Year in Review 2016

Year in Review 2016

It is only recently that I started to create a true year in review, and if it's the only blog post I have this year, I am excited to share it with you all. Note: the plan is to get back into it without any goals, or numbers to hit, just to try and find time for some writing. 

Last year I only posted a few blog posts, a few were planned, started and never completed. It was the year that my focus was on things OTHER than this space here, and that's ok. It's what the intention was. 2016 was HARD, and not in the ways I expected. So without any more bullsh*t prefacing, I share with you, my ups and downs of 2016.

Q1 January through March:

Can you say woah? Work/Life balance in these months was one hundred percent non-existent. In the first few months of the year, I didn't have an overload of clients due to the fact that I was working probably an overload at my full time job. If you know my past, you know that I worked as the office manager of an Investment Firm. The job is usually hectic - since the market never really sleeps, and neither do clients needs, but on top of that the entire firm was switching from one main software provider to another. It's not like changing from photoshop to a photoshop equivalent, it's like translating your business from French to Chinese. Every piece of data relates to others differently and every piece had to be checked. On top of that, I was really starting to get into a flow with my clients, so nights were often spent 6pm to midnight working diligently. 

Clearly this was never the plan to execute for long term, but it was the hand delt in the first quarter, so you just -- do it. I also decided to get the Flu a week before moving apartments,  so that was an interesting marathon inviting the whole family over to help get things in boxes. During that quarter I designed four brands, RedOakWeddings a refresh for a Boston Digital Agency, an Australian Jewellery Brand, Square Design Guild's 1st Brand, and Wainer Family Farm. Still working for Pinegate Road we were still churning out monthly magazines for Gorgo Magazine's online subscription and I was planning some HUGE business changes for myself.

The first quarter of 2016 will always stick in my mind as the birth of Square Design Guild. It was really when it got off the ground. It was November of the previous year that the idea started, but really it was March when we launched, and I am so thankful that we did. It has transformed me as a person and a businesswoman.

Q2: April through June

This was the transformative quarter when I really started working towards the goal of being on my own, and I cannot tell you how much anxiety started to affect me at this point in the game. I think a little bit of a milestone birthday thrown in, just having moved, and being on this precapise of "can I do this, and this alone?" with three websites to run was the scariest thing I have ever done, and the best. I mean - we dubbed 2016 "The Year of Courage" for a reason right? This was the courage I was looking for, the courage to try. It wasn't like I had zero clients, zero business acumen and zero knowledge for teaching, these things were set up far in advance and I had learned my design processes for years in grad school.

It was April through June that I hired my replacement for my other job, trained her and at the end of June lept into the unknown. The unknown started in July, but this was the step by step process setting up for knowing I actually COULD go freelance fulltime.

This was a fun design period in that there were a ton of clients, from graphic design and helping a big local company take a hundred years of design and compose a great new umbrella brand refresh, to my first website in another language it was a lot. This was a huge growing period for Square Design guild, where I was able to see that my original plan for hosting the courses was not going to work, we needed a much more robust platform.

It's funny, when I look back on social media during this time there are SO few posts. Really this was all about the building of client content, work, and more work. 

There is one big milestone that happened during the time period, I turned 30! Yes, the dreadful thirty. It's not so bad, I feel like I've reall been beyond my twenties for a few years now, so it felt just natural. I was able to celebrate in NYC for the weekend, with museums, shopping , eating amazing food and high tea at the Plaza. Very grown up. 

Q3: July through September

Woah there third quarter. Can you say holy crap? This year was truly the year of courage and one of the things I finally had courage to do was hire a VA. This was the best thing I ever did for myself, for reasons not expected. The best thing about having someone else involved with my business was the person to bounce ideas off of, and give you the confidence to go for your dreams. A lot of summer was focused on CONTENT for SSDG and clients. We released a free resource center, and two full-length classes vs. the usual mini classes. One class is over 15 hours of teaching CSS for Squarespace and the other is based on a 70 pp ebook. Probably the most I've written on one topic since grad school. They were truly transforming classes, in that I not only was able to stand back and create the content my students needed, but also have the confidence that I could be the one providing this content. It took real courage!

In July through Sept, we launched four new sites, a huge rebrand for a local company and launched two full scale ecourses. To say we were busy is an understatement.

Q4: October through December

I dub these months transformative. It was through these months that I felt like I had been running up a mountain with all of my ventures and got to the top and reached a precipice. This resulted in a few things. I realized number one that my goal of launching SquareFoodie was not going to happen during 2016, and accepting that was the number one thing. I had planned so much time and effort going into a launch for that, including income, that I had to relook at where I was and saw some HUGE design gaps. 

In these design gaps, were where I had focused so much on my client's work, that I had left my own websites in a place which would be hard to grow. So during these months we rebranded, and re-launched Summerfield Delight (my food blog), SquareDesignGuild AND this site. The main reasons for this was to pull back the design, as well as move things to the Brine Template, which I feel is the best family of Squarespace templates currently being offered. Moving my sites onto Brine was not a small project, but totally needed. 

Combined with client work we launched seven new websites and five new brands! How crazy is that. We refined our offerings, and changed our client process from complicated platforms to a whole new client portal hosted here on the site :)

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Overall:

During 2016, my plan was to find the courage to put myself out there in ways never done before , in order to grow the foundation for the future. What I did in the end was push myself to the limit, design and time wise - to find what I really could do, and wanted to do. I was able to test systems, test brands, find my stride and push forward to a place where now I can let the dust settle and start to refine into a sustainable and profitable business.