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 2018?
Had a beautiful baby
We welcomed our second boy, Riley Judd, on November 26th. We opted to not find out the gender, and were surprised to add another boy to the family! He’s so sweet, I’m one lucky mama. Hank (our 2 year old) adores Riley already, and is such a great big brother. Our hearts are full!
I worked with the loveliest clients
As always, grateful for the clients who trust us with their brand. That’s a big deal, and we don’t take it lightly! This year I was selective with who we worked with, and as a result we had the smoothest client experiences to date. Grateful for trusting + respectful clients!
More repeat client work (my fav)
The longer I’m in business, my desire to continue serving my lovely clients through ongoing design support grows. I’ve had the honor of working with some standout brands and inspiring business owners, and it’s a treat to continue playing a part in their brand as it grows.
Worked with a fantastic team!
Every year I can’t skirt by without acknowledging the incredible team I get to work with. From my designers to services I’ve hired, I’m endlessly grateful for the support in my business!
Attended a conference in person
I so needed this! I attended the ConvertKit conference this past year and met up in person with a few creatives I’ve known online. I also met so many inspiring entrepreneurs and learned a ton along the way. This conference went above and beyond — it was an experience I hope to have again in 2019. In person events are such a treat as an online business owner.
Hosted a week-long workshop series
In August I hosted what I dubbed “Freelance Week,” a free 5-day online live workshop series. It was such a blast to meet with fellow designers each day and chat business!
Welcomed new students into Share-worthy Design
This year I got to come alongside several designers to launch + grow their own design studio through my online course + community, Share-worthy Design. Getting to know this community and teach has been one of my favorite things I’ve had the privilege of pursuing since starting Spruce Rd. I’m excited to continue growing the course community next year, and sharing a part in each of these lovely designer’s journey to pursue full-time freelance design.
We were rooted in Idaho for an entire year
Counting this as a win! We’ve moved a ton in the past few years, and this was the longest we have been rooted in a while. It felt good to buy more than 2 dishes, hang some art on the wall and renew a lease. In all seriousness, having a consistent community the past year has been a game changer. Looking forward to another year in Boise!
What wasn’t as successful, or I didn’t enjoy, in 2018?
Finding time for work was difficult
With a 2 year old at home, it has been such a challenge to find time for work. The whole “work while they nap” advice hasn’t ever been a dependable solution for me. My husband’s schedule has changed a lot this year, so I’ll have a few months where I consistently get 2 work days a week while Elliot watches Hank. And then suddenly it’s months before my upcoming maternity leave and I don’t have one day to work during the week. It’s been a challenge, and one we’re hoping to remedy next year with a more consistent work schedule.
Starting over in a new city with a kiddo has been challenging
Moving is always stressful, but there’s been a lot of excitement around starting fresh every few months and exploring different parts of the US. If you aren’t familiar with my story, over the past 3 years my husband and I have moved across the country several times for his work. I had a baby in the midst of traveling, and with each move my desire to “settle” increases. I’m a gal of routine, and crave a consistent community and home! Thankfully we’ve been as “settled” as we’ve ever been since I graduated high school in 2006, and we’re staying in Idaho at least one more year. That’s 2 years in the same place y’all — unheard of for us!
Instagram falls under the “I didn’t enjoy” category this year. I rarely posted this year, and that was intentional. I found myself not enjoying the platform as much, and recognized that my marketing + time is better spent elsewhere. (Remember, I have such little time with a kiddo at home, I’ve got to be strategic with how I spend it.) Though I don’t post as often, I still hop on frequently to see what everyone else is up to and to get inspired. I just can’t shake it!
What surprised me in 2018?
Less new clients, increased repeat clients
Not sure how I got this expectation, but I’ve realized over the years that I equated new clients to a successful business. Maybe because I offer brand identity services I assumed I needed a constant influx of new clients to design logos. My 4th year in business, and I’m learning success means something different to me. Instead of constantly marketing to new clients, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed continuing to work with my existing clients. Less pressure, already established brand and clients that I know, trust and love!
Less work, more pay
I think this mindset will take some time to set in. I can consume all the books, blog posts and podcasts about working less and time efficiency, but until I’ve seen it in action a small part of me believes I need to spend time working to increase income. Having a kiddo and only working 5-10 hours a week for the past 2 years has forced me to be more strategic and intentional with my time. As a result, I continue to increase income each year in business. Maybe this will always be a surprise to me — I’m truly grateful to be able to work from home with kids, doing what I love.
What’s ahead for 2019?
Updating the Share-worthy Design course
I’ve taken the time to run a few ideas for the Share-worthy Design course by my lovely SWD alumni, and the feedback has been invaluable from each of those calls (so grateful)! I plan to make a few updates to the course this year that I can’t wait to dive into. If you’re a SWD alumni, I’ll of course let you know once the updates are live.
I also learned the value in reaching out to customers + clients to run ideas, before implementing changes. If I went with my gut and not walked through the potential changes with SWD alumni, I would have spent wayyyyy too much time making unnecessary changes that wouldn’t interest my students. I also walked away with several new ideas on how to enhance the course — always the goal!
Testing out new digital products
I’m a slow mover, and have had ideas for digital products to serve my clients + community for some time. I can’t wait to test them out this year! Notice I said “test.” I plan to not release a full shop until I know that these products are viable and tested. Can’t wait to share more as it unravels next year!
Spruce Rd. has been about collaboration since day one. Whether that’s through pitch-free partner workshops, collaborating on a client project, or hiring another service for my brand. I’ve got some fun ideas for collaboration in 2019 and I am looking forward to it — assuming I get some work days back this year :).
Client work — per usual :).
Though I offer courses + resources for designers, I still love serving clients and building brands. I’m planning to continue working with clients next year and excited to dive into some fresh designs.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!
Cheers to another year in the books!