2016: Year in Review

 
2016 Year in Review - a peek behind the scenes of my 1st year in business Melissa Yeager
 

Note: It's been my privilege to deliver fresh brand insights to you each week for over a year. However, my recent holiday hiatus has fostered some new clarity for my priorities and goals for 2017. These require lots of time and focus. As a result, I'll be scaling my blogging efforts back to a couple times each month.

During this time, I encourage you to revisit my archive of posts since your 2017 self may need some reminders and discover new nuggets of wisdom you missed the first time around. I'm excited to continue bringing you new content this year and can't wait to see what this year holds for all of us!

Looking Back at 2016

Seeing all the recaps of 2016 from my favorite brands and talented friends, I've been inspired to do one of my own. Plus, as my amazing friend and accountability partner Alicja Colon pointed out to me, this will give me a snapshot of my first year (and the years that follow) to look back on as my business grows and evolves.

So without further ado, I give you my review of 2016!

my Big Leaps

  • Starting my business - This was a tremendous leap for me, and I couldn't have done it without the unwavering love and support of my husband, family, and friends.
  • Weekly branding insights - Publishing a new blog post every week is far from easy, but it helped me gain traction in this first year as well as starting to build my own little community (which I'm beyond thankful for). After over a year of these posts, I also get an amazing sense of accomplishment looking back on the wealth of branding insights I've shared so far.
  • Streamlining my process - I've loved designing the process of how I work with my clients, while looping in great systems to supercharge the workflow of this one-woman show. My process continues to evolve as I find new ways to streamline my work and better serve my clients, while making sure we have a blast in the process!
  • Saying “no” - Having been an introvert and chronic people pleaser for much of my life, this was an enormous step for me. But with time, I've learned that not every client is right for me and vice versa. I now have a better sense of the red flags I should look for, and find it easier to let people know when we're not the right fit.
  • My 1st design conference - This year I finally bit the bullet and flew myself to Columbus, GA for Creative South. This conference is more of a giant creative community lovefest, and I made friendships there that I'm eternally grateful for (not to mention just having endless amounts of fun). I can't wait to do it again this April!
  • New business friends - I'm so grateful for the new friends I've made over the last year. I thrive on the principle of community over competition, and it's incredible to meet so many other designers and entrepreneurs who feel the same.

the Numbers

Now let's take a look at some of my numbers for 2016. Please note that while social followers can be one way to measure growth, I believe that puts the focus in the wrong place. Instead, I'd like to focus on those I've partnered with, what I've been able to share, the work I'm proud of, and what's fueled me to keep going.

54

branding articles

160

subscribers

72

design inquiries

 

9

New Branding Clients

19

Total Clients

30

Total Projects

467

-ish Cups of Coffee

153

Yoga Sessions

1

new Puppy


The Work

Words can't describe how thankful I am for the passionate, amazing people who chose to trust in me over the last year. I consider myself so blessed to translate their vision into beautiful new branding and to work with such wonderful, inspiring entrepreneurs. Looking back, I couldn't be more proud of the work we've accomplished together.

 
 

* Created in collaboration with my talented friends at Spruce Rd.


2016 Clients

This year I worked with specialty coffee and premium chai brands, a marketing specialist, developer, fashion app, multiple photographers and lifestyle bloggers. That's quite a roster! Now here's a glimpse at where my 2016 clients came from and how we first crossed paths.

 

My Clients

My 2016 clients were a pretty equal split between new, existing, and collaborations/contract work. The collaborations included my work with Spruce Rd. as well as some overflow work from my previous employment at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, some clients I'd already done branding work for brought me on for some fun new projects.

How did clients find me in 2016? Amazingly, 74% of them came by way of referral, while 21% already knew me personally and were pulled in by the work I was sharing across social media. Finally, 5% found me through Pinterest.

After over a year of posting weekly branding insights, it's amazing to see these finally gaining more traction in the form of new subscribers and inquiries finding me through Pinterest and Google searches.

How They Found Me

 

Goals & Plans for 2017

So what are my plans for 2017? I've got quite a few ideas (as always), but now comes the hard work of actually making them happen. That said, here's what you can look out for from me this year.

  • My 1st eCourse - This year I'll be releasing my first online course focused on teaching you the software that makes my designs possible (Adobe Illustrator). For now, you can chime in on the survey to help me build the best course possible and subscribe to stay in the loop. I'm expecting to launch in the next few months!
  • New brand - To start, my 1st course will be housed right here. But I've got bigger plans for a new brand/platform focused on community, empowerment, learning, and growth. This will include resources for small businesses as well as helpful + inspirational goods you will be able purchase.
  • Packaging - As I enter my 2nd year in business I'll also be making more of an effort prioritize package design work. Artisans, wineries, food brands, makers, and craftspeople, I'm looking at you!
  • Collaborations - I've engaged in a couple collaborations already, but I'd like to do even more this year. I'd love to find excuses to work with my talented friends and to partner with new ones too!
  • Balance & Self Care - As my lower back and hermit tendencies can attest to, a healthy work-life balance is a tricky thing to find. But over the last year I've learned a lot more about my own boundaries and what doesn't work, so I plan to put that knowledge to use this year in my quest for balance. I promise to be kind to myself, and to do my best to remember that I'm enough just being me... no matter how much I get done in a given day (or even year).

It's so easy to get wrapped up in the details of our days, that sometimes I find myself forgetting about the big picture altogether. This review has been a fun exercise in looking back at what I've learned and what I've accomplished in my first year. With my new goals in place, I can't wait to see what 2017 holds. Cheers!

What else do you want to know about my first year in business? What are your big goals for 2017? Let me know in the comments below! 

Melissa Yeager

West Chester, PA, USA

Logo and brand designer who helps passionate, creative entrepreneurs channel their excitement and all of their ideas to create a visually stunning, cohesive brand that feels right for them while working wonders for their business.