Three experiences I learned from in 2023

dog in waves on a surfboard
You can’t stop the waves but you can learn how to surf…

Every year I expect things to settle down and be a bit calmer than the previous year. Er…nope. Not in 2023. 😊 I’m certainly not alone here, this year has been a bumpy one for many people that I know. And if you’ve had a tough time the last thing you want to read is that everyone else has had a fabulous year – even if you really don’t believe them!

So here’s the truth about how my 2023 went and what I’m taking away at the end of the year.

Why I closed down my membership site

I closed down my membership site, the Speedy Email Marketing Club, over the summer. Membership sites are like rockets, you need to throw in a lot of fuel at the beginning to get them off the ground (time, networking, creating content, marketing) and it turned out that I just didn’t have the time and head-space to do it at that point.

I know it’s easy to leap to this conclusion when things don’t work out, but I think memberships are harder to fill than a few years ago. There’s just so much available online that you have to be very clear about what the benefits are for your members, exactly who it is for and get both of those across in a very noisy online world. This is can be tricky for something as open-ended and fluid as a membership site. I’m sure membership sites can still work, but the time, effort and marketing skill that needs to go into them was even greater than I expected.

Lesson learned: Try new things, but don’t be afraid to call it a day when you don’t have the time, space or resources to make a success of it. And it’s the outcome of a worthwhile experiment, not a failure.

Is it me or is my marketing not working?

By late spring, the Speedy Email Marketing Club and some family issues (see below) had taken my attention away from promoting my email marketing services. That meant I didn’t fill my marketing pipeline as I should and my work dried up in early summer. Yes, that’s a beginner’s error but so easy to slip into as a freelancer/solo business owner.

I saw the downward confidence spiral of ‘is it my lack of marketing or am I just not very good at what I do?’ coming up on the road ahead and managed to swerve it. By late summer I spent some time deciding exactly who I wanted to work with and how I could best reach them. I also looked at the marketing method that worked best for me (networking) and thought about how I could be more proactive with it, as well as asking around my network for what was working well for them in terms of networking. Thank you members of Drive The Network!

So in September I started a new 12 Week Year plan where I set a goal for building up my email marketing service and then worked out what I needed to do for the next 12 weeks to achieve it. It was a fairly modest financial goal and yes, I achieved it a couple of weeks ago.

Lesson learned: Don’t always believe what your own brain is telling you, work out what you want and the steps to get there and then implement that plan. Make sure you have trusted people around you to bounce around ideas with and offer you advice. Also, whatever happens, keep filling your marketing pipeline!

A surprising experience that has changed the way I see things

In May, our 15 year old daughter was getting on so badly in her post-pandemic school that the stress was making her too ill to attend. We made the decision to take her out and home educate her through her last ‘school’ year, 2023/ 24.

I’m a part-time/freelance lecturer in adult education alongside my email marketing business so in some ways I was better prepared than most but there was still an absolute tonne of information to read up on as well as nursing our sick girl back to health and finding out how to prepare for GCSEs as a private candidate (GCSE classical civilisation, anyone?!) Oh and get a college application in for September 2024.

Lesson learned: Challenge your own assumptions, especially ones you’ve held for your whole life and barely notice any more. My assumption ‘school is always the best way for a young person to get an education’ has been torn up, set fire to and thrown out of the window this year and it’s actually pretty liberating. Who knows what other assumptions I can chuck out of the window in 2024?

I went into 2023 not knowing what choppy waters lay ahead – and there was more personal stuff to deal with that I won’t mention here – but I came out in much better shape than I went in. I think the key things were to keep focusing on what mattered most, to not beat myself up when things went wrong and not being afraid to pull the plug when things were clearly not working.

As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

Here’s to a calmer 2024. Yes, I do say that every year!

If you need some help with your email marketing please get in touch. I can do everything from helping you plan out your strategy to setting up and managing your email marketing for you.

2 thoughts on “Three experiences I learned from in 2023”

  1. What a brilliant summary Helen – so clear sighted and simply articulated (just like your training!)

    I’ll add that the feedback I get from everyone I know that you have done work for is superb. You save people so much time and effort and make their processes so simple to operate that it really transforms their business.

    I hope 2024 brings the payoff of for all your hard work and that things are much smoother for everyone!


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