I feel like this this week!
It’s 5 years since I sent off for my first pack of business cards and barely handed any out. My company had a different name and totally different services but I have managed to stay the course.
Last year I wrote about 21 things I did in my 4th year in business. This time, I thought I’d keep it short and simple with 5 highlights. It feels a bit indulgent but I hope you’ll celebrate with me and find my experience useful if you’re also building a business.
1. I worked on brilliant projects
Most of my work is white label or ghost written so I can’t share who my clients are or what we did together. I can tell you though that I loved everything I have worked on over the past 12 months. I work with great clients who trust me to deliver words which encapsulate their brand and what they do for their clients.
Many people have far more stories to tell than they realise. I like looking at all the angles, then developing those stories to create copy that chimes with their audience.
This year I started focusing on strategy alongside website copywriting. I’ve had great feedback and I’m developing a new service that I will be launching next month to help business owners use clear, engaging messaging to show people who they are, what they do, and why it is for them.
Experiment with your offers. Be prepared to stop the ones that don’t work for you and focus on what you truly enjoy. Then tell people about the work you love, you’ll attract more of it.
2. My first course went on sale
“Is your business courses now?” A couple of people have asked me this recently. No, it’s not but I am going to be creating more of them.
About two years after I first wrote down in a planner that I should offer an online course, I finally put one on sale. I’d recorded it 12 months beforehand and then not launched it. What stopped me?
- I bought course software I didn’t understand how to use and this stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t have time to learn it. I felt I’d invested the money and got nowhere. In the end Susanna Reay introduced me to MemberVault* and I was an instant convert. Easy to use and takes payments direct. I like it as a learner and as a course creator. It’s also free to use for the first 3 courses and links to my email marketing software, ActiveCampaign*.
- I didn’t make the time. I didn’t realise, until I faced a hard deadline, how much goes on behind the scenes when it comes to putting a course together:
- Editing videos
- Uploading videos
- Creating lessons
- Writing email sequences
- Setting up automations
- Making sure everything connects up
It sounds obvious, but I had not allowed myself to make enough time to make what I wanted to do happen. When I deliberately made sure I had clear space to focus on making a course come together, I was able to get it out there.
Make time for the things you want to do. It is scary turning work down to clear space in your schedule. If you’re completely booked out and have no time, then you probably want to put your prices up, or at least have a high ticket offer which enables you to make time without taking a financial hit.
Are you struggling to come up with ways to talk about yourself and your business?
It feels like everywhere you look online, there's someone else doing what you do 😱
People say 'just be yourself' but what does that mean? What do people want from you? 🤨
I'll walk you through what you can say and how you can stand out - and sell at the same time - in my fun, festive short course How To Stand Out By Being You. It takes less than an hour and you'll get plenty of ideas.
3. I started to get the hang of email marketing
Email marketing got me in a proper tangle. I have known for at least 3 years that I should be building an email list but I just couldn’t get my head around it.
I switched to ActiveCampaign and followed the wondeful Kay Peacey‘s step by step instructions. She is an ActiveCampaign marvel and explains everything simply.
I had told myself all kinds of stories about how people didn’t want my emails. About how I was bothering them or being a nuisance. It got so bad that I stopped emailing altogether and nearly deleted my list. When I said this to someone who was on my email list the look on their face told me immediately that I had made a mistake!
I started emailing again and no-one unsubscribed. A couple of people have now, and that’s absolutely fine. I’m not for everyone and I’m happy to know that people will hop off the list when they want to. I’ve unsubscribed from launches to save my credit card from FOMO. I’ve bowed out of lists. It’s to be expected that people will walk out of your store.
It wasn’t until I had courses and needed to set up emails that went out automatically when someone signed up for a product that I finally understood the power of automations. Suddenly thinking, ‘and then what will they get?’ enabled me to think through sequences and understand how to tag people so that they didn’t get ignored for weeks (or months).
Whatever your business, I would say you want to have email marketing set up. It’s a great way to let people get to know you and for you to get to know them. I love it when I get replies.
4. I became we
I hired my first employee! As you can imagine, this was exciting and terrifying at the same time. I had to figure out how to write a job advert and then what questions to ask candidates. I had never interviewed someone for a job before.
It all started when I found out about the Kickstart scheme for 16 to 24-year-olds. By the time I was 16 I knew I wanted to write for a living but no-one could tell me what that looked like. Everyone said I had to follow the path of A-levels and university. Doing my own thing or following a path based on what I loved doing was never considered an option. I now know that’s not true. I also know you don’t have to work with people in an office, or work strictly ‘office hours’. Being able to create a job for someone is a privilege and I’m delighted to have been accepted for the scheme.
I interviewed several talented young people (writing that makes me feel old but I am in my 40s now!) and was very impressed with the standard of candidates. I’m happy to talk about my experience if you would find that useful.
I was looking for someone who could take on tasks that I know I should be doing but struggle to find the time for. Things which hold me up because I can’t prioritise them. Bringing in someone to work with you makes you realise how much is in your head. It’s led to me thinking more about what the business is and what I want to do with it. I’m looking forward to seeing what we create during 2022.
5. Embrace the weird and do things your way
A highlight of 2021 was getting to go to MarketEd.Live and Atomicon*. It was so good to catch up with friends and attend events. The opening speaker at MarketEd.Live was Amy Kean who spoke about “Why the marketing world needs to channel its weirdness”.
It was perfectly timed. I’d just launched Micro Business Inspo, a new online magazine, focused on stories of entrepreneurs taking a leap and how we encourage ourselves. I’ve always been weird and had been feeling for a while that 20-year-old me had been shoved in a cupboard somewhere.
Living through a global pandemic sure as heck makes you question what you want from your life. I invested in several programmes during 2021. I spent some amounts of money which even two years ago would have made me quake. I don’t regret it at all. I learned from, and with, great people. The overall feeling I came away with was the need to be more Rachel in everything, not just business. This is going to be an ongoing process, I haven’t got it nailed yet. But then, do we ever finish working on ourselves? I don’t think so.
What have been your highlights over the past 12 months? Let me know in the comments.
* This article contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I could receive a payment.