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This blog post is kinda self indulgent and it’s very much a mixture of personal life stuff and business. I write them mostly for me, but I do enjoy reading other people’s annual review/roundup type posts, so I’m going to continue to publish them.
Errrr, why the heck is this in here??! I published my 2018 Review post on 20th December 2018. A lot happened between then and the end of the year which is relevant to what happened the rest of this year.
Firstly, a couple of days before Christmas I joined Sara Dann‘s rolling monthly mastermind. It was my biggest coaching investment to date. She was actually promoting something else at the time, but she did the most ??? Facebook Live I’ve possibly ever seen… and I knew I had to be in her energy going into 2019. (Whilst joining her mastermind was a bit of a whim, I’d actually met Sara at Amanda Frances’ Bali retreat earlier in the year and had really been impressed with what she had to say and how clearly she thought about business).
In the General Thoughts section of my 2018 Review, I wrote “I’ve spent a lot of this year really grappling with what I actually do. I thought I’d have it figured out by now. ….. I still have no idea what I do and I’m trying to be okay with that.” Within a day of writing that I had the mother of all epiphanies that of course I specialise in email marketing ?♀️ (I wrote an email about it here).
Anyway, along with this epiphany came the very strong knowing that I needed to completely revise my ConvertKit Rockstars course and put in a whole lot more about email marketing strategy. So I ran a flash sale of the course between 27th – 31st December, making 28 sales and over $8,000. My biggest ever ‘launch’ to date. I finished off 2018 in style ?
- Spent New Year’s Day watching Tarzan Kay’s Day Rate Superstar training. I then switched to offering (half) day rates as the primary way to work with me 1:1 for ConvertKit.
- Started Stage 2 of the adoption process. There are 2 stages in the UK. Stage 1 takes approx 2 months, and Stage 2 takes approx 4 months. You then get approved as adoptive parents and start the matching process with your child(ren). I also want to add at this point that pretty much all adoption in the UK is from foster care.
- Paid a lot of $ to spontaneously go to a VIP Dinner with Amanda Frances when she was in London. (Also in attendance was Harriette Hale).
- Increased my 1:1 ConvertKit Strategy/Training Calls from $300 to $400.
- Found out my Dad had cancer and was to start chemo.
- Launched Email Rockstars, my new ‘signature’ email marketing program.
- Created a new freebie, Supercharge Your Email Open Rates
- Ran our first retreat! We had 8 fabulous women join us from all over the world (3 from USA, 1 from Sweden, 1 from Netherlands and 3 from UK). It was the most magical event and one I’ve sadly never really shared much about as over half of us got super sick during the event. I was down and out with the flu for well over a month afterwards and nothing review-y really happened ?
I spent much of March with a nasty flu. I was really struggling with being ill, my dad’s health stuff, adoption stuff, delivering Email Rockstars (which I had 80+ people signed up for!), and generally keeping it all together. A few things did happen though:
- Started doing monthly Office Hours Facebook Lives in my private student-only Facebook group, Team EBG’s Party Pad.
- Completely re-recorded Spring Clean Your ConvertKit Account as a course and did a promo for ConvertKit Club. (Don’t go and buy Spring Clean Your ConvertKit Account, it’s included in ConvertKit Club now!)
- Changed my affiliate commission to 40% after listening to this great podcast episode by Sigrun on affiliate marketing (both running an affiliate program and being an affiliate).
- Closed my Collective Momentum Membership. This was a mastermind-membership-group-program thing I’d been quietly running since September 2018. I made the very difficult decision that with all the things going on in my life, I couldn’t really hold space for my clients in this way at this time.
- Emma and I went to Adoption Approval Panel and were approved as adoptive parents ? We could now start the matching process with our child(ren), although we were actually already in the early stages of a ‘link’ with 2 little girls.
- I ran a flash sale for The Lazy Guide to Affiliate Marketing, which resulted in a whopping 41 sales! This flash sale also marked the end of my short-lived specialising in email marketing. I kinda realised I want to talk about more broad online business things and that felt like a better umbrella for the breadth of what I do ?♀️
- Found out that the adoption with the 2 little girls we were ‘linked’ to would be going ahead! Matching Panel was booked for early June. The girls were currently 15 months and 2 months.
- Went to Center Parcs for the first time on a day pass and told Emma’s family all about the girls and that the adoption was going ahead.
- Started my TRIBE course pre-launch by promoting Stu’s pre-launch trainings, as well as my own training: Successful and Sustainable Memberships Without a Team.
- Went all out in my affiliate promotion of Stu McLaren’s TRIBE course. Finished up 25th on the affiliate leader board!
- Wrote a 2500 word review and comparison blog post of TRIBE vs. Membership Academy. Almost instantly it started to do really well on Google and I continue to make frequent affiliate sales for Membership Academy because of it.
- Recorded 25+ personal videos for people in one day using BombBomb (very similar to Bonjoro) answering people’s questions about TRIBE.
- Went to a really nice Membership Academy meetup in Manchester. (Sadly no photos, #affiliatefail).
- Ran a training for my TRIBE and Membership Academy affiliates on Simple Marketing for Always Open Memberships.
- Had a super busy month preparing for our girls coming to us in June. This included lots of meetings, and some very special play dates to meet our daughters for the first time! ?? We also had to buy everything needed to become parents overnight to a 17 month old and 4 month old!
June & July
I’ve put these together because, honestly, they passed in an absolute blur. They were the most challenging, heavy, intense and overwhelming months of my life and it’s cast a long shadow over the rest of my year. (More about this in my reflections at the end of this post).
We went to adoption Matching Panel for our girls at the very beginning of June. Without going into the details, it was one of the most horrible experiences of my life and we spent the next couple of weeks in bed, intermittently crying, eating and sleeping. It proceeded to shape and impact what happened over the next few months in a very negative way. In the middle of all this, on Father’s Day no less, I received the news that my Dad’s chemo wasn’t working and he had 6-8 weeks to live.
The important thing was that the adoption did go ahead, and we started the formal transition process with our girls towards the end of June, and they came to live with us permanently on 1st July.
- I ran a successful Adoption Sale mid June, which allowed me to have a financial buffer to take more time off for adoption leave.
- June was my best month ever (£19,195 / ~$24,300), mostly due to a hefty TRIBE affiliate payout from the May launch. This was bananas considering I didn’t work at all in June because I was an emotional mess, and then we were into the transition process with our girls.
- Found myself invited to a meetup of the most successful UK TRIBE affiliates. In July I went to spend a lovely day in London with Shaa Wasmund and Catherine Watkin (my long term client and friend – always nice to catch up more informally!)
On the 27th July I received the news that my Dad had passed away that morning.To grow our family with 2 kiddos and to lose a parent in the same month is quite surreal. But it’s a nice reminder in some ways that life is made up of joy and sadness, and they always coexist.
Fortunately, 2 weeks prior we’d made the long drive to Reading, my hometown, for the most magical short visit so he could meet his grandchildren. Both him and the girls were in good spirits and it’s a memory I’ll cherish forever ❤️
I’d very much hoped to sort of be ‘back at work’ in August. And in many ways I was. I did a lot in August. I made a decent amount of money. In reality though I was still really struggling with my new life as an overnight parent to a baby and a toddler, and also now being the sole provider for a family of 4. There was also absolutely no room or time in this situation for any grief or processing the loss of my Dad (who I had always been very close with and was so unbelievably proud we were adopting).
- Crossed USD $100k revenue for the year right at the start of the month. (Over 2 months earlier than 2018).
- Launched Email Rockstars DIY, the self-study version of the email marketing program I launched in February.
- Offered a new freebie, Simple No-Freebie List Building which continues to be very popular.
- Ran some email marketing Facebook Lives. I said I’d take them down, but at the time of writing, they’re still up.
- Started the hiring process for a VA or two. I received 50+ applications! In my 2018 Review Post I talked about realising I didn’t want to hire a team. And whilst that was/is still true, my life circumstances changed so drastically with the girls that it was completely unsustainable for me to do everything myself still.
- Launched Online Business Playground ahead of my 30th birthday.
- Fell in love with OptimizePress 3.0, a WordPress theme and/or page builder plugin.
- Verrry briefly considered going the agency route for my ConvertKit done-for-you services. It was already becoming clear that I was going to need to drastically change my business model as I could no longer do many calls or done-for-you work.
- Increased my 1:1 ConvertKit Strategy/Training Calls from $400 to $500.
- Had a lovely visit from Jo and Siobhan (of Taskerly). Jo is a university friend of mine, is also in the online business world, and recently adopted 3 children too!
- Went to the Gloworm Festival with the girls, and Emma’s mum and sister. It was our first big family trip out and overall a huge success!
- 1st September was my birthday, and it was a big one as I turned 30. ? For years I’ve been wondering what to ‘do’ for my 30th. Last year Emma reframed the question to “where would you like to be?”. Because we knew we’d still be in the adoption process or have had children placed with us very recently, going anywhere (e.g. on a cruise – love a good cruise!), wasn’t an option. So I settled for the Vegan Camp Out, and it was really great. And no, we didn’t camp ?
- Re-opened doors to Online Business Playground for a few days because I kinda realised that it was going to be the most magical, and the most ‘me’ program ever. The feedback I was already getting was incredible.
- Passed $50k total affiliate commissions Paid to Date from ConvertKit ? I’d been a ConvertKit affiliate for 3.5 years and my list was just over 2000.
- Added a bunch of tech tutorials to The Quickstart Guide to Profitable Live Trainings and doubled the price.
- Did lots of affiliate marketing. I promoted Amanda Frances‘ Money Mentality Makeover, and Rebecca Tracey’s Uncage Your Business and Sara Dann‘s What The Funnel.
- Crossed GBP £100k revenue for the year. (Over 3 months earlier than 2018).
- Started trialing Day of Voxer.
- Closed open enrollment for ConvertKit Rockstars and changed it to wait list.
- Hired some excellent team members! Dani Fairhurst of Organise & Grow as my main VA, Fabiana Nilsson as my copywriter and Glenneth Reed of The Visibility Method for SEO.
- Started October with an amazing first family holiday to Center Parcs for my wife’s birthday.
- In an absolute migraine-haze I edited a training I did last year into a new training, That (Black) Friday Feeling and sent the most ridiculous email of my life to launch it. It was my lowest cost offer ever at $9, but since launching it (with zero urgency involved) I’ve sold almost 100.
- I set up a Facebook group for my affiliates to hopefully give me a better way to update them about what I’m launching/promoting (because I’m super bad at remembering to email ?)
- I experimented with the new software, Searchie, which makes your videos searchable!
- Decided I really wanted to get into Instagram stories, not posts. Took Alex Beadon’s Gram Slam course. I’m still not doing either Instagram stories or posts ?♀️
- Started to put feelers out for some sort of group program or mastermind explicitly for six figure business owners looking to grow/scale to multi-six figures. I then joined Mariah Coz’s Accelerator program despite not having been on her list or really knowing anything much about her!
- Launched and ran my newest training, Make a Flash For It!
- Took part in Rose Guthrie’s PinSummit with a really great interview on email marketing.
- Launched The Anti-Planning Workshop with an experimental $20 for the first 20 hours offer. I sold 69 (in the first 20 hours).
- Went ‘on tour’ for my favourite band, Tegan and Sara. I went to 3 shows (Brighton, London and Manchester), plus an extra book/meet + greet event. These were my 64th – 66th shows of theirs.
- More widely launched/offered my Day of Voxer as the trial ones I did had been super successful. I feel like I’ve finally found my perfect format for coaching/strategy.
- Purchased a lifetime licence for ConvertBox. I’m super excited for the potential uses for this in my business. I’ve set up a couple of things so far and I’m really impressed with how easy it is to use.
- Bought more Black Friday offers than I was anticipating ?
- Put out a few Black Friday offers myself.
- Had some very clear “It’s time.” messages download as I was half asleep one morning including:
- Changed Make a Flash For It! into more of a course, then ran a flash sale for live round, before doubling the price.
- Conducted my first ever comprehensive ConvertKit Club Member Survey with around 25% of members responding ? Got great info and feedback that will go into shaping ConvertKit Club 3.0 coming early in 2020.
- Discovered 2 amazing free online tools: a mockup generator and removing/making backgrounds transparent.
- Voted in the UK General Election which resulted in this cute family picture:
(This isn’t all of them, but some are no longer relevant)
- 5 ‘games’ to play in your online business for more fun, flow and freedom
- TRIBE vs. Membership Academy | Full Review/Comparison
- How to boost sales *and* nurture your audience with one free tech tool
- ‘Funnels’ are not (really) a thing
- Email Marketing Numbers You Need to Know
- Re-adding a subscriber back into a ConvertKit sequence
- How to add preview text to a ConvertKit email
Courses and programs launched
- Spring Clean Your ConvertKit Account
- Email Rockstars
- Online Business Playground
- That (Black) Friday Feeling
- Make a Flash! For It
- The Anti-Planning Workshop
- Day of Voxer
I’ve also offered a variety of 1:1 ConvertKit consulting and done-for-you services, including experimenting with a (half) day rate.
New freebies launched
- Supercharge Your Email Open Rates!
- Simple ‘No Freebie’ List Building
- Successful (+ Sustainable!) Memberships Without A Team
- Teachable for Memberships
Significant course/program investments
- Sara Dann – initially in her mastermind (which I left when we knew it’d be these girls we were adopting because I didn’t have the bandwidth to focus on my business growth at that level of investment), and then in numerous other group programs and courses since. Her $500K Sales System is particularly magical.
- Mariah Coz’s Accelerator
- Denise Duffield-Thomas’ Sacred Money Archetypes course
- Claire Pelletreau’s Absolute FB Ads course
- Redefining Mom’s Pin Practical Promotions course (about Pinterest ads)
- Zoe Linda’s Affiliate Program Toolkit
- Haute Stock annual membership
- Tarzan Kay’s Day Rate Superstar
- Funnel Gorgeous’ Webinar Gorgeous and The Offer Cure
- Hello Seven/Rachel Rodger’s Worthy program(starting February 2020).
Business memberships I’m part of at present:
- The Membership Guys’ Membership Academy (Click here to read a full review).
- Taylor Lee‘s Integrate & Elevate membership
- Julie Stoian’s Create Your Laptop Life Network
- FEA’s The Members’ Club.
Events I had tickets for but didn’t go to
Because kids and life were overwhelming ?♀️
I always knew this year was going to be extremely significant and likely contain huge life changes. My wife and I very consciously worked to manifest our family by this Christmas (which required getting through the adoption process considerably quicker than average, particularly the matching phase). What I didn’t anticipate was how incredibly challenging it would be, and how many additional things I’d have to contend with on top of the process of becoming a parent overnight.
The adoption process itself is very strange. You have to spend 6+ months proving you’re going to be the best parents ever. I also consider myself a very capable and competent person, who has done a lot more personal development and who is a lot more self-aware than average. I didn’t actually find the adoption process to approval panel particular arduous or invasive (which many people do).
But here I am, almost 6 months into this new life of mine, and I’m basically living on an hour-to-hour basis.
Having to pull the emotional resources from somewhere deep inside me to get through most days is like nothing I’ve ever had to do before.
Having to hold this much space for my girls, my wife, our families and my clients… barely having a moment to consider my needs… is exhausting in a way I’ve never experienced before. (When I was at the first Tegan and Sara show in November I actually cried towards the end of their set because I realised it was the first time all year that all that was required of me in that moment was to just ‘be’. Everyone had worked so hard to get me to those shows, and I was able to just ‘be’ without any demands on my energy. The weight of the year just hit me.)
Being the sole provider for a family of four (we expected Emma to be able to work a tiny bit, which she’s not), when I have virtually no quality time to work on my business or think… leaves me feeling pretty panic-stricken about work and money way more frequently than I’d like (which is not conducive to being in business flow or making money).
Why am I sharing this? Because this is my record of the year. I haven’t talked about any of this publicly (or even really privately with business friends), but I want to be able to look back and remember a true account of this period of my life and hopefully Future Me will be able to see how far she’s come.
I was nervous to write my review post this year, because casting my mind back over this year initially I couldn’t really think of much that I’d done this year. I just remembered the endless wading-through-mud feeling. ?
Writing this post has been therapeutic though, I’ve done a lot I’m extremely proud of: particularly our retreat, Online Business Playground, Make a Flash For It! and everything relating to memberships for the TRIBE launch. Over the past few months I’ve also been able to hold more space for higher-level strategy/coaching again in shorter bursts which has really been a joy to do (e.g. Day of Voxer and Make a Flash For It! Live for 3 weeks).
And the numbers don’t lie. This has been my best year ever. We’re not talking huge growth, but I’ve been at a very comfy six figures for the 3rd year running. (The multiple six figures still alludes me though ?). And I’ve worked considerably less this year than previous years. 30% of my income came from affiliate marketing (up from 18% last year). I’ve done virtually no done-for-you tech work except for one ongoing client. Things are moving in the right direction despite everything else I’ve been dealing with.
This isn’t so much a regret, as the thing I feel most embarrassed/self-conscious about. In the day-to-day thick of it with parenting, and just generally trying to find a tiny bit of time to keep my business ticking over, I would get these downloads of genius ideas (usually the shower… somethings don’t change). And then… I would excitedly announce the idea (often in the form of a bonus to something I was launching/promoting).
But then I had such limited bandwidth to work this year (from about mid April when we knew the girls were coming… but even before that really as I was ill with the flu all February, into March). It meant that there is a mammoth backlog of things I told people I was going to do, or they’d be getting. And I feel really, really horrible about it. Some of them are bigger things, some of them are tiny things, but all of them weigh very heavy on me.
I chose to keep pushing forward. I had to keep pushing forward. I hoped that the work situation would get better, but it hasn’t done so significantly. There’s still at least one adoption-related meeting or appointment a week. I think Emma and I are both very much seen by the social workers as two stay-at-home-mums, even though I need to be working. And even when there is a gap of time for me to work, the odds are my brain is mush and I just need some down-time.
So I’m finishing 2019 with a lot of loose ends that I don’t feel good about. I’m hoping to get to them in 2020. Some of them I may need to just email about, explain and apologise and accept they’re not going to happen.
If you’re waiting on one of these things. Know that I haven’t forgotten. Know that I’m very sorry. Know that I know I should have been more open about how difficult things were a lot sooner than this. (But like I said, I hoped it’d improve and I’d be able to catch up).
In September (a particularly bad month), I was listening to Jamie Jensen on the Get Paid podcast. She was saying how she’s undergone massive transitions recently (from an agency to a different business kinda entirely) and she also suffered a significant bereavement at the start of the year. She was saying about how you need to be clear what sort of stage/phase your business is in – growth, transition or maintenance. And set goals accordingly.
This blew my mind.
There’s this belief in the online business world that you we should always be growing and always be making more money. This year I’ve transitioned from making a chunk of my income from 1:1 services, to making the bulk from 1:many offers/affiliate marketing. This year my dad got super sick and passed away, and I became a parent overnight to an 18 month old and a 5 month old (via a very stressful adoption). Geez, I need to give myself a break! If this isn’t a time for maintenance mode, then what the hell is?!
This has been a year of transition and maintenance, and I spent most of it feeling bad that I wasn’t firing on all cylinders ?♀️
How was 2019 for you? Please do feel free to leave your review post link in the comments!