It’s my favorite time of the year. I take stock of all of the tools I have invested in and determine what is worth bringing into the new year with me and what I can leave in the past.

Typically this results in shaving some expenses but this year I am focused on simplifying things for 2019.

It’s no secret that I have shiny-bobble-syndrome and love to try all of the things to see what works. And I usually end up going back to a tried and trusted tool.

Let’s chat about what are some of the best investments I made in 2018 and are eager to bring into the new year for The Creative Boss.

Content Creation

This is one of the pillars of my business it is only fitting that I invest in tools that make creating content loads easier.

A few years ago I was a fan of CoSchedule but it didn’t quite tick enough boxes to justify the expense. Well, they have grown! In fact, I wrote all about it, you should go read that next.

This is where I can write and manage blog posts, social media posts, email campaigns, my course content and so much more.

This is one of the best tools I am excited to take into 2019. It replaced my use of the Trello Editorial Calendar (you can still grab that because it’s awesome.)

Email Service Provider

Last year I moved away from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign. I purged my list and thought I would be golden.

And things were great for a while. But then things just weren’t working as they should. Automated emails weren’t sending and given the nature of my business this could mean lost revenue.

I decided to move back to ConvertKit. I promise I’ll be staying put for a while. Moving is a giant pain. Especially as I keep creating new content, new freebies, and more automated sequences.

ConvertKit also integrates so nicely with Teachable. I was able to eliminate most of the Zapier automation I had because ConvertKit and Teachable just play together nicely.

FREE TRAINING: 3 Steps to Raving Fans

Pinterest Growth Explosion

I was a fan of BoardBooster. I used the $5 a month plan it worked so I just stuck it out. But then Pinterest basically shut them down. So I was forced to look for alternatives. While I can schedule pins with CoSchedule and even ReQueue them I wanted to test out Tribes with Tailwind. 

This has exploded my traffic since implementing it. I buckled down, joined a handful of tribes, started updating old blog post graphics and blasting them out there.

I am in awe with the growth that I even created a tribe just for The Creative Boss that you can join.

Hosting + Website

Another big change I made was moving my and my client’s websites to a new hosting provider.

I had some issues with Siteground, you can read about that too. I set out on a mission to find a hosting provider that actually puts their clients first and not their “partners”. This is how I landed with a small hosting company, Lyrical Hosting.

I love the community that comes with working with them. Any questions are answered quickly, even the general ones. If you are having any issue with your site they will do their best to find a solution, even if it doesn’t have to with hosting.

Another investment that I am excited to bring into 2019 is my Elegant Themes subscription. I typically wait for their huge Black Friday deal because I can score extra goodies worth the cost of renewing every year instead of purchasing the lifetime deal. But still, at $89 it’s worth it for the Divi theme and Bloom plugin.

Course Management

A big portion of The Creative Boss’s plan for 2019 is to focus on creating more courses. This means that I need a platform that just works. I need to know that there will be minimal downtime and I need to know that I have the support that I may need as a course creator. 

This is why I decided to invest in Teachable. By signing up for a Pro account I received access to their membership just for course creators, Teachable U. 

I will say that if you are just dabbling in the idea of creating a course this is worth the investment. Even if after taking their courses you decided to downgrade the free plans. Yes, you can do that! 

Stock Photos

I am a huge fan of stock photos but the ones you find on free sites tend to be overused. This is why I love IvoryMix. Kayla offers high-quality photos that are not overused in the market. She is constantly adding new photos to keep this from happening as well. And it’s affordable. Most stock photo memberships are expensive, worth it but crazy expensive.

My favorite thing that Kayla offers inside the membership is the Prop Kits. I am a designer so it makes sense to be able to place elements together to create my own “photos”.

Graphics Creation

One thing I have learned over the year is how much of Adobe’s Creative Cloud I actually use. As a designer, I believe that everyone should be using Photoshop over Canva to create graphics for their blogs. For about $10 a month you get Photoshop and Lightroom. I pay for the entire Creative Cloud and am surprised at how many tools I use, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, and Audition. These are ones I use regularly to run my business. Well worth the money I invest in it.

Client Management

For a while my client process was scattered in a few different places, Typeform, Trello, Calendly, a Proposal tool, and contract generator, invoicing and payment collection tool. It was a lot of pieces to maintain. And it worked but then I finally bit the bullet and invested in Dubsado.

Now everything is one single place. My forms, appointment scheduling, proposals, contracts, invoices, client management, you name it lives in one home. I won’t even address the point that I was probably spending more on each of the tools because the thought of paying the Dubsado fee made me cringe. But then they launched their scheduling tool and I knew that I could cancel Calendly- that was $15 a month. And invested in Dubsado at $25 a month. The price has probably increased to $30 a month at the time of writing this but it’s still an amazing tool that will save you time and possibly money by consolidating all the tools.

I also have a new plan for 2019 regarding design services so I wanted to invest in a tool that would give users the high-end experience they are looking for. No more messy back and forth emails. Just one hub where they can access everything and submit the things I need to complete their projects.

Upping my Skillset

I have invested in many books and courses during 2018. Some were not really worth it but there are few gems.

I made a list of where I wanted to focus my efforts in 2019 and decided to take some time diving into those.

Pindepth from IvoryMix.  This course helped to break down Pinterest marketing in a way that finally made sense to me. I have been using Pinterest for years but never really saw growth or a return on my efforts on it. I decided to invest in this course, paired with Tailwind and things are on the up.

Affiliate Marketing For Bloggers – Another thing I wanted to finally crack the code on was affiliate marketing. I have been blogging for many years but always lived in awe of those that make tons of cash from affiliate marketing. I have read quite a few blog posts and such and nothing really broke down affiliate marketing in a way that I could implement. I actually got my hands on this course because of The Genius Bloggers Toolkit, well it was one of the deciding factors to invest in the bundle. And it is worth the price.

Since taking this course I have actually made a decent chunk of income from affiliate income. And without creating loads of new content. I was able to revisit older blog posts and turn them into powerhouses.

These two courses together have actually made me more money from old blog content than ever before!

Now I also made another decision. I decided that to keep The Creative Boss true to why I created it, a resource hub for busy, creative entrepreneurs, I need to move all of my web design services to a new home.

This spiraled. I also decided that I was done being seen has an okay designer and I invested some big bucks into upping my design skills.

I invested in The Inspired Pro by Cathy Olson. This course has changed my life. While the new website isn’t up at the time of writing this post I am planning a launch for the end of Quater 1 2019.

But this course is great but something else landed in my inbox from the ladies at Get Back to Design. They launched a Holiday Bundle. This was worth it for the resources that included the Simply Profitable Designer Summit and Wow Your Clients course. There were other resources in the bundle it was valued at more than $500 and because of the price increase with every purchase promo they did I was able to access it for a steal!

SIMPLIFY is the word for 2019. I believe that by simplifying things I will be able to grow.

There you have it. These are the top investments I made in 2018 in preparation to slay in 2019.

I have set BIG goals. I have made plans to add more income streams and increase the ones I am currently working with because of the big picture goal I have for my family.

 

Sarah Crosley

Sarah Crosley

Founder of The Creative Boss

After years of trying to run an online business I have seen quite a few ups and a whole lot more downs. I spent hours every day researching how to make a go at some elusive, passive income. I felt like it was something that was just a myth, and then I figured out what the real meaning of passive income was: to work smarter, not harder. It’s not just sitting around watching the dollars pour into your bank account, but you can create products that will sell and still be sitting on the beach or at home in pajamas, and I want to share with you what worked for me. I don’t want you to spend years trying, failing, and throwing in the towel.

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