Year in Review: 2017 & Plans for 2018
Hello lovelies! I hope you are well and ready to kick-start 2018. I had a wonderful period of rest and relaxation - took an almost-complete Social Media week, didn't check emails for close to 3 weeks, and feel calm and ready to kick butt.
Instead of doing a December in Review post, I decided to do a full-fledged Year in Review! I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into what I thought went well and what I thought sucked this year.
To do that, I went back to this post from late 2016 where I put together a list of goals for 2017. To be fair, I all but forgot about this list until I started writing this post, but I am pleasantly surprised that there are no dark surprises lingering on there!
What went well
Growing the project bag business
Goals I had:
Figure out whether to keep my project bag and my #ihavemyshittogether labels separate.
Semi-organize collections and launches for my handmade labels.
Go to a few markets.
Plan my Christmas season and attend a Christmas market.
Pretty early on in 2017 I realized that I couldn't keep doing two separate handmade labels, my coaching business and Making Stories. One thing had to go and although it made me sad at the time, pausing #ihavemyshittogether has most definitely been the right decision. I am looking forward to integrating prints (which really was the most fun part about all of this!) into my project bag collections in 2018, but other than that, I'm very sure that #ihavemyshittogether is history.
"Semi-organize" is probably the right label for what I did when it came to planning the project bag business. In the first half of the year, everything was indeed pretty organized, but then came fall and I sort of fell of the band-wagon. I'm very pleasantly surprised at how well the business still did last year, but in 2018 I most definitely want to do more planning and inventory management for the project bags.
Markets didn't happen, and they most likely won't happen, ever. We went to a yarn festival with Making Stories which was a great experience, and it also taught me that going to a market with just my bags is not a good idea. It's a huge time and money investment, and I'm just not sure my heart is in it.
Over the course of the year, I also realized that sewing all the bags on my own stressed me out, majorly. So in fall I decided to bring a freelance sewing help - Lena - on board which has been great for my sanity! Not so great for my margin so I will need to do some work on pricing, but it's still been one of the best things to happen to the business.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with where the project bag business went in 2017. It was the first full year in business with my current design, and I'm excited to take it to the next level in 2018!
Publish WOODS - Making Stories
This has to be one of the big, big wins of 2017. We successfully crowdfunded WOODS, decided to found a publishing company, have a full product portfolio for 2018 on the horizon and hired a team assistant - all in our first year in business. Phew.
It's been a whirlwind, a really, really good one, and I'm looking forward to seeing how we can bring it to a sustainable workload this year. I'm very, very excited for the collections we've planned and I hope that we can add even more people to our team!
Go on a longer vacation
Check! We ended up going to Patagonia in March which was amazing - enough said.
Fight the feminist fight
Ugh, still so much to fight for. I'm happy with the steps I took this year - starting the Creative Boss Scholarship for one, reading more and discussing more, and I'm still fired up and excited to fight more in 2018.
What didn't go so well
Growing the coaching business
Goals I had:
Produce and launch a portfolio of consulting & coaching product that makes sense.
Write and publish more free content.
Launch two Creative Boss Classes.
This is an interesting one. If I'm being really honest, the coaching business makes me incredibly happy, but it's very slow moving and doesn't generate the revenue (yet) that I had hoped it would.
Part of this is that my ideas around paid products that are not 1on1 coaching didn't take off: My Goal Setting class at the beginning of 2017 (anyone remember that?) was a whopping failure, and while I was procrastinating the relaunch of the Creative Boss Classes I realized that I really didn't want to do big ass courses. It just felt too much, and not 1on1 enough for me. So I decided to pilot a small, intimate group teaching setting instead - five participants focusing on one topics. The beta for that was great, but when it was time to launch, no one actually bought it.
On the other hand, my free challenges (Get Shit Done & Kick Butt in 2018) were such successes! They had amazing sign up numbers, and I got really good feedback on them. In addition to that, my Patreon has seen slow, but steady growth, averaging around one additional Patron per month.
So, what's my learning from this?
1) I don't want to do large classes. I love doing 1on1 coaching because it's so tailored, and I love creating video content that can be easily distributed to more people (like via Patreon), but somehow having a big-ass class / workshop / program doesn't feel right.
2) Big programs are challenging in terms of pricing. I feel like my coaching participants value the super-tailored approach of 1on1 talks and emails and this is also what I love about it - and where I shine. This is just not possible for big programs (like the Creative Boss Classes and smaller classes I was piloting) without making them more expensive than 1on1 coaching - and then where's the sense in them? I originally wanted these big programs to provide somewhat of a middle ground in terms of affordability, but that doesn't seem possible.
3) I want to focus on two things: 1on1 coaching and creating "smaller ticket items", i.e. content that I charge for, but that is affordable. Patreon falls into this category as does an idea I have for an email course.
4) Free challenges are amazing and super fun - and now I have to convert the subscribers into buyers. This is one of the things I'm looking forward to experimenting with!
So, what's in store for 2018?
Quite a lot of people choose a word or a concept to lead their year, and if I had to chose one to sum up what I wish for in 2018 than it's this: PLAN.
I want my year to be more predictable, especially in terms of making money and managing my workload. I lived with constant money anxiety in 2017, always being afraid of not making enough money, and that needs to go. It's constricting me and it feels suffocating, and I hate it. Same goes for predictability in terms of workload: I want to know what I'll be working on next month and in 6 months, while still having a bit of buffer time to play around with.
So I made a plan for 2018. It's a piece of paper with an improvised calendar on it and the big tickets that I want to work on every month. It contains a launch plan for three collections and when I need to start preparing for it, it contains free challenges, and scholarships, and small ticket items to sell.
Here's a rough overview of some of the bigger things on that list:
Clean up the coaching website & launch a forum / group for coaching participants
Funnel analysis - write more targeted emails depending on where in the coaching funnel someone is
Launch a paid-for email course
Launch 2 free challenges: #GSD and Kick Butt in 2019
Launch a webshop for project bags & move away from Etsy
Launch 4 collaborations
Launch 3 / 4 project bag collections
I'm really, really excited for this year. I can't wait to see how my planning goes, and I would love to hear what your goals are for this year! If you've written a Year in Review / Goal post, please do link it down below so that I can read it. Let's kick butt!