One of my very favourite things is to get a sneak peek of something – whether it’s something new that’s coming out with my favourite online tools or communities, or getting to have a sneaky peek behind the scenes of someone else’s business.
There’s something magical about getting to see an insight into how other people are running their businesses, and what you can learn from other’s experiences.
So – I’m starting my own monthly reviews! This one’s running a few days late as I only decided to start doing these at the very end of January, but my plan is to publish a review of each month this year and beyond.
My hope is that I can share an honest insight into what it’s like to run an online business alongside disability and living with chronic illness, and all the highs and lows that come with it. The plan is to be very much like my email newsletter, In the Weeds – so if you like these reviews, you’d love my email musings as well.
Heads up – this month’s is a longer than planned review, with it being my first I wanted to add a bit of extra background 🤓
As always, I’d love to know what you think so if there is any feedback that you might have feel free to pop me a quick email.
What happened & lessons learned this month:
January’s typically, for me, are quieter months. I usually spend my couple of week’s off over Christmas working on some form of creative project and then come back, easing into client work and my own projects like my courses and resources here at Beyond Ink.
This January though was far fuller than I’d realised – many client projects and ongoing support that was needed, and lots of little client projects were finishing up. In the end, I’d decided to take my Christmas completely off all project! Instead, I focused on resting up and giving myself a good week to start reflecting on the year that had passed. This is something I normally try to cram into a couple of days, and it felt really dreamy to give myself a good chunk of time to reflect on the past year and start thinking about what I wanted to do this year.
Switched up my routines
I also realised that I needed a better structure to my weeks. Due to ongoing back & neck issues that I’ve had for the last few years, my GP had placed me on some new meds that they hoped would help with my chronic pain levels. The downside to those meds is that they severely started to impact my fatigue levels. Over the last few months, my routine had gone to pot and I was struggling with the old ideal week routine I had set for myself.
Creating a new structure to what my “ideal week” looks like meant also carving out extra time for myself in the form of dedicated time for learning and taking action on the (cough many cough) courses I’ve purchased. I also started to add in extra time for creativity (whatever that looks like for me – at the moment, it’s physical abstract art painting).
This new routine really helped me ease into the year, though I realised one thing was missing: downtime and rest. I’d fallen (yet again) into the habit of trying to stuff time into every single spare moment of my week. I’ve since adjusted it to give myself a bit more breathing room, and I’m finally feeling like my routine is getting back on track.
Started planning for the year ahead
While I fell in love with quarterly planning a few years ago – where you only focus on planning one quarter a time – one of the things that I realised last year is that due to my unpredictable health & chronic illnesses, I needed to have at least a loose idea of what I wanted to accomplish in a year.
Last year, I felt like I lost so many months to severe & genuinely debilitating pain and chronic illness symptoms, and I wanted to avoid that as much as possible this year. But the issue with quarterly planning is that in reality, it’s quite a short period of time – and I was finding myself flailing each quarter, unable to figure out what I had planned or when would be best to plan things.
I launched Beyond Ink towards the end of 2020, after a tumultuous year for everyone around the world. Last year, it felt like I was really creating the roots for this brand and business, and what I want it to become. In reality, I realised only recently when a friend mentioned it – I’m working through my own process that I’m here to teach! And it feels great to be putting into practice everything I believe in and want to help others with in their own brands and businesses.
As a result, I realised that this year I really want to make sure that the foundations of what I want to bring to life with Beyond Ink are created, launched, and out in the world. I’ve no doubt that this will feel like it’s before I’m ready in more ways than one! But my plan is to then be able to focus on the other things that will help make this business more sustainable – in both time & energy – in the second half of the year.
So this year, I’ve decided to have a loose plan for the year, and then my quarterly planning focuses on taking action towards bringing specific projects to life within those next three months – and then I’ll rinse and repeat that structure at least until Quarter 3 of this year.
Courses taken this month:
Live with Intention by Jamie Varon
I first bought Jamie’s course in the summer of 2020, but have never quite felt like I had the confidence to start. Seeing Jamie talk more on her Instagram about her upcoming book, and also just sinking into her recent posts… it reminded me that
This year, my word of the year is “magic” – I talked more about why on Instagram – and this year, I also want to cultivate a real feeling of self-trust that I feel I’ve struggled with in the last few years. I decided to pick up Jamie’s course again, and within the first module was reminded why I was so called to it in the first place.
I’m still in the early stages of working through the course, but can’t wait to see how my self-trust grows as I move through to the other side of it.
Wandering Aimfully Project Planning Session
If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me chatting at some point about Wandering Aimfully. I’ve followed Jason & Caroline (who are the founders & coaches behind WAIM, which is the nickname we’ve lovingly all given it) for years and when the chance came to join WAIM several years ago I jumped at it. I was one of the very first pre-orders for WAIM, which has now evolved into what you see today, which is a coaching program for intentional business owners.
For the last couple of years, every month there has been a monthly coaching session and for January they switched it up a bit and we got to all project plan together 🤓 I absolutely LOVE this stage of a project, where there’s the fresh energy and excitement for bringing a project to life, so I was in my ELEMENT.
I don’t make time for many community calls, but I always make time for the monthly WAIM call because it’s one of my favourite places in the world. (PS – Spring 2022 enrolment for WAIM is just around the corner, but if you want to sneak in at any point [let me know](mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?Subject=WAIM!) because I have a secret checkout link that can be used at any time!)
Course Creation Revolution
This should proooobably be in February’s review, but since it officially started on Jan 31 – and this review is over a week late 😂 – I’m going to include it here! I’m a person that has taken maaany, many courses over the years – and I’ve also been the creator of a few too! But one of my bugbears about online courses is that SO many courses lack a lot of substance. Instead of impactful courses that give you a real transformation, so many online courses instead leave you lacking or no better off, not learning anything new.
Vix Meldrew has been chatting a lot about this online and I’ve been nodding vigorously along, so when she announced she was going to run a 5-day long workshop series I knew that I was IN. Over 5 days, I felt everything from validated and encouraged to excited and challenged. It was incredibly reassuring to see that my care and attention in the ways that I structure my courses mattered, but it also gave me so many new ideas and improvements that I can continue to add in.
I really care about my courses being impactful, honest, helpful, and to do that takes a lot of care – you can’t just throw a course together and hope for the best. The whole week of workshops gave me so much food for thought and showed me the ways I can improve what I have, and I’m so bloomin’ excited to start implementing! This workshop series was by far one of the best things I’ve ever invested in, and I’m so grateful I was able to learn so much from Vix that I can put into action myself.
Tech & Tools I use
This wouldn’t be a monthly review if I couldn’t shout about the tech & tools that I use on a daily basis to bring it all to life! I’m planning on writing a series of articles this year all about my absolute faves, but here’s what I use to run my business on a day-to-day basis:
I use Notion as a project planner, task manager, content calendar, and for SO many other things. If it isn’t in Notion, it doesn’t get done!
I LOVE FLODESK. I love the flexibility that comes with Flodesk and how well-branded I can make the emails. (PS If you use my affiliate link to sign up, I get a small commission and you get 50% off your plan for your first year!)
I’ve loved & used Teachery as long as I’ve been a WAIM member, and I adore it. I use it for everything from courses to making my client experiences better!
I use Square over everything else for all of my client services. They’ve also recently introduced contracts and bookable packages, meaning I can use it for all sorts of client services stuff! (PS – If you sign up to Square through my affiliate link, we both get £1000 free of processing fees!)
I adore a good user experience, and the folks at LemonSqueezy are incredible. EU VAT and all taxes are covered for you, and they make it ridiculously easy (as lemon squeezy! 🍋😂) to set up your online products & sell them online.
I’m launching my client & customer group over on Circle in February, and plan to use it as the community platform for all of my courses and – sneak peek alert! – something new that’s coming later on this year.
Privacy as both a consumer and business owner is really important to me, so I use Fathom as my analytics of choice across all my websites. (PS If you use my link, you get $10 off your first payment!)
I have been a long-time user of 1Password and I think online security is so blummin’ important. I use this to store all my business passwords, and ensure that they are secure and can be easily reset. I can’t shout enough good things about this, and their newest versions of the apps are just sublime 😍
I use Loom for SO many video-related things in my business! I use them to send quick videos to clients, I use it to record all of my course videos, and I also use it to host existing videos recorded elsewhere. The videos are easily branded on their Pro plan, with captions included by default on all videos. They also recently brought in the ability to edit the captions on the videos & to export a transcript of the video content as well!
I use Zapier for so much in my biz! It’s what I use to connect all the little tech bits & bobs together, like connecting my LemonSqueezy purchases to Flodesk and Circle.
This is what powers my emails & I use it for file storage via google drive, google docs & sheets as well.
I’m a recent convert to Voxer, a fab little messaging app that I use to catch up with business friends!
I’ve only recently started diving into the world of Figma, but it’s fast become my go-to. I’m exploring how to use it with designing branding as well – very excited for this!
Despite other one-off apps being available, I love my Adobe Creative Cloud – it works brilliantly for a lot of the work I do, and I plain prefer it over other alternatives for things like my PDF guide designs! Plus, I love Lightroom for all my photo editing.
I use Fontbase to manage my font installs across multiple devices. It’s beautiful to look at & works really well!
I use Dropbox mainly to help my sync my Fontbase files across devices as I use Google Drive for all other file storage!
I get a looot of emails and Missive is the most beautiful email client I’ve found for Windows. I work between two Windows devices, and a whole suite of Apple equipment (iPhone, iPad and MacBook!) and it’s the only app that has the same beautiful experience across each device.
Sneak peek of February 2022
So if you’re anything like me, you love a good sneak peek 🤓 I love getting to see what’s coming up – so here’s a little sneak peek for you! For me, February is all about starting to take action on the goals and projects I have for this year. While January was setting the scene, planning out specific dates, project milestones, and goals… February is taking action and starting to bring them to life.
Also – a far ahead sneak peek coming, but 2022 is the year I celebrate TEN years in business for myself! There have been many moments that I wanted to give up, and I’m so proud to be so close to such a huge milestone. I’m planning something huge for September when this hits – so keep an eye out!