How looking back can help you move forward (2016 review + survey)

How looking back can help you move forward (2016 review + survey) by Paper + Oats

Wow, I have derailed on the blogging train the last few months. Sorry about that. Honestly, I was running low on content ideas and just wasn’t feelin’ it. At first I felt guilty for not keeping up with it, and then I sat down and wrote this quick year-in-review, quickly got over the guilt, and just decided I’d recommit to the blog in the new year. And that felt much better 😃

To help me get over the slump, I took a look back at the last year and how my business has grown and changed, and whoa – it seems so different now! I did a little year in review post at this time last year, and it was so helpful to reflect, for myself, as I go into a new year, but I also hoped it would be an inspiration to my readers to see what can be accomplished in a year if you put in the hard work, make time for your priorities, and do things a little differently every once in awhile 😉

And I’m going to repeat something that I included in last year’s post about why I like doing these year-end wrap ups: When my business was much younger and nobody had any clue who I was, I saw someone I admired in online business write a post like this, and I loved it. It was someone who was super successful and I sometimes felt like she just fell into it. (Of course, I was making the entrepreneur's biggest mistake – comparing my beginning to someone else's middle – so says Mr. Jon Acuff.) Then I read her post outlining her entire year of working her butt off, and my perspective flipped. She was no overnight success – she took risks, made sacrifices, spent countless hours on her projects, and worked for every single ounce of success she had. And it motivated me to do the same.

Here’s my 2016 in review







  • The InDesign Field Guide launched for the second time.
  • Made the decision to move back to my hometown, and bought an 84-year-old house site-unseen. #riskybusiness
  • Turned 28. Holla.



  • Stiiiiiill working on the Etsy course day + night (see, it’s not passive in the beginning!)
  • Took a much needed trip with my family to the beach. Could have stayed there forevs.
  • Interviewed on the Grit + Glitter podcast, and had a blast chatting about the stuff you don’t always see in the life of an online entrepreneur. Listen to the episode here.



  • Closed on that house I bought (oh, and saw it in person for the first time 😬), loaded up the Uhaul and the dog and the toddler and #allthethings and moved back home.
  • Did I mention I’m still working on the Etsy course at this point? Cause I’m still working on the Etsy course at this point.



  • Finally launched my second course for the first time: Etsy on Autopilot + learned a ton about evergreen products… 2017 blog post, maybe?)
  • Joined Lauren for one of her famous Elle Chats all about selling digital products on Etsy – watch it here if you missed it.



  • Took the next 6 weeks off unexpectedly to help care for my grandparents. Briefly considered a career change into social work for the elderly – is that a thing? It should be.
  • Super thankful I had built my business up in such a way that allowed me to take this time off, and not feel it in my bank account. (Making Etsy on Autopilot an evergreen product right from the start played a big part in this.)
  • Planned, cancelled, rescheduled, and planned again a birthday party for my little Poppy who turned two (how the heck did that happen?!).



  • Bundled up my two courses for a 1-day sale. Will probably do this again sometime in 2017, so stay tuned!
  • Took one of the most relaxing trips of my life with some pals from the Society for Creative Founders (formerly Stationery Academy). Only one weekend in that gorgeous Florida beach house was not enough, we'll be heading back in just a couple months!





  • Took 3 weeks off – 1 in Nashville with family, and nearly 2 in Europe + NYC with my brother. Didn’t bring the laptop, didn’t have data on my phone most of the time, and didn't bring the toddler. This was a for-realsies unplugged vacation… I highly recommend it.
  • That Videofruit film was released with overwhelming response (It just recently hit 30,000 views. What??).
  • The InDesign Field Guide launched for the third time.





  • Shipped off all the postcard orders – we were able to give $235 to the Early Family’s adoption fund!
  • Added two new planning printables to the shop: Travel Planning Kit and the Moving Planning Kit (do you notice a theme this year?!)
  • Last thing on the agenda? Rest. Rest, rest, plan for 2017, rest. And food.


So there you have it – my 2016 in a nut shell! Somethings were planned from January 1st, somethings most definitely were not planned until I found myself in the middle of them. This just goes to show that hard work pays off, risk can sometimes pay off (and sometimes blow up in your face), and my business mantra still rings true:

A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.  –Karen Lamb

What’s next for 2017? Help me figure it out!


Lots of people recently have asked me, so what’s next for Paper + Oats?! Hahaha, good question my friend 😃 I feel a little silly, cause I honestly don’t know for sure. I don’t have any big courses on the horizon, but I would like to spend the next year doing a couple key things...

  • refining Paper + Oats messaging + website
  • adding some new, smaller digital products around marketing, design, and digital products
  • try out some new marketing ideas for my existing online courses

To help me get on the same page as you, the one reading this here blog post, would you mind taking a quick 4-question survey? This is the fastest survey you’ll take all year (I almost guarantee it), and it’s all multiple choice! Easy, right?! But if you do want to provide more lengthy feedback on what things you want to see from me in the coming year, there’s space in there to do that, too (though not required). I most definitely use your feedback from this survey to plan my projects for the year, so every vote counts… insert 2016 election joke here.


What was your biggest accomplishment from 2016? 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 2017?


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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