When I compare my life today to my life one year ago, the difference is unreal. Like, cray cray.
Last December I was working a desk job I hated. I was living in a city that wasn’t the right fit for me and that was too far away from my family. And I was basically a sad ball-of-stress 24/7.
Take all of those things and flip them 180, and that’s what my life is like today. I work from home and have a career I absolutely love. I live in a beautiful home that’s less than a half hour drive from my parents’ house. Above all else, I’m happy. So SO happy!
2016 was an amazing year in every way imaginable. BUT that’s not to say it’s been an easy year. There have been ups and downs, successes and failures, and SO MUCH LEARNING that at times I felt like my head was going to explode!
What did I learn in 2016?
A TON about blogging and business. Lessons that shaped who I am, how I run my business, and how successful I’ve been in 2016.
Today, I want to share 16 of these lessons with you. Together, they’re kind of like my “Blog & Business Manifesto”. I really hope you enjoy reading through them, and that you’re able to apply them to your own blog and business as well. And like everything else I share — take what serves you, and leave the rest!
Ready to dive in?
16 Blog & Business Lessons Learned in 2016
1. You won’t get everything right on your first try, and that’s OKAY.
Blogging is a journey, and no one comes into it knowing how to do everything. If you try and fail, that’s 10x better than not trying at all. Plus, now you know how NOT to do something, and that’s just as valuable.
2. Things don’t have to be perfect.
This lesson was a hard one for the perfectionist in me to learn, but I’ve had to kick perfectionism to the curb this year. Sometimes you have to tell yourself that “Done is Better than Perfect”. You can always go back later and tweak or improve things. Don’t sweat the small stuff!
3. NEVER be afraid to ask for help.
There will always be someone out there who knows 10x more than you do, and this person will usually be more than willing to help you out. If you don’t know how to do something, ask. If you’re struggling with something, find an expert and see if they’ll help you.
4. Diversify your streams of income.
I read somewhere that the average millionaire has at least SEVEN different streams of income. Then I looked at my own business and realized I had, like… 2. Which meant it was time to start hustling! I now have 3 or 4 different streams of income for my business, with plans to add a few more in 2017.
5. Be kind and genuine. Always.
Even if someone is being rude to you. Even if someone is copying you. ALWAYS BE NICE. Kindness is wildly underrated in business, and it will take you incredibly far.
6. Set boundaries.
Set boundaries both for yourself and for your business. If you work from home, set a limit on your work hours every day. Close the door to your office at the end of your work day and don’t re-enter until the next day.
If you have clients/students/subscribers, set boundaries with them too: For example, your office hours, appropriate forms of communication, how often they can expect to hear from you, etc. Be kind but firm with these (your sanity will thank you!)
7. Systems = Life.
For someone who’s pretty organized in her everyday life, it might surprise you to hear that my business was a MESS for the first few months. Organization is SO important for running a blog and/or business successfully. If I could go back in time, I would set up strong systems for my business from the very beginning (and save myself a ton of headache down the road!)
8. Invest in your growth and learning.
This year I’ve morphed from a person who was incredibly reluctant to purchase a single e-course on blogging/business, to someone who gobbles up e-courses and business books like there’s no tomorrow.
If you want to grow and be successful, you HAVE to invest in yourself and your learning. I truly believe that the more money you spend on learning and growing as a business owner and blogger, the more money you’ll earn in return.
In order to make money, you have to spend money. As soon as I started investing in courses and books (first making small investments, then medium ones, then big ones) my blog and business started taking off and I saw an amazing return on those investments.
9. Grow and nurture a Facebook group — even before you’re “ready”.
I put off creating a Facebook group for the first six months of my blog and business journey, and I really regret not starting it sooner. The GirlBoss Bloggers Facebook grouphas become my absolute favorite place to hang out online, and has connected me with SO MANY amazing ladies I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
A common misconception about Facebook groups is that you have to grow your traffic and community FIRST, then you can create a Facebook group and ask your readers to join it.
But it’s actually the exact opposite. Creating a Facebook group (and making sure it’s awesome!) will GROW your traffic and community — not the other way around. So don’t wait!
10. Self-hosted WordPress is the best place to be if you want to monetize.
I’ve been blogging for over 4 years, but it wasn’t until I switched to WordPress in 2015 that I started making money. Yes, there is a small fee to run a self-hosted website, but it’s completely worth it.
Check out this blog post for 7 reasons every blogger should be on WordPress!
11. Always go straight to the source.
Blogging and business isn’t a mind-reading game. You don’t have to GUESS what e-course or blog post or color scheme your audience would like best. You can just ASK THEM.
My two favorite ways to do this are to run a poll in my Facebook group or send a quick survey to my email list. I love Typeforms for beautiful and intuitive surveys (they’re free!)
12. Take happiness breaks throughout the day
Whether you work from home or work out-of-home, this is a must. If you feel drained, groggy, unproductive, or just plain UNHAPPY throughout your work day – it’s time to start taking some happiness breaks!
This is how I do it: Each morning, I write down 5-10 activities I really enjoy doing and that make me happy. Simple things, like watching my favorite YouTubers, practicing yoga, or reading a new book. Throughout the day, I take 10-15 minute breaks and DO THESE THINGS. It’s really as simple as that, and it makes all the difference.
13. Don’t neglect your email list.
I go on and on about the importance of email lists, but I don’t always practice what I preach. There was a 4-month stretch in 2016 when I was so wrapped up in other things that I didn’t create a single new opt-in freebie for my list. YIKES.
Looking at my email list now, I know it could be 3x bigger if I’d constantly made it a priority in 2016. But hey, hindsight is 20/20, right!?
14. Focus on Pinterest and scrap the rest.
You guys, the ONLY social media platform I work on now is my Pinterest account. I barely use my Facebook page. I’ve stopped scheduling my Twitter. I’m lucky if I get up a few Instagram pics per month.
Yet my traffic continues to grow month after month after month – with a large portion of it coming from Pinterest. Plus, Pinterest grows my email list on autopilot, and it regularly brings in new clients for me.
I flippen love Pinterest. If you want to grow your traffic in 2017, I suggest jumping aboard the Pinterest train. Here’s a great place to get started!
15. You won’t always be a great fit for everyone, and that’s OKAY.
I’m mainly referring to clients here, but the same thing applies to readers, students, and subscribers. If you’re feeling “off” about a particular client or you just don’t enjoy working with them, don’t be afraid to end the relationship. Similarly, if someone un-subscribes from your email list, don’t sweat it.
When you “lose” things (subscribers) or “end” things (client work), you’re making space to welcome in other new and wonderful things. It’s actually a positive thing, and definitely not something to be scared of or to worry about.
16. Be YOU.
Corny, I know, but it had to be said. You are your brand. You are the reason people want to read your blog or take your e-courses or join your Facebook group. You you YOU.
Find what makes you unique and run with it. There’s literally NO benefit to being fake or untrue to yourself. Plus, blogging and business is 10x more fun when you embrace your quirks and let your Freak Flag fly!
Do you, boo-boo!
So there you have it, my lovely ladies. Phwewf, that was a long one! I hope you learned a thing or two (or 16!) that you can apply to your own blog and business. These are all things I wish I could go back in time and tell myself one year ago!
What lessons did you learn in 2016? I’d love to know! Tell me about them in a comment below.