10 More Important Ways To Measure Your Success Than “$10K Months”

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If you’re a freelancer who spends any of your time scrolling through the online space, you’ve likely heard the phrase “$10K months” quite a lot.

You’ve heard it from successful entrepreneurs gloating.

You’ve heard it from new business owners manifesting.

You’ve heard it from business coaches “and you can do it too”-ing.

…and maybe you’ve even heard about it so much that you don’t even realize why it’s problematic.

Other than the obvious—making people feel inferior based on how much money they do or do not earn—earning ten thousand dollars each month does NOT automatically mean you’re successful.

For some people, a $10K month would be an absolutely outrageous amount of earnings.

For others, it may not even leave them with money left over for savings after cover their taxes and monthly bills.

(Like, say, ahem, single-household-income moms living in expensive-as-all-hell Massachusetts).

I know that money can feel like an uncomfortable topic—especially if you, like me, grew up with discussions about it being completely off-limits and totally taboo—but I wanted to start this conversation because not enough people are talking about how focusing solely on earnings can become very toxic, specifically for new business owners.

Getting paid in larger lump sums (in comparison to previous weekly or biweekly corporate paychecks) can be confusing for some; potentially even damaging.

If all you focus on is how much you can earn, you lose sight of the REASONS you’re even trying to earn all of that money in the first place.

While I’ve always known that money doesn’t buy happiness, working as a freelancer for several years (and serving clients in a mentorship capacity over the last year and a half) has allowed me to see even more definitions of success, that have nothing to do with money at all, and I want to share them with you.

But before I do, I want to remind you that success looks and feels different for every single person.

Your definition of what makes YOU “successful” may be drastically different than mine, and neither of us are wrong.

If you don’t yet know what will truly make you feel successful, allow yourself to take into consideration what you actually want for your life, your family, and your future—and don’t feel bad if you’ve never spent time thinking about this before; most people don’t.

We’re all trained to run along the hamster wheel in search of as much cash as possible without even considering why, so it’s perfectly normal if you don’t yet know what your definition of success is.

Now, let’s get into 10 things that matter more than earning $10,000 a month.

#1 – Having enough free time to do what you want, when you want

Take a moment right now and ask yourself why you want to earn a large amount of money.

What would you do with it? Where would you be?

Would free time be a resource that lets you accomplish a similar goal?

I’m not kidding you when I say that I thank Jesus and my lucky stars every damn day that I have a flexible schedule. I would quite literally cry on my way to work when I sat in a cubicle from 8am-5pm five days a week, and not a single moment goes by where I don’t feel immensely grateful for the ability to get up from my laptop and “eh, I’m done for the day” whenever I please.

As a toddler mom, doing absolutely everything for my little family on my own, my weekdays from 9am-4pm (while my lil man is in daycare) are my only hours that are mine. That’s 28 only hours a week, and they’re reserved for everything from work, to errands, to alone time, to appointments, to self care… and because I work for myself, I can manage it.

Free time is my ultimate definition of success, because no amount of money in the world would be worth giving up my sanity.

(And, trust me, there was a time where I thought it did—aka a time I was overbooking the shit out of myself and my freelance work was stressing me more than my shitty office job as a legal assistant, and that’s saying something.)

#2 – Doing work that fulfills you and makes you excited to get started each day

There’s nothing worse than absolutely dreading starting your work day, or spending time on a project that drains you. Real success would be never working on a shitty red-flag-client project ever again, and only working with “hell yes” projects.

(P.S. Not to brag… 😏 but I’ve transitioned to the ‘if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell to the naw’ mindset—if you think I should write a blog post or newsletter about what makes a project feel like a hell yeah for me, send me a DM on IG and tell me!)

#3 – Getting raving reviews from past clients

I am literally GIDDY inside whenever I read my clients’ feedback forms, or see their comments on their Google doc drafts, or share their positive experience working with me online.

Having that figurative pat on the back—and realizing that, hey, I’m actually pretty good at what I do; I help people and make them happy!—is so validating, and brings me so much joy.

#4 – Having supportive people to share your wins with

This is arguably the best, most important line item on this list. Having supportive friends and family to share your successes with is such a blessing.

(Shoutout to my biz besties Sarah, Abbey, and Shannon for being this for me!)

#5 – Being able to take a vacation without checking your email, your phone, or worrying about client work

Taking stress-free, screen-free vacation is the true test of success, for a lot of reasons.

Of course, it means you can afford to both take the time off and pay for the vacation, sure, but what it also means is that you’ve confidently set up the correct systems to support you while you’re gone, you’re working with understanding clients who respect your time, and you don’t need to fret about “all the things you should be doing instead.”

It also means that you’re able to actually rest, which brings us to our next success factor…

#6 – Resting comes easy to you

I don’t care if you make one million dollars an hour, if you haven’t mastered the art of resting, you’re not fitting my definition of an ultra-successful person.

My number-one goal is to figure out how the hell to actually rest, because my perfectionist Capricorn workaholic ass hasn’t yet mastered it.

I’ll literally be taking a peaceful walk through my neighborhood, taking notes on my phone about a new product to add to my digital shop or an email to send during my Site Series launch period or a blog post to write.

Like, biiitch, just turn your brain off and take one freaking SECOND for yourself and read an Elin Hilderbrand novel or something. Damn.

If you’re a natural rester, teach me ur ways plz.

#7 – Sticking to your boundaries and working with people who respect them

That’s it. That’s the tweet.

The importance of sticking to your boundaries can be a hard lesson to learn; in fact, I think I’m still learning it… and maybe always will be.

(Although I *did* just block my work email from my phone, so, I’ll be over here patting myself on the back about that one.)

#8 – Positively impacting others and serving your community

If you can afford to spread your love to those who need it—whether that’s through monetary donations and gifts or time spent volunteering or serving in other ways—you’re a successful person in my book.

You’re also a kind person, and your community thanks you.

#9 – Staying grounded and being down to earth

Now that we’re almost to the end of the blog post, I feel like you’re probably a safe person to share my real thoughts with.

If someone is talking about how much money they earn in a month, they have something to prove.

Like, yes, sometimes they’re sharing it for a valid reason—maybe they’re a money coach teaching you how to earn more, and not sharing their own experience might make you trust them less—but a regular entrepreneur joe on the Instagram-street, just willy-nilly bragging about their earnings? Fishy.

If you want to be a respected freelancer or creator in your online community, you don’t need to talk about how much you earn.

What you do need to do is treat everyone with respect, never forget how you felt when you first started out as a brand new business owner, and not let yourself get out of touch with reality or be sucked in by lifestyle creep and the weird phenomenon of showing off online for your parasocial relationships.

#10 – Being at peace with where your business currently is and the direction it’s going

Something I found myself struggling with a lot last year was realizing that I have plenty of time to do all the things I want to do, and accomplish all the things I want to accomplish.

I’m a very right-now person, as I’m sure most millennials (and Gen Z-ers are), given all the instant gratification we’re accustomed to nowadays, and sometimes I forget that not everything is urgent.

It’s fine if I don’t write that case study right now.

It’s fine if my digital product doesn’t launch til next year.

It’s fine if… fill in the blank, for whatever you’re stressed about not having created yet. It’s fine. We have time.

And true success is being okay with that, and being excited about all the ways we can continue to grow.

If you want to continue learning from me, here’s how I can help:

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:

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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.

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To get in touch with me directly, send me a DM or email sara@betweenthelinescopy.com. Have a great day!

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Hi, I'm Sara—Website Copywriter & Marketing Mentor.

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