Friday, 27 December 2013

#52Books Challenge

52 books in 52 weeks  


The start of this year I decided that work was taking over way too much of my life and I had stopped doing the things I loved, like reading because I was working so much.  The first 2-3 years of my business I think I read about 5-10 books a year, I used to read that in a month.

So I decided to set myself the challenge of reading 52 books in the year, equivalent to one per week.  I logged my progress on this blog here.  After a bit of a false start with a book I just couldn't get into I kept up a fairly steady pace for most the first half of the year.  However once I started writing my book in July I suddenly found myself reading a lot less and just missed out on hitting my target.

I managed 44 books in the end, and I suspect I may read the 45th by the end of the year as I got some brilliant books for Christmas.  The challenge still hit it's target in a way because I did enjoy several guilt free afternoons reading books instead of working.  In fact some weeks I read 3 books a week, but then others I didn't read any at all.

I get so easily sucked into books and can't put them down that I know not to start a book when I have a very busy week ahead.  Or I'll end up exhausted from staying up half the night reading and not be able to manage much work. So I did have to exercise self restraint a few times and just not start a book.

#52books 2014

After I announced my challenge last year several other people asked if they could join in so we set up a Twitter list and all used the hash tag #52books to keep each other up to date with our progress. I'm just waiting to hear back as to how everyone did but I think most people found similar to me.  They didn't quite hit 52 but did end up reading more as a result of the challenge.

I've decided that I got so close this year, and by the start of Feb I should have finished writing my book so may have more reading time again so I'm going to try the challenge again in 2014.

Who fancies trying it with me?

I've decided to set up a Facebook group so we have more space to talk about how we're getting on and what we're reading.  Join in here.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Janome Embellisher Winner

Unfortunately I've been having a few server problems on the Sewing Directory site this evening so I've decided to announce the winner of my embellisher giveaway with Janome here too in case people cannot access the site.

I'd like to say a big thank you to Janome for providing such a great prize.  Do pop over and visit their site:

Janome FM275 Embellisher

So the lucky winner of our Christmas giveaway will receive not only the embellisher itself but also an individual needle kit and an extension kit too.  These will all be sent out to the winner in January.

The lucky winner is....

Emma Black from Milborne Port, Dorset

Well done Emma, I hope you enjoy your embellisher when you receive it.  Below are some pictures of the kind of thing you could make with it.

Don't panic if you didn't win there's another great Christmas giveaway going live tomorrow with goodies from Minerva Crafts.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Time for reflection & planning

James after his operation
I have to admit I quite like the end of the year (apart from the weather that is).  My work tends to get quieter in December, people are all caught up with Christmas and less so with business so I get the chance to look back on the year and make plans for next year.

This year it's been a little more difficult than usual.  My little boy James had a cyst and his tonsils removed just over a week ago so he's at home with me for an entire month.  The first week was a lot harder than we expected, he was really ill and waking almost every hour in the night and needing a lot of attention in the day.   But thankfully he's doing a lot better now so normality is starting to resume.

So the last couple of days I have been looking back on what I have achieved in 2013.  I can't quite believe how much has been crammed into just 12 months!  This year I...

- Got a book deal and am now over half way through writing my book.

- Wrote for sewing magazines every month of the year, some months several articles.

- Hit all my business goals, and in fact exceed several of them.

- Doubled my site traffic

- Braved my fear of public speaking to do a social media seminar at the NEC

- Became a CHA affiliate business expert

Picture from my 2nd meet up in Exeter
- Went to a Theo Pathitis networking event

- Travelled a lot more, some great trips away.

- Gave the whole website a visual overhaul and added the new workshops database. 

- Read more (although I didn't quite manage my 52 books challenge)

 - Learnt so much about SEO that I now hold 70 number spots in Google for my keywords.  I also became a bit of a SEO nerd in the process.

- Did a brilliant visual marketing course with Build a Little Biz  I'd highly recommend it.

- Held several sewing meet ups - first time I've ever organised events.

- Started training people in SEO, social media and marketing.

- Had a life changing moment when reading The Suitcase Entrepreneur book and have decided to move from Cardiff to Devon next year for a quieter life in the countryside.

- Following the above decision done a huge amount of DIY, painting and sorting/packing of the house to put it on the market in January.

As you can see it has been a pretty manic year! I have learnt so much along the way and met a huge amount of new friends and inspiring people. I feel I've also become more organised, I fitted a lot more into this year and with less stress than previous years.  I have been focusing on streamlining my precesses so as to save time.  I've also become more focused, although not quite focused enough.  I have too many ideas and sometimes can't decide which way to go - need to work on this in 2014!

Need more balance

So what to aim for in 2014?  I'm still working on my exact business plan at the moment with the help of these two great resources: New Year's Revolution Planner  and the one page business plan.  

However some of the plans I've already decided on are:

 - Finishing my book a couple of months early so I can focus on the house move before the book promotion starts.

- Hold more regular sewing meet ups in Exeter.

- Aim for a better work/life balance.  This did improve in 2013 but I still work way too much!

- More sewing time - I barely got time to sew this year, and when I did it was mainly reviews for the site not just relaxing pleasurable sewing.

- Continue to grow and improve The Sewing Directory and launch a new website to accompany the book.  That site will be focused at people running craft businesses.  Still being planned at the moment but the Twitter account is here.

- Write an e-book or e-course on SEO or social media for the new website.

- Continue to find time saving methods and ways of streamlining the business so I have more time to devote to other things.

- Learn to say no!  This is a big one for me, I really struggle to turn people down but I need to become more focused on what I actually want to be doing and saying no to the things I don't want to do. 

So what have you all got planned for 2014?  Anything exciting coming up?  If you feel like baring all like me to send me the link and I'll put it at the bottom of this post so we all link up. 

Oh I forgot to say whilst I was writing my business plans James wanted to write his plan for next year.  It is great! Find it below:

James's Goal for 2014
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