You were one of the most exciting, challenging, amazing years of my life. Highlights include…
+ A 4-month RV road trip across Canada this summer
+ Moving to a new city with approximately 5,000 people
+ Going to Las Vegas for Scott’s birthday in March (so fun!)
+ Doubling the income I used to make at my old day job with my blog
I wouldn’t trade this year for anything. I’ve learned so much, grown a ton, and I’m feeling ready to charge full speed ahead into 2018. I have a feeling this year is gonna be our best one yet. 😉
Last December I shared 16 Eye-Opening Lessons I Learned in 2016, and I think it’s one of the best posts I’ve ever written. Needless to say, I knew I wanted to do something similar to wrap up 2017.
Today I’m coming at you with the business, blogging, and life lessons I learned in 2017. Some of them are pretty personal – hope you don’t mind! – but most are things you’ll be able to take away and apply to your own business. Overall, I hope you find these lessons helpful, motivational, and super valuable – whether you’re a brand-new blogger or you’ve been at it for years.
17 Biz & Life Lessons I Learned in 2017
I’m gonna kick this off with one of my favorites…
1. Mastermind groups are a HUGE shortcut to growth and success.
Since starting my business I’ve been a part of 3 different mastermind groups – one that I was invited to join, and two that I created myself. I can say with full confidence that I would not be where I am today without the support, feedback, and love I get from the ladies in my mastermind.
I’ve talked briefly about mastermind groups before, but here’s the quick run-down if you’re not familiar with the term: A mastermind group is a small-ish group of people who chat on a regular basis (usually online, but it can also be in person) and work together to grow their businesses. The mastermind group I’m currently in has 3 people, but you can have as many people as you like in yours.
I want to write an entire post on creating or finding the perfect mastermind group, so let me know if you’d be interested in that and I’ll definitely get it published in 2018!
2. Don’t discount your local library or bookstore for amazing biz resources.
I’m all for online courses (absolutely love ‘em), but it wasn’t until 2017 that I clued into the fact that there are SO MANY great business books out there. Not only are books a fraction of the price of an ecourse, but they might also suit your learning style better.
This year the 3 main types of books I read were about:
2. The Law of Attraction and manifesting
3. Traditional “business” stuff (social media, branding, launching, etc.)
I’d like to write an in-depth roundup of all my favorite books for business owners (I know lots of you have been asking for that!) so keep your eyes peeled in the new year – it’s coming.
3. Every time you say “yes” to one thing, you’re saying “no” to three other things.
This might sound a bit confusing, but hear me out.
What I’ve found is that as my business has grown and more opportunities have come my way, I’ve had to get a lot more picky with what I agree to share with my audience. This includes my own offerings and products/services/courses by my peers and brands I choose to collaborate with.
The fact of the matter is that no one likes being “sold to” 99% of the time. Particularly when it comes to my email list, I always try to include a good mix of educational, motivational, and promotional content. I never run back-to-back promotions, because my biggest goal is always to provide value – not force endless sales pitches down your throat.
I see some bloggers who *only* email their lists when they have something to sell or promote, and I strongly believe that’s not the best way to run your email list OR your business. Sure, it might benefit you in the short-run if you’re making more money, but people are smart and your audience will catch on before long. In my opinion, only emailing your list when you have something to sell is a surefire way to run your online business (and your reputation) into the ground.
Just my two cents, though. 😉
For this reason, 80% of the time when a blogger or brand reaches out to me about a collaboration, I turn them down. I just don’t have the room in my schedule to accommodate them. And it’s hard! Sometimes the promotion is AMAZING, and I want nothing more than to be a part of it. But I’m focused on the long-game, and that means not overwhelming my audience with promos and pitches.
It also means that when I do decide to be a part of a promotion or run one of my own (say, a launch for one of my ecourses), I have to set aside at least a 30-day “buffer” around that launch where I won’t be a part of any other promotions. In other words, when I say “yes” to being a part of one thing, there are at least 3 (usually more) opportunities I have to turn down.
This is all to say that as you grow, you have to become more and more picky when it comes to the launches, promotions, and brand collabs you accept. Not necessarily a bad thing, just a fact of being in business.
4. Your email list MUST be top priority in your business.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Your email list is your ticket to the big leagues. If you attended my webinar with ConvertKit in November, you saw that bloggers without an email list were averaging $7,000 a year from their blogs, and bloggers with an email list were above the $40,000 mark. That’s a BIG difference.
I don’t know exact numbers, but I’d estimate that 80-90% of my overall income comes directly through my email list. Needless to say, this is where your biggest focus should be. Here are some resources to get you started:
+ 11 Reasons Bloggers Need an Email List From Day One
+ 5 Steps to Create an Opt-In Freebie Your Audience Loves
+ 3 Things Your Welcome Email Must Do (and Probably Doesn’t)
5. Always check trademarks before creating something new.
This one has a bit of a sting to it. If you were part of my GirlBoss Bloggers Facebook group in 2016 and early 2017, you might know what I’m referring to. If not, maybe you’ve guessed that the word “GirlBoss” is, in fact, trademarked. And yep, the person who trademarked it had an issue with my Facebook group, and made Facebook shut it down. Without any warning.
Tons of fun. NOT.
Moral of the story: Always check the trademark databases in your country (and other countries where your audience lives) before choosing a name for something. This goes for your paid stuff like courses and ebooks, AND your free stuff like Facebook groups. Don’t make my mistake! I lost contact with nearly 9,000 people in an instant, and it’s one of the worst things that ever happened to my business.
6. Brand archetypes are pretty freakin’ cool.
Let’s chat about something more fun: Brand archetypes.
I won’t go into tons of detail because I’m certainly not an expert, but I did take a course this year by Cerries Mooney and officially fell in love with the concept. To learn your archetype and how you can use it to shape your personal branding, I recommend getting started with Cerries’ free Primary Archetype Test here. Pinky-promise you won’t regret it!
7. I love to create and I hate feeling boxed in.
Getting a little bit personal here. Riffing off the concept of Brand Archetypes, and the fact that my secondary archetype is The Creator, it’s probably no surprise that creating and being creative is one of my biggest joys in life. For me, creating mainly comes in the form of writing and putting together content for my ecourses.
If I could spend all day writing, creating, and teaching, I think I’d be happy for a lifetime. I’ve come to accept this about myself this past year, and I’m taking steps in my business to ensure I get to spend a large chunk of my work week focused on the act of creating.
On a similar note, I’ve also learned that I hate the feeling of being trapped, boxed in, or pigeon-holed to one specific topic or niche. I’m a big proponent of the fact that “specific sells”, but at the same time, the thought of only talking about one specific topic for the rest of my business life feels a little bit suffocating.
In 2018 you’ll see me broadening my horizons and tackling some new subject matter that’s been on my mind for a while. I have no doubts that it will be incredibly valuable to your journey as a blogger and business owner, even if it is a little bit different than what you normally get from me.
8. Pinterest is worth learning/investing/outsourcing.
I talk on and on about the merits of Pinterest, but that’s only because I freakin’ love it. Pinterest helps me secure tons of monthly blog traffic, grow my email list, and make passive affiliate income, all with less than 30 minutes of work per week. I firmly believe Pinterest has the highest ROI of any other platform, tool, or promotional strategy out there. Plus, it’s FREE.
If you’re ready to implement a smart, effective, minimal-time-required strategy for your Pinterest account, get started with my signature Pinterest course today. Let’s make 2018 the year you *finally* master Pinterest for your blog and biz!
9. The biggest key to your success is your mindset.
I think this one pretty much speaks for itself. I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction, which states that what you think about shapes your reality. Think about your big launch being a massive flop, and that’s what you’ll create. Think about meeting your sales goal and filling up your ecourse or program, and that’s what you’ll create. In other words, focus on the positive.
10. Every piece of content you create needs to have a purpose.
I talk about this in one of my favorite blog posts I’ve ever written, and it’s a lesson that took me years to learn. I’ll sum up the lesson for you with a “do” and a “don’t”:
Don’t write a blog post for the sake of “putting something up there” or meeting an arbitrary quota you set for yourself (“I’m going to post on my blog 10 times this month!”).
Do write a blog post when you have something important to say, and make sure that it ties into the bigger picture and overarching goals you have for your business.
By tying your content into your larger purpose, you’ll be able to grow your business and income faster, make sales easier, and establish your status as an expert in your niche.
11. Blog traffic is NOT the biggest predictor of income.
Oooo I can just hear the blogging “experts” cringing at this one. But in my experience, this is the truth. Because I personally *don’t* have hundreds of thousands of monthly pageviews, and I still make fantastic money from my blog (mostly, as I mentioned earlier, through my email list).
Instead of trying to reach 1,000,000 monthly pageviews, focus on growing your email list. Nurturing your tribe. Creating digital products to sell. Setting up passive streams of income. You know – the things that will actually make you money. 😉
12. Spreadsheets. Are. Life.
Confession: I’d never used/created/understood spreadsheets until I started my online business back in 2016. Excel is still a mystery to me, but I’ve fallen maaaadly in love with Google Sheets (pretty sure they’re kinda like Excel spreadsheets, but more drag-and-drop).
I use spreadsheets for:
+ Tracking my monthly finances
+ Keeping my blog posts organized
+ Storing my affiliate links in one place (download my exact Affiliate Spreadsheet here!)
Start using spreadsheets in your own biz and breathe a sigh of relief knowing all your info is organized, secure, and tucked safely away for the next time you need it.
13. Making wise investments allows you to grow faster.
At first, I shied away from making big investments for my business. I hesitated to purchase a $100 ecourse, even if it was on a topic I needed to learn about. I stuck with MailChimp, even though I really wanted to be using ConvertKit.
When I finally got over this mindset hurdles and started making smart investments to grow my business, the return-on-my-investment blew me away. I don’t think I would have been able to grow my brand and business as much as I have over the past couple of years if I’d continued to resist investing in courses, books, and tools to accelerate my growth.
A few of the best investments I’ve ever made are:
+ The Copywriting for Creatives course by Ashlyn Carter
+ The Adobe Illustrator Masterclass by Jess Safko
+ A membership to the Haute Stock Library
I also just shared all of my top tools, tech, and courses from 2017 in this post!
14. Build a business that suits your personality (don’t change your personality to suit your business)
I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I have my Bachelor’s Degree in psychology. Needless to say, I LOVE talking about personality and how it can impact, benefit, or even be a detriment your business.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned in 2017 is that the best, quickest, and most authentic way to grow your personal brand is to become incredibly in-tune with your personality, your strengths, and the way you like to work.
For example, if you’re an introvert and the thought of talking to a big group of people makes you super panic-y, maaaybe hosting webinars or doing live video on Facebook isn’t your best strategy for biz growth. But if you’re an extrovert, you might thrive on those kinds of things, and that’s great!
My point is that just because your personality doesn’t suit ALL kinds of business strategies (live video, writing ebooks, collabing with other bloggers, creating courses) that DOESN’T mean you can’t still grow a successful business. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of ways to grow a profitable business, and it’s up to you to find the right path.
Know your strengths, hone in on your “zone of genius”, and play within those boundaries. Yes, it’s important to stretch and test yourself from time to time by doing something new, but just know that your personality – no matter what it is – will always be a huge asset to your business if you truly understand and work with it.
If you want to uncover more about your personality, I highly recommend the Myers-Briggs paradigm. You can take a free version of their assessment here.
15. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.
Okay, it’s time for a bit a’ tough love.
I believe that if you put your mind to something – anything – you can make it happen. But at the same time, being an entrepreneur is TOUGH. I struggle with it all the time, and I don’t think it’s ever super easy for anyone.
My friend Miranda wrote a really great post this year called The Secret to Success is in These Three Things and it really stuck with me. Miranda covers three of the biggest traits and assets a successful entrepreneur has, so have a read and then hold yourself up against those criteria. And don’t worry, because even if you don’t tick all three boxes YET, Miranda is quick to note that you can develop these qualities over time (they don’t necessarily need to be traits you were born with).
16. It’s okay to change your mind (and then change it again).
I feel like 2017 has been the year of “changing my mind”. I’ve created new programs, shelved my “signature” ecourse, and made several big shifts to the direction of my business. At times, I worried I was switching things up TOO MUCH and that I lacked the consistency my audience needed from me.
But what I’ve learned is that this whole growing-a-business thing is a huge, never-ending and ever-evolving process. Although I’ve been blogging for nearly half my life at this point, I’ve only been doing it full-time for 2 years. So in that sense, I’m still relatively new.
I’ve started to take some of the pressure off myself and realize that I don’t NEED to have everything figured out just yet. It’s okay for me to make changes in my business – especially when they’re important for my own sanity! – and it’s okay for me to start trying new things and stop doing some things I don’t enjoy.
And guess what? It’s totally okay for you, too. I hereby give you full permission to experiment, switch things up, scrap things, and try new things in your business whenever and however you want. It is, after all, YOUR business!
17. I’m just getting started.
Now nearly two years into my full-time blogging “career”, I know deep-down that things will only go uphill from here. I have huge goals for 2018 (as I’m sure you do too!) and some incredibly exciting programs and offerings I’ll be bringing to the table next year. I can’t *wait* to share them all with you!
To wrap up, I want to say a massive THANK YOU for supporting me in 2017, reading my blog posts (even if this is your first one!), and being an important part of my tribe. I love each and every one of you, and would not be where I am today without you. Here’s to a fabulous, profitable, productive 2018!
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