Is it just me or is it hard to believe that we are a full 17 days firmly into 2017?
We should have toasted to the New Year and made our resolutions on January 1st. Started the year afresh with new ideas and inspirations. Green smoothied and dieted our way through the past 2 1/2 weeks.
In reality I was snuggly asleep by 8:30 pm after tucking the kids in bed on New Years Eve and my goal planning has slowly been coming to fruition this week and last. I’ve had some green smoothies (well mostly purple from the blueberries) and I’ve also had ice cream after dinner a number of times.
This year New Years felt more just like another day and less like a moment to change my entire life around. I suppose that is what happens when you start finding a groove?
How 2016 Went
I try to sum up my years with a goal phrase when I’m feeling particularly inspired during goal planning. Last years word at this point…is a bit of a blur I must admit. The best phrase I can think of for summing up this past year has been breathe….and don’t lose it.
The studio had just been completed last January and our first photography and recipe development clients started coming in. To be honest with you? I was terrified. The studio had been a huge jump of faith. I had sunk a ton of money and debt into getting it up and running, we had no long term contracts booked and I was coming off a poor launch of our e-commerce shop here on the blog. (<—stress case x1000)
This year has been filled with a lot of fear inducing moments that in the past would have crippled me. But with the support of my coaches, husband, parents, coworkers, solid business friends and a hell of a lot of yoga classes…I have been able to come up to those situations and conquer them this year. Yay!
Growing The Team
I hired my sister in law Holli in January super part time, to help me not lose my sanity from being alone constantly trying to “do it all”. I cannot tell you what a difference having co-workers makes on a person!
She has truly been the biggest blessing to me this past year and the glue that has helped us make huge strides this past year.
We tucked our heads down and got to work. She is incredible at managing our day to day workflows in the studio, which has freed me up so much in other areas. And we have been building her photography and styling skills bit by bit all year. This year she is jumping into producing content for the blog (her first post Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods just went live on the blog today!)
At the very end of 2016 we also brought on my brother Jeremy (Holli’s husband). We are truly just starting the work we will do together with him. Helping out with social media, video editing and producing content are all very much on his training list right now.
On Training A Team
Training people from scratch has been one of the most rewarding and simultaneously frustrating things I have worked through in this business. Training new team members has forced ME to learn how to teach better, communicate better and document our workflows better.
It is very much a learning process my best advice for this is to try to slow down enough to give folks what they need from the start. And if you can’t (because let’s be honest sometimes we just cannot stop) than try to be affirming as you correct, give guidance and take responsibility for the fact that you didn’t provide enough structure from the start.
On Working With Family
I intentionally chose family members to work with this year because I had recognized that I was not going to thrive as a “soloprenuer” just based on my personality. This definitely is not for everyone. My best advice is if you are considering making a transition from a solo to a team on an established business, to start small and slow and watch the fruits of the people you are working with.
We discovered that offering stock or partnerships legally is quite a process and have instead been working on a profit sharing model until we are sure it’s the perfect long term fit for everyone. This has been a great solution for us that helps everyone feel like their income is growing and their efforts are being noticed and rewarded.
The kids both started full time preschool which has been a relief and a pull on all my momma heart strings. Phin still has a hard time with me leaving in the morning if we are late and he doesn’t get to play before school starts. Fortunately he has the best teacher ever who helps get him engaged and then emails me literally 5 minutes later to tell me he is doing fine if he had a hard time.
Noah has blossomed under the guidance of his teacher at school and aside from having more energy than 3 people combined, is so smart, growing like a weed and becoming slightly more channel-able with his attention.
They both love days where they get to sneak to the studio with me and be my most adorable little models.
The Ever Elusive Work-Life Balance
The demand for our work here has grown rapidly (great problem to have!) and we have been so stretched this year finding our groove. Are we there yet? No I wouldn’t say it’s perfect but I feel we are finally settling in.
We took a fantastic vacation this year to the coast and made several trips out to hot springs to soak our weary bones. Family nights and date nights have been something we have focused on this past year a lot. This is one of my focus areas for this next year for sure. More travel and more quality time.
On a sleigh ride this winter.
This year was an incredible growth year for our site. Interestingly enough the blog only received 62 new blog posts this year because we were so busy with freelance work. Nearly 75% of our income in 2016 came from freelance work this past year (where we create or photograph recipes for other sites). So needless to say it got a lot of our attention this year. We are excited that 2017 has already shown more time for our blog than last year.
2017 Traffic Sources
Our goal this past year has been to work on improving our SEO and it definitely paid off! Our organic search went from 16% to 53% with a dramatic increase of traffic. In terms of pageviews we had a 978.87% increase in 2016 on our SEO traffic! Wow!
2016 Referral Traffic Breakdown
Social Media & Email Growth
Our two primary social media channels are Facebook and Pinterest. This year has been really a fascinating year in terms of social media. We were spread way too thin across a lot of social media channels and funny as it sounds, I hadn’t settled on the fact that Facebook and Pinterest even WERE our primary social channels until late fall.
OUR SECONDARY CHANNELS:
What 2017 Looks Like
My phrase for this year is to direct attention, be a deeply dedicated half ass.
Both of these phrases might come across as super strange, so let me explain. Both came from two books that I have really loved this year: What You Practice Is What You Have: A Guide to Having The Life You Want by Cheri Huber, and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Directing attention is something that Cheri digs into in this book and one of the many exercises in the book that was so profound to me was related to directing attention. You can actually read the exercise and do it for yourself here, but do yourself a favor and buy the book too!
“Learning to direct attention to the life experience we choose, a skill essential for ‘being in the driver’s seat of our own lives … is literally how we become able to choose happiness.”
I know all of us are already aware of the power of directing our attention but this concept of directing attention to already feeling happy and content has been so incredibly powerful. I love that it also has another meaning in the idea of focused effort as well which is a huge help for my scattered brain.
The second phrase comes from Elizabeth Gilbert:
“The great American novelist Robert Stone once joked that he possessed the two worst qualities imaginable in a writer: He was lazy, and he was a perfectionist. Indeed, those are the essential ingredients for torpor and misery, right there. If you want to live a contented creative life, you do not want to cultivate either one of those traits, trust me. What you want is to cultivate quite the opposite: You must learn how to become a deeply disciplined half-ass.
It starts by forgetting about perfect. We don’t have time for perfect. In any event, perfection is unachievable: It’s a myth and a trap and a hamster wheel that will run you to death. The writer Rebecca Solnit puts it well: “So many of us believe in perfection, which ruins everything else, because the perfect is not only the enemy of the good; it’s also the enemy of the realistic, the possible, and the fun.”
Guilty. So guilty. So many plans that have been half started and never finished. And sadly the reality is this site has been a major one of those projects.
So this year….we shall direct our attention to the incredible good around us and create without perfectionism.
Happy 2017 Friends!