Another Company, Life Changes & A Look Towards 2023

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Life changes

This isn’t my official year-in-review podcast episode (I’ll record that in January), but I’m starting to look ahead at what I want for 2023.

Both business and life.

We’re about to enter December (or, depending on when you’re listening to this, we’re already there), and I head back to California in a few weeks.

The new planner, Create It, is done and off to the printer, so I can catch my breath for a minute and regroup.

I’ve worked almost every day since the week off after my back surgery. Still, now that I’m starting to feel a lot better physically, my mental energy has shifted as well (nothing like being resistant to what is… although I’ve stopped saying my back is taking longer than I’d like. My only answer now is that my back feels better and better every day).

Not that I could do much else…

It’s been raining almost every day (although, as I write this, there are bright blue skies outside… I’m hoping they stick around so I can take the dogs to the beach this afternoon).

Let’s get into today’s episode…

Launching a New Company

I went into a lot of detail in the last episode that announced Create It, about the planner itself (as well as my decision to do this).

I want to go a little deeper about my vision for Create It Company, why I decided to start another company separate from my personal brand, and how I see them fitting together.

My first “real” entrepreneurial endeavor was the scrapbook store I opened with a business partner back in 1998. This was at the beginning of the scrapbooking craze, and I had just been laid off from my district manager position.

Even though I didn’t necessarily have the capital to do it, I would have opened another store (and can I say amen that we didn’t). I had BIG visions for that store (and we could have killed it online had I known what I know now 🤣… hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?).

My business partner didn’t.

It was more of a hobby for her, whereas I needed it to bring in an income.

In many ways creating a physical content planner brings me full circle. Even at the Scrapbook store, I taught classes… so much of what I do today has been a part of my journey long before coming online.

I’d like to see how far I can take Create It.

Not just the planner, but the company.

Which is why I needed to do this on my own.

I’ve been fortunate to partner with amazingly talented people, but any time you bring on a partner, you’re giving up control.

And as crazy as I make myself, I’m much more willing to take risks, even when I have no idea how it will happen.

The idea of giving up on myself feels like a death sentence.

I have zero intentions of “retiring”… in fact, I see myself creating more as I get older.

One of my goals with Create It Company is to scale it to the point where it doesn’t need me. And who knows, maybe even sell it for a nice exit, but that’s getting ahead of myself.

Plans for the Company

In addition to hiring people (again, I went into much more detail about this in the last podcast episode), we have many more products planned for the brand.

I don’t want to give them away too much here, but here are the categories of products we’re looking at:

  • More planners (beyond the content planner)
  • Stickers (physical & digital)
  • Pens
  • Card decks
  • Lots of training courses (with guest experts)
  • Monthly content prompts and template subscription
  • Consulting on planner creation and publication (helping other people produce planners)

To do this, I will need a little help and guidance in the e-commerce space, which is where my friend Trey Lewellen comes in.

Trey is a master at e-commerce.

So I’m looking at joining his mastermind in January.

Obviously, organic content and social media will be a big part of our growth strategy, but so will paid traffic. I’m on a mission to dial in paid traffic with someone internally (no outside ad agencies) and keep it in-house to keep our costs down, get ad creative returned on time, and be able to adjust as necessary.

Managing the ads isn’t my sweet spot, but I’m happy to create the creative.

I’ll update you on how the presale has done when I do my year-in-review podcast episode. We’ll also have some promotions in December (to help people start their planning for 2023).

Life Changes

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this publicly anywhere, but I’m looking at moving back to the states in the first part of 2023.

As of right now, I have no idea if that means February or June 🤣. I have a friend visiting in January, and I want to see how I feel after being back for Christmas (it was a little like culture shock last year flying into LAX from Costa Rica).

So, why the sudden change of heart, you might ask?

It’s a combination of many things, and the first and probably most obvious to me is that I felt this way last year too.

I miss the fall and holiday seasons in the states. I miss family, cozy times, and all that comes with this time of year.

The difference between how I feel this year versus last year is that I feel like I’m moving towards something (which will make a lot more sense when I explain the other reasons). Last year was difficult because Thanksgiving fell on my Mom’s birthday, and it was literally the first holiday I had ever spent without family.

All that being said, there’s nothing in me that feels sad about my desire to move back.

In fact, I was originally looking at either Oregon or Washington, but one of the primary reasons I want to move back is to be closer to family and friends. So it seems a little counterintuitive to move back to the states and still be that much further from family.

Which means Northern California.

I can’t be in the heart of the Bay Area and really don’t want to do suburbia either, so I’m looking at a few areas that are a little more remote but still only about 20 minutes from civilization. After staying with my Dad during the months before moving to Boise, I’ve realized that being that remote is too far (an hour to Target or Costco… and yes, those are measurements for me).

And yes, this means all the expenses of living in California. But that’s fine…more motivation to scale Create It, right? 😉

I mentioned earlier that I want to join my friend Trey’s mastermind. He lives in St. Louis and has live events there a few times a year. Flying out of Cost Rica to the states isn’t necessarily difficult, but it’s not super convenient either.

I have to pay my dog sitter, and except for LAX, there aren’t a lot of direct flights out of Liberia.

I love the area I live in (Potrero, Guanacaste), but I’m sandwiched between retirees and families (the international schools are in this area). I’ve realized that I’m not really a digital nomad (I literally work Monday – Friday in my house. I’m not a fan of working in coffee shops because of the noise… even with noise-canceling headphones).

I don’t really want to work outside (as beautiful as it is, the humidity or heat would probably make me a little cookoo) – other than my patio every now and then, provided it hasn’t been raining (the mosquitos love me).

The other challenge of living here is dating.

It’s pretty much non-existent unless I want to date a 35-year-old Costa Rican (I’ve had plenty of opportunities there, but it’s a hard no for me).

I’m at a stage in my life where I want a primary relationship again – and I don’t see that happening here (and who knows, maybe that’s just a belief, but either way, it is what it is).

A lot of this could also be that this has been one hell of a year. The year started off with me getting Covid mid-January then I had visitors every month through August, except for February. Then literally, the day a friend left in August was when my back went out.

As much as I’d like to think I’m Wonder Woman, it’s been a lot.

Sharing all of this here and actually putting it out there is helping me get some much-needed clarity. Hopefully, it doesn’t sound like one big complaint after the other. It’s simply where I’m at right now.

Costa Rica is beautiful, and I’ve met some amazing people (some of whom will stay dear friends for life, I hope), but it kind of feels like my time here is done, for lack of a better explanation.

I’ll also give another update about this in my year-in-review episode, especially since I’ll have returned from California with fresh eyes.

When I do move back, I’ll land at my Dad’s for 2-3 months to get situated, start looking for a place and reacclimate to life in the states.

A Look Towards 2023

I’ve been so head-down and focused on Create It that I hadn’t started thinking much about 2023 until this past weekend (Thanksgiving weekend). With the holiday in the states, I took advantage of a long, quiet weekend to get things done and start clearing my head.

I’ve already shared what I want to do with Create it, so I won’t repeat it here.

For my personal brand, it’s time to take my own advice and #JustShowUP!

For much of this year, I’ve felt like I’ve been in project mode.

I will continue focusing on email marketing and newsletters while sharing what I’m doing with content marketing (that will naturally support Create It).

But it’s time for me to make video a priority. I don’t see myself focusing on YouTube until the second quarter, but until then I’ll start rebranding my channel (thankfully I had the good sense to use my name for my channel as opposed to The WP Chick), editing playlists, and adding any video I do to the platform.

And yes, I still want to focus on TikTok.

That came to a screeching halt when my back went sideways and I needed surgery, but I’m feeling much better and am ready to jump back in.

There are 3 things I want to focus on in 2023:

  • Mastery
  • Systems
  • Visual content

Now let’s drill down a little deeper on each of these.

Mastery

There is something so delicious about digging in and getting better at your craft. I know that might seem like the word doesn’t fit, but think about the experience of eating your favorite food, and it’s cooked perfectly.

That’s the feeling I’m referring to.

My areas of mastery are writing and marketing.

I know those are pretty general buckets (big buckets), but I have slowly fallen in love with writing over the last 10+ years and want to put more energy toward it. Storytelling, content writing, copywriting, and yes, even social media writing (why does short-form content throw me for such a loop?).

I purchased the newly updated “Everybody Writes” by Anne Handley (Kindle version) and am excited to dive in.

This should help immensely with my plan to write the #FtheHUSTLE book in 2023.

Systems

Systems are the bain of my existence. It’s not how my brain works; I don’t like administrative work. Can I hire for this role?

Absolutely, but I need to create and set it up (that doesn’t mean I won’t have help or have someone manage it for me. I will 100% be looking for that person in the first quarter of 2023)—someone who loves systems and just wants to do their thing with some security of a regular paycheck.

Because we’re selling Notion products, that’s the route I plan on going.

When I started Create It, I chose Asana because I knew it and could get it going quickly. Notion is one of those things I want to master in 2023 also, but I’ll start with basic best practices.

Last but not least is Visual Content.

This means creating and sharing more visuals that I personally create (think doodles, sketchnotes, etc.). I have a tool I use for doing some quick visuals called Sketchwow, but I’m talking about me personally drawing things that I use for my content.

This means learning Procreate for the iPad. This way, I can create high-quality doodles and easily export them while retaining the quality (I’m guessing you can export them as vector images).

I’ll be jumping into the next cohort of Pencil Pirates (the creator of Pencil Pirates, Laura Evans-Hill, said I could do the next round because of my back. As if I didn’t think she was already awesome!).

I’m going to try creating “illustrated guides” to things that are a little more complex (like Notion! haha). Then create content that supports the illustrated guide.

Books will be great for this (illustrating concepts from books), but that’s a bigger undertaking, so I’ll start with concepts and frameworks, including my own.

Either way, I’m excited to see where the doodles and drawing take me in 2023.

FtheHUSTLE

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