Happy not-so-new-anymore year! Yes, I know I’m a bit late with my year in review episode, but I couldn’t keep you waiting any longer for that brilliant conversation I shared with Eli Trier in my last episode. Besides, the usual excitement over the blank slate and new possibilities a new year brings… just hasn’t been there for me this time round.
I mean… I even missed the fact that I’ve reached the 50 episode milestone! So let’s just do a virtual clinking of glasses for now and I’ll try and think of a better way to celebrate for my two year podcast anniversary later this year, ok?
Oh, and by the way: it’s pissing it down outside, and the wind is slamming the rain against my window. I’m not sure how much of that my acoustic shield and post production will be able to deal with, so you might be able to hear it in the background. I’ve been holding off for as long as possible to record this episode, because I was hoping for some nicer (quieter!) weather, but it’s been relentless lately. We’ve had extreme weather warnings, hurricane force winds… but the house is still standing! That’s something.
This episode is a bit different. It has less of a branding and more of a general business and personal focus. I’m going to be sharing the good stuff from 2021, the not so good stuff, the top three lessons learnt, and a glimpse into my plans for 2022. It’s the kind of transparency I myself was desperate to see from others when I first started out – and given that integrity, honesty and transparency are all values I align my own brand to, I want to practice what I preach. So in a way, I guess it does tie in with branding.
Warning, this episode is a bit of a link-o-rama, so here ya go to save you scrolling:
Top three podcast episodes:
Selling without selling your soul w/ Erika Tebbens
How brand values can drive business growth w/ Samantha Summerfield (I mixed stuff up and said this was a solo episode. It wasnt!)
Building an unshiny brand w/ Jo Casey
My VA Melissa Plumley and my brand photographer Karina Lange
My Flodesk affiliate link (gives you 50% off for a year and me a one-off reward of $19)
Book a virtual chinwag with me
Erika Tebbens’ Rebellious Success programme
Heather Thorkelson’s The Incurables membership
My Brand it! VIP days, strategy sessions and group programme
Podcast episode 47, about my revised Brand it! framework
OK, let’s start off with the good stuff.
- In 2021 I served 34 clients globally, which is pretty awesome – considering I started out serving only local clients out in the sticks here in Norway.
- 9 new brand identity designs were completed, some from scratch and some rebrands, but not all of them have been revealed just yet.
- I aired 33 podcast episodes, 13 solo and 20 with amazing guests. The top three episodes from 2021 were: Selling without selling your soul w/ Erika Tebbens, How brand values can drive business growth w/ Samantha Summerfield, and Building an unshiny brand w/ Jo Casey
- I was a guest on a few podcasts too. This is something I’d definitely like to do more of in 2022, so if you’d like me on as a guest… you know where to find me!
- Took on my first team member, my VA Melissa who expertly handles my podcast transcripts for me.
- Completed Erika Tebbens’ group programme Rebellious Success, which was the biggest single investment I’ve made for my business so far (apart from my macbook pro) and it was totally worth it! It was challenging, but pushed me to stretch my comfort zone – but honouring my integrity while doing so. I also joined Heather Thorkelson’s monthly membership the Incurables, because I realised the need to have a community of like-minded peers to support my business journey. Both investments have indirectly paid for themselves, by the way!
- Started offering VIP Day’s and strategy sessions, completed 3 VIP days and 5, or was it 6? strategy sessions (there’s potential here, but more on that later!)
- Managed to actually consistently email my list (thanks to Flodesk – which is the first email service provider that has actually made me want to send emails! If you want my affiliate link I’ll pop it in the shownotes 😍)
- Next up is a biggie: I completely overhauled my Brand it! framework, and the accompanying workbook. There’s a whole podcast episode dedicated to that, so if you want the details, check out episode 47. This was definitely a labour of love.
- Continued to expand my network of truly amazing humans in the online business sphere, loving every connection.
- Took five weeks off in the summer.
- Survived another year of pandemic uncertainty, got fully vaccinated including a booster dose, did not get Covid (gotta take all the wins I can!)
- Rounded off the year by having 5 brandits enrol for the first cohort of my Brand it! group programme (considering the first attempt flopped and didn’t run, this is a major win even if I didn’t fill the 12 spots).
All in all, there were some pretty good ups – which I think is so important to remember, because there definitely were downs too! So let’s talk about…
The not so good
- Throughout the year I was feeling spread too thin and constantly exhausted and behind…
- … which in turn led to self care being neglected…
- …which in turn led to feeling low and lethargic (you get my drift!)
- My limited bandwidth means I didn’t market my VIP days and strategy sessions enough, so did not hit my goals there.
- Did not reach my financial goal (not really surprising, when you look at the above).
My two biggest lessons last year came from my group programme launches, both the flopped one and the next one. I started to play with the idea of creating a brand strategy group programme over two years ago, and the more I thought about it the more it became clear to me that I could be onto something good. Like really good.
So after mulling it over, and over, and over (hello imposter syndrome, old friend!) I took the plunge about a year ago. I was so pumped about it, I was going to empower a group of badass business owners by teaching them brand strategy and guiding them through the process of crafting their own rock solid brand foundations. I could picture it so clearly; the way they’d fall in love with their brands all over again, how they’d find the clarity and confidence to show up 100% as themselves, lean into their purpose and values, and start to attract more of their perfect-fit clients. It was beautiful!
Except… That first attempt at getting this group offer off the ground saw me crashing face first into a pile of gravel, my ego severely bruised and me looking sheepishly around to see if anyone noticed.
Ouch. That bloody hurt.
After picking grit out of my wounds for months, I decided to have another go. Not because I am a sucker for pain, but because I’m that stubborn, and that passionate about [waving a middle finger at the cocky dudebros in fancy suits and] making brand strategy less intimidating and accessible to small business owners. I’m so glad I did, because this week, I hosted the kick-off call for my five amazing founding brandits!
So, what did I do to make it happen this time round? What’s the lesson? That’s what you wanna know, right?
The answer isn’t “spend a shitload of money on Facebook ads” or “set up this sophisticated webinar funnel” – no, it’s a lot less fancy: I decided to stop being so stubborn and proud, and I reached out directly to people, being all vulnerable in their inboxes. That’s it. I sent two emails.
Email 1: To past and existing clients, offering them a good price.
Email 2: To my past podcast guests, asking if they would please help me spread the word to their networks (since they had been on my podcast, I was pretty sure they had a bunch of the ideal people for this programme in their orbits.)
Right off the bat, two past clients jumped on the offer. Two more said the timing was not good, but could I please tell them if I planned for another round. And my network was so awesome about sharing. Seriously: the love and support had me in tears!
Lesson #1: I have the best people in my orbit.
Lesson #2: if when something goes tits-up, get back up and try again!
My third lesson from 2022 came from living through a global pandemic. Pretty sure I’m not alone in that!
Lesson #3: stress is not always obvious, and rest is not a luxury; it’s a basic human need.
With those feelings of being spread too thin and constantly exhausted and behind… I realised that I needed to shift my focus.
I usually pick a word for the year ahead, not because I am into manifesting (I am SO not!) but as something to guide my focus whenever my squirrel brain has too many ideas and it all feels overwhelming. That way I can ask myself “does this help me move towards [where I want to go] or away from it?” whenever I’m in a bit of a frazzle or facing decision fatigue.
My word of the year differs from my values in that it’s internal and not necessarily something I shout about. Yes, my brand values are also a guiding force, but my word of the year is about what I, the human behind the brand, need and want in order to thrive and be happy.
Back in 2020 (before we knew what was about to hit us) I chose three words: visibility, courage and growth. In 2021 I recycled those words because I didn’t feel done with them, and so my main word for last year was “growth”. To be honest? It stressed me the fuck out. So I decided to let it go, as I found it to be more demotivating than motivating. (Newsflash: you’re allowed to let go of what does not serve you!)
This year I am going in the other direction: my word for 2022 is ease, which means I’ll be working on streamlining my offer suite further, leaning into more of what feels easy.
The past two years have been fucking hard. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of lovely new clients through the door, I’ve made the money I needed to pay the bills. But the growth I yearned for did not happen, and I started to feel exhausted running after it. It’s time to restore the balance. It’s time to bring ease into my business, so it feels good again instead of draining.
I’m not 100% sure what this will look like yet, but I’m thinking: more VIP days and establishing my group programme as a regular thing, allowing me to take on fewer but larger done-for-you brand design projects. I went from weekly to fortnightly episodes with the podcast last year, and though I hope to resume weekly episodes again, it won’t be this year. Ease, remember.
Some other plans for the year are that
- My own brand foundations need to be evaluated and possibly tweaked, it’s been a while since last time and brands are never static, so it’s definitely time. That means I’ll actually be doing the work alongside the brandits in my group programme.
- This year I want to make a conscious effort to grow my global network of heart centred, values driven, online biz friends — as well as reconnecting with existing ones — so I hope to be doing a lot more coffee chats in 2022. If you’d like to book one, there’s a link in the shownotes.
- In March I’m finally saying ‘screw you’ to my camera aversion and I’m having some proper brand photos done, by the fabulous Karina Lange. That’s super scary, but I know it will definitely bring ease after the fact, when I have a big bank of brand photos to help me get myself and my brand out there!
- I’m feeling drawn towards writing a book. I mean, I have been entertaining the idea before, but now I’m seriously contemplating it. Not sure if I will have the bandwidth or the energy for it, so I will see.
- I hope we can travel again so I can attend a business event of some sort in 2022. At the very least I’ll go away for a solo biz retreat at a nice hotel here in Norway.
- I want to run another cohort of my group programme. I’ll be using the feedback from the first group to refine the learning experience, and the price will go up quite significantly. I have a goal of doubling the number of participants, and if I can do that, then it will trigger something super cool:
- For the next round I plan to offer up an application based scholarship. For every 5 paying brandits, I’ll offer up a spot for free. Well actually, it won’t be for free, because whoever gets that scholarship will definitely have to invest: not in money, but in time to put in the work. So if I get at least 5 paying brandits, I will offer up one scholarship. If I get at least 10 paying brandits, I will offer up two. I’ll be sharing details as we get closer to a second round, but it will be open to new businesses and/or businesses who fall below a certain revenue threshold. Still working out the details around that, because it needs to feel fair to the people who will be paying to take part too. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
- Financially, my goal remains unchanged from last year. I wasn’t even close to achieving it in 2021, so I fully realise it’s a stretch goal. I’m not a fan of throwing numbers out there so I’m not going to share the figure I’m aiming for, to some my goal will seem tiny and to others it will seem huge. To me, it feels… kinda unobtainable, and I won’t beat myself up if it doesn’t happen.
That’s about it. I’d love to know what plans you have for 2022 though, so do feel free to join the discussion over on Instagram!
Until next time,
Pssst! If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss the next one! I’d also be super grateful if you’d share my podcast with a biz friend or two, or leave me a review.