Business Anniversary Year 4: What I made, what worked, what didn’t
I’m back with another business anniversary recap post! I love doing these, both so you get to see what growth and evolving in an online business really looks like year to year, and because it’s legit part of my year-end tasks to reflect on the past year, make decisions and changes for the new year. And so writing this post really helps me do that and forces me to take the time to do so.
So it’s kinda two-birds-one-stone thing!
If you want to catch the recap from last year, here it is!
Okay, let’s get to it, shall we?!
MY YEAR IN REVENUE
Alright, this is going to get awkward…
As the business has grown and grown and grown, I’ve been having some serious internal debates as to what I share about the business finances and with whom. I’ve decided against sharing exact totals, but I do see the value in sharing with other business owners and want-to-be-business owners what’s possible and what streams bring in what income.
So here goes.
When people tell you that when running your own business, no two months will be the same, well, as you can see, they’re so right. It’s definitely nothing like a normal 9-5 steady pay cheque.
For background info, my business was a part-time side hustle in 2015 and 2016, full-time in 2017 and 2018. In 2018 revenue broke the multiple six figure mark.
December isn’t in the month-month breakdown as I’m writing this mid-month.
And yes, when looking at that month-month chart, I did indeed make $0 in February (intentionally). Don’t take it as a lack of working though! I worked 7 day weeks for the entire month in February. But I was creating my online course, and was transitioning from 1:1 services to creating courses.
Instead of trying to build courses while serving clients, I cleared my schedule of client work and spent 3 months building a course.
Here’s what I was doing each month.
January: Building my first course, Square Secrets
February: Building my first course, Square Secrets
March: Building & launching my first course, Square Secrets
July: 3 week vacation, clients
August: Launching Square Secrets again
September: Building my second course, Square Secrets Business
October: Building my second course, Square Secrets Business
November: Building & launching my second course, Square Secrets Business and one client
Which then brings me to, what income streams brought in what revenue.
In my two courses, I served over 300 students. In custom site design work, I served 5 clients.
It took me 7 months to create, market and sell the courses. It took 4 months to serve my clients.
The affiliate income generated took me probably as much time as I spent on hourly work, but you can see there’s a very different result income-wise when it’s all said and done.
I’ve made some business decisions based on this graph alone, but I’ll tell you about those decisions later on in this post!
MY YEAR IN MARKETING
This year I continued on the same as the last in terms of marketing, I posted blogs 2 days a week and sent out a weekly newsletter with one of those 2 blogs included in it. I dropped the ball a couple times on posting consistently on the blog when I was on holiday or during a launch, but the blog was consistently updated the vast majority of the year.
When it came to my clients, all of them found me via Google (thanks to the blog) or via Pinterest (thanks to the blog.)
When it came to students in my courses, I don’t have any specific data from them on how they found me, but I’m 99.9% sure they read something on my blog, got on my email list, and then got course info from the emails.
For my launches, I did pretty much nothing on Instagram, or Pinterest, or YouTube. I did go live on Facebook a few times, purely as a place to host the videos, and then I directed email subscribers to watch the videos. We boosted the live video posts on Facebook for a couple hundred dollars, but I don’t really know how much impact that had.
As I say pretty frequently on this blog, it doesn’t take doing every marketing strategy under the sun, it takes doing one thing damn well and consistently. The snowball will grow and once it starts rolling, it’s hard to stop it.
MY YEAR IN FEELS
For this part, the year in feel(ings) on this past year and thoughts on the one to come, I am using a lot of the prompts from Amy Porterfield's podcast episode #183: How to Create Your Promotional Calendar (The New Year Planning Episode). If you're looking to also plan for the New Year, it's a really great episode to listen to.
Time/money well spent:
Building both courses
Building email list
My international tax advisor
Paying off student loan!
If I had to pick the best money I spent all year, it would without a doubt be the cleaning man we hired. My boyfriend and I never bicker about cleaning anymore and our apartment is spotless. So not only was the cleaning man good for the tidiness of our place, it was an investment in the harmony of our relationship too.
Don’t think the cleaning man didn’t come with some criticism though. One family member told us getting a cleaning man when we have no kids and a small apartment was excessive and lavish. But if excessive and lavish means enjoying my Saturday instead of scrubbing a bath tub and fighting with my boyfriend, sign me up for the excessive and lavish club!
A previous VA
I had a VA earlier in the year whose work I had to correct for just about every task. It didn’t really save me any time or headaches, but it definitely cost me.
I find Adobe Illustrator I don’t use enough now I’m not working with clients to make the monthly fee worth it. It’s something I might consider cancelling in the future.
Lastly, for a project earlier in the year I hopped around between lawyers to help me with it and it ended up just being a painfully slow and expensive process. Lesson learned.
This year I enjoyed:
The more chill lifestyle of working for myself for months, therefore a lack of deadlines and stress of expectations from clients
Not working on weekends most of the year
Not having to go into my inbox because Mary does it for me!
Having a VA help with answering questions during a launch when I was emotionally a wreck
Going to conferences - Accelerator retreat, Creative at heart
Doing phone calls with fellow Squarespace designers for course
Meeting Charlotte in real life
Having no client pressure and feeling like I actually have time to go to the gym
Not having to think through what to do when building a course because the Accelerator told me what to do, and just implementing
Actually getting dressed daily and therefore not feeling like a hot mess
Keeping business pretty simple
Earning passive income
This year I didn't enjoy:
Stressing about clients being happy with my work
Started to not enjoy blogging as much
Comparing self to others
What I avoided doing but should have done:
Giving a talk at my coworking space
Keeping up more frequently with friends and family
MY YEAR IN TRAVELS
YAY! On to the fun stuff, here’s where I went to while running my business in 2018.
USA x 4 (Cali, Vermont, Iowa, North Carolina)
Canada x 2
That brings my total number of countries travelled to to 26! (Austria, Indonesia, Singapore and Denmark were new countries, all the rest I had been to previously.)
I went to Poland for about 20 minutes, and connected flights through Iceland and Australia, but because I didn’t stay in them for at least 24 hours, I don’t count it as truly having visited them.
Most of the time I was in those countries I was working while I was traveling.
My time spent in Bali was legitimately working during the week and on the weekends for the 3 months straight. That led me to reallyyyy wanting to change for the rest of the year.
I took 3 weeks off for vacation in Canada and a week in Italy. I also took a couple random days off here and there, so I think I took about 6 weeks of vacation this year.
Germany (+ German/Polish border)
changes in 2019
So many thingsss! My business is literally nothinggg like it was at the start of last year, and even less resembles the year before that.
In 2018 I fully switched from services to products in my business and I’m ready to steamroll ahead with the products in 2019! Watch out Squarespace world! 😂
As you can see from my graph on what revenue streams brought in which income, how many people I was able to impact with each and how much time each stream takes me, I’m eliminating both custom site designs and all hourly work.
I cut down on hourly work in 2018, stopped doing hourly work for anyone, and just kept that as something I offered to past clients, purely as a favor to them, not because it’s really something that builds or grows my business.
But with big goals, somethings gotta go, so client work and hourly work is out for 2019.
I’ll be focusing on products (courses obv, plus probably a few others) as well as affiliate income in the new year.
I’m superrrr stoked for this change because honestly, with clients paying me hefty sum of money for their projects with me, I put a serious amount of stress on myself to make sure clients are over the moon with what I create for them. And I’m adamant about never letting a project run long or my clients and I missing their launch date, so those really set-in-stone deadlines were a bit stressful too.
With products and affiliate income I still set myself blocks of time to complete the work and will work long hours if necessary, but it’s a very different feeling of having a deadline for yourself and having a deadline someone else is expecting you to meet for which they’ve paid you thousands.
So, how exactly will I grow the products and affiliate side of my business?
Imma be an email list building machine! And then offer my products to said email list.
How will I build the list? I’m creating a PODCAST! Ahhhhh!
I’ve been dreaming about creating one for about a year, and I feel ready to take the plunge. I wanted to accomplish this in 2018, but I ended up creating a 2nd course which I didn’t expect that took an extra 3 months of my year, and it wasn’t possible to juggle client work and creating a podcast at the same time.
The podcast will be my second content platform, so I’ll be doing both the blog and the podcast, and both content platforms will serve as list builders.
If I can figure out the tech, I also plan to put the podcast on YouTube, because well, two-birds-one-stone obv.
IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT
You might remember that I joined Mariah Coz’s Accelerator program this past year. I’ve never moved so far so fast in my business like I did in that Accelerator, so I was eager to sign up for another in 2019!
I settled upon Emily Williams Accelerator program called the Millionaire Club.
As mentioned, the thing I’m going to be focusing upon most is my email list in the new year. I’ll continue blogging and begin the podcast in order to build it.
As always, I’ll be investing in online courses for myself and my team as I truly see them as the shortcut to getting things done in a business, without all the trial and error.
I’ve already bought Pat Flynn’s Power Up Podcasting course (Black Friday pricing - yay!) and I have my eye on a Facebook ads course too.
Internally, my right-hand-woman (fab assistant) Mary and I will keep running this business together and I’m also going to be hiring a bookkeeper. I’ve been doing all my own books and finances for the business for the past 4 years and it’s really getting to be a monster with the number of transactions. I’m ready to hand it off!
I’ll likely also be bringing on a couple more contractors for various tasks and projects in the new year as well, and potentially one more assistant to help more with tech/podcast/launch things, assuming the podcast turns out to be a valuable asset to the business.
I also plan to spend pretty much 0 time inside an inbox in 2019. Getting out of my own inbox and having my assistant Mary take it over was one of the absolute most life-giving, stress-reducing things I did this year.
I definitely plan to continue with keeping my work hours in check and not letting them get out-of-hand wild like they did my first year full time. In 2018 I worked 7 days a week for 3 months to build my first course, and then after that I did significantly better with work/life boundaries.
During launches, I’m still working weekends, but otherwise, I have a pretty normal work schedule which I’m liking, and plan to continue.
THANK YOU, YES YOU!
That's a wrap!
A yearly wrap up sounds to be also the perfect time to give thanks, don't you think?
So I'd like to take a moment to thank you my fine friend, yes you!
This business and life I'm leading is possible because you make it so by following along, sharing posts, hanging out with me on webinars, giving me feedback, and of course enrolling in my courses.
I love this business I've built, it allows me to live exactly the life I want to and for that I'm ever so grateful.
I hope that this post helps you realize if you're currently on the fence about starting up your own thing online that heck yes it is possible, and you can totes make it happen if you decide you're going to.
Cheers 🍾 and best wishes in 2019!