The Truth About My First Year in Business

The Truth About My First Year in Business1.1

From April 2014: This week I’m celebrating the one-year anniversary (birthday?!) of my business.

(In fact, I’m throwing a party here in Honolulu next weekend – and you’re invited. More about that later.)

I’ve learned a lot – and shared a lot – with you over the course of this year, but knowing you (and I like to think I DO after all this time ;)), I figured you’d appreciate even MORE behind-the-scenes scoop on how things played out over here in year one.

Amiright?

GOOD. Because in this post I’ll give you the full, month-by-month rundown of my first year in business…the milestones, the resistance, the launches – the good, the bad, the crazy – in hopes that my experiences to help you make sense of your own.

I know it’s natural to read posts like this and compare figurative apples to oranges, but that’s not my intention here.

If you think reading about my first year might make you feel bad about where you are in your journey – PLEASE STOP READING.

If, howev, you LIKE to see behind-the-scenes of what other people are doing and find inspiration or encouragement from that, PLEASE KEEP READING.

Disclaimer: My life (and my business) isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but this isn’t an E! True Hollywood Story either. It’s just a bulleted list of happenings that came to mind today. In my dreams I would’ve had time to add photos, screenshots, videos, and the like, but something’s gotta give. Hope you enjoy the Cliff’s Notes ;)

And speaking of notes…

While you read through these, if you think of a specific Q you’d like me to answer about something that happened this year, write it down. 

I’ll tell you why at the end :)

Alright. Let’s set the scene for some context…

One year ago today, I received my VERY first PayPal payment – $250 for a 90-minute session to be split over two of my 18-month-old son’s naptimes ;)

I was in BUSINESS, baby.

At the time I was happily working as a park ranger (+ part-time college prof) for what I like to call “paychecks of the heart.” (That’s my nice way of saying they didn’t have commas in them.)

I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, faithfully exploring what could happen if I shared what I knew about communication with entrepreneurs instead of college students + the WWII crowd.

And so the journey began.

I could write a BOOK on the lessons learned from this journey (in fact, I seriously might), but for the purposes of this post, we’ll keep it simple and split the review into two sections: By the Numbers + By the Months.

By the Numbers

1st Year Numbers

What a difference a (CRAZY) year makes.

By the Months

Preparing to launch…

January 2013

Choose “faith” as my word of the year (since I know my husband will be on the other side of the country for most of it).
Wake up before my guys to have quiet time and zone in with my Jesus Calling devotional.
Start noticing the really kind, encouraging comments coming from friends + fam about my Stories from a Screensaver blog. (See them as divine breadcrumbs.)
Realize it’s a subtle knock on the head, “You’re supposed to SHARE this [knack for communication] with people.”

February 2013

Explore options. Mom blog? Business blog? Book?
Consider quitting before I even start.
Find entre-inspiration in Michael Hyatt, Copyblogger (copywriting is a word?), Jeff Goins, Natalie MacNeil.

March 2013

Buy nikkielledgebrown.com.
Sign up for an online community o’ fellow entrepreneurs.
Stick up a splash page and opt-in box to start building my list.
Get a vote of “start now” confidence from Natalie MacNeil in the comments of her blog. (“You are absolutely qualified.”)
Start by offering a limited number of free sessions in exchange for feedback via Jenny Shih’s killer testimonials method.

Year one begins…

April 2013

Fresh out of 24 free sessions, I’m over the MOON to work with my first two paying clients (hi Karen + Connie!).
Send first newsletter to 41 subscribers on April 18.
Start my biz Facebook page on April 24.
Mention my first offer ($199 for an hour-long session + a bonus 30-minute follow-up) on Facebook.
No site yet, so folks have to opt-in to get the details. And they do.

May 2013

Blown away that 70+ people take me up on my first real offer. (Track everyone in a Google spreadsheet.)
One of those people is Brielle Kotton, who quickly becomes the best friend I’ve never met (in real life). Game-changer.
Get the worst virus of my life. (Learn what an “upper limit problem” is.)
Finish facilitating my last course for University of Phoenix. (Aloha to “bridge job” #1.)
End month 2 with a roster of over 90 clients, 740+ new subscribers, $21k in revenue. Brain = applesauce.
First opportunity to “dust my shoulders off” re: anonymous haters. GREAT lesson to learn early.
Hosting up to 8 to 10 style sessions per week (hard to say no to folks – learning boundaries).

June 2013

Launch my super-simple first draft of a site on June 7. (Relieved to have all my content in ONE spot.)
My previous weekly emails become my first blog posts.
Send a check to Holden Uganda Foundation to fund a well with 10% of the revenue earned in my second month of business.
Shed some thankful tears.
Hold lots more sessions.

July 2013

Enjoy a slower pace, with a handful of one-on-ones per week (at $299).
Work with client #100.
Tell myself I’ll start writing my course.
Instead, face serious resistance, name her Ursula, and write about it here.
Completely lose my voice the week after writing a post about finding it (upper limit problem #2).
Hang up my (park ranger) hat after three years at WWII Valor in the Pacific NM (+ the USS Arizona Memorial).
Film a reality* TV show for Discovery Channel with my guys. *winky face

August 2013

Launch first “real” site (thanks to the digi-magic and super-patience of Suzi Istvan).
Share my first opt-in freebie, The Conversational Copy Cheat Sheet.
Celebrate my first 1,000 subscribers.
Set a Fall rate of $499. (Jaw drops first time someone (happily) pays it. Belief barrier broken like the four-minute mile.)
Slow down the one-on-one queue to allow time for family + travel time.
Write + share my most popular blog post to-date.
Invest in Create Awesome Online Courses to combat the resistance. (Also became an affiliate because I LOVED it.)
Put my feelers out and start building the “Inner Circle” with this blog post. (Then do nothing with it til December.)
Shake off a mystery hater who’s outraged that I used the word “Wanna” in my copy. (Clearly he hadn’t read my first opt-in freebie.)
Travel the world for best friend’s wedding (+ start outlining what would become A Course About Copy on the train through the Czech countryside). Surreal.

September 2013

Host some more one-on-ones (at $499, still blowing my mind).
Travel with my guys.
Avoid writing yet-to-be-named A Course About Copy at all costs.
Whip up my first video blog (on how running a business is like breastfeeding).
Meet up with some of my fabulous dream clients in Boston.
See what “fall in New England” is really all about.

October 2013

Invest in my “new brand pants” with stylist, designer, and creative geeenius Sarah Ancalmo.
Realize that to get serious about my course, I’ve got to shut down my one-on-one queue.
Make a last call for 1/1s – totally unattached to the outcome (which generates $15k, my best month of 2013).
Send check for well #2 (our 3rd of the year!) to Holden Uganda Foundation.
Celebrate my son’s birthday, my wedding anniversary, and the life of my sweet Noni all on our fave day, 10/24.
Thoroughly enjoy watching B trick-or-treat as Fix it Felix, Jr’s tiny doppleganger.

November 2013

More family + travel time.
More one-on-ones.
More resistance.
Life-changing call with success coach Michelle Simmonds (one of my absolute favorite souls on the planet).
Realize 2013 has been swallowed by business – make a conscious effort to enjoy the ride more.
Sense (and acknowledge) that making six figures in my first year is supposed to be part of my story (even though I know that means I’d have to make $45k in the first three months of 2014).

December 2013

Publicly share that “feeling” in a piece for the December issue of This Girl Means Business Magazine, the largest audience to hear my story at the time.
Panic a little.
Watch our Buying Hawaii episode on national TV with my parents and sisters. Gigglefest.
Host my final one-on-ones.
Form a rock-solid 90-day plan with NiceOps superstar Amber McCue.
Publicly admit that I’m going to launch A Course About Copy in February. (EEK!)
Enjoy the holidays as a (complete!) fam in Texas.

January 2014

Reluctantly choose “presence” as my word of the year, even though I know it will be the BIGGEST challenge for me while launching a new course AND a new site.
Announce my goal to raise $25,000 to build a school with Pencils of Promise in 2014.
Get annoyed with myself for not getting much of anything done in the first 30…okay 45…days of the 90-day plan.
Adjust and move forward anyway.
Welcome my first five ACAC dream students – before I even have a course outline or sales page to share.
Brave the polar vortex and fly across the country for a whirlwind 48-hour style sesh + editorial-style photoshoot for my new website (with aforementioned creative genius, Sarah Ancalmo).

February 2014

Outline, record, and share my first-ever free video series in the span of ONE week (recording bits in a super-glam bathroom/closet of the Navy Lodge).
Stay up later than I did in college, get less sleep than I did when my son was a newborn. Not healthy.
Visit my husband + watch my little man enjoy his first SNOW + first movie. (Frozen! How fitting.)
LAUNCH A Course About Copy: The Founding Class to an interest list of about 1,200 folks.
Listen to sermons + encouraging music, say lots of prayers, send up BUCKETS of gratitude to gear up for the final days of the open cart.
Cross the (arbitrary yet psychologically significant) six-figure mark on Valentine’s Day – exactly 10 months and 11 days after my first PayPal transaction.
Realize this is my biggest month ever at just under $42K. (WHAT?!?!?!)
Do exactly five cartwheels.
Kick off the first day of school with 51 super-enthusiastic founding class members from all over the world.
Fall in copy love with them.
Get BUSY creating content specifically suited to their needs (as reported in a founding-class-only pre-assessment).
Learn enough to create a whole NEW course in the process.
Lean on family, friends, and members of my 2014 dream team to meet deadlines + stay reasonably sane.
Survive on prayers, passion, and conservative doses of caffeine.

March 2014

Finish up the once-in-a-course lifetime live round of A Course About Copy.
Take deep breaths. Regularly.
Finally join the mastermind bandwagon with four SUPERSTAR entrepreneurs who inspire the FIRE out of me.
Hire an attorney, my buddy + ACAC dream student Tamsen Horton, to get serious + set up a (friendly) Ft. Knox.
Donate $6,400 to my Pencils of Promise fundraiser (using 10% of funds from this launch + November + December 2013).
Reconnect with our beautiful home away from (Texas) home, Honolulu.
Celebrate my husband’s homecoming (after several months away for training).

Year two begins…

April 2014

Feel oddly excited to OWE taxes for the first time. (Pray Uncle Sam uses them wisely.)
Grasp the harsh (but understandable!) reality of gross revenue vs. actual take-home pay.
Watch the tax preparer’s eyeballs to nearly pop out of his dome when I tell him my estimated income for 2014 ;)
Pinch myself, knowing that it’s actually MORE than possible if I keep plugging along + walking in faith.
Enjoy a delightful amount of downtime with my dream guys (even though I’m totally invisible when Daddy’s home).
Wake up before the sun to record lots of interviews with fun + interesting new friends.
Wake up on my first biz b-day to 70+ emails thanks to this post about my $51k (?!) course launch on The Rise to The Top.
Set up my big-girl biz structure.
Finally pay myself after a year of investing back in my biz, giving in five figures, and paying my taxes. (I was a little paranoid.)
Enter back into a bubble of inspiration, optimism, and visualization to gear up for May – the premiere of the brand-new nikkielledgebrown.com and the REAL grand opening of A Course About Copy.
I’m feelin’ ready for the big leagues.

And that brings us to the present, which is an invitation for YOU!

Remember how I told you I was hosting a party, and to write down any Qs you might have about my first year in business?

UPDATE: The party happened LIVE 4/12/14, and it was lovely. Happy to report that year TWO is now full swing!

Share the love

If you liked this year in review, please thank me by sharing it with your friends, fans, and followers.

I appreciate you, friend!

Whether you’re new to my corner of the internet or you’ve been trekking along with me from the start, it’s been an honor and a pleasure sharing this space with you.

And to think….we’re just getting started :)

To surviving the first year + living to tell the story,
nik

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LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.

  1. Kamila Gornia

    This is so so inspiring! Amazing job!

  2. Brianna Nash

    When you said that in April 2014 that you “Finally pay myself my first digi-paycheck!!!” what exactly do you mean by that? Haha

  3. Laura Husson

    Ooh this gives me goosebumps! And it’s only the beginning! So excited to be along for the ride :)

    P.S. You realise you just gave every aspiring biz owner out there a step by step to do list?! Your dream team just got a whole heap of inboxed I’d be willing to bet – how cool is that?!

    I love you Nikki <3

  4. Marsha from YesYesMarsha.com

    Wooo hoooooo!!! Happy Businessversary!!

    This was SO fun to read!!!

    I’ve been loving watch you grow, from the first few inklings of what you’re doing right up to this amazing point. Feel SO proud of you, both as friend and as long-time FAN.

    Can’t wait to see the new site!!!

    xxxxx

    Oh and PS, my question is about OUTSOURCING – where and how to start.

  5. Sunita

    Ah, you’re a Bschooler! Now I get it :) Congrats, you’re an inspiration!

  6. Marinda

    You’re an inspiration, Nikki. Way to go!

  7. Nathalie Doremieux

    Nikki you are such an inspiration for entrepreneurs! this blog post is no doubt going to encourage more people to take action :) I love the break down into months, and this is only the beginning!!

    I’m so grateful to be a part of your journey (as you are part of mine because A Course About Copy completely changed the way I see copy now!)

    Can’t wait to launch the new nikkielledgebrown.com :)

  8. Cathy

    Happy Biz-Birthday, Nikki!
    You go, Girl!!
    xo

  9. Amy Tucker

    Wow! Nikki happy 1st biz-day! This was just what I needed to read for inspiration. I am currently in about your march/April 2013 boat right now! Still building my website, and working way through b-school. Just to hear someone else (and another mum!) work their way forward step by step and reach such success is just such a motivation. Thank you Nikki and all the best with your growing biz! Amy xx

  10. Andrea Martins

    Nikki, I am so in love with your honesty about your very own ‘rise to the top’ journey! Thank you so much for sharing all the behind-the-scenes goss and figures. It makes it all that much more real and that much more inspirational. Thanks and congrats! x

  11. amy

    Well done Nikki!

  12. Thea

    Hau oli la hanau to you and your biz! Congratulations on your first year. Cheers to your success! With All my Aloha!!! <3

  13. Tiffanie

    Way to go Nikki! This is sooo inspiring! I don’t know if I’m your ‘dream client’ (serious issues with opening up in my writing) but I do know I need help with my copy and really want to know when you are having another course that I can get in on?

  14. Sally

    Hi Nikki, I think you had an example of what your first splash page looked like. Can you give a link to that and let me know what you used to create it?
    Thanks so much! Your story is every inspiring and why I always come back to reading your fabulous posts!
    xo Sally

  15. Sally

    Never mind… just found the image in your “My First 1000 Subscribers.” :)

  16. Caitlin

    Congratulations, Nikki! What an amazing year you have had. I’m so pleased I managed to get one of those last one-on-one spots last fall, and even more pleased I signed up for the first ACAC course (just after my new years’ resolution of “no more courses in 2014”, but I had a good feeling about making this exception, and I was right!). Can’t wait to see what you have cooking for year two. Thanks for sharing your notes, your story is inspiring. xo

  17. Ania

    Adorable Nikki, your story is so inspiring that I’ve printed it off to remind me daily of what is possible – and with a small child!!! (Mine is due in September!)

    Keep being awesome!!!
    xxx

  18. Faith

    I’m excited

  19. Tonia

    Congrats Nikki! I loved this recap. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I love your candidness – it makes me feel like I’m along for the ride. And yes, I know to some extent I am along for the ride but it’s like you’re sprinkling sparkle dust of inspiration over me and possibly all your readers. :)

    Like I said on FB, Many Happy Returns (It’s a Winnie the Pooh thing that I just can’t get enough of. Sorry. Of which I just can’t get enough ;) )

    All my best and to another great year!

  20. DAD :-)

    AWESOME!!!! sssSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO PROUD AND DOUBLY SO CONCERNING YOUR AND STACEYS PROSPECTS !!!!!! LOVE YOU BABE. ONE PROUD DAD

  21. Lillian

    That was INCREDIBLE! What a breakdown… You’ve been so blessed. Praying for more blessings for you for 2014. Take care.

  22. Tonia Winchester

    NIKKI’s DAD!!! :) I love that you just commented and shared your love! Hoorah for you. You must be pleased as a peach at her success.

  23. Alina

    This is incredible. Thank you for sharing. So many people will appreciate your honesty so much. Amazing!!! You deserve it!!! So happy for you, Nikki!!!

  24. Melanie Bradshaw, Proud Aunt

    Nikki, you’ve done more than than just inspire young moms and entrepreneurs! You inspired this “old lady,” and soon-to-be empty nester, that the first thing to do is PRAY! I kept praying about my own biz, but that’s not what God had planned for me. When I finally got QUIET and listened, He answered my prayers, but with a resounding, “No!” I had to understand that starting a biz isn’t His plan for everyone, BUT I found that He was paving the way for me to fulfill a dream I’d stuck so far back in the past, that I even forgot I had had it!

    What you did was inspire me to 1) pray, 2) listen, 3) realize when the answer is “no, I’ve got something else in mind,” 4) you can do anything you put your mind to, even if you’re on a tiny island with a baby, or a state where “everything’s bigger” and your “babies” are in college 5) count your rainbow.s

    With much love and pride <3 <,
    Aunt Melanie

  25. Aradia

    Nikki, thanks for pulling back the curtain, it was utterly beautiful to read about your journey through your first year of entrepreneurship. <3 ya mean it!

    P.S. Totally inspires me to step out with grand (and exhilirating) plans for my work!

  26. Rebekah

    I love the DETAILS and step-by-steps of this blog. It spoke to my *heart*. I love the months run down, with a bit of personality and mistakes added in.

    My question – how much of you success do you put down to B-school?

  27. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Just made it clearer, Brianna – I haven’t paid myself yet! Going to this week.

    Wanted to be sure I had enough left for taxes and my 10% giving first :)

  28. Nikki Elledge Brown

    And I love YOU, friend :) So happy you’re along for the ride!

  29. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Great one, Marsha! That has been HUGE for me so far this year. I’m addicted.

  30. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Woohoo, Nathalie! Our new project will be a highlight of year TWO :)

  31. Nikki Elledge Brown

    I see what you did there, Andrea ;P Thank YOU for the comment!

  32. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Umm Tiffanie – that’s exactly the struggle many of my dream clients have ;)

    A Course About Copy opens for GOOD this summer – so be sure you’re in the Inner Circle to get the scoop! (www.acourseaboutcopy.com)

  33. Nikki Elledge Brown

    That means so much to me, Caitlin. Thank you for sharing it.

    Thrilled you’re happy with your ACAC rule-breakage ;)

  34. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thank you for sprinkling sparkle dust through this comment (and so many others this year), friend. I so appreciate your encouragement and always HAVE!

    Mwuah.

  35. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Best. comment. ever.

    I love you thiiiiiiiis much, Pop.

    My hero.

    Gotta click “Submit” before I start crying…

  36. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thank you, Lillian – same to YOU!

    So WILDLY thankful for all the lessons learned and meaningful connections made this year.

    The best is yet to come!

  37. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thank you for the love and exclamation points, Alina!! ;)

  38. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Count your rainbows! Perfection, Mel.

    Love you and so excited to watch your new adventure unfold :)

  39. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Step right up, Aradia! Your dream clients are waiting for you.

    (And y’all are welcome behind the curtain anytime ;))

  40. Monique Villareal

    Nikki, congrats on your success! Go you..

    You are inspiring especially since you did this with a little one. I have an almost 20 month old who is in montessori two days per week. I work in the mornings, evenings and when he is in school on online marketing for entrepreneurs. It’s never easy to balance it all!

    Question – when you put your offer out on Facebook…had you already built up people on your page to extend the offer to? Or how did you get them to see your offer? Just curious…

    Thank you for your generous sharing of info.

  41. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Glad to hear it, Rebekah!

    When I first “found” Marie in Feb, I was totally inspired by the idea that she built a seven-figure business from her laptop. (That opened up a whole new world of possibility in my mind!)

    The support, friends, and clients I found through the B-School community played a priceless role in my first year, no doubt. Will be foreverrr grateful for that.

    At the same time – I give God the credit for my story. (Not in a cheesy, flippant, or Oscar-speechy way. I just genuinely believe this is what I was created to do, and my faith is what inspired me to share it on a bigger scale.)

    Hope that helps :)

  42. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thanks Monique!

    High-five for building a biz + building a family ;) (Actually planning to talk about that a lot more in year two and beyond.)

    For that first offer, I reached out in a FB group fillllled with entrepreneurs who needed exactly what I had to offer. I’d established credibility with them by being of genuine service and sharing tips, encouragement, and input where I could, so when I communicated my unique value in a smart, authentic way*, they naturally wanted to know more.

    (*Aaaand that’s the heart of what I share with my dream students in A Course About Copy.)

    Bottom line(s): Once you know who your dream clients are – proactively go find them. Meet them where they are – learn what they’re struggling with, engage with them in a meaningful way (in comments like these!). Build trust.

    That’s how you’ll help them feel confident investing in you and your business when the time is right.

    You’ve got this :)

  43. Vicky Lyashenko

    Happy Happy Business Birthday, dear Nikki! You deserve every bit of success! <3 May your 2nd year of business be more successful, prosperous, and help even more entrepreneurs!!!

    xoxox

  44. Connie Holen

    SO fun seeing this all in fast-motion cliff notes version! Congrats and Happy Birthday Nikki!

  45. Sarah Michelle Brown at VideosThatShine.com

    Nikki~
    Thank you for sharing your first year’s story! I love the work that you do and am super proud of how you leapt right on into your brand new biz. Way to go lady! :-)

  46. Deanne

    This has been so helpful. A week ago I was wishing out loud, I wish someone could just share their success story. ;-) The links to the other blog posts are essential and thanks for the reference to your personal persona reference! Lots of love, keep doing this work. It more than inspires, it pushes me into action and all the women I will soon work with now have Nikki Elledge Brown.

  47. Nicole

    Hi Nikki!
    I discovered you a few weeks ago through B-School (class of 2014!) and I just wanted to say you’ve been a big inspiration. I’m a writer and former journalist, and I’ve just launched a communications biz focused on helping small businesses tell their stories online. It’s been really inspiring to see how much value you’ve been able to give your clients through coaching and brilliant advice. I really admire your energy and positive attitude—it’s contagious even in your copy, so who wouldn’t want to work with you? Congrats on an incredible year, and thanks for the glimpse behind the scenes!

  48. Rhonda

    You are super amazing Nikki! So happy to have found your brilliant way of teaching and BEING! You are a Super-Woman. <3 xox Rhonda

  49. Michelle

    Thank you so much for this. It helps me realize the beautiful world that lies around the corned of my resistance. I’m ready for a break through and your story is more than encouraging.

  50. Tamsen

    Happy Bizzerversary!!!

    Hubs actually read this entire post the morning it came out (took me a few days to get to the computer) and he laughed + loved you. Especially the “paychecks of the heart.” My guy doesn’t read anything but hockey blogs :) but when he saw the spring in my step Saturday morning, he asked “what’s up?” — I said my friend is just doing awesome :)

    Congratulations! You’ve inspired me and taught me so much this year. I am so incredibly thankful that our digi-lives intersected and one day maybe the world will see fit to do it in person :) You’re one of a kind and an A+ practical dreamer in my mind.

    I can’t wait to see all that life is going to unfold and produce because of you Ms. Positive Practical Dreamer!

  51. Dana

    I loved your story! Thank you for posting it in B-School. I am a first timer this year and love your website too!

  52. Kristi

    Congrats Nikki on all of your success!

    You are a gifted writer, and I truly enjoy reading your blog posts.

    I’m inspired by your ability to build a sustainable business that gives back to boot. Keep up the great work!

    Best,
    Kristi

  53. Laura

    You go girl! That is freakin awesome! What was your jumpstart offer that got so much attention?

  54. Tiffany

    So inspiring! Thank you for sharing!!

  55. Andrea Martins

    I absolutely know what that’s like! I hope you pay yourself enough to thoroughly indulge to reward yourself for your first year of sweet success. You deserve it. You’re truly an inspiration and a role model for so many women, Nikki. Onwards and upwards!

  56. Siedah Mitchum

    Your journey is truly inspiring! I’m new to b-school – so didn’t know you’ve been in business a little over a year. That is amazing progress.

    Looks like you invested in the RIGHT programs and just put yourself out there to help people. Congratulations on everything Nikki!

  57. Carla Davis

    Two words, HOLY MOLY!!! I am in absolute AWE of you my dear – you are totally rock’n the get-out-there and do what you love world!!! And Texas, a southern girl – I LOVE that part – being I’m from Mississippi and all. ;) Wishing you much, much more success girly!!!

  58. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thanks, Connie!!! You will always be a sweet, sweet part of the story, my friend :)

  59. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thanks so much, Nicole! (Great name, BTW.)

    Happy to share what I learn as I go. Makes this whole thing a lot more fun!

  60. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Go get ’em, Michelle! All the best stuff lies around the corner of resistance. It is a BEAST, but you’ve soo got this.

  61. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Well I’m HONORED the mister took time to read it too! ;)

    We will absolutely meet in person one day, friend, and it will be glorious.

    Til then I’m happy to settle for what we get. So thankful you’re part of my dream team -slash- life in general!

  62. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thank you so much for the lovely comment, Kristi! Greatly appreciated :)

  63. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thanks, Laura! The offer itself didn’t seem that special…it was a one-hour session for $199 with a bonus 30-minute follow-up, BUT I’m pretty sure it was the *smart, authentic communication* before and during the process of offering it that got folks excited to work with me.

  64. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thanks, Siedah! Yep – I’ve had a reeeeally steep learning curve this year, but I wouldn’t trade it. (I got the “fastest worker” award back in third grade…I like to get on with it!)

  65. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thanks so much, Carla! We’ve got in-laws in your neck of the woods ;)

  66. Laura

    Ah ha! Looking forward to learning form you!! :)

  67. Claire

    Congratulations Nikki! One word – Inspirational : )

  68. Sue

    HOLY WOW!!! This is so inspiring Nikki! Thanks so much for tracking and sharing your journey. Insanely helpful and motivating.

  69. Julie Morey

    Drat. I totally thought I signed up for the question party and got online for it and then realized I had no info on it – which means I must have gotten distracted by something else shiny after reading your post and didn’t actually sign up. I hope you record it. So sorry to miss it.

  70. Anita Wing Lee

    Hi Nik,
    I just listened to the recording of your live chat (and I’ve been rereading a lot of your blogs over the last few days) and I just wanted to say thank you! You’re so inspiring, and so real! :) I love that you’re sharing you’re journey with your readers (and not just blogging how-to’s for copywriting, although your writing articles are so helpful too!).

    I’m currently going through B-School and I’m a newbie, but getting to read about how you’ve started your biz from scratch has really encourage me to keep going!

    Sending you and your family SO much love and blessings,
    Anita xo

  71. Tessa

    Hey Nikki,

    Awesome break down and loved
    “Listen to sermons + encouraging music, say lots of prayers, send up BUCKETS of gratitude to gear up for the final days of the open cart.”
    {read this out loud to my hubby}
    Quick Q
    Is the not paying yourself because it was going into training? ad’s? development? {excluding the 10%}
    Thanks in advance.

  72. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Replay’s up til tomorrow, Julie! Hope you saw that email :)

  73. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Love and SO appreciate this comment, Anita.

    That’s exactly what I meant by my “new brand pants” – the new site won’t just have a new look, it’ll also give me some space to address MORE than just communication + writing.

    (I’ve been doing that the whole time anyway, but now my home page copy will reflect it :))

    Cheering you on, sister!

  74. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Glad you liked that, Tessa!

    I’ve taken so long to pay myself because I just had NO clue what I would owe in taxes and wanted to be sure I had enough left over. (I do :))

    I invested just under 40% of my 2013 revenue back into my business, then 10% for the wells. Ended up paying 25% tax on my profit, then the rest can be my paycheck :)

  75. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thank you so much for the encouragement, Andrea!

    Onwards and upwards to year two :)

  76. Rocio

    Mas vale tarde que nunca!
    Feliz Busisnessario (spanglish)
    Sigue inspirando al mundo digital y a los que tienen la suerte de conocerte.
    Gracias por ACAC y tu blog.
    With a Smile
    Rocio

  77. Ashley Kolesar

    So proud of you, friend! You have an amazing heart and I’m really happy for you and this adventure!! I consider myself a little lucky for the behind-the-scenes walkie-talkie sessions hammering out ideas and whatnot :) Hugs!

  78. Rosie

    Hi Nikki! I just watched (and thoroughly enjoyed) your B*Day call. It sounds like you took a ton of different programs in the last year, and it sounds like they were all valuable in one way or another. Would you mind sharing the whole list, as well as which of those programs were the *most* helpful? As in, which would you recommend for an entrepreneur with a limited budget?

  79. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Our walkie-talkies are PRICELESS, friend. Thanks for being my #1 subscriber :)))

  80. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Hi Rosie,

    I took just a few courses last year, but all of the links I shared in the b-day call chat box were for blog posts or other free resources. (Yay for FREE!)

    Here’s a list:

    http://www.nikkielledgebrown.com/brand-pants-muffin-top/
    http://www.nikkielledgebrown.com/my-first-1000-subscribers/
    http://www.jennyshih.com/2013/05/steal-this-my-perfect-pricing-strategy/
    http://www.facebook.com/dduffieldthomas/app_190322544333196
    http://www.shetakesontheworld.com/2013/03/how-to-charge-more/
    http://www.therisetothetop.com/product-launches/success-story-nikki-elledge-brown/
    http://www.jennyshih.com/2012/06/steal-this-my-simple-system-for-getting-killer-testimonials/
    http://archive.org/web/

    For programs, products, and people I love and recommend, check out my “Resources” page right here: http://www.nikkielledgebrown.com/resources/

    MOST IMPORTANTLY, learn from others’ experiences and best practices, but do your best not to get stuck in the “I have to do it this way because _______ said so” trap.

    This is YOUR trail to blaze.

    Experiment and have fun with it!

    Hope this helps :)

  81. Rosie

    Yay! I couldn’t see the chat box in my replay, so thanks so much for the list!

  82. Sharon

    This is so inspiring to me, as a new blogger/website owner/health coach who is trying to get my business going. I just finished watching all 3 of your videos and am so motivated to redo several pages of my website! Your breakdown of your first year in business is extremely helpful, as I’m sitting here wondering how my ideas and plans could ever amount to anything for me. Plus the fact that you read Jesus Calling is another “sign” that I could be successful also – my husband and I read it together every morning. Thanks so much for all of the information you put out there for all of us! Looking forward to being one of your loyal followers!

  83. Joe Wickman

    Wow. Just wow.
    Big Air-5 coming to you from Upstate New York!
    I think I can learn a thing (or 10) from your focus and dedication. Someday I hope to turn this writing hobby into a business.

  84. Michelle

    So much inspiration and information!

    Really looking forward to seeing your new website and loving the comment from your dad. Beautiful. :)

    xx

  85. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Whenever you decide to, you will, Joe! I believe it.

    (Air-5 from Honolulu headed your way.)

  86. Tonette

    Nikki, you make me feel so excited about the year to come. THANK YOU. Your work brings so much value and happiness to me and to lots of wannabe-entreps like me. I will return the favor somehow. ;) xoxo

  87. April D. Thompson

    Wow! Such an inspiration. Thanks so much for sharing these intimate details. I’m looking forward to digging through the crates and following along on the journey as it continues. All the best!

  88. Heather Vigliotti

    My job coach shared your site with me. Congratulations to your success! It must have been daunting at times, but it was encouraging to me to see how things progressed for you over the months!

  89. Weekend Cowgirl

    I love the new look and text Nikki! So fun visiting and watching you evolve! I have not had time to read everything, but will give it time this weekend! XOXO Still so proud of you…

  90. Ozge

    Oh Lady, thank you so much for sharing. This was the most inspirational guidance for me. I loved how you broke it down and provided links. I just signed up to B-school this year. And sometimes it’s just overwhelming to see the end results of other people and not knowing how the process was for them. I always preferred stories to advises ;)

    I am working corporate as a business analyst and it’s a lot of going back and forth for me time- and idea-wise. I earn ok, and love what I do -visualization of complex data, but I know I will be getting bored since I work for some company and this has a boundary, with processes becoming repetitive eventually, and like I said – it’s *working for* a company :). I am doing a Phd on “Giving validity to intuitive processes and developing a visual interpretation of mathematics in order to open the field to visual thinkers, especially women” -This was a copy written by a friend (Camalo) of my purpose, which made me realize how important copy writing was.

    Then Kimberly referred to your site, since I am doing my website, I was benefiting a lot from her free training too.

    I am tied financially till August and but would love to get educated on branding and copy at some point. Your free bees and blog are already helping so much. So just wanted to shout out a THANK YOU ;) And hopefully we can work together someday. Looking forward to! Love, Ozge

  91. Kamila Gornia

    OMGGGGGG I cannot believe my computer/Iphone corrected my name to Kamikaze while I was leaving a comment. How embarrasing LOL freaking Apple, hahaha. My name is definitely not Kamikaze. hahahah. Oh man.. good laugh.

  92. connie curtis

    Nikki,
    Thank you for sharing. I love what you teach and its inspiring. I am working on starting a business and it seems overwhelming to just get out there and so many opions on how to do that. Sometimes I get so frustrated and I think will people pay me for what I want to do. I know others that are out there doing it already. I am going to coach people who are newly diagnosed with food allergies and gluten intolerance. I have a great coach and right just not getting distracted and learning how to manage socail media and getting my name and what I do out there.. still seems hard at times but I keep going.

  93. Jessica l Barber

    This post is incredible. You have provided insight, resources, and inspiration for all that read it. I appreciate all that you have created, including this fantastic community of people who are so invested in what you do. Many blessings and a big congrats!

  94. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thanks so much, Tonetee. And let’s change that “wannabe” status to “deciding-to-be” and make it HAPPEN! :)

  95. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Ha! I appreciate a good word picture, April – digging through the crates is a good one :) Always feel free to ask Qs here or on my FB page so I can keep track and share what I’m learning. Happy to!

  96. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Great to have you here, Ozge! Hope the freebies continue to serve you well :)

  97. Nikki Elledge Brown

    You’ve got this, Connie. Sounds like you may need to tune out all the opinions and tune in to really reaching the folks you want to work with. That’s what I did right at the start, and that’s what kept me (the right kind of) busy :)

  98. Annie

    What is B-School? I’ve heard it mentioned several times before and it’s making me crazy not knowing. :-)

  99. Priscilla Carolyn

    I love the behind the scenes stuff like this and am amazed by how quickly you grew. Very inspirational, especially knowing that the resistance, fear and avoidance are normal, but not the end. Just little serendipitous speed bumps to test our faith, commitment and desire. Thank you!

  100. Nikki Elledge Brown

    “…resistance, fear and avoidance are normal, but not the end. Just little serendipitous speed bumps to test our faith, commitment and desire.” << YES, Priscilla! That's absolute perfection.

  101. Vanessa

    I love reading the business owner year in review posts. It’s so good to know how people come about and how they approach things; everyone is so different.

  102. Stacie

    Hi there Nikki!

    Thanks so much for sharing your journey in the first year of business – I LOVED your openness and can’t wait to hear about year 2. I receive your emails although haven’t checked out your site in its entirety yet. I would love to know how much you invested in yourself and your business in the first year?

    You are hard proof that taking action is the key to success congrats. I wish you more and more.

    Stacie xx

  103. Lindsay

    Nikki,

    This is beyond inspiring. How you did all of this in a year is beyond amazing!!

  104. Elizabeth Boardman

    Seriously so so so inspiring. I have been having tons of self doubt lately, regardless of all the things that are going well for me (like winning Marie Forleo’s B-School scholarship!). This post made me laugh out loud. I am going to keep praying and keep dreaming! I know success is coming :)

  105. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Thanks, Stacie! The year two review WILL happen before the end of year three…that I know ;)

    As for how much I invested – I don’t currently have a breakdown from April to April, but I’d guess I invested about 40% of my revenue back into expenses + services (largest part of that was the photography, design, and development of this new site!), then 10% to giving.

  106. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Glad to share a spark, Lindsay! It’s pretty crazy looking back at the very beginning with two years of perspective.

    Excited to hear YOUR story :)

  107. Nikki Elledge Brown

    Doubt will be a constant companion on the journey (“are we there yet? are we there yet??”), Elizabeth.

    The sooner you figure out how to glean any wisdom from his Qs, put him in his place, and keep on moving, the BETTA :P

    You’ve got this!

  108. Liesje

    Hi Nikki,

    Just wanted to thank you for sharing.

    I’m just starting my business (signed up for B-school in March, Yay!) and your post is very encouraging.

    Seeing how you went about it – step by step – really helps me simplify the process.

    I’ve learned a ton.

    Thanks so much!

    L.

  109. Aaron

    Hi Nikki,

    It’s a pleasure to meet you and learn more about you. I found you through a Facebook post from Pat Flynn and his kids thanking you. It was truly sweet.

    Anyway, This post is amazing and seriously inspiring. I recently launched my own blog, where I write about overcoming anxiety. I share my own story with overcoming my fears, and provide motivation, and encouragement to others looking to do the same.

    My hope is to grow this into a business and really help people accomplish big goals, by taking the small manageable baby steps to get there. Reading the trajectory of your business gives me hope that I’ll be able to do that.

    Thank you so much for sharing, I’ve signed up for your email list, I’m looking forward to the videos, and learning more from you. Thank you for all that you do!

    Aaron J Kelley

  110. Shanell Tyus

    What an inspiring story – just reading and am obsessed with how tangible and manageable this seems. Thank you for the step by step but more importantly the sharing of your heart story. I know I’m late to the party, but I’m such a fan!

  111. Lynette

    Hello from sunny Singapore! That was such an amazing story.. I have always wondered what it was like month-by-month when starting out.. thank you for sharing! It’s really inspiring and has given me much hope for my own blog. I don’t know where it’ll lead but I just feel this call to write and to share.
    With much gratitude! xx

  112. Wambui Githire-Mburu

    Nikki I needed to hear this one today. I have been plagued with resistance to build my first e-course on Facebook marketing for beginners. Jesus Calling is part of my daily devotion. I love that you don’t hide your faith.

  113. Nikki Elledge Brown

    That’s great, Aaron! Hope you’re doing well over there :)

  114. Nikki Elledge Brown

    haha thank you, Shanell! Tangible and manageable is GOOD :)

  115. Nikki Elledge Brown

    I could definitely stand to dust that one off the shelf (or app menu), Wambui ;) Thanks for the comment!

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