My friends, 2021 has been a ride of a year. We made some dramatic changes. Launched new services, products, and programs. Grew our team, and took some scary risks with our time, energy, and investments. And all of it has paid off in far more than just revenue. It has been life-giving. Why?
Until now, we’ve been deep in the weeds of product development and testing. But for the first time, we’re going into the new year knowing what works and letting everything we created this year expand and grow. We can just let the business run. After working hard for so long, this feels incredible.
Last year, we tripled our revenue, and I shared the exact steps we took to make this happen. This year, we doubled it again…but our strategies weren’t the same as before. I’ve found that each phase of business requires us to stretch ourselves in new ways. What did we do to make the leap this year? Come peek inside…
1. The two-biz rebrand + launch
Earlier this year, we separated our custom brand design + content creation services (ByAriel) from our wildly creative website template shop (The Blog Stop). The result? Two brands with two different audiences and plenty of room to scale on their own.
If you’re considering launching a second brand (or splitting the one you have), I’ve shared a lot about the strategy behind this decision here. Just know that rebranding any business takes work. Adding two new brands and launches means you’ll have your hands full! It took us 6+ months to pull it off. Was it worth every inspired, creative, and exhausted minute? Oh yeah.
2. Scaling education + programs
In 2020, I dipped a toe into coaching other designers, which was new for me at the time. I not only discovered a passion for educating (LOVE it), but the incredible results designers were seeing inspired me to create our high-ticket Drop Dead Designer program. DDD, for short.
This year, we focused on scaling those programs by getting them out in front of a bigger audience. This involved collaborations, running ads, highly targeted email campaigns, and of course, deeply personal insights shared from my own journey as a once-struggling designer. Vulnerability creates connection!
In 2021, almost 150 new designers joined DDD, and our students saw straight-up jaw-dropping results. We can’t wait to help even more designers stand out and rise to the top next year.
Psst! If you’re a designer, the doors to Drop Dead Designer are OPEN! Join today and start building your profitable design business.
3. New team members, services + offerings
We added 3 talented new members to our team this year, and it has been wildly transformative for us. We can now provide more support than ever for our clients and offer additional services well beyond what we were able to offer last year. This includes:
- Brand strategy + development
- Brand identity design
- Custom website design
- Creative direction (NEW in 2021)
- Product photography
- Lifestyle photography (NEW in 2021)
- Content creation (NEW in 2021)
- Videography services (NEW in 2021)
- Campaign creative direction (NEW in 2021)
We also had WAY more existing clients return for new projects this year, and believe me, I was grateful we already had the team in place to support them! P.S. Your past/existing clients are often your easiest sale, since they already trust you. Position yourself to offer the next thing they need, and you’ll be surprised how many return. 😉
4. Internal systems, done right
Okay, systems. They are everything. We’ve always had systems in place to some degree, but this was the first year we got really serious about it. With additional team members, it was a must…and I realized we probably should have done it sooner. Noted.
Now, each of our internal systems are set. We don’t tweak them for each and every client. They run smoothly. And whoa, it has allowed us to take on so many more projects. The result was rapid scaling, the new services (above), and most notably for me, the ability to step out of the office for a few days or a week and still have everything running without a blip! Bliss.
What systems do we use?
- Honeybook for client communication + delivery
- Airtable for internal client project communication + internal content calendars
- Systems for onboarding + adding new designer contributors to The Blog Stop
- Systems for new designers working on our Creative Lead position (internal ops)
5. Vulnerability, time + risks
Okay, gotta add this one in here because I want you to know that all of the above barely touches on the full picture. It’s easy for me to just write out our accomplishments and celebrate what we’ve achieved, but actually doing all of this? Not so easy.
It took more time than any 9-to-5 you’ve ever worked. It took deep faith in ourselves and commitment to our goals. It took some scary investments (like, really scary) and the willingness to learn from others and adapt. It took vulnerability, courage, and risks.
I’m sure it will take all of this and more to reach the next level, but for now, I am just thrilled to move into this season of reaping the rewards of our hard work.
And because I know that I wouldn’t be here without the talented, successful women who have shown me what’s possible over the years, I want to share this piece of news with you…
What’s coming in 2022?
…we’re planning to have our first million dollar year! *gasp, pop, fizz, clink!*
3-4 years ago, I never ever would have believed this was possible. I just wanted to do what I love and make enough money to live. Now, I am working my dream job, surrounded by team members I love, and supporting incredible clients who inspire (not drain) my creativity. That is a priceless gift. And I KNOW you can have it, too.
So whether you’re a fellow designer, an entrepreneur, or both, if this is your dream, we would love to support you. Together, we’ll help you stand out, rise to the top, and explode past your goals in 2022. I can’t freaking wait.
Until then, happy New Year!