An epilogue, by definition, is the section at the end of a story that serves a comment on or conclusion to what has happened. And I can’t think of anything more fitting to title this post.
2021 has been a year of—let me borrow from 2020 for a second—unprecedented times. This year has brought me some of my highest highs, and some of my lowest lows. It was nothing short of what I’ve decided to (somewhat fondly) call a ‘growth year.’
Despite spending the majority of 2021 in and out of quarantine (is anyone else still shocked about having to literally use the word quarantine in actual everyday life?!), and in and out of my garoffice at my (former) middle-of-nowhere house in Quebec, I made lots of friends, was offered lots of great opportunities, and made lots of memories that I will cherish for years and years to come.
Of course, most of these things were virtual in nature, but if this PanDemi Lovato has taught us anything, it’s that virtual experiences can be just as meaningful.
I’m proud of many things that happened in 2021, but even if I didn’t accomplish a single damn thing, I’d feel immensely grateful for simply surviving all that this year has thrown at me.
I worked with 59 clients this year.
And every single project either brought me a new friend, a new lesson, or a new skill.
Deciding to primarily focus on website and launch copy in 2020 (as opposed to taking on any copywriting project that came my way) was such a great—and, if I’m being honest, life-changing—decision, and I’m so excited about all of the amazing creations that came to life with my help this year.
You can view some of my recent projects in my portfolio (keyword: some—I don’t share every single project because my portfolio is actually a collection of case studies, written about the projects I think would be most beneficial for people like you to learn from) or subscribe to my monthly edition of The Portfolio Piece: an email sent every 3rd Thursday of the month, where I share the details of my latest client projects (or lessons from throwback work).
I sent a newsletter every single week for the entire year.
Without missing a dang one. And let me tell you—I learned a LOT about email marketing, growing your list, creating and marketing lead magnets, and retaining subscribers.
That’s a whole other blog post. Look out for it next month.
My sales pages earned my clients more than $400,000.
I worked on one course launch project each quarter this year, with the exception of Q4, where I worked on two. That’s only five sales pages. And my clients made over FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS.
That is a freaking mind-blowing number, so hell yeah I’m gonna brag about it.
And the best part? They’ll continue to make even more money, because all of those clients will continue to launch their courses and programs time and time again, using that same copy to rake in the cash.
Here are the courses and programs I wrote the sales copy for (although some of them may have their ‘join the waitlist’ screen up by the time you’re reading this):
All of my launch packages include a long-form sales page, several sets of promotional email sequences, and opt-in form copy, with the option to add on strategy, lead magnet copy, course bonus PDF copy, and social ads.
(This is why I typically only work on one or two each quarter; the project is much more involved than just the sales page.)
If you want to collaborate with me on your next six-figure launch (fingers crossed!) you can find all the details on this page, or you can set up a call with me to chat about how we can customize your project!
I was interviewed on two podcasts.
Both of these shows have huge audiences, and I was so excited and honored to be interviewed about my experience as a freelance copywriter!
Listen to my episode on Freelance To Founder about teaching yourself a new skill and monetizing it.
Listen to my episode on Full of Joy about how I started my freelance career and gained confidence as I grew it. (P.S. If you’re reading this—aka if you like my content—there’s a very high chance you’ll love Frankie and her podcast. You should subscribe!)
I got to work with my favorite YouTuber.
My excitement was through the roof when I got to meet and work with one of my favorite influencers, Alexandrea Garza.
(Like, I was starstruck on our discovery call.)
If you’re into lifestyle vloggers like me (my guilty pleasure) you know that meeting your favorite YouTuber is like meeting your favorite celebrity. My college roommates can attest to this: I was obsessed with YouTube way before “influencer” was a term that everyone knew, understood, and respected.
I’ve been watching her YouTube channel for almost a decade, and am still pinching myself that she chose me to help her with the launch of her latest project, Good To Be Creator, a course all about how to grow and monetize your social media platforms.
(I geek out so hard on anything to do with influencer marketing, so this project was extra cool for me!)
You can read all the details of our project in my case study about it.
I survived COVID-19.
Mentioning this feels like a must, because I still can’t quite believe that we’re actually living through a literal global pandemic. Like… I know we’ve all moved past our existential crises about the ‘roni but as I sit here and reflect on this past year, I’m realizing that I’m still sort of in shock about it all.
I never thought I’d live through something like this. It never even crossed my mind one single time. I’m sure it never crossed yours, either.
So, it felt important to point out, in this blog post about all the happenings of my life, that I did in fact have COVID in April of 2021 (our babysitter got us sick mere days before I was supposed to travel home from Quebec to Massachusetts for my vaccine).
Pro tip: don’t eat a slice of American cheese if you lose your sense of taste. The texture is so weird and gross.
(Anyone else feel like we should automatically receive an “I survived COVID-19” bumper sticker, like the “this car climbed Mount Washington” ones? No? Just me? Ok…)
I bought a new car.
This one was a long time coming. I’d been driving my last car, Crusty, since I got my driver’s license.
Crusty was a 2008 Acura RDX—a hand-me-down from my mom—that made me feel immensely cool in high school. And I’m not gonna lie, I may have shed a tear when I gave her up. That car went through everything with me.
It held my nervous hands as they grasped the steering wheel for the first time. It held my life’s belongings as I packed up and moved away to college. It held (too many) new friends on the way to the bars. It held Wesley’s car seat.
And damn did she hold a lot of memories.
But it was her time to go because, let me tell ya, she had 250,000 miles on her and every freaking part had been replaced time and time again.
So, when Crusty needed an $800 repair in October, I knew it was time to say my goodbyes.
…and in came the Telluride: the car (or, honestly—compared to Crusty—truck) I’d been dreaming of since its first release.
Being able to purchase (!!!) a new car (!!!) all on my own (!!!) was not only one of my biggest accomplishments of 2021, but of my life.
I’d been saving for a new car since I was 18 years old, and I feel so incredibly lucky that the career I’ve built for myself (!!!) has allowed me to make my dream of buying my own car come true.
And my dream car nonetheless!
I knew I’d feel empowered by this purchase, but what I didn’t expect to be empowered by was the size of the car. The Telluride can hold some freaking CARGO, and I don’t know why that makes me feel like a badass independent woman, but it does. And I love it.
I finally met clients in person for the first time.
As an extrovert, this was huge for me. I love being able to work with clients all over the world, and I love even more that I can effortlessly meet and chat with them using things like Zoom, WhatsApp, and Instagram… but I’m gonna be real with you – sometimes I miss the connection factor of working with people in person.
When I moved back to Massachusetts from (rural as hell) Canada in September, one of the things I was most excited about was finally having the opportunity to hopefully meet people in real life.
(And finally having access to Trader Joe’s again, because priorities.)
And, sure enough, since then I’ve been able to have not one but three client meetings in person!
I started making videos on TikTok.
I’d been wanting to do this for years. Content creation as a creative outlet was always a dream to me.
I say ‘dream’ because that’s what I let it stay, for much too long.
I attribute my hesitation in getting started mostly to my internalization of limiting beliefs, but there’s something else that kept me from getting started, too.
The fact that I knew I would succeed at it, but I’d have to fail first, and suffer through an awkward “this isn’t working yet” phase.
If I’m being honest, I’ve been like this my whole life. I’m a competitive person, but not the kind of competitive that’s always down for competition.
I’m the kind of competitive person that will only enter the competition if it’s a guaranteed win, but sit out the competition if I know it’ll be a close call, pretending like I never cared in the first place.
I’ve passed up lots of wins, just because I didn’t want to play the game. And that’s bullshit.
This year, though, I ditched that mentality. I’m too old to care about other people’s opinions, and I’m too young to play it cool while my passions pass me by.
So, I’m posting on TikTok. And I’m certain that I’ll succeed. Not without a few flops and failures, but I will. And I’m proud of myself for doing the thing I’ve said I was going to do—and other people have encouraged me to do—for years.
I earned the most amount of money I’ve ever made in my life.
While I don’t believe we should measure our success by monetary earnings—I’m trying really hard to de-program this norm from my brain—I do believe this is worthy of adding to the ‘accomplishments’ category, because even though the dollar amount is a number that our society would deem acceptable and even impressive… that’s not why I’m proud.
I’m proud because I used to think that it would be impossible for me to earn a steady income as a freelancer.
I remember being in my early teens, wishing I could write for a living, then letting that thought go as fast as it came, because I thought there was no freaking WAY I could actually make a solid income in a freelance role.
The only people that made a steady income were doctors and lawyers and, given my parents’ example, insurance adjusters and retirement benefit managers.
My parents ingrained in me the importance of saving money at a very young age, and I didn’t realize until I was older that the message I’d internalized wasn’t actually “save money” but instead “if you work a boring corporate job you hate, you will earn a salary, and they’ll match your 401K contributions and give you health insurance, and that’s the only way you’ll be successful.”
I also had no faith in my creativity or my ability to build a business, because I had an undiagnosed crippling fear of failure in my younger years. Call it Capricorn energy, or perfectionist tendencies, or just plain ‘doesn’t deal with criticism well’ — I didn’t think I could do it; didn’t think I could succeed as a creative.
Fast forward a few years, a few perspective shifts (definitely a story you’ll have the pleasure of reading in an upcoming BTL Diary entry, I’m sure) and a lot of life lessons… here I am. Doing it.
Actually, not only doing it, but succeeding at it. More than I ever thought I would; more than I ever thought possible.
This year gave me so much confidence in myself as a business owner, and I am so grateful that I took a chance on this career path (and that I sent my old limiting beliefs up the creek without a paddle).
Don’t take on too many things at once.
Over-committing leads to over-promising and under-delivering. And this year, I realized that my ambitions are much greater in size than the amount of free time I have to dedicate to them.
And, thankfully, I learned that there’s no reason to rush.
At my current stage of life and business, the “done is better than perfect” attitude does not align with my goals, and I’ve stopped envisioning a finish line and started enjoying the process of getting there.
Don’t invest in something just because you’re too lazy to do it yourself.
That’s not a good enough reason. Let me explain.
Obviously, I’m a service provider – I do things for people for a living. I’m not out here telling you not to invest in other people’s services.
What I am telling you, though, is not to invest in them if you genuinely believe that you can do a better job yourself, and if the ONLY reason you’re doing it is because you’re too lazy to do it on your own. You’ll end up dissatisfied with the result.
I invested in two things this year that I knew I could do on my own, but didn’t want to.
And I thought that was a good enough reason to invest in hiring someone else to do them for me. One task was business-related, the other task was personal. My total investment was $2,650.
And I was unhappy with what I got from both experiences.
…because I was just straight up too lazy to do the two tasks, and I couldn’t be bothered at the time to put in the effort of learning the details of the two things I’d outsourced.
I thought I was just being picky, at first, because of how intensely the freelance community pushes the “you HAVE to outsource!!!” narrative, and told myself I was being a ridiculous control freak. I’d been told, time and time again, that being lazy was a good enough reason. I believed that typical freelance narrative.
I thought that investing in something for the sole purpose of ‘saving time’ and ‘efficiency’ was enough.
In reality, though, you need more than that for the outsourced task to be a success. You need to believe in the person you’re working with, and wholeheartedly trust them with your project. You need to value their work and their time, and feel confident handing things off to them.
I’ve outsourced plenty of things over the course of my BTL career that I feel great about (shoutout to my long-time Pinterest manager, Sarah Burk, who runs the show so well that I don’t even log onto my own Pinterest anymore) and I will continue to do so in the future, so I really hope you’re hearing me when I tell you that this lesson is not “don’t outsource.”
This lesson is make sure you’re comfortable giving up control of that task, for your sake and for the sake of the person you’re working with.
Don’t launch something… just to launch something.
This year, I launched several digital products, all without an actual launch strategy—something I’d neverrrr ever recommend to my clients (or to anyone).
Don’t ask me why I didn’t do what I’d advise anyone else to do and come up with a launch plan. I’m allergic to taking my own advice, apparently.
When it comes to my new ideas, sometimes, I’m a walking-talking ‘haste makes waste’ advertisement.
I get too excited about what I’m creating, and I can’t wait to put it out into the world, and all my patience for a launch period goes out the window. In my mind, because the products weren’t big ticket items, and didn’t take me much time to create, and didn’t cost me any money to make, it didn’t really matter how many sales I got.
…isn’t that so stupid?
I just told myself, “well, when I launch my course, obviously I’ll be intentional and strategic about THAT launch.” Which is true, but… why not also be intentional and strategic about the smaller launches?
I attribute this impatience to a bit of burnout, and a bit of peer pressure. I don’t know why I felt a sense of urgency to just get them up on my site, but I did.
And, of course, people bought them. Lots of people, even. But I by no means have some successful digital product business like other creators do.
The lesson here is this: everything you work on should be something you’re proud of. Or, at least, I want everything I work on to be something I’m proud of—and while I love all of my digital products, I’m not very proud of the casual way I brought them into the world.
(Speaking of creating a successful digital product business, though: if you’re hoping to do that, you should listen to the Socialette podcast and join the waitlist for Steph’s next Launch Magic course. I haven’t done it myself, but I’ve heard great things.)
Moving forward, I need to prioritize my sanity over my bank account.
I would definitely classify myself as a bit of a workaholic. I’ve mellowed out over the last few months as I’ve been navigating what it means to find a true balance between all of my responsibilities, but that Capricorn sun and moon and Enneagram 3 result still shine through in my day-to-day.
I’m driven to a fault, and in the past have definitely been guilty of choosing my bank account over my sanity.
And two spurts of serious burnout over the last 8 months made me realize that I need to do everything in my power to choose sanity every time that decision presents itself.
After years of feeling like I was doomed to boring (and toxic, in my experience) office culture for life (as I mentioned above), building a successful freelance career felt like—still feels like—a dream come true, which is why I often put my work first – I never want to do anything to jeopardize this life I’ve created for myself and my family or the business that makes it all possible.
This year taught me that I need to actively remember I’m a human first, and my business must always come second. If I don’t take care of myself (and my tiny human that depends on me), I cannot run a successful business.
I can’t pour from an empty cup.
But when I started to earn more money than I ever thought I would, I quickly stopped caring about my cup and started caring more about my spreadsheet that showed my gross income, and making sure I hit that 5-figure mark every month. Until I stopped to ask myself why I needed that.
Turns out, I don’t. At all. What I really need is more free time, and more money wasn’t the answer to unlocking extra free time. More money only meant less free time, because it meant more work.
I was working toward this goal that other people created, with such fierce determination, that I didn’t even stop to think what I actually wanted. I’m so glad that I finally realized I’m the one who gets to decide how much I want to work, how much I need to earn, and what to prioritize.
To my little family, who inspired this business, supported its growth, stuck by me when it all got to be a bit too much at times, cheered me on when I surpassed milestones, listened to me blab on about marketing when it was definitely the last thing on Earth they cared about, and gave me love every step of the way.
To all of my clients, for trusting me, choosing me, recommending me, teaching me new things, and making this life possible for me and my little Woo. And, of course, for the friendship, because the term ‘clients’ feels too formal a word to describe how close we’ve become.
To all of the web designers I’ve collaborated with, for making my words pretty, my clients happy, my work days more fun, and my go-to list of recommendations full.
To Sarah Kleist, for sending the DM that gave me the best “work” friend I’ve never met.
To Abbey Oslin, for selecting me as a giveaway winner on Instagram all those months ago, and becoming the best support system (and the reason why “visit Minnesota” is now on my to-do list).
To Lindsey Kleidman, for believing in me from the very start. Literally.
To Kaitlyn Parker, for helping me grow my skills and my confidence, whether she knew she was doing it or not.
To Wilda Casado, for being the biggest champion of my work (and helping it shine).
To Sarah Burk, for being one of the best constants in my business from the very beginning, and for helping me grow exponentially.
To everyone who watches me ramble on my Instagram stories, dressed in yesterday’s sweatshirt and my hair in a rats’ nest bun, for not being scared away and instead motivated to reach out about working with me. You’re the reason I believe in authenticity attracting the right audience.
To everyone who subscribes to the Tuesday Table of Contents, for caring enough about me and this precious copywriting business to read my emails every week.
And, of course, to you. Because if you’re reading this, that means you damn well deserve to be acknowledged, too. I love you.
If we haven’t had the chance to *virtually* meet yet, hi! I’m Sara Noel—website copywriter and marketing mentor for creatives, copywriters, and all-around cool people. If you like my content and you want even more BTL in your life, here are a few ways you can connect with me:
Subscribe to my newsletter! I send one marketing tip, once a week – and, according to my subscribers, it’s “the best marketing newsletter on the Internet” and “the only reason to wake up on Tuesday mornings.” So… yeah. You’ll love ‘er. 😏 Click here to subscribe!
Check out my services. I write website copy, sales pages, email sequences, blog posts, and brand messaging guides for entrepreneurs of all kinds! Maybe you’re my next favorite client.
Read the rest of my blog. It’s home to everything from copywriting tips, to marketing education, to freelance advice, to portfolio-worthy projects… if you like this post, you’ll love the blog. Here’s a quick roundup of my most popular posts.
Sign up for my web copy course. Actually, it’s not *only* about website copywriting—I also teach modules on copywriting basics, developing your target audience, search engine optimization, blogging, and email marketing.
Enlist me as your mentor. I have an entire in-depth blog post about my one-on-one consulting process for new and aspiring copywriters, if you’re interested in having a big-sis-style mentor to help you grow your freelance copywriting business & get results.
If you're an entrepreneur, business owner, or course creator with big dreams of success and growth—and a big, scary blank document standing in your way every time you sit down to write your own copy—nice to meet you, I'm your new solution.
Through what I like to call sales-focused storytelling, I'll help you find your brand's voice, perfectly position your offerings, develop your target market, and write copy that resonates with your ideal audience. And I'll do it all while keeping your personality at the forefront of every draft, to ensure that each word aligns with your true self.
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