I’ve spent all morning staring at spreadsheets, calculating numbers and trying to use data to make CEO-style decisions. And then, after spinning in circles and burning my vegan chocolate chip cookie in the microwave (it was still great, so thank you Planted Bakery!), I realized that I was trying to use numbers to answer the question — what do I really want, and why?
But you see, while I believe that data is an incredible tool, it’s just one factor of decision-making. So I put a stop to the statistic crunching to sit down and sift through the heart and soul behind this year, and what I hope the next will be like.
After all, the best thing I’ve ever done with this business is to keep things Salted — which means going against the grain as needed, and finding unbelievable flavors of life as a result.
Buckle up, because this post is straight from an entrepreneur’s heart with raw insights and hopefully some relatable woes and wants.
Starting this one is somehow so challenging for me that I just found myself crossing my arms, almost denying myself the keyboard and its revealing prose. But let’s just go ahead and do this.
You’ll never take the trip or visit that friend, if you plan work before you plan your life.
This is hard for me because my personal life insists on a lot of spontaneity — because I love a last-minute trip, but mostly because my husband is a pilot and I never know his schedule for the next month until the week prior. Right now, for example, I have no idea when he’ll be home in February. I used to take this as an excuse for not planning ahead with my personal life. Client projects were scheduled months in advance, but trips to visit my family, coffee dates with friends, girls’ trips…those took the back burner. At least, until I knew what his schedule would be, and by then, I was too busy working to really prioritize my friendships and family.
I started using a different take this year — planning my schedule personally and professionally, regardless of what his schedule will be. With one key difference: VIP Days are no longer scheduled until I have his schedule in hand; this way, the house is quiet and I don’t have any guilt or regret about my calendar.
It’s been incredibly refreshing to make a plan and stick to it, and our dog sitter has been an incredible help — accommodating my drop-offs and the husband’s pickups, pilot uniform and all (have I ever told you how much I love and hate being a dog-loving wanderlust type of a person?? They’re at odds sometimes, but we make it work).
This has good and bad connotations, as lady luck would have it. I’m not going to go into details — mostly because that would require about 10 other blog posts to really fill you in, but this year encompassed a skin cancer diagnosis, followed by a 2-day procedure with plastic surgery to remove said cancer from my forehead of all places. The black eye and bruising afterwards was rough, so I holed up over Thanksgiving break to recover.
On the other side of the coin, just after the dermatologist said there was a bit of basil skin cell carcinoma on my face, I won a $10k business plan competition prize. I remember that night, a fellow contestant was sitting next to me, and said that I could go into modeling if my business didn’t continue doing so well. I felt a tinge of pain at that, as I didn’t know how the surgery would go, and what my face would look like (so far, I’m just a Harry Potter of sorts and it’s fine).
I thought I was good at this, but if your daily moisturizer is just 15 spf like my old one, perhaps it’s time for an upgrade (loving my new stuff from Naked Sundays). I also buy hats as my souvenirs now when traveling, and to be honest, I didn’t have a good go-to souvenir purchase before, and I kind of love this new one!
And because last year’s post was so puppy-centric, I do have to chime in here and say that she has grown up now! Our routine is still the same — a daily walk first thing, but this year our goal is to turn one mile into two, every single day!
Let’s start with a literal win. I won the Fort Worth Business Plan Competition (which I wrote all about back in May). This consisted of a 15-page business plan with financials, marketing plan, business structure overview, etc., as well as a 3-minute pitch in front of a live audience and panel of judges. I drove home as the grand prize winner. I rode that wave of adrenaline and pride for months after. The crazy part is that I joined the competition as a way to get back into the community post-COVID, only to receive a monetary and press award for my intentions (and business plan).
Just minutes after the American Airlines CEO sat down to chat with the Mayor, I sat down in that very same seat to talk about a business with a much smaller fleet — Salted Pages! This came as a result of my competition win. Listen to the episode.
From copywriting templates to a Canva brand messaging guide template, we loved diving into this new wave of our business, and cannot wait to release even more copywriting tools and courses. A fun memory from this year was the day we sold 10 of the Canva templates in mere hours from a few Instagram stories we shared. For a brand new shop with no reviews, that was something!
For website copywriting, SEO Starter Kits, VIP Days and blog posts — we worked on a variety of content from the luxury wedding market to wedding furniture rentals, website template shops and even a badass photography and videography couple (who we’ve worked with repeatedly over the years).
To train a new writer, oversee projects and hit new revenue goals with our 55+ clients — we are honored.
Salted Pages has had its share of contract blog writers and even a virtual assistant, but this year takes the cake. I hired Amy (from Austin, TX) to help with client projects and admin work, and she has made clients cry happy tears. Check, mate. You’ll be seeing more of her, and potentially other writers as time goes on!
At one point — we had an ongoing tally of whose dog should win employee of the month. Truth be told, it was her pup that spent more time in the office than Nutmeg. Don’t tell Nutmeg I said that.
Time to breathe, soak up the sunshine and sift through ideas — yes, “island time” or that feeling of time spent at a leisurely, restful pace — is booked into every full project schedule. This means our clients have time to rest or take a few days to think over revisions, while our team has the time to create the goodness that comes with scheduled respite.
I’m pretty sure the last “rush fee” we charged was back in 2020. And that’s because we took that option off the table — rushing a project just didn’t create the results and relationships we’re all about. The only sidestep to this is that we do have VIP Days, but because those days are set aside to work on your project, and your project only, we’ve found that it’s a great solution for faster turnarounds, without double-booking our days.
With this, we experienced a 22% increase in gross profits while still creating five-star projects. I flew to the beach once every month all summer (May through August in fact) and I found that my presence with projects was better than ever.
I can’t not put this in here when most of my clients are in the wedding industry. The fact that a good chunk of my fall consisted of wedding-ing with my sister makes my heart sing. From a bachelorette party in Dallas to her Austin al fresco wedding where my dog begged enough wedding guests to eat a week’s worth of dinner at her welcome party… it was an incredible time of family, love and new friends (my sister’s group of friends took me in with open arms).
We’ve seen wild results from our projects, so we’re going to share them for your eyes too. Think revenue increases, dream client inquiries and SEO results basically off the charts.
We’re still deciding between Punta Cana, Bonaire and a few other seaside settings. Amy and I cannot wait!
Of course, we’ll also be taking some new brand photos with the whole team on deck.
Many of my clients are luxury hybrid photographers, and after attending the film workshop taught by Rudney Novaes (where I also taught an SEO session), I found myself drawn to the idea of a true-to-life format. I’ve been a hobby photographer for as long as I can remember, but editing digital photographs always stopped me from pushing further. I’m currently working on restoring my grandfather’s point-and-shoot Film camera, and just gifted myself a manual Nikon from the 50s.
I’ll be using these photos to showcase our brand, and better understand the craft of my clients.
Our words will always be flavored by the textures of the world, so this is only set to continue.
Last time we checked, our audience was craving an SEO course and copywriting guide. So stay tuned for those!
Whether that’s with a podcast or in-person workshops (perhaps teaching at one of yours?), another branch of the company will set sail towards the end of this year.
Now I find myself circling back to the original start of this conversation, er, blog post. What do I want, and why? Ultimately, I want to add more originality and flavor into the world, while also flavoring my own. A lot of times, that looks like helping entrepreneurs stand out so they can hit their goals, and therefore have the time and financial freedom to do more of what they want to do. It just so happens that what I want to do is to see more of the world, while spending time with the people who mean the world to me. If it happens to be oceanside with a pup nearby, that’s fine by me.
2023, I can’t wait to see what we can create together.
Loved this? See more year end reviews from the last four years.