My Yearly Review – 2017 Edition

 

Since I’ve been sharing the #LookBackMoveForward process and course with you this week, I decided to also share some of my own review findings from the year just gone.

I decided at the beginning of 2017 that this would be a ‘consolidation’ year – my year of not starting anything new.

Pretty much every year since I started business – back in 2008 – I’ve started a major new project (or multiple new projects!).

This year, I wanted to solidify what I had done, and take a bit of a break from creating anything new. This was our first full year in our new home, and I’ve been loving just enjoying my home and family.

Funnily enough – alongside this, I inadvertently did the same in my personal life. I usually have at least one personal ‘project’ going at any one time, but this year, I haven’t – I’ve just been enjoying what I already have in my life.

Taking the pressure off has allowed me to have more space in my life – more time to relax and enjoy the lifestyle that my businesses allow me to have.

Now, as the year draws to a close, I’m feeling a new surge of energy, and I’ve got tons of ideas of where I want to take my work into the new year and beyond.

Let’s have a look at how my businesses went in 2017.

 

Epheriell

 

We saw sales slow down a little in the jewellery business this year, and there have been a couple of reasons for this:

 

  1. We have had 2 major vacations this year – a 3-week trip to Japan, and a 5-week trip to the UK. We had to close up shop for 5 and 7 weeks respectively for these holidays, so that was almost 3 months of the year where we weren’t earning any income from Epheriell.
  2. We released literally zero new designs in 2017. All of our orders have come from pre-existing designs.
  3. We closed the shop on our own website in October, and since then we’ve been working on a re-design, with a planned re-launch in early Jan 2018.
  4. I took a bit of a step back from marketing this year, so most of our sales have come strictly via organic traffic and searches.

 

I was originally considering taking a sabbatical from the jewellery business this year, but ultimately, decided against it. Instead, we kind of set it on auto-pilot.

Sales have still been good (a solid few thousand dollars a month) but I can, by now, see the results of this approach (i.e. a slow decline in sales), and am ready to step things up again!

I’ve put together a plan for the new year – incorporating monthly marketing tasks, regular releases of new designs, and an increase in social media and blogging.

I’m most excited about a new range of wedding rings we’re releasing in January. For those outside of Australia, you may not know, but same-sex marriage has just been (finally!) passed into law here, so we’re going to celebrate that with our new release, and we’re planning on donating a percentage of sales of this line for a period of time to a LGBTQI youth charity.

 

Create & Thrive and the Thriver Circle

 

The biggest change during 2017 was that I moved away from doing monthly video workshops, into running monthly projects for my membership community, the The Thriver Circle. This has been super-fun, and it’s been a great way for the members to work alongside each other to move their businesses forward. However, I started to feel like I wanted to get back to offering more fresh content to members each month, while only doing a few video workshops a year.

 

There are a few big changes happening in 2018:

  1. I’ve decided to experiment by moving from having membership windows to having evergreen membership. That is – rather than the doors only being open a few times a year, the doors will be open all the time! This means people can join the Circle when it suits them, rather than when it suits me. There are a number of logistical reasons why I’ve avoided doing this up to now, but I’ve decided to give it a try and see how it goes. I was getting a bit of launch fatigue (running effectively the same launch 4x per year) and I’m sure a number of my email subscribers and community were feeling the same. This way, I won’t be running so many big launches – I will be, instead, consistently reminding folks about the Circle and all the benefits of membership via the podcast, blog, email list, and social media channels, while still aiming to produce top-quality free content for everyone.
  2. I am moving from having a weekly podcast to having a twice-monthly podcast. Mostly, this is so I have more time to spend on other content. I’m going to be releasing a Q&A video on YouTube at least once a month, for example – and I plan on uploading the audio of that to the podcast feed, too. Also, it’s because I’m not sure a weekly in-depth podcast was even necessary. After all, everyone is busy! By balancing the longer, in-depth episodes with shorter bite-sized videos, I’m aiming to draw in some new people. I’m also hoping to get back to creating proper written content once in a while! This is the first proper written post I’ve done in a long time.
  3. That said, I am still going to be producing 3 meaty podcast episodes a month – but the third one will be members-only for the Thriver Circle. As I said above, I love doing the projects, but I felt that the long-term, loyal members (the ones who’ve taken all the workshops and completed the Your Year to Thrive Program) might have been missing out due to the lack of new teaching content. So – this is my way of bringing that back to the members: making my best episode each month for them, because they are the ones supporting me, and without them, the free podcast wouldn’t exist.

 

I also did a re-design on the Thriver Circle website this year, which I’ve been tweaking consistently – and will probably continue to do so until I’m completely happy with it. The Circle has been running for 3 years now, and I felt it was time for a re-fresh of the look and feel of the site.

My aim is to also update the Create & Thrive site to bring the design up to ‘the now’, since it hasn’t changed since I launched in 2013, and I feel like it’s a bit dated. My goal is to have this complete by April 2018.

I don’t currently have any plans to launch new courses in 2018… but this may change, as I’m currently going through a period of growth and ideas, so I’m open to what might arise out of this.

2018 is also the last time I plan on running the Wholesale Know-How course ‘live’. After this, I’m aiming to convert it into a self-study course.

I’m looking to work directly with more makers via my Shop Scrutiny services. (P.S. If you’re a Thriver Circle member, hold off on purchasing one of these until February… you guys are going to get a special deal!). I really love helping people improve their shops and websites, so I want to be a bit more vocal about the fact I offer this service, as I very rarely talk about it!

Finally – I will be running Set Up Shop twice in 2018 – probably March and October, though I haven’t yet set concrete dates.

And that, thrivers, is that!

I’ve been teaching this stuff here on C&T since 2013 – and for even longer on my old blog. I’m in the absolutely wonderful position now of seeing a number of makers who found me at the beginning of their businesses journey’s making a full-time living from their craft.

I’m really excited about what 2018 will bring, and about helping even more people to realise their dream of growing a thriving, profitable handmade business.

Here’s to a wonderful new year! 

~ Jess x

P.S. If you’re reading this before January 8th, and you’d like my help to set yourself up for the best year your biz has ever had, don’t miss the Handmade Biz Bootcamp. It’s a 21-day program that will help you find your focus for the year, gain clarity about the purpose of your biz, and create a rock-solid plan for your business. If you sign up now, you can get the whole bootcamp for just $15!

Jess

Van Den has written 388 posts in this blog.

Jess Van Den is the editor of Create & Thrive, and has been a full-time creative entrepreneur since 2010. She makes eco-conscious, contemporary, handmade sterling silver jewellery under the Epheriell label, and blogs about her jewellery and other beautiful things at Epheriell.com. You can catch her on twitter @JessVanDen.

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