2017 was an incredible year for Urban 20 Something and I am so humbled and grateful every day. It wasn’t always pretty, but I couldn’t be more proud of how things are turning out.
I loved reflecting on what worked, what didn’t, and what’s changed. This will inform so much of what’s next to come for Urban 20 Something and I hope that it might help you in your side hustle, blogging or entrepreneurship journey, too!
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.
What worked especially well and contributed the most to success in 2017.
Creating a resource library
At the beginning of 2017, I put my opt-ins, PDFs, freebies and some brand new content all into one library, which you can sign up for here. So, instead of having email subscribers subscribe again with each new content upgraded they want, they only need to subscribe once. They then get access to the entire library of resources.
I love doing this for a couple of reasons:
- It keeps me motivated to continue adding to it. This is beneficial both to my readers and to me.
- It is more organized. Having so much of my content in one place was easier for me and my readers.
- It is more user-friendly. Once people sign up for the library, they get so much content. People also only have to sign up once. Beforehand, if readers wanted more than one opt-in, they’d have to sign up for each one individually.
- It’s free! This helps me carry out my mission to make side hustling and entrepreneurship accessible to all young professionals.
- It helps define my brand. Whenever I would post a new blog post, make a new resource, or create a new training, I simply ask myself if it’d fit in my library. This helps me niche down and be more specific.
In effect, my email list grew so much. Before implementing this library, my list would grow by about 25% each month. After creating my library, it started doubling every month!
If you have a website and are aiming to get more subscribers, I recommend considering a resource library. If you’re interested in how to create a resource library on WordPress, please shoot me a quick email here and I’ll create a webinar training on it.
Hosting live workshops
In June of 2017, I hosted my first webinar. Though I had wanted to host a webinar for a while, I was holding myself back. I wasn’t necessarily nervous about actually hosting it or speaking live on camera. Other fears came popping up instead.
What if no one came? Or, what if they came and they didn’t like what I had to say? What if something super embarrassing happened on camera? What if a webinar ruins my life?!
Thanks to the push from one of my mentors, I did my first one in June. All it took was that one time to realize how much I loved going live. It was so much fun! I found it to be the best way to connect with my audience and give helpful and actionable information. Blog posts are helpful, but I found that sharing my screen with tutorials and explaining the “behind the scenes” of what I was doing much more effective.
I’ll explain more about this below, but because I loved hosting live workshops so much, I am going to start doing them once a week (for free!). We’ll cover all things online entrepreneurship, side hustling, and digital marketing. You can sign up to be notified of each one here.
My online programs
If you were with me in person right now, you’d hear my big squeal as I type this section! My online programs were my absolute favorite parts of this entire year and I couldn’t be more proud or grateful for them. These are what really changed the game for me- turning my website from a side hustle hobby to a side business.
Urban 20 Someone
In September, I launched my first full online program, Urban 20 Someone. This is an online, self-study course that walks my students through building their own personal website and a stand-out personal brand online. It’s for young professionals looking for a job or that have a job but want to take their professional development to the next level.
I had the idea for this course in mind for nearly a year before I released it and was so excited when I finally did. The information taught in this class was totally life-changing for me. This process is what helped me receive job offers in New York while I was living in Bangkok, which was incredible. So I was very enthusiastic about bringing this to others and sharing it. It’s also now an evergreen product that can sell again and again… and on autopilot. This was a big shift in the income of my business.
Urban 20 and with Money
After seeing the result of Urban 20 Someone, along with other things I implemented in 2017 that truly shifted my “for fun” website into a business, I knew I had to share it. Being an entrepreneur while still working a 9-5 job is a dream come true, and something that I know so many others want to figure out for themselves, too. Urban 20 and with Money is a transformative program- you can go in with no business idea, website, or background with digital marketing and come out with a fully functioning online business, all designed to continue making you money while you’re at work (or while you’re sleeping, shopping, traveling, drinking wine… you get the picture).
The launch of both of these programs was so fun and just the beginning. It’s clear that they’re the best way to carry out Urban 20 Something’s mission- and I love how transformative both of them are. They can move you from point A to point B in just a matter of days (or hours!), which I think is so valuable to busy young professionals who don’t have time to deal with trial and error and the business guessing game. Look out for more of these in 2018!
Notable parts of my online business that continue to help it thrive.
Affiliate income > Ad income
For my fellow online business owners out there, I want to share my experience on monetizing my website itself. Ads are a popular and traditional way to make money off of any website. We see this everywhere- the New York Times, Outlook, the list goes on and on. As I’m sure you know, the basic model allows website owners to place display ads on their website, advertising other companies, and makes money based on the amount of traffic on their site (as the traffic informs how many people see the ads).
At the beginning of 2017, I tried to work toward this monetization method. By working toward it, I mean I was really focused on getting the traffic up on my site so that I could work with one of the higher paying ad agencies. I even designed some of my site with ads in mind.
This income method was short-lived, though. I found that I did not like the look of ads on my site and that the income I could make from placing them was not worth the look on my website. This is, of course, a personal preference that will differ for every website owner, but no ads for me!
Affiliate income, on the other hand, turned out to be a great way to earn money on my site itself. I don’t do this as much as some other website owners who focus on writing blog posts much more than I do. But I did use some new strategies on using affiliate links strategically throughout my site and they’ve worked like a charm. I wish I would’ve implemented them sooner since I can see how much money I was leaving on the table! I teach these exact strategies in my program, Urban 20 and with Money.
Pinterest comes through
When I first started my website, nearly two years ago (!!), the first thing I did was took Melyssa Griffin’s Pinfinite Growth. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to this website. There’s no way I would’ve figured out all the lessons she taught in this course on my own- especially not that early on in the game. The best part of her system is that it’s nearly all on autopilot, so once you’ve set it up, it basically works on its own.
That’s what I did and that’s what indeed worked for me. I spend so little time on Pinterest and am so grateful for having figured this out early on as it’s still my highest traffic referrer (apart from organic searches). In 2018, I plan to revisit the course a little bit, but overall I just wanted to note how powerful this platform is. I highly recommend taking the time to learn how to properly leverage it if you’re an online business owner!
What didn’t work
I tried, but alas, these did not work and will be staying behind in 2017.
Traffic from Twitter
I spent months and months at the beginning of this year focusing on Twitter. I personally love Twitter and visit it perhaps more than any other social media platform- especially for news updates. So, I wanted to see if I could harness its power for my website.
At first, I focused on both my followers and my tweets themselves. I knew from the beginning the goal wasn’t just to have as many followers as possible. I also wanted to try and get as much traffic to my site from Twitter as possible. I signed up for an account with Buffer (which I can’t recommend enough!) to queue up tweets. The free version of Buffer allowed me to schedule 10 at one time. So, every night before I’d go to sleep, I’d queue up 10 tweets for the next day on Buffer. 10! It was so time-consuming and I wasn’t seeing results.
What I was seeing results with, however, was networking with other entrepreneurs via Twitter. As we know, Twitter brings people in such close touch- more than ever before. People you may have never considered potential networkers are now only a Tweet away- celebrities, politicians and all! Thanks to Twitter, I was interviewed by Student Loan Hero, connected with Nicole Lapin and helped her promote her new book, and made relationships with fellow entrepreneurs that I cherish so much.
So, I no longer focus on Twitter as a source of traffic to my site. I focus on the network and publicity opportunities it can create for my website. I teach the strategies I use to do this in my course, Urban 20 and with Money.
Too much free
At the beginning of this year, I did not have the confidence to sell anything. It’s weird thinking about now because I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I thought that once I had “good enough” content to sell, I’d sell it. Turns out, I already had that! Over the summer, I received some emails about a planner I was giving out for free, saying I should be charging for something that content-heavy. I turned what was once a free planner into a product that I now sell and make money on every month.
Of course, it’s important to give away a lot of free and valuable information to your audience. It’s how they can be sure that they like your style before they commit to paying for anything. However, there’s a line to be drawn. You don’t want to pump out so much free material that you exhaust and undervalue yourself. I want to pay more attention to that line moving forward. It’s easy to feel like you want to give things away for free because you want to help others. But, by not charging what you’re worth, you’re in turn treating your client like a child who can’t invest in themselves. And, you don’t get paid for your hard work. No one wins.
What’s changing in 2018
When I started Urban 20 Something I pushed myself to blog a lot. I love to write and found that by publishing good blog posts, I could add content upgrades and get new email subscribers that way. This was very helpful. So, I tried to publish one blog a week, sometimes even two. But they were so time-consuming. My posts were over 1000 words and involved lots of research, graphics, photos and planning.
I started realizing that I had a handful of already published posts that consistently saw a lot of traffic and popularity. How frequently I posted didn’t necessarily mean I was making more posts that were all that popular. Seeing this, I’ve since cut back on posting on my blog dramatically and focus on promoting the existing popular posts. It was nerve-wracking at first. But, I’ve found that taking the time to write fewer posts that are long, informative and actionable is more valuable than posting lower quality posts just for the sake of posting frequently.
The most important part of posting isn’t just writing, but the teaching and helping. I prefer teaching life- via webinars or Instagram Lives. So fewer blog posts won’t mean less content, it just means it’ll be more Live content.
Social media approaches
Social media- two small words that can drive us all crazy. For a long time, I used social media blindly. I wanted to get as many followers and as many likes as I could. I do understand the credibility that can come with these numbers. But, I’ve come to realize that each social media platform should be treated with their own specific goal.
I think the “goal” for each platform will vary depending on your business and brand. I’ve started using Twitter with the goal of networking with other entrepreneurs (as I mentioned above). Instagram works best for me when focusing on building trust and also monetizing it, which means a lot of “behind the scenes” posts and a lot of Instagram Live. I go more in-depth on my goal with each platform and specifically how I’ve mastered the monetization of Instagram in my course, Urban 20 and with Money.
Weekly live trainings
Since webinars were my favorite part of 2017, I will now do a weekly live training every Wednesday night. (There may be some wine involved.) We’ll cover everything side business, side hustle and building income around your day job. You’ll be able to join the next one via the link on my top menu, circled below:
Or, if you want to be notified via email each week of the upcoming webinar and receive the webinar link without ever re-registering, sign up just once here. If you have a topic or tutorial you’d love to see covered in a webinar, please email me here!
Thank you for an amazing 2017!
This year, Urban 20 Something reached over five thousand young professionals from around the world through the forms of courses, consulting sessions, emails, social media, and masterclasses. We continued with the original mission of this website: to reframe what this time in our life looks like and take away the doubt, fear, lack of money, and overall “waiting for life to get good” and replace it with freedom, abundance, multiple sources of income, creativity, and watching our dreams come true now. Life doesn’t wait; neither should we!
A true thank you to each and every one of you who stopped by this site during this year. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy lives to engage on our email list, social media platforms, and attend our live workshops. You all continue to inspire and motivate this work every day, and we look forward to continue serving you in 2018! Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year.