Well, folks, looks like another year has come and gone, and while many people claim 2016 to be a less than stellar year, I like to stick with the positive and say it was probably the best year to date for The Confetti Bar!
Clifford and I started this business back in 2013, and while we’re still growing & evolving every single day, we learned a lot over the past couple of years and I have to say I’m really, really excited to see what 2017 brings.
A few days ago I got this email from Heidi Fiedler (who, by the way, always sends really insightful and inspiring messages, so you should totally subscribe to her list!) I thought her philosophy to celebrate your year’s accomplishments before getting ready to dive into new goals and dreams is really important, so I decided it would be fun this year to give a 2016 year in review. While it is near impossible to note all of the wonderful, exciting, and amazing things I was lucky enough to experience this year, below are a few fun facts about our year in confetti, as well as some of my side project/personal accomplishments, and favorite resources & tools that have helped run this here business and made it such a fantastic year.
First, our 2016 year in confetti:
Some additional accomplishments (both confetti & non-confetti):
- Self-published three contemporary romance novels.
- Hosted the 4th Monarch Workshop with Madeline Rhodes and spent two whole days mingling & learning with 75 kick-butt ladies.
- Re-designed my clean living blog, Simple Unsweet. (Though the site been lacking love lately due to my busy schedule, I discovered Hungryroot for quick & easy & healthy meals and I LOVE it!! You can use this link to save $20 on your first bundle! Eating well and feeling good plays a huge role in my success.)
- Had my first podcast interview on Office Talk with Annette Stepanian.
- Spoke at the Lady Project Summit in Providence, RI.
- Spoke at the Beauty is You Event in Hamden, CT.
- Launched the Confetti of the Month Club, introduced 12 metallic colors to our custom confetti options, and launched a line of happy t-shirts.
- Finished our second (and final) year at our first commercial Confetti Land studio space.
- Clifford and I signed a lease on our first condo together and moved Confetti Land to the new digs.
Some of my favorite online business resources & tools that helped this business run smoothly and efficiently, giving me more time to focus on what matters most:
- WordPress / Woocommerce
- Being that I’m not a super techy person, I can see how “pre-made” shopping sites are appealing to those starting out in running a small biz. (In fact, we even started using such a service in the very beginning of The Confetti Bar.) BUT now if I had to recommend one thing for starting a website or blog with a strong brand presence and continued growth in mind, it’s WordPress all the way! (And Woocommerce for e-commerce sites.) Sure it can be a little daunting to set up if you have no clue what you’re doing, but there are tons of resources and people (cough*Cliffpro*cough) that are awesome at getting it set up and teaching you how to customize and maintain things. Best part? WordPress / Woocommerce are FREE to get started. All you need to do is purchase a domain/hosting and you’re ready to rock. There is a plugin for just about anything you can imagine, and while a lot of these are paid (but usually very affordable in the long run), there are also a lot of free plugins that make running any kind of online business a breeze.
- This year we really wanted to focus on keeping in touch with our Cool Confetti Club peeps through email, so we switched to Convertkit as a more powerful way to manage our email content. While it is a tad bit more of an investment than some other email programs, I’ve found it to be very helpful in growing and maintaining our contact list. Truth: I found it was a little confusing to figure out at first, but once I got the hang of it it is now super simple to navigate and makes sending & organizing email content a breeze.
- Angie Makes
- Back around June we decided to completely overhaul our website as I wanted something simple and clean and easy for me to update. While I’m lucky to have Clifford as my own personal digital awesomeness guru, because he has a million other things on his plate I wanted something that I could design & maintain on my own (for the most part, anyway. 😉) Since we use WordPress, I wanted a theme that was simple and beautiful, and Angie Makes is my go-to! I was able to purchase a pre-made theme and then adjust accordingly (mostly on my own!) to make it confetti perfect. A few custom adjustments from Cliffpro and we were ready to rock and roll with the new site in no time and I have to say I love it lots. (I also used another Angie Makes theme for my site at jshbooks.com — that’s how much I love her stuff!)
- WP Engine
- This one is more Clifford’s territory, but long story short last year we were using a different web hosting provider that, while cheaper, caused a few headaches, including a hiccup that had our site down for a couple of days. No bueno. So we switched to WP Engine and have been beyond satisfied with their support and service. (Hey, when you run an online business, it’s important your business can actually function properly online!) If you’re serious about having a powerful website that is primed for growth, I highly recommend investing in quality hosting.
- Need a domain or SSL certificate on the cheap? I guess the name kind of gives it away. 😬 Namecheap is where we can purchase affordable domains and SSL certificates — you know, the required certificates used in order to make secure connections so we can process payments and personal information. We don’t store any sort of credit card information on our site, but the SSL insures that when you send the info to our processor it is encrypted and secure. (BONUS: With WP Engine hosting you can also get free SSL certificates, so yay!)
- Way back when, when we first started taking orders, I used to have to print each and every individual shipping label through PayPal. Yeah…it was time consuming and not so fun. Now I use ShipStation (that integrates with Woocommerce) and it is seriously the BEST EVER. Once I set up my account and linked my Woocommerce store, now when I process orders each day all I have to do is log into ShipStation and all my orders magically appear. Then all I have to do is enter the weight / package size (and you can set presets so it will automatically enter these if they are consistent) and BAM — I can batch print all the labels in one easy click.
- You guys…I can’t even begin to tell you how much Planoly has streamlined my social media sharing. The ease of being able to plan out my Instagram content in advance so I just have to post it at the designated time has been a life saver. I’m usually running around making confetti all day erryday, so being able to carve out a single chunk of time to add photos & captions to my feed (and see it visually planned out!) is amazing. I also love that I can add multiple accounts, being that I’m a crazy lady and have so many projects happening at once. 🙃 And my favorite part? Being able to add content and captions from my laptop! So much easier to type messages and tag peeps in the caption! 🙌🏻
- Clifford and I use Asana to keep track of all your lovely custom orders, and I have to say it makes life so much easier! I can add the description/files of the custom pieces that need to be designed for each order, add the due date, make any notes, and “assign” the task to Clifford. I also sporadically use the app for other to-do items & projects (like Monarch or book stuff), but while most of my ideas end up on Post-it notes and random scraps of paper, I consistently use Asana for the custom confetti orders. Best part? The free version does everything we need right now. Score. (PS It even has an option where when you check off an item as done, a unicorn might prance across the screen in celebration! 😂)
- The Happy Planner
- While I do love me some digital organization tools that allow me to keep all my thoughts together (and synced on all my devices!), I have one exception: The Happy Planner. I used this physical calendar/journal/planner this year to keep all my holidays & celebrations straight, as well as jot down notes for social media, blog, and email content. Sometimes it’s just easier for me to think through creative ideas by physically writing them down, and I love all the different add-ons and accessories for The Happy Planner.
(Psst…some of the items linked above are part of affiliate / refer-a-friend programs. This means you not only get to try out some of these services, but I also might get a little somethin’ somethin’ for sharing the love. Don’t worry though — I promise I use these things every. single. day. to run this business so I really do stand by them!)
Looking back, 2016 really was an awesome year. Sure there were some not so fun times, but that’s life, right? We have to take the good with the bad, but as long as we choose to focus on the good we’re doing something right. So tell me — what are some of your happy highlights from 2016? 🎉😊