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This year has been insane. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you KNOW I'm a sucker for recap posts. I love reflecting on the year and reminiscing. This post has a little bit of a different focus. This is my first full calendar year that I worked for myself. Full disclosure: it was the most stressful and wonderful thing ever. Oh wait, I also moved to Europe. Hmm… it's a toss up. ANYWAY, back to business. Like, my blogging business. I want to share with you the 8 things I did this year that helped to grow my blog and my business.

Let's get to it!

Shoes (similar) // Rug // Jeans

The 8 of the best things I did this year that grew my blog and business:

1. I switched to WordPress

Let me tell you something. I am stubborn. I like when I have a full understanding of a program and I felt that with Blogger. And even Squarespace. To me, WordPress was this terrifying, confusing program. And there is a learning curve. But man, once you get it… WOW. I absolutely love. My favorite part is that I own my content and it's backed up. It honestly is one of the best programs out there, and your options are endless. You can morph it into ANYTHING you want.

Why I love it: I can customize my design, add plugins, and have full control over my site.

How it's helped: The proof is in my traffic. It's steadily gone up. But even more that, my email list has EXPLODED. I started the year with under 4,000 email subscribers. I now have over 12,000.

If you are thinking about WordPress, I'd tell you to switch. I will tell you the honest truth though, it was not easy to switch. I wish I had just paid for help ahead of time. It would have saved me so much time. My right hand man is WP Help. I literally email them 4 times a day. They love me. It's fine.

YOU GUYS. This is totally insane. I talked to WP Help and they are making a special deal. Most transfers cost $500 +. WP Help is offering it for only $300… BUT they are giving Helene in Between readers 25% off!! So it's only $225. Use code “HELENE-WP”. PLUS they are including a free month of  Premium Care Plan (usually $99/mo) which is the same plan I use. It includes:

 
24/7 Support
Detailed notes for every job
Up to 4 hours of content updates
Up to 2 hours of design updates
Daily Backups
WordPress Core Updates
WordPress Plugins Updates
WordPress Themes Updates
Security Scanning
Security Monitoring
Security Alerts
Database Optimization
SPAM & Revisions Cleanup
Site Performance Test
Weekly Reports
You can sign up for that right here, easily transfer your site to WordPress. Use code “HELENE-WP” (You guys I am not kidding this is the best deal on the internet. I've checked.)

 

Further reading: Which is The Best Platform? A Blogger, WordPress, and Squarespace Comparison

2. Switched to Convertkit

I mentioned that my email list exploded. Half of the reason I think is WordPress, which makes it SO easy for me to install pretty optins and collect email subscribers. Part 2 is absolutely Convertkit. I switched from Mailchimp to Convertkit this year and my life is better because of it. LIFE not just business. I started out with Mailchimp because it is free. But then I decided to invest in myself this year. I jumped on the Convertkit bandwagon.

OHHH was my basic reaction. I basically had no idea that creating opt-ins, courses, classes, emails, organizing my subscribers, etc, could be this easy. Now I have an email marketing system, and it's life changing.

Further reading: How to create a Newsletter for Your Blog

3. I wrote better blog posts

Umm, cool Helene?

Wait, hear me out. I know you know this. Quality is important. DUH. But I spent time writing much more content rich blog posts. I think this is why people kept coming back for more and more. They knew that they weren't going to get induced with fluff. In almost all of my posts I tried to infuse something that would help, educate, or advance my reader. And really, the response was phenomenal. I had more shares on my blog posts than ever before even though I actually hit publish less.

Example of a post that I worked my butt off on:

This post, How and why to create foundational content for your blog, explains just how and why you should create great content. It's 2,000 words long and features lots of links to myself, others, and goes into DETAIL. And really, the proof is in the 900 shares.

P.S. speaking of shares, you should share this!

8 things that will take your blog to the next level @heleneinbetween Click To Tweet

4. Enrolled in courses

So, I spent over $3,000 on courses this year. The first, was Marie Forleo's B-School. So before I wanted to launch my “flagship program” I wanted to make sure I had all of my ducks in a row. So I got serious. And I dropped $2k on B-School. It was awesome. Yes, it was expensive. Yes, I had to put in work. Yes, my results were amazing. When I hit “purchase” I GULPED. But then I realized that I was making a change for the better. And it paid off.

I also enrolled in Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. My goal for 2017 is to up my affiliate marketing game and WOW is this program awesome. So many eye opening lessons. This course is run by the brilliant Michelle of Making Sense of Cents who has an incredible blog about finances, saving and making money, and she shares her income reports. Like this past month's of over $100,000…! Most of that stems from her affiliate marketing and she gives you the low down in her course. It's the REAL deal.

Further reading: The Best Blogging Tools – Game Changing Programs, Plugins, and Tech to Grow Your Blog

5. Moved abroad

I know this might sound a little strange, but really this is probably the best thing I did for my blog and business. Moving abroad helped to really give me a new perspective. I've had stress over here that I never knew existed. I've had joy on this journey I can't even explain. It's been magical and crazy and it's just the start. But it's given me a new perspective and also forced me out of my comfort zone. When I left Dallas to move to Nashville, I thought I was making a big step. And I was. But I had the comforts of family and friends still close by, and a rock solid group of friends in Nashville. Not in Germany. Michael and I and the dogs are totally on our own. And it's a good thing.

Further reading: What I've Learned About Germans Since Moving to Germany

6. Created my dream program

So, I know that I mentioned two courses that I took, but I also had a problem, in general with them. They were great! But I wanted a community of people. I wanted a place, just for bloggers, to thrive. I seriously felt that it just wasn't out there. So I bought a domain, I partnered with a membership company (and I was one of their FIRST clients!), I built it from the ground up and started Blog Boss Babe. I can tell you I am so proud of this program and the over 200 people in the program too. It's really something I go to every day and learn from. Being able to help share my blogging knowledge daily is such a cool experience.

Check out: Blog Boss Babe!

7. I concentrated on my life goals

I used to just plan out the now. And there's nothing wrong with focusing on today. But it's been eye opening for me to look into the future and see what I want my life to look like. It helps me make decisions (like do I really need this sweatshirt? or will this help me reach my goal?). I know that this might seem crazy, but sit down and plan out your goals. Think about what you want for your future, and do things that help you achieve that.

Further reading: 6 Practices That Will Help You Live Your Dream Life

8. I wrote a business plan

I'm not talking about a 2 page media kit. I'm not talking about an overview of what this blog stands for. I'm talking about a 25+ page (times new roman font, single spaced) plan of what I plan to achieve, how, when, and why. It includes my financials, my growth, and my objectives for each part of my blog and business. It took me a long time. It's SO detailed. It really helped me to have an understanding of my purpose. I really think it's good for ANYONE to do! If you want me to write more about this, let me know!

Further reading: 10 Things I'd like to Achieve in my Lifetime

BONUS: I got serious about Instagram

I grew my following on Instagram this year from 30,000 to now almost 65,000. That's a 163% increase. And I did it using only one strategy. Instagram for Success. This course is killer. It will help you grow your following, but more than that it will help your grow the right following. I landed partnerships with companies that paid me to post and people responded! Many of my posts (especially over the last few months) get 1,000+ likes and 50+ comments PER post. I also got to see my students succeed (and even surpass me!). The doors on this program are open, but only until Friday. Check out the full details here. I promise it will be worth it. In fact, I'm so confident, there's a 30 day money back guarantee!

 

Biggest takeaway for me is that I invested in myself this year. I spent money on myself. I took courses. I upped my game. And man, did it pay off. This year I made more money on my blog and business than I EVER have in the corporate world. I hope this message resonates with you. I wholeheartedly DO NOT believe in wasting money (hey, I saved $45,000 to move abroad). But there are some things that will elevate your life/business/blog and they are usually worth it.

What's helped your blog or business this year?

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