Today I’m sharing with you guys something that I’m willing to admit makes me a little bit terrified.
Starting this month, I want to give you all an honest, behind-the-scenes look at the growth of Made Vibrant, as well as invite you to follow along on the winding, unexpected journey that is trying to build an authentic, values-based business.
The reason I say that it terrifies me to do this is because the very act of sending these goals out into the universe feels a bit like I could be casting some giant jinx on myself and doing so in a very public way. (But, hey, that’s just the Fear talking, right? And I’m certainly not going to let Fear start making my decisions for me. That liar can’t be trusted!)
Beyond the fear of publicly “failing,” I think I’ve hesitated to share honestly about my business goals because I never wanted to give off the impression that scaling my business was my only focus. From the beginning I’ve been very vocal in my belief that an authentic business is one that aligns with your values — not one that pads your bank account — and I feared that focusing on things like numbers, metrics and (by association) dollars, might appear in conflict with that belief.
BUT I’ve been focusing on standing in my truth lately, and that’s what I intend to do now.
I love the business I’ve created, and I love the community I’ve cultivated. I believe deeply in the work I do and the real conversations I share with real people (like you!) through that work. And yes, I also make money from that work. I profit from my business, and those profits financially support the lifestyle I’ve consciously designed for myself and my family (that’s Jason and Plaxico if you’re new to these parts!) I’ve realized that there’s nothing wrong with openly acknowledging that my business makes me money and that it’s my desire to grow my business in an intentional way.
I remember when I was just starting out with Made Vibrant. I got so much wisdom and comfort in hearing the troubles and triumphs of fellow entrepreneurs that had made it through the gauntlet of their first year in business. With this in mind, each month I’d like to let you in on my immediate goals with Made Vibrant, as well as openly share with you my strategies, struggles and progress as I work toward those goals.
Monthly Growth Reports
I’ve seen plenty of online businesses in the recent months begin to publish “income reports,” detailing for their audiences how much and in what ways they earn their money online. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this practice for the people that do it, and I certainly think it can be an inspiring way to show an aspiring entrepreneur what’s possible in their own business.
But I have two reasons why income reports are not the way that I want to take you on this journey with me:
- Money means different things to different people. Everyone is entitled to the lifestyle they design for themselves and how much money that lifestyle requires. My financial goals might appear to be a lot less or a lot more than the next person’s, and I wouldn’t want anyone comparing themselves or the success of their business based on a metric that is completely subjective. Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t share hard numbers here or there, it just means that I don’t feel comfortable making dolla dolla bills my primary means of illustrating progress.
- Profit is not my primary business objective. To be even more clear: the objective of Made Vibrant as a business is NOT to make as much money as possible. If it was, I’d be optimizing for revenue at all costs and spending my time selling products at a much higher price point. Instead, my business objective is this: to positively impact as many people as possible in a way that financially supports a lifestyle that's intentionally built around my values. That said, revenue is certainly one piece of the puzzle there; it’s just not the whole thing.
I also, quite frankly, shift my focus pretty frequently. Here’s the pure and simple truth about building a business deeply aligned with your core: as you change, your business goals change.
And since I do a lot of evolving, naturally my business does too. My goals might change from one month to another - sometimes in favor of growing my community, sometimes in favor of streamlining my processes to free up time for things like hiking and summer reading, sometimes in favor of revenue.
That’s why, at the end of each month, I plan to share with you my over-arching goal for the upcoming month, as well as active to-do's I plan to tackle in order to reach that goal. Each month I’ll deliver a recap of the previous month’s activity so you can see what worked and what didn’t.
My hope is that these monthly “growth reports” not only keep me accountable in working toward my goals, but that they serve as a learning resource for any other creative entrepreneurs hoping to build vibrant, authentic businesses.
With all that said… let’s get into July’s goals:
Primary Focus Area:
I’ve relied in the past on relatively organic growth from things like my weekly newsletter and some sporadic blog posts, but in order to impact more people (see the MV bisiness objective above) and to support the sales of my products (like the lettering course and the branding course), I’m ready to more intentionally focus my efforts on growing my main community channels like the Self-Made Society (SMS) list and my Instagram account (two sources of sales conversions for my products.)
- Unique site visitors in June: 21,367
- Self-Made Society email community subscribers: 2,803
- Better Branding Course pre-launch subscribers: 291
- Instagram followers: 4,773
- Unique site visitors in July: 25,000
- Self-Made Society email community subscribers: 3,000
- Better Branding Course pre-launch subscribers: 400
- Instagram followers: 5,000
GOAL = Unique site visitors: 25,000
Most of the unique visitors coming to the blog now are from posts via Pinterest and they’re looking for some very specific information (as illustrated in the high bounce rate which tells me they’re coming for one thing and not sticking around for anything else.) I’d like to see more diverse and steady traffic coming to the blog, and to become more consistent in the eyes of visitors. My goal is to post five days a week all month long to see how that consistent content impacts traffic (and, as a result, email subscribers, which brings me to my next goal...)
GOAL = Self-Made Society email community: 3,000
I think my email newsletter is one of the single most valuable pieces of content I offer, but when you land on my home page, the signup form is for the most part buried. I’m going to make a few layout changes in the coming weeks to make this more of a feature, as well as do a better job of highlighting the free e-book subscribers get upon signing up. I also plan to encourage existing members to share the emails more and get new sign-ups that way.
GOAL = Better Branding Course pre-launch subscribers: 400
I have a list of guest posts I’d like to write on sites where soulful creatives in need of a branding boost might be in the audience. The goal will be to convert some of this traffic outside the existing Made Vibrant community to the Better Branding Course email list, and to nurture that list with more valuable, free content so that when the July course enrollment period opens, more subscribers will be prepared to sign up for the course because they’ll have a better idea of what type of content they’ll be paying for.
GOAL = Instagram followers: 5,000
Instagram has been by far the most powerful social platform for me, especially with the visual nature of the branding course and the lettering course. I want to continue to grow that audience in a way that feels right for me and to try my best not to make it too much of a posed/curated feed. I still want it to feel real and to share my life in an authentic way. By getting back to my daily art posting and sharing more of the blog content this month, I’m hoping to attract audience members that will enjoy the mix of life, business and creativity that Made Vibrant has to offer.
That’s it folks! This month is all about bringing more awesome soulful creatives into the fold, so if you know someone that might love the blog or the newsletter, please send them this way!
Now, I’d love to hear in the comments: what is your primary focus for your creative business this month? In what ways do you measure your growth?
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This post first appeared in my Monday newsletter to Self-Made Society -- Made Vibrant's email community for soulful creatives. Sign up and you'll get instant access to my e-book, A Year Made Vibrant, with over 50 of my past weekly newsletters.