2016 is My Year For Teaching (and not necessarily making 6 figures… here’s why)

I don't care about making bank next year. I care more about my quality of life than the numbers in the bank.

2015 was a very successful year for me. It wasn’t as marvellous as 2014 in terms of “big name” accomplishments, like getting married and graduating from uni. But it was successful in terms of stability and growth.

  • My hosting clients have grown from 89 to 150.
  • My pre-made sales have grown from Ā£15.5k GBP to Ā£19k GBP.
  • My total income grew from Ā£22k GBP in 2014 to Ā£33k GBP in 2015.

I think that last one is pretty impressive, so let me touch on that for a minute…

The best thing I did to grow my income was raise my prices.

This price increase happened across all areas of my business.

I raised my hosting price… three times.

It started at $8.99 per month, then went up to $11.99, then $14.99, and is now sitting at $19.99 per month.

I kept raising these prices because I want to keep a relatively small number of clients that I can give a lot of time and attention to. I could probably cram 500 people on my server, but I don’t want to. I’d rather have fewer people on there that I can give a higher quality of service to.

I tend to raise my hosting prices when I see a large uptick in demand and new purchases.

I released a new pre-made theme with a higher price.

In 2014, my highest priced theme was $39. But in 2015, I released Tweak Me v2 at $69. That single theme brought in over $13,000 USD in sales all by itself.

I’m continuously raising my prices for custom work.

This has seen the largest increase by far. Over 2015 I was constantly re-evaluating my prices with the value and skill level I provide. As a result, I’ve been able to take on fewer projects and earn more money than ever before.

Growth and stability—but no big name milestones… Sorry!

Honestly, I struggled to write this post because I don’t have any huge milestones compared to last year. Last year I had things like, “I got married!” and “I graduated uni!” and “I launched a new hosting business!”

Despite how awesome 2015 was, I didn’t have any big new things like 2014 did. It was more of the same, but bigger. But of course, a few lessons were learned along the way.

And if I’m being honest, 2016 is going to be a focus on quality of life.

This relates to a lot of the awesome content that Erin Flynn has been putting out, like creating a web design business that fits your life.

In certain freelancing/entrepreneur communities, there seems to be this huge focus right now on making bank. We’re talking 6 figures. Then growing that 6 figure to 7 figures, because 6 just isn’t enough any more.

I know what my priorities are and making money just for the sake of it isn’t in them. My priority is to have a leisurely life that I love living.

  • I like to sleep in until 10:30.
  • I like having a leisurely morning at Starbucks.
  • I like not truly starting work until 12:30.
  • I like taking a break for the gym at 3:30.
  • I like stopping work when my husband gets home around 6:30.
  • I like taking a day off now and then.
  • I like being able to meet my parents in Paris for a few days just because.

I have a very relaxed life. I kind of always have, ever since I started freelancing. I only work about 4-5 hours a day. Sometimes I just say “fuck it” and play Lord of the Rings Online all day.

I love that about my life.

It’s actually quite funny because people often ask me, “OMG Ashley, do you ever sleep??” And the truth is, I sleep a lot. I get a solid 9 hours every night. And looking at my schedule, you can see I don’t even work that much either. I’m just very efficient, I suppose.

I guess what I’m saying is that I want 2016 to be all about maintaining this relaxed lifestyle. I don’t want to work myself to the bone. I don’t want to race towards 6 figures just because that’s what everyone else is doing.

My number one goal is to focus on the things I love. I want to make enough money to be able to sustain my relaxed lifestyle. I don’t need to make more than that just for the sake of seeing a higher number.

Don’t be afraid to change your business model if you’re no longer feelin’ it.

As you saw from the numbers before, 2015 saw a huge increase in income from making custom websites/plugins. But now in 2016 I’ll be toning that down.

To be totally honest, I’m a little sick of custom work. Sometimes I start a new project and it just feels exactly the same as something I’ve already done. Like building yet another website. Sure, the content is different, the blog is different, the design is different… but there’s this amount of sameness to the whole process.

That was a scary feeling because isn’t that what my job is??? Custom work???

It doesn’t have to be.

My work isn’t a means to an end… it’s my passion.

If I’m no longer feeling that passion and excitement, something has to change. I still love coding, but I’m a bit sick of these custom projects.

That’s when I realized one of my favourite things is blogging. More specifically: helping people through my blog… tutorials, walkthroughs, guides, etc. I already created one e-course, surely I could create another?

In 2015 I launched a Facebook group called #GirlsOnWP. In 2016 I’ll be taking this further. I want to create a whole community around helping women find success on WordPress.

In 2016, Nose Graze will shift into a teaching role. I’ll be teaching you how to code and kick WordPress ass!

#GirlsOnWP is my focus for 2016. I have at least three e-courses already planned that are all about teaching women how to master WordPress (and code, of course!).

Why women specifically? I guess because there’s already an overwhelming amount of men in this space and I want a little space that’s all about #girlpower.

My first priority is finishing up my new Master Customizer course, which I’ve been working on for the last few weeks. I’m hoping to start taking pre-orders for Master Customizer by the end of January. šŸ™‚

Next up, I’ll be revamping my course on building a theme from scratch. The biggest change will be the addition of video walkthroughs to complement the text tutorials. But I’ll also be reorganising the lessons a little and adding a few more.

The price will also be going up after the revamp, so now is a good time to buy if you want it at the lower price! (If you buy now, you’ll still get access to the revamped material when it’s ready.)

In short, I’m so ready for 2016!!

How was 2015 for you? Do you have any epic goals or big changes planned for 2016? More importantly, HOW will you tackle those goals?

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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. Love this! I’m happy I’m not alone in focusing more on enjoying life and less on making bank. As small business owners, we have the freedom to create the life and businesses we want! šŸ™‚

  2. Good for you. Of course we all want more money, but what do you have to sacrifice to get all that extra money. The amount that I make now is enough that I’m comfortable. I’m happy. I’m able to save for retirement and emergencies. I have money to play with each year. I don’t get everything I want, but that’s okay. I wish more people could come to this conclusion too. I think they would be so much happier. I hope you have a great year with your training. I love your courses and your teaching style, so I know you will do great.

    Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons recently posted: Top 10 Books Iā€™m looking forward to in 2016
  3. Well, I totally burned out and quit blogging cold turkey, in the middle of a health crisis that was at least partially driven by the stress of keeping up with it all and having to constantly fight my lack of resources and knowledge to effectively blog. So I’m fighting a six year habit of guilt and turning my back on blogging for a while. I’m starting school in a few weeks in Mass Communication, and I’m going to take your classes and some other ecourses, mainly in photography. I want to blog, and really grow my skill as a photographer, and I’m finally sucking it up and accepting that if I want to be any good or at all unstressed, I need to invest in myself before diving in. For instance, I’vr turned down four requests to hire me to shoot weddings this year because I know I’m not good enough. I’m sick of doing that, so I’m going to take the time to learn what I need to know to say yes.

  4. I just discovered your site through one of my clients who just purchased a plugin of yours! I have to say, I like what you’re all about!

    I’m a graphic designer, WordPress website designer and blogger myself. I love to learn, create systems of automation and simplicity, and create more time freedom to do more of what I love, besides computer stuff šŸ˜‰ I’m totally following you!

    Keep up the good work! šŸ™‚

  5. Oh Ashley. I love this. There are so many people in our niche focusing on the BIG 6 figure bucks. For me, I just want to make enough money to make my family a little bit more comfortable – once I have that I would much rather be playing with my kiddos or doing something else. Here’s to a year of living life!

    1. Ohh do you still play LOTRO?

      I don’t believe in waiting for the new year to make goals (ie: new year resolutions). I believe in setting them as soon as you have something you want to achieve. šŸ™‚

      1. I have a Lifetime Account. So yes, I do still play! Sporadically this last year though, and of course since Meneldor was one of the original worlds, it was the one I played on. And they had the character move for it LAST. *shakes her head* But I’m on Landroval and Arkenstone now.

        Yes! That’s one reason I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. If I wait that long, I’ll either have forgotten, or not be in the mood to do whatever it was anymore. And there’s always so much pressure on New Year’s resolutions, it’s crazy. I’d rather just set the goals when I’m ready for them and make them work right away.

  6. This is such a timely reminder, Ashley. As the New Year comes, I think so many of us are focused on setting goals – and too much of the time, those goals are focused more and more on higher income. It is such an admirable thing that you’re sticking to your guns about what you want rather than what everyone else thinks you should want. And I can’t wait to see where you take Nose Graze in 2016. Happy New Year! <3

    Topaz @ Six Impossible Things recently posted: For Every End, A Beginning
  7. This is a great post. I am goal setting for my website and my life. My website was started for fun and has quickly turned into a passion. I want to make it excellent and am looking for ways to grow my audience, monetize and it make it my full time! I feel like the possibilities are endless. Thanks for being such an inspiration.

  8. I wish I had your life, Ashley, it sounds AWESOME. And good for you, I love that for you it’s not all about money, that you want to spend time teaching us bloggers how to be better, and I love that you want to do something that makes you happy. Good for you.

    You can tell that you love blogging, because your posts are always so amazing and well thought out, and I love READING them. I don’t always comment, but I always read them, and it’s great learning new tips and tricks, and just seeing how you see things, if that makes sense.

    No matter what you do with your blog, Ashley, I’ll always read it, because you’ve always got something to say that I want to hear.

  9. Your posts are always like a breath of fresh air, haha. That’s so awesome that you were able to make $48,700 USD last year and you work 4-5 hours a day most days. That’s awesome! I have a few goals for 2016.

    Writing wise: self-publish first novel, and get 2nd novel (one I put on back burner) ready for publication

    Life wise: Push my coding and design skills. (I can’t wait for the Master Customizer course to come out).

    Colin recently posted: What Comes Next? Planning for 2016
    1. Thanks so much Colin! šŸ™‚ I’m definitely happy with how everything in 2015 turned out. I may not have made as much money as some people pulling six figures, but I had a fantastic quality of life. I have super relaxed days and I took several weeks off to visit family, go on holidays, and so on.

      You have such fantastic goals! Best of luck with your two novels. šŸ™‚ That will be quite an accomplishment!

  10. This is such a brilliant reminder, that there is more to life besides blogging on being online and we really need to take time for the more important aspects in life, even for just us bloggers. Having that relaxed attitude makes the world of difference, being able to set aside your own hours and go with the flow. I was trying to do far too much towards the latter half of 2015 and lead to a blogging breakdown (which sounds far more dramatic than it really was). I couldn’t find a balance between life commitments and blogging / being online and it lead to both parts of my life becoming tense and I felt as though I wasn’t able to enjoy it anymore. I scaled back and found that balance again and like yourself Ash, being able to set aside time for myself made the world of difference. Now I find that I’m much more efficient with the time I DO spend online. I’m now stress free and happy.

    I don’t make money from blogging, but neither do I care about stats anymore. I now blog for myself and don’t place any expectations on myself either. Life is hard enough as it is.

    Awesome post Ash, really enjoyed it <3

  11. I’m so excited to read your upcoming content! I’m focusing on becoming a better WP developer and opening up a theme shop this year, so I’ll definitely be following along with your lessons. Thanks for putting out such helpful content!

  12. This should make 2016 great then! I love learning how to do stuff for myself. I purchased the ecourse for WP but I haven’t worked through it all the way yet. It’s on my list of goals for 2016. I was enjoying it and learning a lot. I just need to wrap it up.

    1. Awesome Stephanie! You’ll get access to all the new course material once I add it in. That might help you even further. šŸ™‚

  13. I think you are a very special young woman. I love every single word of this post. I love your honesty. I love your transparency! I love your depth! This is so refreshing! Please, do NOT change!

  14. I so know what you mean about that 6-figure+ push! There are a few bloggers who have influenced my thinking and pending change in my blogging trajectory as of late (from food blog to teaching women how to rock Excel), and you happen to be one of them. I love how you keep it real, are focusing on inspiring more women to code, and are insanely helpful to others.

    I have been wanting to buy your newest course for a while now (I swear I’m getting close!), as I’ve had it trying to fit a round peg in a square hole when it comes to premade WordPress stuff, and I am no longer afraid to fuck around with my php files (probably not something I should be doing at this stage in the game, lol). Anyway, thanks for the hefty dose of inspiration, and it’s seriously great to know that you are living a life that juices you! I’d take your schedule over mine any day šŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Kristi! šŸ™‚ It’s so lovely to meet you. Good luck with your new blogging direction!

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