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My End of Year Business Review

A revenue breakdown, what worked, and what didn’t work for my business

Most people do their end-of-year business review in December. I chose to wait until now because this week marks my one-year anniversary of being a full-time entrepreneur (again)!


Business Recap 2022 Blog

It seemed fitting to wait, so I could give you a full breakdown and recap of what one year in my business really looked like. 


In this post, I’ll cover why I went full-time again, do a detailed breakdown of my revenue and what that looked like (with actual numbers, of course!), what worked, what didn’t, and what’s next.


To kick it off, I should probably tell you…

First off, I was fired.

Yep, that’s how this full-time train started. Early in the morning on March 28, 2022, I ended a video call with the CEO of a company where I was a Director. We didn't agree on much (to put it nicely) in that meeting, but I didn't have it in me to feel frustrated or flabbergasted.

I was literally on Cloud 9, because it was my toddlers’ first day of daycare. That’s kind of a big deal. I’m sure many Mamas who have experienced their first outing away from their babies could tell you…it was kind of awesome to just be April again.


Anyway, I realized I had been quiet fired when I was being locked out of programs. I simply shut down the company laptop, opened up some client work on my personal computer and kept going. There was no feelings of panic, although I did laugh about it a little with my husband and BFF later that day. (I think that’s a testament as to how much daycare means to my mental health.)


And yes, looking back I see how incredibly privileged and blessed I am to have been able to not worry. I had a lot of things going for me, including a spouse with a 6-figure salary and retainer clients. Plus, as I said, it was my first day away from my kids in almost 4 years…nothing could have gotten me down.


But it did mean I needed to quickly transition full-time into my business again.* I suddenly went from “I can take on extra work if I want to” to “I need to make sure I make up my corporate salary”. A huge change from the nearly three months off I had taken from accepting new clients.

*Explanation: I was full-time previously but went back into the workforce after postpartum depression (which I’ve talked about on my former podcast) sent me there looking for adult conversations, challenges, and a space where I didn’t need to make a million decisions during the day. At least, not while dealing with PPD, a baby at home, and another on the way. I stayed in corporate again for over two years. It provided a stable paycheck, covered several puppy surgeries, allowed me to take on retainer clients and one-off projects I loved, and afforded us the ability to fund a spontaneous move to CT based on a YouTube hiking video.


Here's how year one went.

The Numbers (Revenue Breakdown)

Ok, confession time! This is my favorite part of any yearly breakdown. I love hearing how people are slaying their sales or what lessons they learned. So much so, that if I’m listening to a business recap and the person doesn’t mention their numbers, I am literally behind the screen or earbuds screaming “was that even a breakdown, bro?!” 


But I digress.


My goal was to do at least $100,000 in my first year full-time (again). This may be lofty to someone who is just starting their business from scratch. I understand that. Early 2018 April would have had a stern reality check written that she didn’t think 2022 April could cash.


Please know this was my goal because:

  1. I was leaving a Director position where I made a little more than $111,000 per year and was used to that salary. Actually, we were used to having both incomes from me.
  2. I already had a couple of retainer clients that had been with me for years and random clients here and there. And…
  3. I had just purchased an insanely expensive beautiful home and property that came with a surprise $50k worth of repairs two months prior.


So, I wanted and needed to maintain a 6-figure salary. Thankfully, God’s got my back. Within 48 hours of getting let go, I had a new job offer, an interview, and two new projects signed. (Talk about conflicting signs on which path to take, right?!)


There were definitely setbacks, and between mulligan days and many (many, many) sick days thanks to daycare germs, I worked for a little less than 11 months of the year. 


I made my goal, coming in just freaking barely above $100,000. The final number was $100,726.82 cash in hand.

In case you’re curious about where my revenue came from, here’s a breakdown.

2022 client map | April Brown business coach for women

I served clients across…8 U.S. states and 3 countries. 🤯

I kicked ass on 💃

  • 58 blogs
  • 61 emails
  • 6 full-site SEO overhauls
  • 4 full-site copywriting projects
  • 4 White label projects
  • 4 private business planning intensives
  • A few random one-offs
Meeting the girls in Florida

PS: I got to hang out with these gorgeous gals (twice) during in-person business intensives in October and November!


3 of my SEO retainer clients have made
over 1,000 sales from SEO leads in one year!

Here’s a better breakdown on what that looks like as a service provider for visual learners and nosey nannies (like myself).

Breakdown of SEO Strategist annual business revenue breakdown

60% of my overall revenue was from retainer clients. That’s mainly for SEO retainers, but some retainers are strictly for copywriting services, such as emails and blogging.


24.18% was earned from one-off projects. The majority of those are full website copywriting services, website audits, or SEO projects. Some of those one-offs were for repeat clients.


9% was for strategy and coaching services. This included one-off consulting calls and 4 private 3-day business intensives where I helped entrepreneurs map out their offers, priorities balance, systems, and launches for 2023.


5.7% was for white-label services. That’s when I collaborate on projects with web designers who need to bring me on for copywriting and/or SEO services under their brand name.


1.12% was for website hosting. I still have a few website hosting clients that I maintain sites for and keep running on the web.

I would also like to say that although I love working for myself overall, it’s not as easy as some people make it out to be.  I know this because I’m a certifiable metrics hoe and I tracked most of my time. But I'm sharing my insights in case some glassy-eyed person reading this mistakes my metrics for anything other than what they are – hard work.


At the start of the year I was spending 60%-75% of my working hours on getting more clients and 40% on client work. Roughly 20-30 hours/week. That changed about 2-3 months in. As my workload increased, I spent about 60% on clients, 16% on getting clients, and 24% on working in my business doing proposals and admin work. At that point I was working 50+ hours a week. 

At the end of the day, I have never been so happily exhausted. I suspect this year will look very different as I come out from under my rock to join society on social.


But skipping over that musing, let’s move on to more juicy bits – what worked, what didn’t work, and what’s next.

What worked in my business

1. Staying focused on getting clients, not clicks.

Part of the thing I struggled with while full-time the first time was marketing. I felt drained all the time (mainly due to the baby, being pregnant, and dealing with postpartum). I was doing it all while in a new state with only one local friend. (Heidi, you are the true MVP of Indiana! Can't wait to see you IRL again!)


It was all I could do to show up for my group coaching students, speak at conferences and complete client projects back then. I struggled with a branding identity crisis that left me hating all combinations of brand colors (to this day!) and sighing every time I had to sit down to create a social media post. 


The fear of falling into that pit again was one of the driving reasons why I wasn’t willing to risk prioritizing social media. Too often, new and seasoned entrepreneurs get stuck focusing on curating Instagram feeds. That works for some people, but it takes time to build a community of followers who are primed to buy. It takes time to build up SEO street cred (even when you're an expert!). 


I didn’t have the luxury of time. This is not advice I would give to most people starting a business. Marketing is insanely important to long-term growth. There should be a balance and I highly recommend you find that balance if you have time to build up your pipeline.

But for me, I honestly think this helped a lot.

Instead of focusing on things to get known first, I focused on money-making tasks to get clients. That sent me to Upwork and Facebook groups to answer a few questions here and there. I created a case studies deck. Mostly I was putting my name in the ring and writing proposals. (Honestly, there was more crazy divine timing there too, but that’s a story for another time.) 


I was able to quickly land some UX analysis projects, blogging gigs, SEO clients, and a new retainer client.


One year later, I’ve still only put out 2 social media posts and a handful of stories, but I got paid.

2. Focusing on long-term client support over one-off projects.

A lot of education online geared toward creatives is focused on getting new clients. That’s why Instagram coaches and people who teach building your business on social media are so popular. 


There’s a lot less education on building out your value ladders to support clients over many phases of their business.


There are a LOT of people who do this in their own business, but few who teach it as a strategy.


I’m a creature of stability, so having recurring revenue I can count on helps me sleep at night. To me, that meant focusing on quickly building my value ladder to support clients long-term then filling the gaps with one-and-done projects.  (vs the other way around)


Now, I’m not knocking that business model. It works. But for year one, I focused on getting amazing retainer clients and providing services that turned one-off projects into repeat clients. 

A lot of education online geared toward creatives is focused on getting new clients. That’s why Instagram coaches and people who teach building your business on social media are so popular. 


There’s a lot less education on building out your value ladders to support clients over many phases of their business.


There are a LOT of people who do this in their own business, but few who teach it as a strategy.


I’m a creature of stability, so having recurring revenue I can count on helps me sleep at night. To me, that meant focusing on quickly building my value ladder to support clients long-term then filling the gaps with one-and-done projects.  (vs the other way around)


Now, I’m not knocking that business model. It works. But for year one, I focused on getting amazing retainer clients and providing services that turned one-off projects into repeat clients. 

3. White-label SEO services for web designers.

I’m a huge fan of white labeling! White labeling means you provide a service under another brand’s name. They find the client and you just get paid to do the creative work you love. Plus, if you work on wowing their clients, you start to get repeat work without having to sell anyone on your services.


The introverts are all taking notes at this point…


If you are new in business or have a service-based skill you can monetize, I highly recommend experimenting with white-label services. The majority of creative agencies and large agencies are using contractors.


I provide white-label SEO services and copywriting services to web designers.


The two cons to white labeling are that you don’t get any of the glory (reviews) and most people expect sub-contractors to have very low prices so they can tack on an upcharge. I have private clients, so the reviews don’t matter to me. My white-label clients give me reviews. But I don’t discount my services that much. With a decade of experience and a track record of results, I know what I bring to the table. I only partner with clients who understand that and care more about being able to provide a full-service experience to their clients.


So the lesson here is that experimenting with white labeling and finding the right partners are a great way to pad your revenue.

What did not work

1. Balancing business, kids, and boundaries.

If you ask anyone who knows me “how good is April with boundaries?” the words stubborn, badass, and unyielding would be their delicately crafted responses. I’m as freaking stubborn as the Taurus sign I was born under. I set clear boundaries and I stick to them.


Until this year.


This year I found myself struggling to work around my kids who, just as quickly as they entered daycare, left for several months for safety reasons before enrolling in a new daycare. 


In September I suddenly found myself with two toddlers turning my sectional into a trampoline park while I was trying to conduct meetings and run a business.


Parents who can do it – I need the tips because I struggle. When it was my half of the day to entertain the girls, I found myself staring at the computer similar to back in my PPD days. Work was only getting done during the half of the day my husband had the girls upstairs or after their bedtime.


Instead of slowing down I just pushed through and did a lot of late nights. My wonderful, supportive husband took them all day on days I was on deadline. (He’s amazing! Seriously, the most loving and supportive man ever.) 


Still, after months of them home it left me drained. I definitely fell behind on a couple of projects. I expected to be a superwoman instead of letting myself submit to the need to balance business, kids, and respect my own boundaries not to work after 4 pm.


Sometimes we do that. Especially moms and dads who are trying to run a business and support their families. Or side hustlers balancing long days and nights. There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to compromise, so you give a little and stretch yourself out. 


I wish I had given myself time and permission to stop and rethink what needed to change to get better instead of waiting for the girls to go back to school part-time and sucking it up. 


Lesson learned. Be unyielding, but only with the boundaries that support balance.

2. Working on my long-term business growth.

This is another lesson in creating balance in your business. It was always my intent to have a website designed and start marketing again by Q3/Q4 when my income was more stable. (Certainly by Q1 this year!) The plan was to prioritize my money-making tasks and then work on long-term growth tasks.


And to this day, I’ll die on that hill. 👊


You HAVE to balance money-making tasks, the tasks that get you paying clients, with whatever work you’re paid to do. I literally built and sold a whole digital business planner around this concept.


The months I stuck to that planner were my most profitable months. When you don’t keep long and short-term growth in mind, you stunt your business.


Overall, I over-prioritized filling my calendar with client work (and money) and neglected to make time to do any long-term growth investments.


Long-term growth tasks for business are:

  • Building an SEO-friendly website to attract leads consistently from Google
  • Learning how to use that site to prime people for conversions
  • Marketing on social media
  • Creating content with a long-term shelf-life (blogs, YouTube, podcasts, etc.)
  • Working on milestones to get you a little closer to the long-term goals each month


Now, I don’t regret doing so many projects with my clients. I love each of them and I’m so freaking proud of what our work together has helped them accomplish. They’ve taken huge steps towards investing in themselves and prioritizing long-term growth. I wouldn’t take that back or away from them for anything. 


But in year two, I’ll be prioritizing my growth alongside my clients. That includes investing more back into my business.


(Plus I just told my bestie I’d get my site up and you know how I feel about breaking promises!)

What's Next: My 2023 Business Goals

In October 2022, I did my own version of the annual business planning retreat I do with clients. I spent 3 days in Florida with my biz BFF, Amanda, and let her play coach and hardass to me. (She loved calling me out on my shiz! Maybe a little too much, lol.) I knew all my planning would be for the end of my first year (now). 


Here are a few of the highlights.

  • Long-term business growth strategies.

You knew this one was coming first. This year I’m designing a new website and have already taken baby steps back into marketing. I’ve started doing monthly free lunch & learn style SEO workshops, reviving my email list, and technically…this blog post is a form of long shelf-life content because its SEO value. 


At some point, I’ll rip off the social media bandaid because I've genuinely missed connecting with everyone online.


And of course, my digital business planner is getting used daily so it helps me keep track of what to focus on and stay laser-focused on the metrics that matter.


  • Launching offers that complement my SEO services and business strategy.

My services aren’t cheap, especially my SEO services. That’s not a flex, it’s market research. 


One of my biggest eye-openers in that business intensive was that my SEO services are WAY more comprehensive than other people in the market. So when I thought I was fairly priced, I wasn’t fairly priced for how much more I provide vs other people. (Trust me, that part is definitely not a flex either.)


I raised my prices again at the end of 2022. My white-glove services are better geared towards people making over $100,000 or who have a 9-5 that can help them invest in long-term revenue streams and conversion strategies right away. (Even still, I did add a slightly longer payment plan to help them out!)


I also added more high-touch services like copywriting and began partnering with a web designer to offer custom website design. However, although I adore seducing Google, and I’ll probably never stop playing the Google game, it’s been a dream of mine to do more with the education side of my business again. 


In 2019 I launched my first (and last) group coaching program for entrepreneurs making less than $100,00 per year. It was called The Last 6, and included 4 recorded masterclasses alongside the weekly group coaching calls and hot seats. It was so fun and so many of us stay in touch to this day. One even recently sent me a video of her filled-out workbook (below) that had me in my feels hardcore. She’s a badass.


It’s time to teach again. So, I’m working on how to do that sustainably while balancing being able to serve my service clients and retainers. Raising my rates and offering payment plans allows me to show up and do both.


Hint: The first offer will help people trying to attract and convert more search traffic. 



  • The boundary badass is back.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day. You can either remember it as times you worked or fill it with time worth working for. 


This year I choose the latter.


I’ve already put a hard stop on working past 4 pm. In January, I created a spreadsheet that calculates how long projects will take, along with meetings per week and in-business tasks to make sure my timeframe and schedules allow for time off. This is helping me not overbook and start booking out in advance.


On top of that, I recently heard someone say they’re creating more time off for themselves by counting every month that has more than 4 weeks in it and taking the 5th week off. 


Sold. 🙋🏻‍♀️


Last year I took around 35+ days off between holidays, birthdays, sick days, “mulligan days” with my hubby, and vacation days. This year it's going to look a bit different. For the record, there are 6 months this year where 3+ days bump into another week. I’ll be OOO those bonus days, all holidays,  birthdays, and a vacation or two. You can peek at the calendar below if you’re thinking of building in extra R&R days too.

Annual business review for creative entrepreneurs
  • More investments into my business and building a team.

Last year I reinvested in my business by taking a couple of high-ticket courses. I’m implementing the skills I learned this year. Beyond that, it’s time to get some support. 


Part of my 3-part framework for business intensive is to identify areas of the business the CEO isn’t needed, determine what type of support is needed to complete those tasks, and build markers for when you’re ready to enlist that support. It’s hard for people to understand what tasks are important to outsource vs what needs to be done as the CEO.


So, we pretended I was one of my clients. We poked through each area of my business and identified some tasks I don’t need to do. I’m excited to find the right people to help free up my time for fun, family, more seducing Google, and new education offers.

April brown SEO Services and Copywriting for Creative Entrepreneurs

Dear diary, let’s end this business review here…

This feels like a diary entry, doesn’t it? It wasn’t my intention to be so wordy, but I really want to start letting you into the behind-the-scenes of my brand. I want to be one of those people who is transparent with the good and ugly parts of entrepreneurship. Hopefully, something in this blog post resonates with you, validates your feelings, or teaches you.


If so, please do me a huge favor and share it in an IG story (tag me or let me know in a private DM. I may not be ready to go all-in with Instagram yet, but there are still ways for me to connect with you. And if you got something from this, so could someone else.


Ok, time to wrap this up.


Talk to you soon, future millionaire!