Another year in the books, and many lessons learned! As each year passes, I appreciate the time of reflection for the past year. How did things go, honestly? It can be easy to get swept up in the daily grind, or big-picture goals, but it’s insightful to take a moment and look back at this past year for my business.
So… why am I sharing this with you? Honestly, I’m so curious at the inner workings of my fellow business owners, I thought you might feel the same way! It’s also helpful to see how the past year panned out for someone else — and if anything else, get an inside look into what wasn’t as successful. I encourage you to do the same. I pulled from Jason Zook’s structure for his annual state of the union reflections that I enjoy reading each year.
Let’s get to it!
What went well in 2017?
Travel (not as tough with a baby as I thought!)
We traveled a TON in 2017. To kick things off, we moved from Idaho to Texas for a few weeks with family. Following Texas, I moved to Philadelphia for my husband’s job. To put a twist in the story, we ended up moving back to Boise, Idaho (same apartment and everything) at the end of the year. Phew! Along the way we were able to enjoy some great travel including the Fingerlakes (upstate New York), Niagra Falls, Acadia National Park (Maine), NYC, Delaware + New Jersey beaches, Chicago and all the states between Idaho, Texas and Pennsylvania.
Despite what many say, traveling with a baby is not too bad! I wouldn’t let it hold you back if you’re ever in the same boat. Yes, our schedule was messed up and we had 3 diaper changes at one gas station (long story), but the pros far outweigh the cons.
I’ve always patted myself on the back for a decent work/life balance, but this past year went really well. Something happens when you have a kiddo, and your perspective changes. Instead of hustling to grow my business, post on social media, or insert-another-distraction-here, I maintained a good work/life balance for the most part. I often get questions about how this has changed since having Hank (now 15 months), so here’s the gist of my schedule if you’re curious! For majority of the year I worked 5-10 hours a week. This was when my husband got home from work or on the weekends. I was able to work more during the summer when Elliot had off, which was nice! I now work 2 days a week and hope to continue a healthy work/life balance for 2018.
Share-worthy Design for Freelancers enrollment more than doubled!
I generally shy away from sharing numbers, but I couldn’t recap this year without sharing how grateful I am for the Share-worthy Design course students and community! Helping freelance designers streamline their business, book more clients and be able to pursue freelancing full-time gives me all sorts of goosebumps. This past year enrollment for the course more than doubled! In case you’re curious, I’m attributing the growth to simply years of refining the course content + marketing, amazing copywriters, and narrowing in on who the course is for (freelancers!). Excited to re-open enrollment for the course in about a month and welcome in new students!
Spruce Rd. got a website update + rebrand
Phew — I made it just in time! I had on my 2017 goals to update my site. And just one week before the end of the year, I made it happen. Fresh copywriting, updated portfolio, resources page and a new logo refresh are all live! Hopefully this structure will be easier to navigate :).
Freelance marketing plan series (now an opt-in)
Honesty check — I never had a great opt-in on my site to welcome new subscribers. Download a checklist and off you go to my weekly emails without any sort of introduction to Spruce Rd.! In the words of Stephanie Tanner, “how rude!” Now I’ve got a free class about creating a freelance marketing plan all set! (if I’ve been in your inbox the past couple months, this is the most recent series we went through.)
Continued to work with a fantastic team!
Can’t recap 2017 without giving a gigantic shoutout to my wonderful team! Ash, Jen, Jessica (x2), Jessie and Maura — I’m so grateful for you!
What wasn’t as successful, or I didn’t enjoy, in 2017?
Website traffic decreased
Womp womp. I blame Hank (my baby). Kidding… sort of. I honestly didn’t make the time to focus on website traffic. Marketing my biz online was not my #1 priority. Instead, I focused on serving my clients and students well. This panned out for me financially, but my website traffic suffered. It decreased by about 50%! Whew — this is embarrassing!
Blog posts decreased (hence… the traffic!)
I only posted 27 blog posts in 2017, as compared to 34 posts in 2016, and 79 posts in 2015. For now I’m really enjoying focusing on content specifically for you — in your inbox through my newsletter. I really enjoy the more personal engagement through this channel versus a Pinterest headline-catching post on my public blog. Both have their place and I have no plans to eliminate my blog by any means, but just a note that for 2017 I wasn’t as consistent at publishing as former years.
Client project income didn’t increase
Because I didn’t focus on marketing as heavily this past year (which was intentional… I needed to take it easy with a newborn), my client work income didn’t increase. I took on less projects with increased pricing, however the overall income remained the same as 2016. Honestly, I’m still figuring out how to best serve my clients while honoring time with my growing family. I’ve got some unique ideas up my sleeves that I might put into action this year or early 2019!
What surprised me in 2017?
Less work = more income
I’m still shocked by this math! How does working less equate to increased income? While my client work remained the same, my course revenue increased significantly. I can honestly say that I wasn’t expecting this, and went into 2017 with the mentality of “surviving not thriving” in my business because of my new babe. I think because I had such limited time (we didn’t have daycare) I felt like I had to get help for parts of my business to keep going. Things like copywriting, photography, coaching and client projects. These investments + relationships only pushed my business further. Note to self: it’s worth it to invest in your business. It literally pays for itself and then some!
More repeat clients
2017 marks the year where I had a much greater increase in repeat clients. I discovered I really enjoy working with my clients on a continuous basis, and plan to implement this into my business plan more. Though I did hope for increased repeat clients at the beginning of the year, it greatly exceeded my expectations! I plan to share more about this part of my business in the next few weeks :).
Getting things done with a baby takes wayyyyy longer than I thought
I mean… it took me almost a year to update my site. No need to chat more about this, just a facepalm to myself for thinking things wouldn’t take longer! (maybe I was a bit naive?!)
I wasn’t distracted
I’m a big picture dreamer and love to drum up new ideas for my business. Create a mini-class here, maybe I’ll publish a book down the road, new products, services, etc. In 2017, I wasn’t distracted. I kept to my plan, and it paid off! I couldn’t afford to draft out sales models or sketch a wireframe for a hypothetical shop when I knew I had limited time.
What’s ahead for 2018
Attend one in-person conference
I’m excited to attend the Craft + Commerce by ConvertKit conference in July! It’s here in Boise, so it’s hard to pass when I live just 10 minutes from the venue. If you’re attending, please let me know! The introvert in me would love to see a friendly face :).
Go to another mastermind retreat
Not sure where we’re headed yet, but I’m pumped for another retreat with my little mastermind of 3. We’ve been together almost 3 years and have retreated in Portland + Philly the past few years. Getting together in person for these retreats has been so impactful for my business, and honestly just fun to get away with friends.
The heart & soul of Spruce Rd. — client work :). I’m excited to continue supporting my lovely clients, and come alongside new clients for fresh branding!
Continue to invest in my Share-worthy Design course to serve my students best!
As always with my new years goals, I plan to continue improving the Share-worthy Design for Freelancers course. I’m adding a new fun resource library, a client project tracker, marketing training from my peers and a few case studies of the one logo solution in practice. Excited for these updates!
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey, and here’s to a wonderful new year!