About a year ago, in December 2009, I was sitting in my living room with two friends.
I had no heat, two plastic chairs and a coffee table. I was chasing down the last of that year’s freelancing invoices to make about $16,000.
I was certainly still privileged for an endless list of reasons, but, to put it shortly, for a lot of reasons, 2009 was a miserable year for me. The three of us all had disappointing years. We all agreed that 2010 was going to better. Much, much better.
What I did do last year was reflect on 2009 and decided upon a theme: slow start.
I haven’t paid it much mind until now, but I think that’s a great task, summing up a year and trying to move in the direction of another for the following year. In that post, I suggested 2010 would have to be a year of ‘next steps.’
Basically, I need a thousand flowers to bloom so I could see which one I wanted to pick.
As expected, 2010 was a much, much better year. It was a year of tremendous growth for me, and, yes, next steps, as I’ll reflect upon below.
But now, with all of this growth, it is time to pick. Fitting the professional goals and the personal resolutions I’ve set, my theme or my overarching goal for 2011 is focus.
I’ll be dropping responsibilities, goals and projects. It’s time to make a business sustainable and focus on doing things well, not just trying anything I can get my hands on.
A Theme for Online Journalism in 2011
After BarCamp NewsInnovation this year, I noted how relatively popular it seemed to. After ONA, I thought how fractured and independently successful people had been.
I think the 2011 online journalism focus should, too, be FOCUS, focusing on collaboration after a few years of GROWTH.
In 2010, I did some speaking, and I developed a lot of thoughts on editorial innovation. I brought in some revenue, set up businesses and learned plenty about taxes. What I didn’t do was much deep journalism or strong feature writing. At NEast Philly, my coverage of some civic meetings included some genuine accountability reporting and my work at Technically Philly included good community coverage, but I mostly forfeited that role.
The only clip worth noting, in my opinion and from my memory, was a long-form profile for NEast on a neighborhood town watch in Northeast Philadelphia — and something I wrote on behalf of a nonprofit for which I was working, as noted below. I did write some posts here in 2010 that I thought were compelling.
Indeed, I was focused on many other things.
The biggest news of my 2010:
- January: Moved into my first home.
- February: Announced taking a new job handling editorial strategy with Back on My Feet.
- March: Launched a somewhat satirical 67th ward brand.
- April: Helped organize the second national BarCamp NewsInnovation
- May: Had a feature profile of mine anthologized and published.
- June: Launched Story Shuffle, a themed, first-person story telling event and then hosted others.
- July: Grew the Back on My Feet blog, which I launched and detailed some growth.
- August: Helped plan and then hosted Switch Philly, a sponsored, paid, tech-startup demo event with close to 200 people in attendance.
- September: Received a J-Lab enterprise reporting grant.
- October: Attended the Online News Association conference and learned that while there had been much growth, there was need for projects to start collaborating and coming together.
- November: Left Back on My Feet to come on full-time with Technically Media. (I also applied for a Knight Arts Challenge grant.)
- December: Launched a Knight application for a local Crunchbase to increase accountability and unite indie news sites editorially first, a sensible next step to our TP directory and membership plans.
In 2011, I’ll focus with Technically Media and the futures of Technically Philly and NEast Philly, particularly when considering the announced William Penn Foundation investment and my thoughts on that investment.
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