How I'm building a business that works with my life

How I'm building a business that works with my life (2017 review + survey) by Paper + Oats

This year had tons of traveling, tons of momming, and tons of work on keeping this business chugging along. I started new projects that I’ve been putting off, and I cut old strategies that weren’t working anymore. This year was a season of pivoting and simplifying and getting real clear on what I do and don’t want to do in my business. It kicked off in January with some rebranding, and I rode the wave until December, when I’m starting to simplify even more. It’s crazy what one year can bring in terms of clarity, opportunity, learning experiences, and did I mention clarity? There were months of hard, deep work on my business, and months of relaxed, more fluid schedules. My life as a mom fluctuated, my travel calendar did too, and I tried hard to put those types of experiences before my business' to do list. It wasn't always easy, and it frankly didn't always happen, but when it did, it was golden. And that's something I'll be trying to elevate in 2018.

I’ve loved doing these year in review posts the last couple years (here’s 2015 and here’s 2016). They're a great way to reflect on the year as a whole, seeing what types of things you want to keep doing in the next year, and what things you need to cut for your own sanity.


Here’s my 2017 in review...



  • Rang in the new year sick as a dog. Good start, 2017.

  • Took Ashlyn Carter’s Copywriting for Creatives program, and started overhauling all the messaging for P+O.

  • Started work on redesigning a brand new website (with all that fresh copy!) with a more refined look, better organization, and a simplified, clear mission.

  • Wrote my first free email course – The Digital Product Roadmap – which serves as a thorough introduction to digital products, as well as the points in the process where P+O resources can help.


  • Launched the new website + free email course!

  • Started work on a big ol’ kitchen renovation, and quickly learned how to live kitchen-less for 8 weeks.

  • Hosted a live workshop taking you behind-the-scenes of my Etsy shop… pssst… this might be happening again in 2018!

  • Took a quick trip to Nashville to see family, eat life-changing chicken + waffles, and escape my demolished kitchen.

  • Added the Content Marketing Guide to the shop – loving these quick + dirty resources.


  • Decided an evergreen system for my signature course, The InDesign Field Guide, wasn’t working great, so switched it back to open + close launches (here’s more on that process).

  • Rang in my 29th birthday while sick in bed – for basically all of March. Womp womp.

  • Interviewed on Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn – such a cool experience!

  • Took a much needed trip to Philadelphia with my mastermind ladies, Jamie + Phyllis.



  • Launched The InDesign Field Guide for the fourth time since 2015.

  • Took a quick trip to New York City with my family to visit my brother and eat lots of ice cream.

  • Another Nashville visit to see New Kids On The Block with my sister-in-law, and we have no shame.



  • Co-hosted an action-packed Etsy workshop with my pal Morgan Nield.

  • My little bird celebrated turning three with a dino-mite dinosaur birthday party.

  • Another Nashville trip to see family on the books.


  • The month of a thousand trips kicked off with a weekend in Chicago to see my college roommate, and then a weekend in LA to see two of my oldest, dearest friends.

  • I squeezed in a last-minute weekend back in Nashville for a writing workshop with Allison Fallon – and this kicked off official work on writing my book. Eek!

  • Released my Launching for Introverts mini-class. Whew, August is making me tired.

  • And how could I forget – Poppy is finally potty trained! Big mom win.


  • Created the free InDesign Cliff Notes series to give curious InDesign-ers a quick crash course in how it works and how it can help you solve all the design needs for you business.

  • Escaped to Florida for a family vacation on the beach – full condo, full heart.

  • Featured on the Living Over Existing Podcast with Alicia Nicole.


  • Launched The InDesign Field Guide for the fifth time – and learned sooooo much this time around.

  • After running full speed through the summer and early fall, this is where I tried to intentionally slow my schedule down and clear my head.


  • Took my annual European trip with my brother, Taylor, and we ate our weight in Italian pasta.

  • Lots more work on writing my book, and starting to let you guys in on the process via blog post like this one and this one.


  • Last trip of the year, a girls trip to Northwest Arkansas so we could all escape our children.

  • Added the Party + Gift Planning Kit to the printables shop on Etsy.

  • Did I mention more book writing? More book writing.


Lastly, giving back is a big part of my values, and something I love to infuse into my business. P+O Gives Back has been around since early 2015, but this year was the biggest giving year yet – we were able to pass along over $2,500 to deserving charities. Read all about the causes we gave to right here. 


So what’s in store for 2018?

Good question. I’ve been doing lots of planning + scheming the last couple weeks, and I think even more simplifying is in order for Paper + Oats. I’m getting a clearer picture of what I want my days to look like, how I want my projects to flow together. What I want to build up, and what I want to tear down. It’ll be a year of refining and sharpening and refining some more – building a business around my life, and not a life around my business.

The more my business grows, the more I see how important it is to make sure your current products + services are reaching their highest potential before moving on to make new stuff. That means making sure all my offerings naturally fit with and lead into one another, so I'm getting the most bang for my buck (and so are customers). Just because content was published a year or two ago, it doesn't mean you can't go in and adjust parts of it to make it fit your brand NOW. As much as I want to jump right into the next thing, I know taking time to perfect what I already have is going to be more beneficial in the long run. My two cents, as we head into the last weeks of 2017. Finish strong, friends. 👊🏼


If you want to stay on track with your goals for living a life that makes sense for YOU (and not just what you see everyone doing around you), check out my Goal Planning Kit for just $10.


What was your biggest accomplishment from 2017? Is it helpful to reflect on the year before, to help you move into the new year's goals and planning? Speaking of which, what do YOU have planned for 2018?


Kelsey Baldwin

Graphic designer + blogger providing design resources to help creative entrepreneurs navigate the world of design + branding for digital products so they can share what they know.

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