Five Lessons I Learned in 2017

Can you believe it’s that time of year when all of us bloggers start writing our ‘2017 reflection’ posts? I can’t! Although, to be honest, the start of the year does feel like a long time ago, and a lot has happened since January 1. Here are a few lessons I learned in 2017 that I hope will set me up for an even bigger and better new year.

1. Starting a business is H.A.R.D

I’ve been in business for myself as a freelance designer since 2014 but at the end of 2016 I launched a second business (just to add to my already huge workload, of course) and launched a regional publication called Far West Living Magazine. (You can read more about it here). I launched the magazine initially with little knowledge on how I was actually going to make it work, and how much work, time, stress and money would be involved in getting this dream of mine off the ground. I ended up successfully launching the project from idea to physically holding the publication in my hands in four months, which was crazy! I wrote a whole blog post about the journey here.

I never anticipated this business to be the most challenging and daunting thing I have ever done, and to this day I still find myself up at night stressing about things related to it. Starting a business is hard work, but the reward is definitely worth it. I’m a big critic of my work but I know deep down I am proud of how far I’ve come. I’ve since self published four copies of the magazine and had it stocked in newsagents across Australia, which is pretty exciting.

Lesson learned: Never underestimate how much work is involved with starting and running your own business!


2. Social media growth is possible

This year I took the plunge and hired the assistance of a social media manager to help me with growing (and managing) my Facebook and instagram accounts for The Darling Design Co. I worked with an incredible lady called Rowe Timson, she is an Aussie photographer based in Bali and was a God send for me at the right time.

Rowe worked with me for about 6 months and in that time she helped me understand SO much about Facebook but most particularly the world of Instagram. After a couple of months Rowe started solely focusing on helping me grow and plan out my Instagram grid and boy did it help me, not only to increase reach and build on my community, but also taught me how to understand the ins and outs of social media growth.

Since working with Rowe, my account grew to well over 1,700 followers and a good percentage of engagement (which may sound small, but I started at 900 followers with little to no engagement before Rowe came along).

Rowe taught me the importance of planning when it comes to social media, and now it seems like such a no brainer and I see the importance of pre-planning content and staying true to who I am and what I want to share.

Lesson learned: PLAN PLAN PLAN! When it comes to sharing content on social platforms plan at least 5-7 days of posts in advance. Know what you want to say and why! Tailor content to your business and audience and grow your community by being engaged (that means commenting regularly on other people’s accounts, not just liking).


3. Limiting beliefs are BS

Earlier this year I attended my first ever Tony Robbins conference and it was eye opening to say the least. I wrote a whole post on the experience right here.

My biggest take away from the four days with Tony was how much of an impact our negative thoughts and ‘limiting beliefs’ about ourselves can have on our lives and the way we shape our future. I for one am super guilty of talking negatively to myself about the way I look and I have know I have a pretty crummy relationship with money and finances. After four days of soul searching, meditation, chanting, cheering and writing down notes I walked away from the conference feeling a little lighter and more focused.

Lesson learned: We become what we tell ourselves. If we constantly tell ourselves we are too ugly, too fat, too broke, or not smart enough we will eventually become those things. Our limiting beliefs are just fear, they’re not truth. If we focus more on what we want in a way that we actually believe it’s going to happen our energy will flow into those areas of our lives and positive shifts will happen.


4. Putting yourself out there pays off

This year I was invited to do my first ever speaking gig as a business woman with a non-for-profit arts organisation in regional NSW and it was amazing. I was so nervous at first when asked to do the gig, but once I settled in and started chatting I knew I was okay! The organisation is called Outback Arts and they do amazing things in my part of the state for spreading the message about arts and culture in regional areas.

After spending some time with the OA team I knew I wanted to find a way to spend more time and energy in this field and somehow use my skills alongside the organisation. I eventually ended up reaching out to one of the team with Outback Arts offering my skills and I ended up landing a freelance job with them as a Creative Producer and have since traveled to numerous towns in my region hosting workshops and meeting creatives just like me! It’s been amazing.

Lesson learned: Just because an opportunity doesn’t appear to be available doesn’t mean you can’t approach a business, person or organisation to offer your skills anyhow. If I hadn’t have reached out to the OA team I would have never landed a role with the company. Sometimes it pays to approach someone with an idea or a proposal and see what they think. You never know what their answer might be, and the worst they can do is say no!


5. Blogging can make you money

I’ve been fond of blogging for a really long time. I used to have a personal blog years ago where I would write about my life and my creative passions and it was fun. This year I really tried to step up my game in the blogosphere, although I am still a little way off where I want to be in terms of posting regularly. Despite still being a little sporadic with my content posts I have seen significant growth in my blog traffic and published my first paid post this year!

I know a lot of people feel a bit funny about sponsored content, but I do see its value when it’s one correctly. I’d heard and read about bloggers making money online before but I never really knew how they did it. It wasn’t until this year I learned all about affiliate marketing and sponsored posts that I saw an opportunity for me to actually make money off something I really enjoy!

I’m not going to tell you I made thousands (in fact, I haven’t even made hundreds) off the blog this year but I will tell you blogging can make you some extra cash! I plan to continue to blog steadily in the new year and will keep my mind and eye open for any collaborations or partnerships that may come my blog’s way.

Lesson learned: Just because your blog or following seems small doesn’t mean it can’t make you a few extra dollars every month. By posting consistently and tailoring content to suit your audience there are always ways to collaborate or partner with people wanting what you have, or willing to pay for your online ‘real-estate’ (so to speak). 

This year has been huge for me, and to say I am exhausted and a little mentally drained would be an understatement! I know 2017 has opened my eyes to so many new things and opportunities which have been incredible. I can only hope 2018 will bring the same level of personal and professional growth as this year.

What lessons did you learn this year? How will you take what you learned into the new year?

Ellie xx

Ellie is a freelance graphic designer, business and lifestyle blogger, health and wellness enthusiast and the founder of The Darling Design Co.

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