which doesn’t seem to have appeared yet—keeping fingers crossed it doesn’t!) but yeah, it was a year of distraction and chaos on my part. I’ve learned a lot. I’m trying not to take those habits into this new year and to keep pushing, despite everything. 

Running a business is hard. But I love what I do and I want to keep doing it. So, hopefully you’ll join me 12 months from now when I’m writing my next year in review!

[Photos: All photos are by me unless credited!]