The 2016 Wrap-Up + 2017 Throw-Down | Year In Review
I wasn’t planning on doing up one of these Year-In-Review style posts, but I stumbled across some from other bloggers/biz peeps, and I’ve always loved reading them, so I thought I’d have a jam at doing one of my own.
Writing this post actually helped me properly sit down and see what I'd done this year, what I learned, and what I wanna do/create moving into the new year vibes. I’ve broken it up into a few sections — Big Lessons, Biz Shit, and Looking Forward to 2017.
As well as recapping the shit I’ve done in my own biz and what I’m up to, I’ve included some prompts at the end of this post if you wanna work on your own post, or just to take a look at your own year and see what you learned and where you wanna go next year.
Heads up before you dive in — this post gets pretty long,
but I think it's a good one!
The Big Lessons
:: You have the right to change.
You’re allowed to move away from what you thought you wanted, towards the shit that lights you up. People change, man. We are not the same person we were 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even last year. Our dreams and goals shift — and that shit is totally normal (and rad!).
:: You gotta take the first step before you can see the whole path.
This was big for me, both with business stuff and life stuff.
I booked plane tickets before I even knew what the full plan was. I launched projects that scared me.
But the thing is, as long as your gut is telling you to just fucking DO IT, you gotta trust that the full journey will show itself along the way. When you’re equally as scared as you are stoked to press the ‘book now’ or ‘launch’ buttons, you’re onto something. Just roll with it.
:: You have to do it your way… And sometimes that means doing it all of the other ways to realise what isn’t for you.
I thought I had this grand vision of what I wanted my business to look like, but I realised this year that it wasn’t really my vision… It was just what I’d been told it should look like. So I fucked that off and re-aligned with what I wanted. I gotta say, this was probably the biggest lesson for me this year.
There’s SO much hype around what it means to be an entrepreneur and creating digital products and making passive income and aaaall of that shit, and it took a lot for me to really step back from that world and figure out what I wanted to create.
// A similar post to check out if you feel these vibes :: I need a break from the entrepreneur world. Wanna join me?
The Business Stuff
:: Be Unmistakable
Be Unmistakable is my branding course that I first launched around mid last year. The first round was a total banger, and it was so rad to jam with so many people on their Branding. I purposefully kept it very small and accessible, with just PDF’s and all of the content delivered via email. After that first round I was all like ‘okay well obviously now I have to go bigger’. So I went all-out and got a full website developed and made the course a bit bigger and improved it. You know, I did 'what you're supposed to do'.
I was so stoked to take more people through that updated version early this year, but I also realised that the original (much smaller) version was what people really needed… It was accessible, easy to follow, no bullshit, and in general it just resonated a lot more.
I contemplated fully taking the course down, but I kept receiving so much rad feedback from people that had done the OG round that I decided to strip it back to that first version and keep it up as a self-paced course. (You can check it over here!)
Over 160 people have taken the course and it's still crazy to me how I still get emails + messages from people who were in the first round, or have taken it recently.
:: 1-1 Design
If you’re new around here, you might not know that my biz first started out as me working 1-1 with clients, as a Graphic Designer. So although I stopped taking on 1-1 Design clients a while ago, this year I was still working with a small handful of clients on retainers and ongoing projects.
Around the middle of this year I decided to let them go (mostly just to make space + time for new projects), except one — and I’m so stoked I decided to keep working with them. They’re a total dream client, and right now mixing my work between select client work and my own stuff (such as The Unmistakable Effect) is a perfect combo, and I’m diggin' it.
In some ways I felt like a phoney because I wanted to fully move to only offering digital products, so it felt strange to still be doing client work, but then I realised that my business can look however the fuck I want it to look and I actually really dug working with this client, so it was just my idea of what I thought my business 'should' look like that was getting in the way.
:: The Unmistakable Effect
This year I launched a project that I feel as though has been a long time coming… Even though I didn’t really know it. The Unmistakable Effect is my monthly digital magazine that I launched in September, and I’m still just as jazzed about it now, as I was when I launched it.
I was extremely conscious of my whole approach with the magazine, and I went into it knowing that this is a long game thing for me. I didn’t expect a huge launch right off the bat. I didn’t imagine for everything to happen all at once… I want this to grow organically over time, and I still have that same approach today. (Read on to see what I’ve got in store for TUE next year!).
// If you wanna read some more behind-the-scenes thoughts on the creation of The Unmistakable Effect, check this post.
:: The moneyz
There’s a few reasons I haven't talked about money a lot, and it’s mostly because I honestly don’t think its anyone else's business, and I also don’t feel the need to share every single aspect of my life with the world… But I wanted to share a little here, because transparency is rad.
So as I mentioned, I've been moving away from 1-1 work as my main thing for a while now.
People like to make out that this transition between 1-1 work and digital products will have you shooting dolla billz out yo' ass 24/7, but that was not the reality for me. Sure, I made some bank here and there, but creating consistent income with digi products has been a fucking tough gig. I could analyze the shit out of 'why' it but I've already done that, and at the end of the day you just have to accept the reality, then get on with whatever is next.
So before I got my final financial report for the year from my accountant, I was expecting my overall income to be a little lower than last year, mostly because I found this transition more difficult than I thought it would be... But it managed to stay pretty consistent with the last couple of years, which I’m stoked on.
Side note here :: This whole 'being transparent about money' thing is something I want to write about more in the future, but I want to find a way to talk about it without actually being specific with numbers — because that's where the hype + bullshit + comparison comes in (and as I said, it's not something I feel the need to share with the world). I know this is something you want more of, and it's something I want to talk about more too.
:: a couple other random Lessons + experiences
Finding my team... Or not. // I worked with a couple different Virtual Assistants this year, with mixed experiences, so I've kinda been holding off on finding a new one for the moment. I would LOVE to find someone who I really vibe with and can totally trust with Admin stuff in my biz, but I've yet to find that person.
I've been finding that working on my own is okay for now — especially as there's some things I've been trying to figure out in my biz, so it'd be hard to take on someone else and then try to explain all of this new shit to them too — as I'm still trying to suss it out.
I've never imagined myself having a big team or hiring loads of different people — apart from freelancers here and there for certain projects or collabs, so I'm just letting this be for now and I think the right person/VA will come along soon enough.
Quit what isn't working. // In around October 2015, I decided to stop posting on my business Facebook page because in all honesty I don't even like Facebook that much, and it was just another thing for me to have to manage. I decided to stick to Insta as my main social platform and I'm so stoked I did.
Making the switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit. // Earlier this year I made the jump over to ConvertKit, and I'm so stoked I did. I know I'm not using even 1/2 of the features I could be, but overall I think its so much better than MailChimp for my biz. The biggest factors for me were being able to essentially have just one big 'list' then separate people out from there, and also the Support. MailChimp support was always a joke/non-existent, (I'm not sure if it's changed or gotten better), especially for what you were paying, so to have proper support and super helpful people on hand over at ConvertKit, it's pretty rad.
A new website! // Sooo... Notice anything different around these parts?! I recently decided that I was sick of my old website and I wanted to properly update it to feel about 100x cleaner. I'd been using my old template for literally YEARS, so I went on the hunt and found this sick new Squarespace template. I committed like a mofo and changed my whole site over in less than a day. I'm a firm believer that websites are never finished, and that they don't have to take months and months to complete. When you know your vibe and you ditch the myth of perfection, anything can happen. So I'm pumped to have some new digital digs to call home.
Alright, enough of 2016. What's on the cards for the big twenty-seventeen?
:: The vibes
Usually I work on breaking my year up into the four quarters, and setting goals and vibes for each of those. I started doing this last year and it was so rad. The whole idea started with The 90-Day Year, but in all honesty I just read the book, took what resonated, and then mashed it together with a few other techniques that work for me.
Thinking about anything further than like 6 months down the road stresses me out and my mind just can’t handle it, so I like breaking shit up into smaller chunks.
For Q1 (Jan, Feb, March) of 2017, these are three words I’ve chosen to guide me along the way ::
- Potent // I want the stuff I put out into the world to be better. I want it to be… Potent. I want to spend more time 'batch-creating', just going balls-out, for a certain amount of time, and then resting for a bit. I've done this in small chunks in the past and it worked really well, so I'm down to really commit to it more and see how it goes.
- Momentum // Kinda similar to above, to me this means staying in the zone when I’m feeling it. Working fast and taking breaks often. Commitment to doing the work, way before it’s due (this is something I haven’t been great at lately, and it makes my life way harder than it needs to be, lol).
- Boundless // Because fuck playing by the rules and putting yourself in a box. Although this is very much my message, there’s still ways I feel myself holding back and I want to ditch them.
A look at what I’m planning for 2017 ::
:: The Unmistakable Effect. Here’s just a few of the things I have lined up for this baby…
+ A fresh af, totally separate website.
+ A special issue to launch around the middle of the year that will hopefully be available as a print issue (!!). Creating limited print issues was always a part of my game plan, so I’m pretty stoked on this. My list of people that I want to feature in this special issue is kind of huge and scary AF, soooo I’m excited to see if I can actually pull it off. HA.
+ Getting the magazine to a financial place where I can pay contributors for their content. This has always been the top of my priority list with TUE, and I’m seeing it go down in 2017.
:: Some live workshops or mini-courses? I’m pretty keen to try out some other digital offerings to go alongside the magazine, but I'm still not 100% sure exactly what I want to create... All I know is that I don't want it to be the same as what's already out there. I've been thinking about trying out some live mini-workshops to align with the themes of the magazine, but I haven't landed on any ideas that have had me super stoked just yet.
:: More collabs + connecting with rad people! This year I did a few really rad collabs, but looking forward I want to do a lot more, both with the magazine, and also just me jamming with other awesome Brands out there in the world. I’m also SUPER keen to reach out to some companies that are a little outside of this ‘entrepreneur’ bubble.
:: Vlogs + video content? Soooo… Doing some video/vlog style stuff scares me, lol, but it also sounds super fun. In ‘real life' I can be pretty loose and stupid and sarcastic AF, and I find it hard to bring out that side of me in written content alone. I also resonate so hard with people that make fun + interesting vlogs, so I figure maybe I should try my hand at making some.
I know video is a whole different world and even just editing alone can be intense, but in general vid content is on the up and I wanna give it a jam and see what happens. (This is what I was talking about when I said I can feel myself holding back on certain stuff… Ha).
:: More transparency/behind-the-scenes stuff. This has been on my mind a bit lately, and these feels were confirmed when a lot of people responded that they also want more of this, when I sent out a survey to The Standout Squad (my email gang) last week. I think some videos/vlogs would help, but in general I want to get way more open about what running a business looks like. I have some ideas for both being more transparent with my own biz, but also chatting to other entrepreneurs about what their business looks like too.
:: Getting strong AF. Because why not? When you can learn to totally switch your mindset on something and learn to love it, shit gets fun. This year I got kinda obsessed with powerlifting (but lets be honest — mostly just deadlifts and squats, lols), so basically the barbell is my bae and I’mma be a fucking boss at all of the lifting things. I’m already so much fitter than I ever have been before, and I don’t wanna stop. I’ve also loved having something to really commit to outside of my business — something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before.
:: Travel vibes… Cause duh. Maybe Mexico. Def Canada. Def Alaska. Maybe Iceland. Who knows… But I’mma get out there.
I guess overall I'm feeling way more chill about 2017 than I have about a new year in the past... I'm going into it with ease, instead of the usual gung-ho vibes.
This isn’t to shit on the good vibes of a fresh new year at all (because I do truly love it), but I’ve also come to realise that nothing ever magically happens overnight.
Every decision you’ve ever made, and will make, will take you where you’re going. Commit to the long game. Start right fucking now. Everything is a journey... Every damn day is a part of your future, not just January 1st.
So thank ya for the good & tough times, 2016. I know it's been an interesting one for so many of us, and I think we're ready to move on... Yah?
I also wanna throw out some love, because i most def would not be where i am without
these people ::
Everyone who contributed to and featured in The Unmistakable Effect so far // As you can probably already tell, this is something I'm super fucking invested in, for the long haul... So starting small and having people want to contribute to the mag because they dig the vision so much (and not just because of money — because I haven't been able to compensate them yet) has been pretty rad.
Well shit. THANK YA TEAM!
Everyone who's subscribed to The Unmistakable Effect so far // Kind of similar to above, I'm so fucking stoked that this has resonated with as many people as it has, in these early stages. I took a pretty big risk and I launched it with minimal (aka zero) testing or feedback because I knew that it was something I just had to fucking do, regardless of what people said... So to launch it and to have the response I've had, I'm pumped.
Lido, Kidnap Kid, Flume, CloudKid // For giving my life a soundtrack that I fucking LOVE. Music fuels me like nothing else, and half of the shit I've created this year wouldn't be what it is without the good vibes from these guys.
Jon Olsson, Ben Brown, Meg Squats // These guys hit me straight in the feels... Their content and everything they create is so fucking badass and it's seeing people like them get after life that makes me wanna do the same.
You! // For being here + doing your thing. Throwing out the good vibes to ya, whether you've been around here for a little while, if you're a newbie, or if you've just happened to stumble across this post somehow.
Okay, now it's your turn.
Here's some prompts to help you jam on the year that's passed, and the good shit that's yet to come in 2017 ::
Looking back on 2016
- What were the biggest lessons you learned this year?
- What really sucked balls?
- What was fucking rad?
- Did you make the income you wanted to make?
- Was there more you could have done if you didn’t?
- Which of your products/services made the most income? (And was it worth the time/effort/money/resources you put into it?)
Looking forward to 2017
- Write down literally everything you can think of that you wanna do next year. Work stuff. Life stuff. Travel. The whole fucking deal. (This is just to get it out of your brain and onto paper — then you can pick and choose what stuff actually lights you up).
- The Vibes :: What words can you use to guide you? (If you’re familiar with the Desire Map, this is a rad process to help you suss it out. Otherwise just jam on a bunch of words until you hit some that have you going ‘fuck yes’.)
- What things do you actually wanna do in this first quarter?
- What lights you up?
- What scares you a little?