2017 was better than I could have ever expected. My business grew beyond what I ever thought was attainable, I put another happy year of marriage under my belt, I made our builder-grade home cozy and feel like us, and I made new relationships with people that I adore. I always like to sit and reflect on the past year, and plan for the one ahead – but this year I feel like there is so much to reflect on and to plan for that I decided to share it with you all.
In January of 2017 I had my first pin truly go viral. I’m talking 40k+ pins. It completely filled my inbox for months. In fact, 60% of my orders this year were based off of this viral pin. I made tons of variations of this collage and began to pin them. It took me until April to realize I needed to add www.www.unicaforma.com to each collage or they would be stolen and redirected to someone else’s site – losing my potential client.
Seeing the impact Pinterest had on the first few months of the year, made me gear almost all of my “advertising” to this outlet. I made collages for everything (and still do). Some stick better than others, and I didn’t pay a single dollar to Pinterest to get this traffic. It was all done organically through my collages. To make sure you don’t miss any of our new content, follow us on Pinterest!
Welcome Leah! She saved my butt this year, honestly. Leah has been my friend for over 15 years and had a general understanding of my job, and where I needed help. The fit was perfect, and she was officially hired in July of 2017. She has made my life 100x easier in so many ways. First, she’s another human. I can talk to another human being during the day – which is huge – about ideas, ways to grow my business, or about how annoyed I am that my dogs won’t stop barking at people walking by 🙂
She has taken on the full client management portion of Unica. While I love the initial conversations with my clients, it got the to point where I couldn’t spend the time I needed designing or working on another project because my inbox was always flooded with general inquiries.
She is also a one man production team. Once we get the orders from our printer (another win for 2017! I will talk about that next!), she assembles all of the orders (envelope liners, trimming, mounting backers, pockets, etc.) and packs them up for shipment. Another task that was taking away from my design time and another way Leah makes my life easier.
Yay!! This one has been huge for us! We have found a print shop we absolutely adore. They offer the highest quality printing styles & paper. They pay attention to everything and have gone above and beyond what I could have ever asked for.
In 2016 we were using a national printer that wasn’t always reliable, and because we were one of many clients – they didn’t *care* about us like I needed them to. I care about my clients like my own children, and I wasn’t comfortable selling a product I didn’t 100% love. Fast forward to ~April 2017. I found a local printer that was 10x better than the national printer. While they are solid, and I am happy with their work – they don’t offer all of my specialty printing desires. Getting this ‘in’ made me curious about what else I could find locally. And boom. I found “the one”.
Our current print shop lets me get my hands dirty, go in and test ink colors myself, and did I mention the quality? I mean all of these machines are tippity top of the line. When the time is right, I hope to be able to find a good ol’ press to call my own, but for now – this studio is more than I could ever want.
Hopefully you’ve noticed this on your own, but blogging – omg have we been blogging! I started following Lauren Hooker with Elle & Company and she preaches blog blog blog. In order to drive traffic to your site, you have to have content, you have to blog. And that is exactly what we’ve been trying to do. Our current schedule is to do an invitation reveal every Sunday and two more posts each week. My goal is to put out content that is helpful to you – so please please PLEASE let us know if there is a topic you want us to cover! If you want us to go over something, we totally will.
Again, Lauren Hooker. She put me on to Dubsado and thank baby Jesus she did! Dubsado has been a saving grace for Unica. It has streamlined all of our workflows and keeps everything amazingly organized. Our clients even have their own portal where they have all of their forms (questionnaire, contract, proofs, etc.), Leah and I are able to add notes to each client’s job to make sure we’re on the same page with everything – all of our payments go through it. I mean this program does everything. We just implemented it in November of 2017, so we are still noobies. But even their Facebook community is insane – they are the most helpful group of people I have ever been a part of.
Oh, Instagram. I am trying so hard to utilize you in the most business-savvy way possible, but it’s hard. In November of 2017 I deleted my personal IG to try to focus more on @unicaforma_. I wanted our followers to feel like I was a real person, not just a robot who posts pictures of weddings all the time and I figured getting rid of my personal handle would almost *force* this out of me. It didn’t. It helped, though. I think I am starting to find the balance of what to post and how to seem more transparent. I also still haven’t been able to get @unicaforma because it is taken by someone who doesn’t use Instagram. It kills me. I am working on it, though. So I am definitely working on my IG usage for next year; between advertising, being personable, and making new connections.
Blah. I hate this part of the business. I still use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet if that gives you a perspective of how my finance tracking is going. Every singlet thing that goes in or out I put down on my ledger – it isn’t in categories and it doesn’t happen unless I do it myself. Any small business owner would probably cringe at this. I do. Especially when tax season rolls around and I have to break all of my costs into a million different groups and track all of my receipts. BUT I just bought quickbooks yesterday, I am not letting 2018 be a repeat of 2017! I will be more organized and doing my taxes next April will *hopefully* be painless.
If there are any other small business people that have tips on how to manage all of this, plus write offs, please help. I need it.
What’s that? Seriously. What is a routine? My life has been in shambles since going full time with Unica. No schedule, no routine, no consistency. I am slowly working on it – but it’s horrible. Some days I wake up at 5AM and start working. Other days I wake up at 9AM. Some days I eat lunch, other days I don’t eat anything until 7PM when I finish working for the day. 2017 has put all of my time all over the place. Some days I work 14 hours, others I work 2. LOL – I want to have a workout routine again, but I can’t even get my regular schedule even remotely similar from one day to the next, there’s no way. *BUT* there is a light at the end of the tunnel – I hope? I am working out 6 days a week, in the morning, I am setting an alarm for 6:30, I am taking my lunch break at 12:00 and stepping away from the computer. I am NOT working weekends, or past 5PM unless absolutely 100% necessary. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.
Did I set concrete goals? No. Were there 100 things I said I wanted to do and didn’t? Yes. Tons and tons. This year my husband got me the Powersheets yearly goal book for Christmas and I plan on using it religiously. It even has me *excited* to live intentionally this year. I have so many things planned out to help me grow personally, within my business, spiritually, health wise, etc. Yes, I know people joke about ~*new year, new me*~, and generally I would agree – but not this year. I truly feel like I am going to change so many things this year and the outcome will be so rewarding. Eeeek, I really can’t wait!
I. suck. at. networking. I’m shy. I don’t like doing things out of my comfort zone. That’s why having a job behind a computer screen from my home is ideal. BUT I know to grow in this business I have to befriend other vendors. My Instagram is already filled with all my favorite vendors and I admire them from afar like a weirdo – so next year I plan on reaching out, meeting with vendors, actually telling these people how much I admire their work, doing styled shoots, and dare I say it – attend my first bridal show (as a vendor). Yikes – more on that later.