What a year, right? 2020 was a challenging, crazy, stressful time for everyone. There really aren’t words to describe just how insane this whole year was. It was discouraging at times, but also incredibly hopeful. So I’m going to do my best to walk you through a recap of what 2020 looked like for me and give you a behind the scenes look at both the highs and the lows.
Phew, so many things changed with my business this year! My biggest accomplishment was re-launching my course and making it evergreen so that students can enroll year-round. That was something I had on my to-do list for about a year and I finally made it happen over the summer! I also added some new content to the course that I was really excited about, including guest workshops, monthly Q+As and “True Story” lessons where I get real about times that I messed up in my design business. And I know have over 200 designers in my course, which is CRAAAZZZYYYY to me! So so grateful for all of the students that have trusted me and invested in learning from me.
Re-launching my course also had a huge financial impact for me. Making my passive income more streamlined and taking the time to set up my sales funnels is what helped me hit six figures in profit this year. If you want to hear more about that, go watch this IGTV video!
Another big win for my business was outsourcing more! Here are some of the things that I am currently hiring out:
- jr. designer who helps me on certain projects
- web development for custom web projects
- monthly bookkeeping
- pinterest management
I also did A LOT of speaking/teaching this year. I started sharing more educational content on my own Instagram, but I also had some amazing opportunities to collaborate with other creatives. Here are a few if you want to check them out:
- Create Connect Convert Podcast – “How to Effortlessly Increase Your Prices”
- Creative Expert Podcast – “How to Start Taking Creative Health Days”
- Speaker at the Simply Profitable Designer Summit
- Guest Coach for Design Biz Mastery
- Speaker at Creative Expert Series Summit
- Guest for Thrive Membership community from Olea & Fig
- Co-hosted a portfolio challenge with Ariel from The Blog Stop (we’ll be doing this again next year!)
- Started my own Creative Q+A series on my blog
I started offering 1:1 coaching for designers, which is honestly something that I never thought I would do, but have really enjoyed!
And as far as client work goes, I got to work with 6 amazing brands this year. Each was super different, but such a joy to work with and I created work that I’m so proud of. I also got a lot more confident in my pricing this year and how I present myself to potential clients, so that’s another win worth mentioning 🙂
Business Fails + Struggles
Surely you didn’t think that I have everything figured out, right? Because I still made PLENTY of mistakes this year! Not every client project was perfect. There are definitely things that I wish I could go back and do differently to make things go more smoothly and serve my clients better. There was actually one project in particular that was really stressful for me. It had been going so well, but things got messy right at the end and I felt so guilty. It wasn’t necessarily my fault, but definitely a situation where looking back, I should have put my foot down earlier as the head person on the project and made sure things were being done correctly before we went any further with the project. It’s tough to accept that you messed up, but it’s obviously an important part of improving your process and I’m grateful for everything that I learned from that experience.
I also had an unexpected dry spell with client inquiries this year; probably the first one that I’ve had in 3 years! I didn’t have a single new inquiry during May and June. Luckily I had already planned to take time off during those months since we were expecting to go home to the U.S. And since I had just re-launched my course and already had my template shop up, I had more than enough passive income coming in and it wasn’t an issue financially. BUT it was still a bit nerve-racking to all of a sudden not have any new inquiries coming in after 4+ years in business. I’m sure COVID was a factor in this, but it still made me nervous and I started to question if I had been sharing too much educational content for designers and not enough stuff geared towards potential clients. So for 2021, I’m making sure to create more client-focused content in hopes that the dry spell doesn’t happen again.
A big part of this year that I didn’t share much of was supporting my husband, Tanner, as he recovered from his big injury. If you don’t know, Tanner plays professional basketball and broke his leg during a game in November 2019. Truly a nightmare for any pro athlete and we knew that his recovery was going to take a long time. He started the year still on crutches, doing rehab every day and super frustrated with how slow his healing process was going. The doctors ended up having to do 3 total surgeries to help speed things up and he FINALLY got back on the court this December! Over a year of working hard every single day. I’m so proud of him 🙂
And obviously another big part of our personal lives this year was dealing with COVID. The virus hit Portugal a little later than other European countries, so they were prepared and quickly locked everything down. We could have tried to go home before they shut down international flights, but we chose to stay here since Tanner was still doing rehab and needed another surgery. We were finally able to go home for about 3 weeks in late June to see our families before coming back to Portugal for another year. That time at home went by so fast and traveling in the middle of the pandemic was crazy, but we were so grateful to be able to see them since we really didn’t know when we would get another the chance. Living across the world from your family and friends for most of the year is always tough, but this year was especially difficult.
Goals for 2021
Thinking about next year, I have a few big plans that I’m excited about – both personal and business-related. Here’s an outline of those:
Hire a project manager
This is the first big thing that I’m tackling and I’m SO eager to get the process started! I experimented with outsourcing a lot throughout 2020 and tried to figure out the areas of my business where hiring someone would be most beneficial to me. By the end of the year, I knew that I needed someone to help me manage client projects and the course side of my business. I’m starting to work on bigger projects that involve bringing in other contractors (copywriters, web developers, photographers, etc.), which means I have to step into more of a manager / creative director position to make sure everyone is on the same page. SO that’s why I’m super excited to hire someone to fill that role and help me stay organized with the bigger projects and just staying on top of all the things I have going on. I’m also working with the amazing Meg K. & Co. to help me with the hiring process which was been so fun! (If you’re interested in this job, I’ll be sharing more info soon for people to apply, so don’t email me yet haha)
Add more brand strategy to my process
I’ve never considered myself to be a “brand strategist” and the strategy part of my process has been really simple so far. (Which is totally fine, btw!) BUT since I’m working on bigger projects, I’ve been wanting to add a bit more depth to that part of my services and I’m excited to test it out on my first few clients this year. So if you’re one of my course students, expect some new modules on that soon!
Buy a house
I’ve already shared a little bit about this on IG, but Tanner and I are hoping to buy a house in the U.S. this summer and I really can’t put into words how excited I am about that!! In May, we’ll have spent 5 years without a real place to call home and although we LOVE our lifestyle living abroad for most of the year, it’s gotten a little old not having a place that’s actually ours. (Plus it feels weird to be married and 27 living with your parents during the summer haha). It’s going to be an interested process, but we’re hoping to buy a home in the early summer, probably spend some time fixing it up and furnishing it (because we literally don’t own anything haha). And then we’ll rent it out when we move back abroad for the next basketball season in late August. Fingers crossed it all works out!
So that’s my 2020 recap! It was a weird, exhausting year with everything going on in the world and we’ve been very lucky and privileged to stay healthy and safe. I’m a little nervous to think about what 2021 will be like, but I’m staying positive. We’re all just gonna keep doing our best and give each other as much grace and support as we can. ♥