This year has been a whirlwind of incredible highs and low, low, lows.
I celebrated my first $100k month in the hospital with a nasty infection.
I would reach a new goal, only to be torn down by a hater or a copy cat.
I made new friends, I lost friends, and I pissed a lot of people off (don’t really care hahah).
First I need to thank you for coming along on this ride with me.
It’s been exhilarating and stressful and hard and awesome and I thank you for spending time with me on my webinars, reading my emails or blog posts, and chatting it up with me on Periscope.
You’re the reason I do any of this - really. So thank you.
I wanted to wrap up 2015 with a “year in review” so that you could see where I started in January of 2015 and where I ended up. It’s kinda nuts. Femtrepreneur is just about a year old. Year one was by any measure a huge success. More than I could have ever imagined. I’m excited to share the ups and downs with you in this post.
This year I:
- Did more than 60 webinars in less than 8 months.
- Had a “multiple 6 figure” launch (weird way to say it ha!)
- Created and launched 5 new courses (way too many, don’t try this at home kids)
Some of the things that happened this year were business, some were personal. For me the two are intertwined too deeply to completely separate them. So I’m sharing it all.
My 2015 goals:
In December of 2014 I made a plan to make $100,000 from my new blog, "Femtrepreneur". I had just gotten it set up and running, and was ready to finally take it seriously and make some products and grow it.
Now I have to take a short moment to explain something to you:
I have run SEVEN different businesses in all different niches before starting this blog.
I’m not gonna sugar coat it - I think people who start business blogs with no prior experience of their own are full of shit.
And I see it ALL THE TIME and it is crazy to me that anyone would start a blog or coaching about business when they haven’t done it themselves. If your first ever blog is talking about blogging and business...get out of here.
I want REAL, HARD EARNED experience. Not some regurgitated bullshit.
So it’s REALLY important for me to get across two things right here:
1. I have never taken a business course or business program.
So many people ask me “where I learned all of this”.
The answer is MY OWN EXPERIENCE OVER MANY YEARS.
I have never taken an online business course or program.
I was creating and selling online courses for 3 years before I ever bought one (I just purchased my first course, it’s a high-level organizational and leadership course. It was a big deal to me to take this step of learning from other courses.)
I did not learn this stuff from someone else, and then vomit it back up for you guys.
I carefully measured and tested what I was doing in my own businesses. I experimented. It’s the same way I learned how to play guitar many years ago - no lessons, no books or courses. Just me and a guitar and that’s why my style of music is so weird and unique - it isn’t INFLUENCED by other people.
Same with my business. I honestly never wanted to take other people’s courses, until very recently (like this week) investing in a more high-level training, because I just knew I could figure it out myself.
I know some people have asked me or assumed that I must have come out of another business course or something.
Everything I talk about, I learned first hand from my own experience. I did it the hard way. I did it with guts and instinct. I am not that person that takes an online marketing course and then a month later sells online marketing advice. Because that is garbage.
Okay, this part of my rant is over.
2. I have run multiple businesses in both B2C and B2B niches before starting Femtrepreneur, including other blogs earning six figures completely separate from this niche and business.
Again, it’s important for you to know that I did not start Femtrepreneur because I “wanted” to be a business owner. It’s because I had been running all of these businesses, many of them overlapping in similar timeframes.
And I had learned a lot of things that other people didn’t seem to be talking about.
I was doing things differently, and people in my industry kept asking me about the behind the scenes stuff. So I started writing about it.
Other businesses I ran before this one:
- Touring with my punk band selling merch (this was really my first business, and I learned EVERYTHING I know about having a successful online business from being in my touring punk band. It is literally the exact same principles and I learned how to sell, collaborate, get booked, and everything else from this).
- Consulting on sustainable design projects (freelance)
- Freelance museum curation (from all that knowledge I had from selling vintage)
- Created an invention that never made it onto the shelves. Got funding, lost funding, put it in my back pocket for when I can afford to have my own molds made.
- Freelance writing for blogs and magazines
- Teaching high school girls about sustainability and design, traveling the country getting paid to speak and teach classes all over the place (fun but exhausting). I had created a proprietary curriculum that I taught all over the country.
I have been self employed for 7 years, running all of these businesses, and I’ll keep building new businesses.
Femtrepreneur is where I SHARE everything I learn and do. But it’s not my only project.
And if I ever become that person that writes about online business but isn’t actively running OTHER businesses in other niches you can punch me in the face because personally I just think that’s kinda lame.
Okay now that part of this rant is over.
Back to what my original 2015 goals were:
So in January when I was just starting to make a plan for Femtrepreneur I had this *crazy* goal that felt very much like a huge stretch to make $100,000 from this blog. Starting from 0 with no list and no products yet - that was a big stretch. But I had grown another blog to $100k/yr before, so I felt like it was a good challenge to do it again in this new niche I was getting into.
I made a plan, mapped out where I thought we’d be each month, and did some math about how many items I’d have to sell of each product in order to get there.
I think in January my product ideas for Femtrepreneur were a location-independent business course, since at that time I was still traveling full-time while running my businesses.
Things have shifted a lot since then, but that was my original plan.
I’m excited to share that we blasted past our original goal by almost 8x. Let’s talk in more detail about how that happened and WHEN it happened.
Timeline: Let's Walk Through 2015
I started blogging on Femtrepreneur regularly and with purpose. I now had a plan after sitting down for a few days in December and mapping it all out. (I’m looking at this plan in my notebook from then right now hahah).
At this point I have 0 followers and 0 email subscribers. We all start at the same place - the bottom.
I also started working on the content for what would become Launch Your Signature Course (but was called something else). It’s crazy that I’ve been writing that content for so long. The original outline was from even before that, but this is when I started really working on it a lot and writing a few hundred pages.
Personally, I was in one of the worst depressive episodes of my life. The combination of winter and switching gears and starting from scratch again with a new business, I just could not do anything for 3 months.
I was REALLY isolated - I had just made a decision to let go of my old group of friends who were really negative about my ambition, and I had not yet met my new business friends. I had a really hard time getting anything done until about February when I made a big effort to incorporate a daily practice of writing and exercise.
In February I was still blogging, but I started adding content upgrades to all of my blog posts and making more free downloads and trying to get more active on Twitter. I started treating it like public texting - and would just send nice tweets to people that I thought had cool websites or I liked their brands.
I started guest posting on other blogs with content upgrades back on my site, and my list began to grow. I did 3 guest posts this month and it was an intentional effort to build my list.
I also started writing my free course, which is now Build a Profitable Blog. It took me way too long to make that free course, but it’s something that remains so valuable and relevant and I know it inspires the hundreds of people who sign up for it every day.
I started to focus 100% on building up my email list to that first 1,000 people mark so that I could launch something.
It’s funny to look back at my calendar from March now and see which things didn’t happen and how things evolved.
In March I was hoping to launch a small eBook about simplifying your business and then launch the Launch Your Signature Course precursor. Can you imagine if I had launched that then?
Well I’m glad it didn’t happen then, it would not have been the right time. And it’s funny because I remember feeling so awful and behind schedule and like a failure for not launching that then - even though now I can see that would have been a terrible idea.
What did I do in March?
Word got out about my copy writing skills and I worked with a few clients that month before deciding that I really don’t like working with clients.
It’s okay to realize that you just don’t like doing certain things, like coaching or client work. I’ve always been a product girl at heart, but I needed a little reminder.
I was still focusing on blogging, content upgrades, and growing my list. I started implementing a lot of little hacks and tips for building my list.
By April I had my first 1,000 subscribers and was ready to launch something.
At this point though, my blog was all over the place. I had this idea about Femtrepreneur being about ALL kinds of businesses - online business, physical shops, mobile businesses, etc. Everything. I hadn’t really found my niche yet to be honest. I had found my topic, but hadn’t really honed in on MY specialty.
I wrote about freelance writing and publishing eBooks and so many different topics.
It’s important to niche down, but sometimes you have to go wide to figure that out.
I came up with my idea for Your First 1K, which was partly list building and partly about launching a digital product. Honestly, I went from “bolt of lightning idea” to outline to sales page to pre-sale in about 3 days flat. It wasn’t a big process and it didn’t take me long.
I wrote for 3 days straight in a blur with no breaks because I was so on it. I already knew what I needed to teach. And I felt like creating a really achievable course for beginners was my first move, instead of trying to launch “the big thing” right away.
Then while I was creating the sales page, course outline, and other materials for the YF1K launch, I did my first ever webinar. If I could put little twinkly sparkles around that sentence I would, because we both know what a magnificent and amazing day that was.
It truly changed my business FOREVER. It changed EVERYTHING!
The webinar was with Sarah Morgan, who I’ve done so many webinars with since then, and we pitched her course which I was an affiliate for. It’s funny because I was SO nervous about the tech stuff I made her stay on a google hangout with me for like an hour while I tested everything and tested it again. Now I could make webinar set ups in my sleep!
I didn’t sleep that night after our first webinar. I kept texting Sarah about how crazy it was that we did a webinar and made thousands of dollars in an hour.
I kept telling my boyfriend how good it felt to be connecting with people, like they were asking questions and I could just answer them right then and there live on camera.
It was EXHILARATING. Oh, and I got 300 new people on my list in 24 hours, which was CRAZY to me then! I just had this FEELING about webinars and became obsessed.
(Since then I’ve done about 60 webinars in the last 8 months, grown my list to 10,000 people with webinars, and even had a 6-figure webinar ($125k yo!). If you want my secrets you can get them here).
I also had a bit of a struggle because I had this FREE email course, Build a Profitable Blog, that I had been working on for a few months (since January). It was really long (like 100 pages of just text) and comprehensive, and I had this issue where I wanted to launch it but I also needed it to link to the Your First 1K sales page (which it mentions in Lesson 3), so I had a chicken and an egg problem.
I couldn’t decide what to work on first or what to finish, until I realized that I guess I just had to bite the bullet and make both at the same time. Which was a little much to be honest. So I needed BAPB to go live just one day before YF1K pre-sale went live.
Keep in mind, at this point I still hadn’t monetized Femtrepreneur yet. I was putting in so much time and energy and had yet to make money from a product (though I had found a few of those first and last clients through the blog, so I had made some money “through” the blog).
I was REALLY excited to be launching first thing in May.
So once I did that first webinar, I started planning them for every single week after that. In May I had 4 webinars, one each week.
Of those 4, three were joint venture and one was “solo”. My first solo webinar was scary, but also SUPER profitable! I was so so nervous. Don’t let me fool you - I was terrified. But I always get into a groove after the first few minutes.
On May 1st I launched Build a Profitable Blog, my badass free email course that’s better than what other people charge for (their words, not mine). I wanted to deliver something REALLY valuable to my list before selling Your First 1K. I had to earn my way into their inboxes and show them that I was the real deal.
On May 2nd I launched the pre-sale page for Your First 1K. The course would begin on the 25th, so about 3 weeks later. This was a very “fly by the seat of the pants you’re not wearing because you work from home” type of launch.
I did 4 pre-selling webinars leading up to the launch, and total brought in about $30,000 in those 24 days, most of that was from those webinars.
We enrolled about 130 people at various price points. A very successful first launch, for sure!
But again, you can’t call it an overnight success because I had been at this since January with very little revenue.
In June I did more webinars, every week, and kept bundling Your First 1K with other offers to create an evergreen sales system. That combined with my free course (which is also a funnel) meant I had pretty consistent sales from my evergreen course after that launch.
But I was stressed, really stressed, because I was creating Your First 1K while I was running the pilot session. And doing these webinars. And running my other businesses.
This was also the time when I felt like my name started getting out there more.
Since launching my course, I had become the list building expert in my niche, and I had 5 different blogs and podcasts ask me for interviews (which I did) this month.
So about 2 months after starting those weekly joint webinars, the network hacking effect had started really working and more and more opportunities were popping into my inbox and twitter DM messages every single day.
It felt great at first, and quickly spiraled into a feeling of absolute overwhelm and frustration.
People then started asking me about my webinars. I was doing at least one every single week, if not more, and it changed from me pitching OTHER PEOPLE to do webinars with to other people coming to me and pitching me. People with much bigger audiences and much more established brands. I was like “act cool, Mariah, don’t act lame and fuck this up”.
This was also the very beginning of me growing out of my own niche, and not being able to find the resources I was looking for on other blogs anymore.
I’ll talk more about that later, but after a certain point you become very frustrated that all advice and help out there no longer seems to apply to you because you’re “past it”. I had grown to a steady $40k/month, and the next step was to triple that, and I wasn’t finding a lot of helpful info out there, because obviously less people have reached that point.
In July I had my first MAJOR meltdown.
If I was overwhelmed and frustrated in June, I was a crying ball of tears on the floor every day in July. The workload had just become SO MUCH.
I was being pulled in 100 different directions.
Because of the webinars, I was doing so much work and being very “on” every week in a way that I was not accustomed to. I was having Skype calls almost every single day with new people to collaborate with and do things with. I went from having not enough things to do to having WAY TOO MUCH way too fast.
I also was welcoming so many new students into my course every week as part of the webinar bundles, so my course communities were growing really fast.
I couldn’t keep up with customer service, marketing, emails, content, writing courses, social media, and everything else. Things were slipping through the cracks and it was more than I could handle.
And I was EXTREMELY disorganized.
My business was a mess. I literally had zero systems, zero processes, every time I did something I did it from scratch, I performed repetitive tasks, I just couldn’t really get into “canned responses” and “making processes”.
I was pretty much running my business from a post it note and a list, and it was crazy.
No central place for tasks or project management. No real structure. Documents were everywhere, no organization at all. My systems were non existent or just plain horrible, and I was DESPERATE to get some help with automation and systematization and just getting my shit together.
I finally gave in and said: “I need help!” after about the 2nd week in a row of daily meltdowns and crying fits.
So in July I hired Megan Minns at her tiny 10 hour per month package. I was TERRIFIED. I thought for sure I would go broke (because I’m insane) and that I would just have to break it off after the first month. It was a “trial”.
Lots of people ask me how we found each other. Megan was a student in Your First 1K and stood out immediately as extremely helpful and tech savvy in the course forum.
She would hop in and answer tech questions for me. She would reply to questions tagged for me and just took initiative. I wanted to pay her to do that, so I hired her as my VA.
Hiring her as my VA was the biggest relief of my life. She got my systems and processes set up. She handled emails. She set up my webinars and did all sorts of tech stuff. She migrated the courses to Teachable. Now we work together every day, but I’ll get into that transition later in the year.
I did a bunch more webinars (duh) and my list grew to about 4,000 people at this stage.
I came up with the idea for Webinar Rockstar™, and 24 hours later I had my sales page done and ready to publish. Sometimes launching a course can happen really quickly, if it just clicks, other times it can take me a long time (like with Launch Your Signature Course).
I planned out a launch for the Webinar Rockstar™ course (which would later fall apart because #life) and did a webinar in July to “pre-sell” the idea of the course (I hadn’t yet launched the sales page! How’s that for making revenue without anything other than a concept!).
On the last day of July, I looked at the August I had planned for myself and pretty much shit my pants.
If you look at that month on my calendar, you would see the absolutely inhuman amount of things I had planned for myself that month. Thinking back, I was so dumb! ha! But I said to myself “okay August, let’s do this.” and strapped in for the month of insanity to come.
August was the month I knew would be our biggest ever. I knew it would be our first six figure month. On August 1st I mapped out all the webinars, promotions, and launches we had and it added up to about $95k, which was just insane to imagine.
My biggest month before than was around $40k, and it’s been really crazy to see how growth does NOT happen slowly or incrementally, but in this big huge leaps. It always tends to 3x or 4x month to month, instead of a steady 20% climb like most people see.
While I write this, I am looking at my calendar from August and it’s giving me anxiety just remembering that month. I had never worked so hard in my life. I did 30 days of 18 hour days straight, no breaks.
I had a webinar every week, three launches, TWO live masterclasses/workshops, and all of my normal stuff going on.
I knew at the time that I was testing myself. I was pushing myself to my very limit to see what that limit was. I had never done that before - and I don’t recommend trying it.
I tested my limits for what I can do, and I found it. It hit me hard, but we’ll get to that.
I started the Webinar Rockstar™ launch on August 1st, and the final “last call” to join was August 15th. I had a whole launch planned out - emails, webinars, affiliates, etc.
Then in the middle of my launch, my grandfather passed away and to put it lightly, I lost my shit.
I struggled with the fact that I had already sold more than 200 spots in my course which was set to start on August 16th, and yet also on top of the craziest month OF MY LIFE I now had wakes, funerals, and obviously just sobbing time.
I was trying to decide if I could push back the release of the course, but I was so nervous about that ruining my reputation - I had already pre-sold spots in this course with a promised date, and I felt like pushing it out would not be fair to them.
So I pushed through. I finished the launch (but it was an abbreviated version of my original plan) and delivered the course, in between time with my family and time by myself just having private freak outs, I somehow pulled it off. I don’t even know how. It was kinda a blur.
I would wake up at 5 am to work then go to bed at 2 am and did that every day for weeks. It was obviously very shitty.
My boyfriend was like “Never, ever again. Do not plan out a month this stacked ever again”.
And I learned that you can’t really plan out a period that’s SO packed like that, because it leaves no room for the unexpected or disasters. Hopefully nobody dies, and you can never plan for that and of course it’s never a good time. But I hadn’t left myself enough wiggle room, and I paid for it.
I bought more and more hours and packages from Megan to help with the craziness. I moved from wanting help 10 hours a month to needing 40+ hours per month in less than 30 days.
Things were happening so fast. I was a one-person business “solopreneur” doing $40k/month, and then within 2 weeks we were a team doing $100k/month.
I had to make a decision, which was both business and personal.
August was when I realized that we were going to grow, REALLY grow and scale.
I came to terms with leaving behind my life as a solopreneur and making the scary decision to admit to myself that I wanted something bigger. A team. A company - not just a small business. I mapped out our plan to continue to 10x our business. It’s a big shift in the way you think and the way you act. A lot more responsibilities.
On August 31st, the day that the insanity of August ended (it really was just a straight 30 day sprint but it had an end), I got a weird cramp in my side. Obviously I brushed it off and did a webinar and went about my life as usual.
On September 1st Matt and I went away for a planned vacation for a few days. We rented a beach house and really really rested for a few days. My side was still hurting but I was quiet about it because I figured it would go away in a few days, I probably pulled a muscle.
A few days later we got home from our vacation and I started feeling REALLY bad. My stomach felt kinda hot, like it had a fever, even though I didn’t.
I finally told Matt about the weird pain, and he was like “Wait, on your right side? That’s your appendix.”
By the time we go to the hospital, it had already burst because I had waited so long (about 6 days) to deal with it.
When I got to the emergency room the doctor was like “How are you not dead? You should have died.”
Wake up call. Do not ignore your health for the hustle.
DO NOT IGNORE YOUR HEALTH FOR THE HUSTLE, FRIENDS!
Apparently I hadn’t gotten sepsis by some crazy fortunate coincidence. However, everything in my abdomen was infected and my body was in rough shape.
I had pushed myself way too hard in August, been through hell, and ignored all the signs my body had been giving me. So this was my body’s way of saying “fuck you, you are taking a break”.
I spent a few weeks in the hospital fighting the infection. I didn’t have my laptop, and I was pretty much knocked out the entire time anyway, so I didn’t work at all (obviously).
I learned two things from this experience:
Seriously, do not test your limits. We all have a limit. I found mine. And ever since this incident, I have never felt guilty about putting my work away even when it’s not finished. Or taking a break. Or just filling up my calendar LESS.
You need to take care of yourself and if you end up really sick, you can’t do shit.
The other thing I learned was that the passive income systems and funnels I had built over the past few months were WORKING. They worked like a charm!!
It was a TRUE test of just how passive those systems were. If I was completely unable to work and taken out of the picture, what would happen?
It was something that I had always wondered about (would I keep making the same revenue each week? Would it drop off? Would anyone notice I was out?) and would obviously never actually take the time to test it. Until this happened - and I was AMAZED at how effective these systems really were without my interference.
I was shocked to find that I made more in actual “passive” income than my hospital bill (which was kinda huge - multiple 5 figures). It was so encouraging for me to see my hard work from the last few months pay off, even if the circumstances weren’t so great.
I had definitely been nervous about it in the past. What if I got sick, would I still be able to afford care AND life stuff? What if something happened to me, would my SO be taken care of? It was very encouraging to see this in action.
I recovered about half way through September and for the most part things went back to normal. However, I had still gotten myself into that spot where I hadn’t built in any room in my schedule for accidents or emergencies. So I had to reschedule some webinars and catching up was REALLY difficult. I hadn’t built in any “catch up” time!
In the second half of the month, I ran my first giveaway with KingSumo. I did a webinar that had been rescheduled.
I also “launched” (this was a very compressed 7-day launch, very casual) F*ck Yeah Funnels, which had originally been a bonus workshop that I turned into a course. This ended up being one of my favorite things I released this year!
It’s something I’m very proud of, it’s all about emotional email sequences and creating those funnels that I tested out while I was in the hospital :) We’ve seen absolutely amazing results with it in our students too. I love getting emails from people being like “holy shit, I did not believe this would work but it’s working!! I’m making $2k/week just from the funnel!”. Love it!
In October I had just about 6,000 email subscribers and was determined to get to 10,000 by November 1st.
I focused on list building during this month (as I tend to alternate between launching and list building).
I did another giveaway which was designed to appeal to a broader audience than my webinar giveaway, and that helped me grow my list by about 1500 new people.
I did more and more webinars (of course) and grew my list that way, and made a bunch of new connections and built new relationships.
The most important thing I did was start my first big Periscope series #30CourseTips.
I came up with this idea at the end of September and I wrote down an outline for the series about the topics I would talk about each day, like nightly mini classes on course creation and launching. Then I told my boyfriend (/designer) to make me 30 Instagram sized images of each of the 30 “tips”.
I really wanted to find a way to be consistent on Periscope, grow my Periscope following, and even grow my Instagram a bit too.
I was also testing out my idea for a program that teaches you how to create and launch your own online course, something I had been doing myself for 3 years (I’ve created more than 8 courses over the past few years, and launched more than 50 times) and have helped hundreds of others do too. This was based on the work I had started in January (even before that, but I really started focusing on it then). I didn’t yet have the name nailed down or anything, but I was definitely feeling the vibes rising on launching it.
So I figured if there was a good response to #30CourseTips I would launch the program, which became Launch Your Signature Course.
I couldn’t believe the response we were getting. People started asking me for a program on courses before I had announced anything. I knew we were on to something!
By halfway through October I was ready to start hinting about my new program. I created the landing page and started promoting it. We had about 3,000 people sign up for the 90-day course launch checklist, and show interest in the program, which was amazing! Some of those people were on my list already, some were new, some found it through Periscope, and some through Twitter.
At the end of October I was getting ready to launch. We had an awful time getting the sales page together (there were probably 10 other versions/iterations that no one will ever see!), but we got it done just in the nick of time.
October was what we call my “pre-launch” period, where I was building hype and momentum around my new course.
Around this time, I started buying more and more and more hours from Megan, whom I first started working with in July. I had gone from needing her for 10 hours per month to 20 hours per week, and it still wasn’t enough!
I made one of the most adult decisions of my life and asked her to leave her full-time job, her real-life adult day job, and work with me as my executive assistant/online business manager, not as an employee, just as a contractor, but for more hours.
Obviously I was terrified. I don’t know how to describe what it feels like to say “hey, you know what, I’m going to not only be responsible for myself, but for you too. And I’m gonna make sure that my business makes enough to take care of YOU.”
It’s just absolutely nuts. It was like this moment of adulthood where I actively decided that my team’s well-being is my top priority.
I have so much more to say about this experience, but this was when I told Megan to give her notice (fun AND scary!) and pick a date to start with me in a bigger capacity in November.
In November, I was 100% focused on launching. I almost called it off at the last minute (I was just so scared and nervous and stressed) but I’m glad I didn’t. You can read more about the Fall 2015 Launch Your Signature Course launch in my launch recap post right here.
I actually used my brain and said “no” to a lot of things that month.
In October I was approached about a lot of other webinars, joint ventures, and other “opportunities”. I cleared my schedule in order to focus. It was STILL crazy, but at least I wasn’t juggling a bunch of separate things.
This absolutely was a big part of the success of that launch.
I did another 6 webinars and had my first six-figure webinar (woohoo!), which was awesome.
Megan came on half-way through November, half-way through the launch, and jumped right into the shark pool.
We busted our asses for two weeks with that launch. Up until that point, I had always done EVERY single thing by myself and launched alone.
But it was clear that THIS kind of launch, the big kind, needed support and I needed help. Most people would need a team of 5 to pull that off, but Megan and I combined can accomplish the equivalent of 5 normal people :)
We closed the launch, my birthday was the next day, I turned 25 years old a happy girl. I took one day off then got back to work.
And that brings us to December!! Isn’t that crazy that we just walked through 12 months in a matter of minutes? Writing this has been just as helpful for me too. It’s been really interesting to see this all laid out.
December has been relatively calm. I had two planned webinars, some live Q & A sessions, and I’m working on some new projects I am super excited about (totally outside of this niche, a couple of big collaborations, new side projects, and more).
I’m really focused on my Launch Your Signature Course students right now, and I create new resources for them almost every week, to complement the course and make it even better all the time.
This program has grown into something even bigger than I imagined, it is most definitely the course I am most proud of at this moment. It is...unlike anything else.
If you want to be the first to find out when we open the doors again (only twice a year), you can sign up here.
Megan and I are really finding our groove, and are so excited about growing this team and bringing on the best babes who have the guts and skills combination that we value.
My biggest struggle is keeping myself out of the admin and tedious details of my business (ahem, and out of my inbox) and focusing on the bigger projects, the big picture, and creating the most badass content I possibly can.
It’s a struggle to be managing multiple humongous projects, building some things from scratch and growing others, and simultaneously focus relentlessly and eliminate ruthlessly while growing a multi-faceted company.
I’m restructuring parts of my business, letting go of some things to make room for bigger things (always hard to do!), and constantly looking for ways to automate, streamline, and systemize what we do.
Not so that I can lie on a beach with a cocktail, but so that I can accomplish the many, many things I have set out to do in the short period of time we have to do cool shit on the planet!
Now that’s we’ve been through the last 12 months in chronological order, I want to dive into some of the biggest lessons I have learned this year.
The things I did right, the things I screwed up, and the things I need to do better.
The best thing I did this year was make collaboration a priority and set out like a crazy person to make friends with every single person I admire, have a creative crush on, and want to be around.
I was ruthless about seeking people out, connecting with people online and in real life, and having the balls to take it to the next level and ask people if they want to Skype, mastermind, or just talk shop with me.
This lead to so, so many relationships and partnerships that aren’t just good for my business but good for me. I have people I can laugh with, cry to, and ask for help when I have no fucking clue what I’m doing (oh I’m sorry, you thought I somehow had all the answers? HAHAHA).
I made so many friends this year, it’s amazing. After a year of incredible isolation (well just me and Matt, but a big transition in my friendships) I was so ready to make friends again. I am excited to continue making friends, talking to other people about the real shit that goes along with choosing to be an entrepreneur, and elevating each other.
I don’t believe in competition. You either team up and be badass together or you make that bitch irrelevant.
This philosophy has guided me through this year. If I wanted to collaborate and the other person laughed at me, I was determined to make them obsolete. If they wanted to team up, we can elevate each other and everyone is happy.
I’ll keep making collaboration a priority, but I’m also going to be make an effort to be careful about who I team up with.
After a couple of “meh” experiences, I am a little bit more particular about who I team up with for things.
You guys - my readers and followers - are my #1 priority and taking care of you and making sure I’m only bringing you the very best when I team up with other people is the most important thing.
Haters, copy cats, and other garbage people:
This year I dealt with my share of shitheads, losers, and jerkfaces that stole my content, copied my work, and ripped me off. People that I thought were my friends, and some people that I had no idea who they were.
At one point it became so insane, I was literally spending all of my time dealing with this garbage.
I was just being inundated with emails from people saying “Have you seen this? This person is totally copying you!” and not only was it consuming my time (dealing with this shit is hard and take a long time) but it was just filling me with so much hate and anger and regret.
I just wanted to not be a part of this world of online business anymore, if this was the kind of shit I would have to deal with.
But then I crossed a threshold, I cried a ton, I wiped my tears on my sleeve, and I decided that I was going to keep doing this despite the haters, the mean emails, the skeptics, the copy cats and other human garbage.
And after that point I just stopped caring.
I used to FREAK OUT (like, lose my shit and punch walls) when I found out about my previous students and “friends” stealing my content, talking shit about me, or ripping me off. It felt like the end of the world. Now I brush it off, and move the fuck on quickly.
People are going to act shitty. People who have no integrity. They will always be 10 steps behind us, the people who actually make original content and have our own ideas.
I personally will never understand what goes on in these people’s brains - do they think we don’t notice? Do they think that OTHER PEOPLE don’t notice? Are they just fucking awful people? I have no idea.
I don’t really care anymore. It’s kinda funny because I think sometimes people want me to react, call them out, and publicly shame them. I won’t do that (yet) mostly because I do not have the time.
Which brings me to my next point, which is that over the past year I went from being a soft, easily shaken little kitten (let’s just imagine that for a second) to becoming a cold hard bitch when it comes to bullshit.
I have absolutely zero tolerance for bullshit. None.
If some of the stuff that happened in the second half of the year had happened before this “transition”, things would have been different. I know I’m being vague here - I have to be - but over the past 12 months I have lost any and all tolerance for people who aren’t acting like adults.
I have heard every excuse. I do not want to hear it. I have heard every sob story you can imagine. Pick yourself up and get on with it. I have dealt with adults acting like 4 year olds. And I have no room for that.
I had to get tough, and put my leather jacket on and keep my fists up. I had to toughen up if I was going to survive this year. The hateful emails, the rude comments, the business-turned-personal bullshit that cropped up - I had to toughen the fuck up or I was gonna be a heap of tears and sobs every damn day.
Running a business IS SO DAMN HARD.
Sometimes it feels like it is too hard, and it’s not worth it. And in order to get past those feelings, I had to put some armor on and realize that it’s okay to be tough, it’s okay to stick to your guns and speak your mind.
Hustle, in your seasons:
I worked HARDER this year than I have ever worked before, and I’m okay to be operating in a season of hustle after many seasons of rest.
It’s no accident that I had a big growth year - working 14 hour days for 8 months will show you some really damn impressive results.
But I had a lot of people tell me “You can’t work like that! You’ll burn out! You work too hard!”. And when it comes to sacrificing your health, YES YOU NEED TO BE CAREFUL AND RESPECT YOUR BODY. Obviously we talked about this when we saw what can happen when you push yourself way too hard.
But there’s nothing wrong with a little hustle, if you’ve chosen that season.
It isn’t forever, it’s just for now. I have about 18 months of hustle, and it is all planned and structured. I like to “front-load” my work like this.
Keep in mind, this is after many years that I would consider relatively restful. I traveled for the past 3 years, running my business from the road with about 5 hours of work per month.
I had always had a very leisurely business that didn’t demand much from me, until this year.
I made a CHOICE to enter a season of intense hustle so that I could break out of the plateau I had hit and quite honestly break out of the boredom I had in “passive income” business. I wanted to be active! I wanted that thrill of building something from scratch again.
I wanted to know what would happen if I devoted myself to this project. What could I achieve? I felt like if I didn’t try, I would never know and I would always wonder.
Exploring those questions this year about my upper limits has revealed to me that I want to grow a company that serves people in a lot of different ways, that I am in this for the long haul, that I am not afraid of hard work, and that I can actually be a leader.
Last year, my biggest aspirations were to make $100,000/year and be able to just keep traveling. I was so sure that I didn’t want to work with other people (I remember writing down that I never wanted to hire) and now look! Things have changed so much!
Working hard is...hard. You sacrifice a lot. There were/are lots of Friday nights when my friends went out and I stayed in. But I’ve never regretted it at all. And in fact, I have a feeling the only thing I would regret would be not doing my best and trying my hardest and reaping those results.
When you outgrow your niche:
At a certain point this year, probably around August, things really changed for me from a personal-business perspective.
Pinterest and other people’s blogs were no longer relevant to me, and all the other content out there seemed to be geared towards beginners and people who were maybe a year in business.
Suddenly, I had no idea where to turn to for REAL help dealing with my growing business. And again I felt alone.
The struggles I was facing were not the struggles of the solopreneur just starting out. I was trying to manage multiple businesses each making multiple six figures each. I was trying to delegate and hire. I was trying to create processes and systems for my business. I was trying to grow my business beyond $100k/month, and there just isn’t a lot of practical advice out there for that.
I used to look at other blogs for help, now they seem irrelevant. I used to love going on Pinterest and opening tons of tabs, now the posts I find just seem unhelpful and vague.
This is something I am still struggling with. I need some perspective, but I am really, really resistant to getting a coach or consultant (I just haven’t found anyone I trust or hit it off with). I have started to read more books on things like managing teams, leadership, and scaling.
It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to wrap my head around. When you’re used to doing everything yourself, it’s so hard to let go and actually act like a CEO and not a solopreneur.
Hiring a VA, Growing Your Team and Transitioning:
I always used to think people talking about “growing a team” were so boring. It just sounded so dreadful and hard and “adult”. It sounded like something you do when you have money to burn. I was pretty positive it wasn’t for me.
But as I explained, in July I hired Megan Minns as my VA. She started out at 10 hours per month and we quickly ramped it up to 40 hours per month.
It was like the more we worked together, the more things I found to delegate the more confident I felt about letting go.
At first I only delegated 2 things (webinar backend set-up and course Slack management). Then after a while it became more and more. “Oh, do you think you could do this thing?” “Sure!” and that kept happening and happening.
I went from delegating only things I absolutely HAD TO (because there aren’t 98 hours in each day) to delegating things I simply didn’t FEEL LIKE DOING. And that was a HUGE shift. It’s kinda crazy to hand something off not because you already worked for 24 hours straight and still didn’t get it done in time, but because you just don’t like doing that thing in your business anymore.
Things I hate doing:
- Looking at email
- Setting up LeadBoxes
- Making webinar sets
And I was able to just be okay with hating those things. I was able to decide that I don’t want to do that stuff anymore. It’s kind of amazing!
VA to OBM
As I explained, Megan came on as my Online Business Manager in a more robust position in November.
Since then, the biggest shift has been that are parts of my business that I literally don’t even think about or really know what’s happening. It’s amazing and wonderful to have things happening in the background that I’m not even having to MANAGE at all.
For example, I know we have all of these Zapier automations set up that are running different aspects of our business. But I have no idea what they do, or how they are set up. I didn’t set them up or design them myself. And that to me is a huge win. That I wasn’t being a control freak about that. I just let Megan do her thing.
As another example, we have a Pinterest consultant and person who is doing all of our Pinterest marketing for us. Normally I would be managing that as well, even if another person was implementing. But with Megan as my OBM, she’s managing all of that for me. She’s communicating with this person, telling them what we need, answering her questions and making sure everything is on track.
I literally have no idea what they’re doing, and that’s exactly how I want it, I just see the results. I have other things that really need my focus and attention that only I can do, so I feel so happy about handing off things that I don’t have capacity to do or learn or make happen.
I get to focus on the content, copywriting, marketing, and relationships, while things are happening without me having to micro-manage. It’s glorious.
My advice for you is to make a list of everything you shouldn’t be doing anymore yourself (because your time is valuable and could be making more money doing other revenue-generating things) and assign profit values to those tasks for delegation.
This helped me get more comfortable with the cost of hiring someone. I could see in plain numbers how paying someone $600/month was going ot make me $2000/month, and that’s a clear win! So put some numbers on your list of tasks and see what you find.
Now that I understand how it all works with hiring, delegating, and managing and communicating with a team (thanks to Megan!) we’re excited to be bringing on more team members in 2016. We have a much clearer vision of what we need people to do, what roles we’re looking to fill, and how we all fit together.
So what’s coming next?
Well I’m sure everything I write here right now will be completely different in a few months, but I’m okay with that!
In 2016, we’re growing the team to be a family of badasses with the best babe vibes and we’re all getting leather jackets that match (obviously).
I’m doing my usual thing - which is just reminding myself every damn day to focus on things that 10x my business. I look at my piece of paper with “10x” on it and my goals, and I get to work. We have a really solid strategy, we know every single step we need to take, and now it’s a matter of executing with focus and fervor.
We’re introducing new products (something physical!) and new side projects (to help you succeed!) and tons of new free content structured in a way that’s easier to digest.
We’re constantly streamlining how we run things. I’m on a quest to automate, delegate, and eliminate. I’m always asking questions about:
“Do we really need to worry about that?”
“If the way we do it now is stressful, how can we change that?” or
“What if we just stopped doing that thing altogether?”
Personally, I’ve made my health and mental wellness a non negotiable. I have made a commitment to applying the same discipline that I apply to my business to my health and well-being as well.
I’m going to challenge myself to step the fuck up again, do the adult things, and try not to shit my pants in the process.
I feel like I can see this trajectory, and it’s terrifying, but also awesome. And I’m so excited for it. It’s exhausting me to think about it months in advance, but it’s also fueling everything inside me. I just take it one single day at a time and do my best.
I hope this reflection has helped you too.
I hope that getting this insider look at behind the scenes of this year makes you feel like this is more achievable, that you’re totally normal, and that yeah, this stuff is REALLY hard and there’s no getting around it.
Stellar highs and awful lows.
I just don’t want you to compare yourself to me or anyone and use that as a way to feel bad or feel behind or feel like you’re not doing the right things.
Everyone’s business is different.
I feel like that’s one thing I learned in a really fundamental way this year.
There is no perfect business. You shouldn’t idolize anyone else’s business and wish it was yours. I don’t do that and you shouldn’t either. It only leads to frustration and guilt.
Keep doing what feels right. Break the rules. Test out things that someone told you wouldn’t work. You can’t fail if you’re always doing.
So less thinking and reading and waffling, and more DOING.
Take action. It’s the only thing I’ve seen that separates the failures from the successes. Action.
Now I gotta thank these wonderful human beings real quick:
I have to thank my boyfriend Matt for being such a fucking good person this whole year while I had meltdown after meltdown, while I bitched and moaned about everything, while I freaked out over rude customers and mean emails, and when I lost my shit when finding out about people stealing my content.
Every single time he would calm me down (how do you do that?) and remind me that it was not the end of the world, and that everything was okay, and that one bad apple wasn’t going to ruin everything I’ve worked so hard for.
I honestly don’t know how people run businesses without their SO - because having him to bounce ideas off of is such a big part of my day.
You sweet, perfect darling Unicorn with wings. You are a fucking pegasus of brains and grace and you’ve turned a business that was crushing me alive into this vision of badassery.
I never thought I could work with another person until we met. This sounds like a love note, because it kind of is, but seriously. I love that you get bossy with me and tell me to shut up, calm the fuck down, and chill the fuck out. I need that. I appreciate it so much. You’re the best :)