Exactly a year ago, I published my first blog post as MintSwift. Today I’m celebrating my one year of business anniversary! I can’t believe that it’s been a year already and I feel like it’s been five years because I learned SO MUCH through the first one. I want to thank you so much for following along with my journey and helping me evolve.
Today, I thought it would be nice to tell you about 7 things I would do differently in my first year of business. I dedicate this post especially for those of you who are still struggling whether to take the leap to have your business full-time or even start a business without working for the agency first. Before I jump into details, I’d love to tell you a back story on how I even got here and why I started my own business in the first place.
I’ve been a Graphic Designer for almost 3 years now, but before I started my own business called MintSwift, I was freelancing full-time at one of the websites similar to Upwork. When I think about it now, it was a great experience and it taught me a lot and help me pinpoint my design process, pricing, client experience and more.
In summer 2015 I started to feel like having a profile on a freelance website and getting clients that way is not enough. Theoretically, I was having my own business, but in practice, they could remove my profile and I’d lost all of my clients. So I’ve started reading tonnes of blog posts from other designers who work “on their own”, but I found one person who truly inspired me and she’s a reason why I started this blog – it’s Lauren from Elle & Company.
You can read my whole story on my about page, by clicking the button below.
Now, let’s dive into 7 things I would do differently in my first year of business.
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1. I’D SAVE MONEY FIRST
Harsh truth time – owning your business is amazing, but when you’re starting out, no one even knows you exist. Getting traffic to your blog is really hard, especially if you don’t know how to get it effectively and without traffic, you won’t get any leads or customers. Building your visibility takes time, so you need to save some money before you take a leap to have your business full-time. You can’t expect to earn thousands of dollars from day one. Not to mention when you work with clients without any savings, you can sell yourself short, because you’re desperate to earn any money.
You had this great idea for a business and you’re super excited to jump right to it. You’re forgetting that no one knows who you are and won’t magically find your blog or your services right away. That’s why is important to save money before you take your business full time because you might not earn anything in first 6 months.
2. I’D FOCUS ONLY ON PINTEREST FROM THE DAY ONE
I know, I keep saying that, but it’s the truth! I’ve wasted so much time trying to get my Instagram followers to click the link in my bio or keep my fingers crossed and hope that potential client would see my tweet. I read so many success stories about using Pinterest to grow your traffic, all on autopilot and to be honest I was very sceptical.
It all sounded too good to be true but in April, I’ve decided to give Pinterest a try any my visibility grew by 500% in just one month! So, after the second month of blogging, Pinterest has become my largest source of traffic and it’s all on autopilot.
3. I’D BUILD MY AUDIENCE AND TRAFFIC FIRST
I wish I created my website way before I took MintSwift full-time, so I didn’t have to grow my audience and traffic from zero. It’s important to understand that only a percentage of your website visitors will purchase your products or services, so the higher page views, the higher possibility that someone would buy them. Before you brand your business, it’s important to narrow down your target audience and then find ways to attract them.
Once your audience grows, you’ll have a better idea what are their problems (though blog comments, newsletter replies etc.) and help them further by writing blog posts or emails which provide the solution and you no longer have to guess what your audience struggling with.
4. I’D STOP COMPARING AND STOP BELIEVE IN EVERYTHING I SEE
In the business world (especially online) we tend to think that it takes this tool and this marketing tactic and I’ll be successful. New bloggers think that they can mimic some business guru and they’ll have what she/he has in blink of an eye. It takes more than having an expensive tool to be successful.
Success contains thousands of small actions and it isn’t something you got a recipe for. I hate to see someone promises # number of page views, # number of email subscribers or # number of clients to their course students because honestly, NO ONE can predict the exact outcome.
Gurus tend to forget to mention other (usually not-so-great) things which come to their success or whatever you call it. They don’t mention their circumstances or bad things that happened along the way. One of the reasons I started this blog is to share transparent tips and not sugar coat or write vague, pointless articles about everything and anything.
I wasted so much time reading a post which “promised” to teach me something or give me tips about something and it turned out to be vague posts from which I haven’t learn ANYTHING.
I don’t know about you, but I like to have clear step-by-step instructions, post about the specific topic and if something is hard to understand is good to have some examples. This is what I’m trying to achieve with MintSwift blog, please let me know if you feel like it when you read this or other posts, ok? 😉
When I came across one of the “famous” bloggers who earns a lot of money, I was extremely motivated and instantly, though “If she did it, I can do it too! Or even earn more than she!” She made it all sound so easy like I can earn thousands of dollars overnight, with minimal effort and right on the first day of blogging. Unfortunately, she “forgot” to mention that it took her over FOUR YEARS to be at the stage she currently is. She lost a lot of money, hire employees, tried 1000 things before she found the perfect one and other things new bloggers can’t afford. It took me few months to realise that I shouldn’t compare someone else’s end to my beginning.
5. I’D PLAN IN ADVANCE
To be honest, I like to have a rough outline of what needs to be done, but I can’t work on a strict task list (the only time I can work on a strict task list is my design process).
After having my business for one year, I wish I hadn’t had written down my big goals. Sometimes, I did some things without putting any deadline on them and they took me months! I know it’s scary to make big plans if you’re just starting out and don’t know if your business will even take off, but without planning (at all) you might end up feeling like you haven’t achieved anything.
I’ve been using Asana from the start of my business, but from the beginning of 2017, I write down each of the tasks (with a freedom to do something which suddenly came to my mind and it’s not on a list). I divide each month into weeks and write down what’s need to be done in each week and I can move those tasks around if I need to. Since then, my productivity increased a lot and I no longer feel like I haven’t done anything all day.
6. I’D INVEST IN MY BUSINESS SOONER
I know, I know, I just told you about saving money and now I ask to spend it, what the heck?! Well, I believe that you don’t necessarily need to spend thousands of dollars on your business right away, BUT some investments can pay off big time. For example, I invested in paid MailChimp* account, even though I haven’t had 2000 subscribers (so I could still use it for free), but I wanted to host my course there, therefore I needed to pay for the automation and it paid off a big time, because over 500 students enrolled in the course and learn the power of Pinterest from me 😉
UPDATE 16.08.2018 – Since June 28th, 2018, BoardBooster is closed down.
Also, I invested in BoardBooster* which is super affordable (starts at $5), fast and reliable hosting SiteGround*, Adobe Illustrator* which I use every single day and this is the only tool I recommend for graphics creation, my blog theme and more. If I wasn’t brand and web designer, I’d certainly hire professional for that, because you have only one chance to make a good first impression and one-of-the-kind, cohesive visuals can help you achieve that. If my husband wasn’t a software developer, I’d hire someone to help me with some more advanced coding. If I haven’t had DSLR and average photography skills, I would found a photographer to take my brand photos. And so on …
7. I’D THINK MORE ABOUT HOW TRUST IN BUSINESS IS IMPORTANT
Before I started my own business I read a lot of blog posts from successful bloggers and there was the one word (besides value) that keeps coming up – the world is TRUST. Trust is an essential part of any client – blogger/business owner relationships.
Let’s be honest, you probably have your favourite supermarket when you shop every week because you TRUST them. You’ve been using their products for years and you know that they won’t disappoint you. The same goes with working with clients, purchasing products or reading blogs. People must trust you before they pay for anything. They won’t waste they time reading a blog post from a blogger they don’t trust.
How to build trust? By showcasing your expertise by blogging about the topic your target audience is interested in. Sharing your portfolio projects on your website and social media. When you’re selling products to your email list, provide a lot of useful information for free (so called value), before you ask for sale (it also give them a sneak peek on your teaching methods).
I still can’t believe that MintSwift has one year! It’s been an amazing journey and I’m so excited what this year will bring.
There are a lot of changes coming, the biggest one you’ve probably noticed is that I’ll be now offering brand and web design services and moving away from designing just logos (I keep my premade logos in the shop and I hope to create more of them, though) because this year proved me even more than I already know that branding is more than just a logo.
If I have time, I’m considering expanding MintSwift shop to provide other digital products like blog post templates, brand discovery workbook and more, but I’ll keep you posted about it.
I want to thank you so much again for reading my blog, for encouraging me to keep doing that and making my days with every nice email, comment or even like on social media 😉 I wouldn’t be where I’m right now without you, my Minty!