• Abby

2020 in review: making the most of a challenging year

The events of 2020 certainly make for an unusual 'year in review' blog post. If this post somehow made its way through the time continuum to reach 2019-me, I'm sure that its contents would take her by surprise.


Nonetheless, I feel extremely lucky that my year has been full of interesting projects and opportunities for professional growth. For this post, I decided to share some of the defining aspects of this year from the perspective of my business.


1. Adapting to work as a contractor

In 2019 I started taking on work as an editorial contractor for government departments and international organisations. My volume of contract work has grown in 2020, meaning that I am often booked up for longer periods of time and months in advance.


This suits me well, as I enjoy being able to plan ahead and avoid the admin involved in looking for and securing the next project. The teams that I work with on contract, both in-house (pre-March, of course) and remotely, are lovely, and I enjoy the team-working element of this kind of work.


On the flip side, I'm keen to continue working with my favourite freelance clients, and I'm still learning how to balance contract work with other projects. I've found that time management and good planning are key! To achieve my ideal balance, I've had to review my business priorities and actively consider the kind of projects I want to pursue no bad thing!

The view from my commute to the Department for Education in January

2. Less travel, more Zoom

Like many others, I had never heard of Zoom before March, but now I don't know where I'd be without it! My work usually takes me to energy sector workshops across the UK, and I did fit in several business trips early this year, including to Glasgow, Cornwall and Swansea. Thankfully, the organisers were able to continue holding workshops throughout the year thanks to the magic of Zoom. While I have sorely missed the social nature of the workshops, I've done my best to replicate this online (see point 4 below!) and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a return to more in-person events next year.


I had planned to move to a new coworking office this year, but then working from home became the new cool (as well as a legal requirement). I'm looking forward to returning to a coworking office as soon as it's safe, but for now, I'm happy working from home where I share an office with my husband and, when he feels like it, the cat.


3. Training and CPD

One of the things I enjoy most about freelancing is the freedom to take my learning in whichever direction I choose. This year, I decided to consolidate my editorial project management skills by completing the CIEP course, which included plenty of practical exercises and scenarios that let me put my skills into practice.


In May, I attended a panel discussion organised by the Oxford Publishing Society that explored collaboration among freelancers and in-house editors. There was plenty of food for thought, so I wrote a blog post on the event, which you can read here if you're interested.


I also dipped into the free training courses provided by the One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership website, which is an especially useful resource given that a lot of my work focuses on climate change and sustainable energy.


4. Keeping in touch over lockdown

As a freelancer, I'm used to organising my own social life (we freelancers have no office socials to fall back on!), which was even more important for my sanity in 2020. I organised Zoom drinks with project teams, which in one case meant that I was able to 'meet' a Germany-based team that I had worked with before but never spoken to. This is one of the few upsides of lockdown; people are more open to socialising online, which means that when you work remotely anyway, things can be more social!


Keeping in touch with other freelancers has also been more challenging this year. I particularly missed the CIEP conference, which is usually a great opportunity to meet and learn from other editors. However, I have made an effort to keep in touch with colleagues on LinkedIn and the CIEP forums, which has helped enormously.


In conclusion

While I won't pretend that this has been an easy year, I am proud to have made the most of the circumstances that 2020 has thrown our way. I am more grateful than ever for the wonderful teams I work with, and for the freelance and editing communities that I am involved with. Here's hoping that 2021 will mark a return to coworking, in-person socialising and real-life events!

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