Author: Elsie Larson,Author: Emma Chapman,Business Tips,Tips,

State of the bizHey, friends. Welcome to our yearly post where we share what we're working on, how we're tweaking our business and what we're most excited about that's coming up! 

If you tuned in to our Livestream a few weeks ago (you can still watch it here), then you heard that we've been working on this post for a while. In some ways we are sort of always working on this post, because, like most small business owners, we are constantly thinking about how to improve and grow. It's something we talk about almost every day.

Our little business keeps growing and it's on track to have its best year yet! (YAY!) With that, we feel like we’re in the best place to reflect and decide where we want to be headed. The industry is constantly changing and so is how we run ABM. We like to think of blogging as an evolving career. I mean, ten years ago we had no clue that we'd be able to make our blog into a side business, much less the "mothership" of all our creative projects and a full-time career for us plus a small team. Blogging will probably go down as our life's most surprising opportunity. And we truly never know where it will take us next. 

The importance of change
Depending on how long you’ve been following us, you’ve probably seen a few phases of our business. When I was the only owner, I sold paintings and art prints on an Etsy shop. When Emma joined, we sold vintage clothes and cupcakes from a Springfield storefront, custom made a small fashion line with a couple local seamstresses, and eventually moved into full-time blogging. That’s let us expand into apps, online classes and product development. Business, no matter how calculated your risk may be, is always trial and error. We're always learning and moving forward. 

We started blogging for fun. We ended up full-time blogging because it worked and showed the most opportunity of all the creative ventures we were dabbling in. Find what works and grow it the best you can. But just because the first thing you tried wasn’t working doesn’t mean you should beat your head against the wall. Or maybe what was working just isn’t anymore. Change and adapt. Find another risk you can afford and take it. There’s a famous Thomas Edison quote: “I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And yes, those who fear failure more than you will always be there to kick you while you’re down. But you only really fail when you stop trying. 

The Nashville move and the studio house
For the first time since becoming partners, Emma and I will be working remotely. I’ll be honest. It's sad and a little scary, but we have a game plan, and we are both 100% committed to making it work! We're gonna be on FaceTime a WHOLE lot more! We're already embracing the transition and starting to create a new normal. Anyway, you can read more about the move in my post here.

When I decided to move, Emma decided she really wanted to work from home too. (We LOVE working from home—I cannot explain how much we missed it these past two years.) That meant we didn’t have a need for a whole studio house anymore. We moved our more office-y staff to the space above Emma’s upcoming bar in downtown Springfield. Then, Emma, Laura and I (as well as most of our contributing writers) will all be mostly working from our homes.

This is going to be an exciting change of pace from what we’ve done these past two years! Of course we love all the ideas we dreamed up in the studio, but you might’ve noticed we weren’t sharing as much of our own homes. We really, really missed that. So we've decided to bring the focus of our content back to projects made and photographed in our homes. For me that will be mainly home decor updates; for Emma it will mean more food from her home kitchen. We're both SO excited. 

This shift really feels most natural to us! Working from home might seem like a small change to you (you can't really see where we're working from anyway, right?), but to us it's a HUGE change and a really exciting one. The small change I hope you will see is an overall cozy-ness in our vibe. That's the goal at least. 

Making room to simplify
I know it probably seems like we're running in a lot of different directions...and we are. But this year we're continuing our quest to simplify. We're evaluating our priorities, what's working and what we can see ourselves growing into in the future. We're feeling, more than ever, that we want to focus A Beautiful Mess on home projects (both renovations and decor) and food! We're exploring ways to hone in on those things while staying challenged! 

The change in social media
Instagram: This has been a super exciting year for Instagram. We started an official ABM account, and it’s grown so fast we’re not even sure what to do about it! I think the most interesting part about it is how much it's changed the way we communicate with you, and hear from you. When we first started ABM, we had no social media (none!). So it was simpler in some ways. We posted, then we read the comments. These days, we're getting comments on each post and through all the different social media channels. We're still figuring out how to prioritize our efforts. I mean, if you guys are all going to engage with us via Instagram, it makes sense to put more effort into that space. Kind of a fun challenge! 

Pinterest: So this has been one of our largest traffic sources (outside direct and Google) for a couple years now, but recent changes to Pinterest have caused a bit of a shift there. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but your feed is no longer sorted chronologically. It’s now shuffled per Pinterest’s recommendations, which results in pins showing up in your feed from sources you’re not even following. It’s a similar move Facebook made a few years back. So it’s shifting the control of your feed from those you’re following to those running Pinterest. It definitely makes sense from a business standpoint, as it gives them an easier path for advertising. We’ll see how it affects the user experience over time. Here’s an interesting/helpful write-up I found

Newcomers (to us): So I just started making my Snapchat public, (@elsielarson), and I have to admit I’m pretty much obsessed with it. I’m too new to it to comment on how it is affecting the business, but I can see that thousands of you are viewing my snaps each day, and I'm enjoying sharing a less curated, more random side of my world with you. We’ve also got a Periscope account, (@abeautifulmess), but I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. We’ve only used it a couple times. Should we do more? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Both Snapchat and Periscope are a ton of fun. I love that they delete after 24 hours because it removes a lot of pressure for us to be too "produced" and makes it feel more lighthearted. But, to be honest, it also kind of bums me out to put a lot of effort into things that don't archive. I LOVE having over eight years of blog posts I can go back and read at any time! Even though some are highly embarrassing, I love that they are archived. So, I guess that's the number one thing that puts me on the fence with those two social media apps. I'd love to hear your thoughts, because basically the only reason I'd put more effort into either one of them is if YOU enjoy them! 

New projects we’ve got coming up soon!

- The new app! I feel like we keep teasing it and never giving any details...sorry about that. It’s just not quite done yet. But we're in the testing phase, so it's not too far away now! I CAN tell you it’s going to be a photo app focused on creating fresh, clean colorful images. Augh—so excited! 

- We’re launching a new small business e-Course soon. We’re now almost a decade into running this crazy business, and we’re going to share everything we’ve learned. It comes with over two hours of video lectures. Can't wait to launch that! 

- We're working on a cookbook, but it won't be on bookshelves until 2017. We already told you all about this one, but we’re still SUPER excited. We're just beginning the development, and we'll be working on it and shooting all fall, winter and spring this year! Follow @emmaredvelvet and @elsielarson for behind the scenes peeks. This is definitely a passion project for us, and we're so thrilled to have the opportunity to do this!! 

-New home tours! One of the things I am most excited about for the coming year is oversharing every detail of my home renovations and decorations. I am so passionate about this home, and I know Emma and Laura are in the same state of mind. There will be lots of fun home inspiration coming each month alllll year. 

Alrighty! Well that's what we're up to at the moment! We're excited to enter this fresh season which I am calling "cozy time" with you. We can't say enough about how much we love and appreciate each of you who read A Beautiful Mess! Thank you for coming here and being a part of our world. WE LOVE YOU! 

Feel free to give us any requests or constructive feedback you have on your mind! I think I've already said it 40 times in this post, but we're always looking to improve and we'd love to hear what you love and what you'd like to see more of. xx. Elsie (+ Emma too) 


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