Setting Goals for 2023

Heather sailing in the Outer Banks

There were many ups and downs this year that I hope even out in 2023. Life as a freelancer isn’t all happy travel selfies; there is a lot of work behind the scenes to get those few and far between happy travel selfies. I spend most of my days when I’m not traveling, pitching new publications, writing, and editing photos, not to mention working all my other jobs. This year I couldn’t travel to the places I had on my goals last year, but hopefully, I can get things going again where I’m free to travel more frequently. So for those who follow my adventures, here is my update on how I did last year and my travel writing goals for 2023.

Heather sailing in the Outer Banks

Travel

  1. Visit six new destinations this year – Last year, I accomplished this with fewer trips but more stops. I took two road trips to Arizona and stopped along Route 66 to see some new places in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Clinton, Oklahoma. I also got to explore the Outer Banks, North Carolina, where I tried hang gliding and sailing for the first time. I also explored Roanoke Island and Hatteras Island. However, I didn’t see the Wild Ponies on this trip (something to look forward to when I return). After the Outer Banks, I went north and stayed in Chesapeake for a bit. Another great city with many activities, places to see, and so much delicious food to eat. My last trip of the year took me to Southeast Kansas. I visited many cities I had no idea were great destinations in themselves, such as Baxter Springs, Chanute, Emporia, Fort Scott, Galena, Humboldt, and Pittsburg. I need to get writing because I can’t wait for you to read more about these wonderful towns.
  2. Participate in two travel conferences/workshops – Unfortunately, I had to cancel my trip to TBEX Lafayette. I was bummed as I was looking forward to the trip. I’ll have to plan to visit another time. This year though, I was invited to participate in STS Domestic Showcase in Huntsville, Alabama. This is a highly coveted conference to which only 50 journalists are invited, and I’m one of them this year! Now to figure out which other conference to go to.
  3. Do more Housesitting – I housesat/pet sat for my sister for two weeks last year. I hope to get back to doing this again to see more new places and have fun with the furry side of life. If you have ever wanted to do something like this, you can read about Trusted Housesitters to find out what it is all about.

Photography

A single soaptree Yucca plant growing out of the white sands
  1. Increase my Stock Portfolio – I didn’t keep up with this goal last year. This is a hard one to remember to do monthly, but I do need to do this. I aim to add 50 photos to each of my stock sites monthly. I would love to have 2000 on each site by the end of 2023. I have over 950 selling photos in Stock, and Adobe is at almost 800, and they are both finally making a little money each month. If any of my friends want to be models, let me know! And if you are looking for amazing photos to decorate your home or office, check out my SmugMug site. I’m constantly adding new photos on there.
  2. Enter 5 Photo Contests – Realistically, 10 was a bit much for me last year. I did enter a couple and won a Nominee Award for the 2022 One Shot Photo Contest at reFocus Awards. This year, I will try to enter at least 5 photo contests. Wish me luck!
  3. Expand Heather Raulerson Photography Business – I have freelanced this past year, taking photos of real estate homes and restaurants for Uber Eats and GrubHub. But I would love to do more portraits and candid photography. If you are interested in having your photos taken, let me know through my photo Facebook site. My end goal is to be able to take people with me on my travels, giving photography tips along the way. A few of my friends are starting to do this regularly, but without the photography. What do you guys think? My dream job would be to travel and take photos as a living!

Travel Blogging

Heather taking photos of baby goats at Bergey's Breadbasket
  1. Make RaulersonGirlsTravel self-sustainable – This is a hard goal to reach as I’m not a niche travel website. But I think with time and effort; I’ll get there. The ad revenue is increasing every month thanks to the traffic I’m generating to my site. In 2022, I had over 93,000 visitors to my site. Hopefully, I can reach more people this year with my stories and travel tips. Let me know what you think about my stories by commenting on my website. I love hearing if a story resonates with you or has sparked an interest to add to your bucket list.
  2. Increase content for YouTube and TikTok – This past year, I started TikTok. I’m still learning what goes viral and when, but in the meantime, I hope those who have the app are enjoying my videos and don’t laugh too hard at my awful dancing attempts. And I have also been adding more videos on YouTube. I plan to add more content this year, so stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe.
  3. Publish – I still have to finish my travel coloring books (Arabian horses and Safari animals) that I’m working on. Hopefully, I’ll finish those and add a few other travel cities to the coloring book world. I am also a published contributing author of the book Capital Cities of the World. Have you seen it yet?

Freelance Writing

  1. Procure 10 new bylines – I published 13 freelance stories in 2022 and more this year, including National Geographic, if all goes right. I’m a contributing writer to Extended Weekend Getaways each month and looking to add a few more new writing bylines to my list.
  2. Pitch a story/week – I have to do better at this by scheduling time each week to complete this goal.
  3. Write 5 articles/month – This goal includes blog posts and freelance articles. I hope you are following me through my social media channels and on this website. Plus, if you like my stories, I would love it if you could share them with your friends and family. Who else needs some inspiration to travel this year?

Personal

  1. Read a book/month – I did accomplish part of last year’s goal of creating a Facebook Group for a travel book club. If you are interested in joining, send me a note. The Around the World in 80 Books book club would love to have you participate. I do miss reading and need to do more of it.
  2. Learn a new skill – Goal accomplished last year with learning new skills, hang gliding, and sailing. What will be this year’s new skill to learn? Hmmm.
  3. Establish a home base – This I did accomplish last year, but I have gotten anxious about missing travel. So, I will be uprooting myself again this year. I’m not sure where I will land or where I’ll go, but I’ll keep you all up to date with my adventures.
Robin, Teresa, and Heather in the Outer Banks

I am grateful that I have good friends who checked up on me during my low moments and have been with me during the memorable ones this year. And I hope that this year brings many more good moments for me and all of you. One of the reasons that I share these goals with all of you is that sharing them holds me accountable for reaching them. And who knows, maybe my sharing these will inspire you to setting goals for 2023, too. Let me know what you think of my 2023 goals or anything else. I love hearing from you all. Happy New Year, everyone!

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