The year I finally accepted my life as a freelancer.

by JERRY SILFWER aka Doctor Spin
Expert in corporate communications and online persuasion

Time for my annual review.

In this post, I’ll do my best to answer these three questions1:

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What didn’t go so well this year?
  3. What am I working toward?

Here we go:

1. What Went Well this Year?

Family life. My son, Jack, was born in September 2014, but 2015 was the year when I got to know him. Everything is turned upside-down, of course, but I’m happy to have spent so much time with Jack this year. And I’m equally thankful to share this journey with the love of my life, Lisah. The two of them are my life’s best decisions.

Freelance lifestyle. For the last decade, I’ve been working at various agencies, and so the ‘agency lifestyle’ is my default setting. When I started my company in 2013, in the back of my mind, I always thought that I would build an agency. However, in 2015, I embraced the fact that freelancing is a way of life that’s exciting to me.

28 days. It wasn’t planned, but one day I got the idea of putting together a free 28-day email course in which I share 28 PR- and digital marketing “secrets.” I had no expectations whatsoever, but to date, I’ve had close to 2,000 participants. To me, that’s an unexpected success.

Declutter. For 2015, my New year’s resolution was to simplify my life (and for this, I can recommend Essentialism — The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg McKeown). I tweaked my freelance lifestyle and got rid of lots of material stuff. I’ve also successfully moved all my paperwork into the cloud.

Quantified self. In 2015, I took action and started to track various aspects of my life more seriously. First of all, I got serious about biometrics; DNA analysis, sleep analysis, nutritional intakes, heart rate, training load, you name it. I also track my email behavior, invoicing patterns, work hours, and so on. It’s early days yet, but it has helped me to ask myself better questions.

New company name. I changed the name of my business from Mad Science Digital to Spin Factory. Much better, if you ask me.

2. What Didn’t Go So Well this Year?

Unfinished side projects. We all have them, right? Personally, I have several side projects that I am pursuing. However, the only side project I managed to get off the ground was the 28-day email course — and that one wasn’t even planned…

Lack of accountability. This is, I think, the main reason why many of my side projects never got off the ground. Because what happens if I don’t push these side project forward? Nothing, apparently. Becuase no-one is holding me to it. And this makes them easy to push forward in time. And honestly — I’m not entirely sure on how to fix it.

3. What am I Working Toward?

Speaking. For some reason, I feel strangely comfortable up on stage. However, I’ve always thought of myself as a PR professional, but never as a speaker. So, I haven’t pursued speaking opportunities proactively. But in 2016, I’ll strive to take public speaking more seriously.

Survivalism. For years, I’ve been struggling to find a hobby. However, nothing sticks. I envy people who have their passions like surfing, skiing, dancing, fashion, travel, climbing, and so on. So my wife (who herself is passionate about photography), suggested that I’d find something that I already do and call it a hobby. And, I realized:

  • I watch documentaries and read books on survival techniques all the time.
  • I browse military surplus warehouses for fun and inspiration.
  • I’m always preparing little “survival kits” for various eventualities.
  • While in the military, I enjoyed weapons training, advanced first aid, and wilderness survival camps.

So, maybe I should explore survivalism and prepping in 2016?


  1. The format is inspired by James Clear’s annual reviews.


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Jerry Silfwer is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. Via his agency Spin Factory, Jerry is advising brands on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, news anchor and television host, and their three-year-old son, Jack.


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