Life of a Hippie CEO Behind the scenes of building a soulful company

My 2016 review

2016

I started 2016 with about 200 email subscribers, 500 Youtube subscribers, one product that sold for €47 and looking back on a 2015 year revenue of €158.

I ended the year with 3000+ email subscribers, 3000 Youtube subscribers, a range of products selling from €25 to €149 and a year revenue of €3750.

It’s been 3 years since we founded Commit Happiness, and 1,5 year since I started to treat it as a business + worked fulltime on it.

Sometimes I feel very proud of this growth, sometimes I feel frustrated or start doubting myself because it wasn’t more or didn’t happen faster. But I also think that the “end result” of 2016 is not the most important thing to focus on. There are a few things that are probably more valuable to look at:
 

  • What helped me grow?
  • What didn’t work for me?
  • What does this mean for my possibilities in 2017?
  • How do I want to use these experiences to do better in 2017?

 
That’s what I’ll be talking about in this blogpost.

My 2016 business year review - Life of a Hippie CEO

Let’s dive into the numbers!

I love looking back at my numbers, as it’s often much more motivating to see the growth rather than the single numbers of each month.

With that I also want to introduce a great concept by Steve Pavlina: he said it’s not really about how much we have achieved, but whether or not we saw growth in what we did. Because if you have been growing/improving in the past, then there is a very high chance you will keep growing in the future.

This takes of the pressure to see immediate results, and still can give you a great sense of accomplishment even when you’re current results are quite small. Like my revenue:

my revenue growth 2016

(All the stars are months in which I did a launch.)

It’s pretty interesting to see how in November I made about half of my total year revenue! I did do a launch in that month of course, but it was just for a €37 product. Part of the success was because my list doubled after the virtual summit I did, but I’m not sure yet how big of factor that was. There are always so many variables in these launches… So I hope to get a better understanding after my next launch.

This is what the graph of my mailing list looked like:

My email subscriber growth 2016

As you can see, most of my list growth was consistent, coming from the different opt-in offers I have (and talk about in the meditations on Youtube, which is mostly how people find out about them). The big spike in September/October is because of my virtual summit: more on that later on.

After that point, my list started to shrink a little. This is because my monthly new subscribers stayed the same, while my absolute unsubscribe rate went up just because I mailed a larger list (if 1% unsubscribes with every mailing, there will be more people unsubscribing when I mail to 3000 instead of 1000 people.)

I don’t see this as a bad thing yet, as it did make that slightly smaller list a more engaged list: there are new people coming in, and the ones who don’t resonate with Commit Happiness any more, leave. My open rates have gone up lately. The whole year they’ve been 40-50%, and in December have always been slightly above 50%. So chances are I’m actually still reaching the same amount of people.

mailings

On the other hand, this is a great reminder that it’s time to grow the amount of monthly new subscribers. That hasn’t gotten much attention in the second half of 2016.

What helped me grow?

Mailing weekly

I think this is the #1 thing that made the biggest impact in my business in 2016. I started the year with the resolution to do a monthly newsletter, as I was too scared to mail weekly. I thought everyone would instantly unsubscribe. But after hearing online marketing teachers tell me again and again that I should mail weekly, I decided to give it a try and just see what happens.

When I send out my first mail (see below ;)), I had no idea that I was going to stick with it. I was scared for the unsubscribers, but also didn’t believe I would be able to come up with something to write every. single. week.

eerste-mail

And that was hard in the beginning, yes. I often didn’t know what to right an hour before my mailing had to go out. I wasn’t always so pleased with what I wrote. And I didn’t enjoy this part of my business – to say the least.

But as the months passed, it became much easier. Once you know you have to write something by the end of the week, you start the be (subconsciously) more on the lookout for potential ideas, and thus find them more often. After some time I also started to find my voice. I realized I wanted to write about the insights I had gotten from my personal experiences that week, and always conclude that with an action step for the reader.

And I started to see that I was actually not bothering people by writing weekly, but inspiring them! People started mailing me back how valuable my mail had been to them, or even told me that they were looking forward to my mails every week!

And those unsubscribes… of course they happened, but not in a significant amount. And it really helped me to realize every single time I sent out an email, that even though those 10 people unsubscribed, I had grown the relationship with those other 990 people that decided to stay.

And after some time I realized that these mails had become the backbone of my business. Which is partly because I didn’t put out weekly content haha. But seriously, I can’t imagine what my business would have been without these mails. They were everything.

The most beautiful thing that happened, was an email I got from a woman in November. She said she had been reading my emails since March (I think she didn’t know that was actually when I had started!) and that those emails had been just as important for her recovery process as the therapy sessions she had had!

Wow. I felt so much purpose in that moment.

Because I decided to not listen to all those fears I had about sending emails, I made a big impact on the life of one woman on this planet.

It’s easy to let yourself be hold back by fear. It’s, frankly, even easy to sacrifice your own dream life so you don’t have to face your fears. But the next time you notice fear is holding you back, realize that this is bigger than you. There might be a person who is waiting for you to take this bold and scary action right now. Because to her, it will make all the difference.

Hosting a virtual summit

I’ve been wanting to host one ever since Leonie Dawson said it was a good idea to host a tele summit. But I had never found the courage to really work on one – until I failed at reaching my list building goals for the summer. I had been so stubborn on wanting to have 2300 email subscribers on my birthday, and in June it was clear I needed a miracle if I wanted to make that happen.

So I created one ;)

efestival

August was too soon for a virtual summit, but I planned mine out for October – reaching the 2300st subscriber about a month after my initial ‘deadline’. Looking back it would have been way less stressful if I had given myself some more time to pull that whole event off, but on the other hand it was great to see the result of taking action fast.

I just wish my life wouldn’t have collapsed during the process… (A.k.a. I got in a major relationship crisis while preparing the summit, then when it was live my sister (who was staying at my place for a few weeks) stepped out of the company, and a few days later her lover died in a car accident.

It was tough.

But let’s get back to the summit, which I somehow managed to run despite everything. I landed amazing speakers for it, some of the most famous Dutch thought-leaders when it comes to personal and spiritual growth. Because of that, and because of all the huge amount of work that it took to organize the event, I was a bit disappointed that I had only gained 1500 new subscribers because of the summit.

social3

On the other hand, growing from 1600 to 3200 subscribers in just a few weeks, still made a very big impact on my business (as you can see in the graphs above ;)). And I think people also viewed me more as an authority afterwards. Plus I shouldn’t discard the fact that a lot of people were inspired by the summit and sent me the most loving emails to thank me.

I’m glad that I did it, and next time I want to try a virtual summit with an all-access pass rather than this one that was completely free, so there is more return on the effort for me.

Fail, and fail again

Or maybe I should phrase this as: growing my business experiences. ;)

If you’ve followed me during the past year, you might have known it wasn’t always easy for me. I have done so many launches that disappointed me BIG time. Actually almost every launch except for that last one felt like a failure or disappointment in some way…

launch2

launch3

launch4

And it took me till the end of the year to see the value in it. Which is quite naturally by the way, as it takes some time to let go of your expectations, even after they haven’t been met.

But in my last launch I noticed how much I had grown in doing webinars, writing “sales” emails and mostly: feeling confident and aligned during all of that. And how that enabled me to shine and do better during that launch.

Sometimes we view certain experiences as a failure because they didn’t bring us what we initially did them for, like a big revenue number. And that’s very natural too, and you should give yourself all the space and softness you need for the feelings that those experiences bring.

But I want you to also know, that what feels like a failure now might feel like a reason for your success later on.

What helped me the MOST in growing my business this year, was just being IN business. And the same is true for you. Just being here and taking action for your business every day (or how often you get to it) is what will help you most in building the business of your dreams. That’s where it all comes down to in the end. And in these actions, mistakes are just as important (and inevitable) building blocks as things that work out the first time you try them.

launch5

Investing in my business

In 2015 I became a member of Webinars that Convert, and I’ve been really glad to join Amy Porterfields other programs as well this year: Courses that Convert and List Builders Lab. She is my most favourite oline business teacher in the world. She goes deep, and always step-by-step so it’s easy to implement her programs. Every time I invest in her courses, I feel doubtful – and then get completely excited once I’ve been through the content.

Next to Amy, the other investment that (I think) brought me the highest ROI this year, was Convertkit. My email marketing has become so much more powerful, and even though I cringe a little every month I get their bill, I earn back the costs every single month. I cannot imagine running an online business without an email provider with the kind of features that Convertkit or AcitveCampaign offer.

My third favourite investment was the Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp. Denise is also one of my favourite teachers, and inspires me not only for mindset work but on how to run an business in general. I liked her course when I first dove into it, but experienced it as much more powerful during the live round we did in November. And guess what? During that time I had my most profitable month!

Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 16.52.04

Then there have been some investments that I don’t regret, but don’t feel very excited about either. List Surge from Melyssa Griffin was okay, but I wouldn’t recommend it now that the price is 3x more than what I paid for it. I invested in Navid Moazzez’ Virtual Summit Mastery, and feel mixed about it. His content is great, but the way he delivers it in the course is not very user friendly. It’s a lot of work to translate his teaching to action steps. And I’ve grown a bit sick of his ego, as he is always saying how other people are doing it wrong and he is right + amazing.

Then B-school was a big disappointment! I don’t understand why the whole world is so fond of that course. It’s clearly a beginners course but Marie positions it as if it’s useful to more experienced business owners as well, and I think some of her strategies are quite outdated.

But the funny thing with business investments is that it can be quite easy to make your money back, even if the course isn’t that great. For example, I wasn’t too happy with Pop-up ally pro – with their usability and the amount of subscribers that my pop-up brings in. But it was a $97 investment. If just ONE person signs up for my mailing list through that pop-up, and then later purchases a €120,- course, I’ve made it back (the higher number is because of Dutch VAT).

I’m always scared before I invest in a new business item (even ones my greenscreen that was just €15!) but I actually think it was always the right thing to do – for me. I just have to take chances, and most of those investments do earn themselves back if you’re able to put them into action.

Maybe that’s weird to say since I’ve earned less than €4000 with my business while I probably invested about €10.000 in total, but I do know for sure that without those investments I would have earned so much less.

These are the questions I use to decide on investments:

  • Is this relevant to what I want to or should do in my business?
  • Do I have this amount of money in my bank account? (Not: can I afford this? because I never feel like I can)
  • Do I have the time, energy and focus to implement this?
  • Do I like the teacher/company as a person?

 
I think that last one is more important than you might think. I noticed that I get much more results from the investments that are in a person I really LIKE. Those are a good indicator for me to see if I’m a fit for the program.

What didn’t work for me?

Except for being disappointed for not having MORE revenue or subscribers, I don’t feel like there were things this year that went absolutely wrong.

But there were things that I/my business missed:
 

  • A mastermind and emotional support
  • Consistent weekly content
  • Confidence in my ability to help people with my work
  • Being able to provide myself with an income
  • A proper internet connection… :’)

My business break-up

2016 Was also the year my sister stepped out of the business. That was a though process to go through, in which we both felt sadness, anger and resentment at times. We parted ways in a friendly way, but it was still a big mourning process for me that took a few months to process.

Now I start to see the bright side to it. I knew it in my heart already somehow, but now I start to SEE how this is better for me. How there’s more place to shine for me now, and how it is helping Commit Happiness as well.

But then that also makes it easy to trigger a feeling of guilt again. Maybe that’s the hardest part: accepting or trusting that this is the best for my sister as well, even though she lost a company.

I love her very much.

Looking into 2017

One of the most amazing things to realize, is with how much more “assets” I start this year. A mailing list that is 15x bigger and much more nurtured. A few courses and the promotional materials for them. A Youtube channel with 6x the subscribers. More self-confidence. More life experience and wisdom. And more knowledge and understanding of my audience.

My revenue goal for 2017 is €10.000.

income goal

Sometimes it feels too low, other times it freaks me out. But if you realize that it’s only three times what I earned last year, while my list is so much larger than it was a year ago… it should be doable, right?

This year I want to set goals that are more estimated and reasonable, and at the same time reach much more goals than I did last year.

These are my most important goals for the year:
 

  • Have a revenue of at least €10.000
  • Have 10.000 mailing list subscribers
  • Have 10.000 Youtube subscribers (yes, it’s my magical number this year!)
  • Publish new content every week
  • Continue mailing every week
  • Continue my mastermind with Julia, and find a second mastermind group
  • Focus on improving my existing courses + their marketing rather than creating new ones
  • Host my second virtual summit

 
Life of a Hippie CEO will stay on the background this year. I want to continue creating sharing videos and income reports to report my journey, but am not planning to put in any effort besides that.

Focus is going to be even more important for me this year.

And I notice that two start-ups is just too much to juggle. So I will first set up the foundation of Commit Happiness, and once that is a more established company, I can bring all my energy and focus to Hippie CEO. I hope it won’t take years, but if it has to, then so be it.

It hasn’t by the way been easy for me to keep focusing on one thing and letting go of projects, courses and ideas that I SO MUCH want to bring into existence. But lately it has gotten easier for me after I heard Amy Porterfield say: “When you focus on your existing course, you can use that same creativity to create new ideas for that course.”

I always felt like I missed out on something if I let go. But that sentence really helped me to see that I can still use my creativity and give birth to ideas, they only will be in a more constrained topic.

I’m generally looking forward to 2017 very very much :)

Make a difference in YOUR biz!

  • Take a look at your past year and ask yourself:
     
    • What helped me grow?
    • What didn't work for me?
    • What does this mean for my possibilities in the new year?
    • How do I want to use these experiences to do better this year?
  • If you feel like things have been a failure in the past, know that maybe someday you will find a hidden value in them.
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