Well – here is my annual year in review!
It felt like a… void year for me. Nothing huge happened (besides having a baby), and although the business grew, lots in some ways, little in others, there weren’t many high highs or low lows. Just steady and dare I say, a little boring…
I guess, sometimes you need that kind of year though. Getting stuff done and all!
Here are some things I’m proud of:
In January 2016, I filmed all of the year’s videos and in December 2016, I filmed all of 2017’s videos. It was fun and intense!
I also did them very differently.
In January, I was five months pregnant and filmed every video straight into my iMac. One take, and just using some bullet points on my screen as notes. Then my assistant got them transcribed and turned into blogs, and my editor top and tailed the videos to add my intro/outro and music.
Every Monday I got my hair done, and then I tried to film as many videos as I could each week until I had 40. (I blog every week, but I like to keep 12 slots a year free for promotions or more topical content).
I knew that I wanted to up the production level for 2017, and get it done earlier, so this time I made it a full scale production and actually hire a studio to do them over a few days.
Here’s the empty studio …
I hired a copy-writing team to help me write the posts before hand so I could load them into a teleprompter, and then we had the video team of 4 – camera, sound, director and producer.
As you can imagine, it was quite a pricey exercise, around $35k, including set design (we made it look like my lounge room at home), editing, filming, makeup, hair, etc.
Here’s a little set tour:
During the three days in studio, I filmed 60 videos! Although I was dreading it in the leadup, it was awesome, like having my own show!
Action for you
How can you upgrade the production level of your content this year? Outsource some of the video editing? Hire someone to turn your videos into podcasts? Get a new backdrop made?
Maybe you want to commit to more regular content – weekly instead of bi-weekly or to upgrade the consistency.
I actually worked on a lot of projects behind the scenes, that I barely talked about. Definitely a theme for me – keeping things secret!
For example, sometimes I write in Australian/British English and other times in American, just mixed it up willy nilly. Sorry for that if it made you wince.
I also wrote Lucky Bitch before I even owned the domain, so it links to my old site, deniseduffieldthomas.com – those little things annoyed me.
Actually, as I was re-writing it and working with my team of editors, I realized how much the world has changed since I wrote it. Social media has changed the way we feel about wealth, and some concepts like manifesting are much more accepted and common now.
But of course, I couldn’t just update a few things – I ended up adding around 20,000 words to each book… argh. So much for a “quick refresh.” I might do another big cull before I re-release them, I’m not sure. If you’ve read them, do you think they are long enough, or you wanted more?! I basically could have written a brand new book with what I added.
I have no idea when they will be out, because I want to create new covers for them too, and I haven’t nailed the idea yet with my designer. So they are just sitting around at the moment gestating.
This is a recurring block of mine by the way – creating things and then not releasing them… I’m not exactly a good completer/finisher. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll be out at some point in 2017!
Lesson for you
Upgrades take just as long as creating a new product so think about it carefully! In the time I re-wrote these books, I could have written a new one or created an entirely new course!
I started my third book a few months after the baby was born, stealing a few minutes here and there while he was napping. This one will be all about doing business in a chilled, easy way.
I wrote about 10,000 words before I had to press pause for a bit. Between re-writing my older two books and preparing all the blogs for my filming day, I was a bit stretched, and just couldn’t justify the desk time to do it.
Before I pressed pause though, I’ve committed to working with a specialist to write a book proposal. I’d love to get this book traditionally published to increase my scope and credibility as an author. I’ve loved self-publishing, but my ego would love to see my books on airport shelves, next to some of my lovely published friends.
I know I’d make less money but books account for a small portion of my overall income anyway (around $35k a year), so it’s a strategic marketing decision more than a financial one.
So, who knows when this one will come out. I commit to finishing it in 2017, but when it will be released… who knows?!
Lesson for you
Is writing a book on the cards for you this year? How do you write it with other commitments or family? One sentence at a time. One paragraph at a time.
But if you haven’t yet created any courses or passive income sources – start there. Writing a book takes ages, but it’s not the biggest money maker.
I always recommend getting new photos at least once a year – this is a sneaky peak of my new photoshoot. I felt like bringing in some femininity and softness, a slight departure from my previous shoots where it was all denim on denim.
I also got some personalized flatlays done for blog posts.
Action for you
Book in some new photos! Don’t wait until you lose more weight or until you feel “ready.” Just do it.
Whenever I get new photos, I always feels like it catapults me into a new level of business. I can’t wait to see what it brings me.
Doubled our list size
Our list size increased from 30,000 to 60,000 in 2016. Yes, we did things like invest in Facebook ads, but I think it’s also mostly from the consistency. I show up every week with new content and I always have something for people to sign up to at the end of each post.
I think it’s also momentum – you keep showing up and the word spreads slowly but surely. But remember, everyone starts from scratch. I built my list person by person just like you do.
Action for you
Are you going to build your list in 2017? Keep showing up and being consistent.
Prepped for Baby #2
Knowing that I was about to have a second baby was the motivation to really up my batching.
But the other thing I did was to introduce a 10-part payment plan for my Bootcamp at the start of the year. Knowing that we had regular income coming in for almost the whole year during maternity leave was so reassuring.
It took the pressure off having to do any big launches or to start anything new.
My mantra for baby #2 was “Babies bring abundance” – new ideas, new goals and new motivation.
Upped my support
Not only in the business, by increasing the amount of hours for my team, but at home too. We made some changes around childcare that gave me more time to work and have some time off.
I know this sounds really diva-ish, but I haven’t done any laundry for ages now. I honestly don’t have free time to do stuff like that. If I have free time, I’d rather work on my book than clean my toilet or wash stuff.
I put my kinesiologist on retainer so I could regularly work through blocks and fears.
This year, I want to up the level of support dramatically, mostly self-care and health.
Best books of 2016
Normally I read several books a week, but this year I have read less than in my whole life (life-long book worm). Maybe it was having a baby, but I didn’t even feel like reading my usual money or business books.
Carry on Warrior and Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
Even though I’ve never experienced addition, I could relate so much to the parts on marriage, feminism and motherhood. Worth the hype.
Pussy, A Reclamation by Mama Gena
For me, the big takeaway was about how I can increase my capacity for more pleasure in my life (sensual and sexual) rather than just work all the time (which I love but fun and play needs to be there too!)
The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker
This is a fascinating book, and it really helped me with my fear of becoming more famous and visible. It’s given me the courage to put more boundaries into place and also to trust my intuition more.
Best celebrity memoirs
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Sorry, Not Sorry by Naya Rivera
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
All three of these books were funny and revealing, but the best thing I got out of them was how much hard work and hustle has gone into each woman’s career.
The parts I liked the best was when they talked honestly about money – lots of juicy little nuggets!
Challenges of the year
Maybe this is from having a baby, but I’ve gotten such fomo about my friends jetting off to conferences and joining awesome masterminds. I’m seeing people talk on stages, and for some reason, I’m itching to do the same (which is weird because I resist speaking so much).
I know I could technically travel with young kids, but have you ever been stuck on an airplane for 24 hours with a baby or toddler?! It’s literally hell. The worst. Australia is really far from anything. I’m three hours away from an international airport, and then we’re ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD from basically anything.
I keep telling myself this is just a season, that I’ll be able to do things like that again, one day. But sometimes at 3am when I’m rocking a crying baby, I wish I could jump on a plane and be that carefree entrepreneur again.
My business philosophy is the “Louise Hay style,” ie, I hope I’ll be speaking on stages and writing books for decades to come. But fuck – I sometimes wish I could do it NOW!
The surrender lesson is hard for me. I’m a go-getting, future oriented, ambitious and creative person
Setting boundaries with people in my life
I realized that I was being way more accommodating to people on my team, rather than asking for what I really wanted and needed. I resisted firing a long-time support person because I had in my head that we needed them too much.
So, I let her walk all over me and make decisions that I didn’t agree with, even though I could feel in my gut that it wasn’t right.
I finally took the words of Abby from Dance Moms, “Everyone’s replaceable.” 2016 was the year that I found my spine and say things like “that doesn’t work for me anymore.”
Lesson for you
Are you keeping people on your team because they “know too much” about your business or you think everything will fall apart without them? It won’t.
I’ve seen some of my mastermind buddies go through some shocking team lessons where they had to let go key members of staff. You always find a way. Even if you think that person is irreplaceable, they aren’t. YOU are the only one who can’t be replaced.
Not enough TIME!!
Usually I’m not one for saying I don’t have enough time. I believe you can make time for the things that are important to you.
But yeah, seriously, two kids kicks your butt time wise! I have to be much more brutal with my time, and it’s not easy when you have a baby that doesn’t like to sleep.
I did about 55 interviews in 2016 – when the year before I did almost 200. I didn’t have enough desk time to do anything too creative.
I keep telling myself, “This is just a season”… but yeah, it’s sometimes tricky. I don’t want to wish my life away, but I keep thinking “one day, my kids will be at school and I’ll have time to work on my book”….
Planning ahead for 2017
Mark and I have done a few planning days this week.
We used Leonie Dawson’s yearly planner as prompts and then added everything into a giant yearly calendar so we could visualize everything.
First we put “big rocks” in, like our major launches and affiliate promos we’ve committed to, and dates of important tax bills (I have a huge tax bill this year which is daunting but motivating).
Then we blocked out holiday time. We’ve been frankly rubbish at taking holidays the last few years. Between having kids and being high-functioning workaholics, we just preferred staying at home and working. Plus we live in a great beach town, so it’s fun to stay here anyway.
But this year, we’re making sure we take time off. Not just with big family holidays, but with some personal retreats and time off too.
When we’re done with this calendar we’ll turn this into a planning to-do list.
Goals for 2017
Sell my third book to a traditional publisher – I’m working with a consultant to help me create a book proposal. I’ve loved being self-published but I want to go to the next level in my business, so I think this is the next step. I want my books sold in airports and book shops, next to some of my amazing friends.
Read at least a book a week – I want to get back into regular reading, and I think I might need to delete some apps off my phone to make this happen, and make sure my Kindle is always charged and ready to go.
Health and well-being – I lost 15lbs towards the end of 2016, and I’m ready to take this up a notch. There are a lot of lessons for me around it – even related to money. So many interesting insights into my blocks and fears.
So, that’s it for me. I’d love to hear what you’re proud of or were challenged by in 2016 and what you’re planning for 2017. Let me know if the comments below.