How to Review Your Creative Business at the End of Each Month
Reviewing your side-hustle each month is the best way to see how your business is progressing and spot trends. Unless you’re recording your progress each month it’s easy to look back and feel dis-heartened about how slow your growth is or if you’ve had a slow month.
We very quickly change our expectations of ourselves, one month we’ll be ecstatic at getting two sales and the next month will be disheartened by getting three. By taking 20 minutes at the end of each month to check in with how your side-hustle is growing you can start to see your hard work paying off and collecting this information can also help you plan ahead.
Here’s what I make a record of at the end of each month to record my side-hustle progress
1) The Moneys
This doesn’t need to be complex, just income, outgoings and profit. I’m sure you’re recording these figures anyway but by making a note of them in your monthly review document you’ll also be able to see how your sales fluctuate each month and what they add up to for the year.
2) Sales by product/ service or package
I keep a monthly record of sales by product or package. By doing this I can see what my most popular package or product is and take a closer look if I notice my sales or enquiries for a certain product are down one month.
If you’re service based you could also keep a track of the number of enquiries you’ve had for each of your packages to see how many people to go on to buy after enquiry.
If you sell across multiple platforms, for example if you’re a maker who sells on your own website, Etsy and Not on the High Street, you might also want to keep a note of where your sales are coming from each month. If you have a month where your sales are lower than expected this can help you work out where your sales might have dropped.
3) Website stats
If you have google analytics or something similar set up on your website you can keep track of how your website is performing. Having your own website can be a big business expense so you need to know what it's doing for your business.
The quickest way to check your website stats is to save the relevant page in Google Analytics (or whet ever tracking platform you use) in your bookmarks - that way you just need to open that bookmark each month, update the date range and you should have your stats on the page.
Here's a quick explanation behind the Google Analytics terminology
Website visits (sessions)
The total amount of visits your website got that month (including multiple visits from one person)
In Google Analytics this can be found in audience >> overview (remember to set the date range in the top right hand corner).
Website visits (unique)
The total amount of individual people who came to your website in that month. This figure is used to work out your website conversion rate - which is automatically calculated in my free template.
Average session duration
How long people spend on your website, on average.
The percentage of people who left your website after visiting the first page. Average session duration and bounce rate are both factors that Google use to see how to rank your website in their search results - the longer the session duration and lower the bounce rate the better - as Google sees this as a sign that your website is engaging for users..
Where the bulk of your website visits are coming from. It could be social media, google search, Pinterest etc. This can be found in Google Analytics by going to Acquisition >> All traffic >> Referrals.
The percentage of unique visits that result in a sale - you will work this out in your monthly tracker using the stats you got from Google Analytics. It's good to keep an eye on this to see if you can improve on it at all. 1-2% conversion rate is considered 'normal' but it can vary depending on your product.
It might all sound like a load of mumbo-jumbo right now but once you've done it a couple of times, I promise it will come really easily.
4) Mailing list stats
Having a mailing list is one of the best ways to get in front of your audience so tracking your subscriber number and open rates can help you improve your email campaigns in future. Make a note each month of your total subscribers and what the average open rate of your emails were for that month.
If you use MailChimp these stats are easy to find on the lists page - again, you can save this as a bookmark to make it easy to find each month.
5) Social media
Keep track of your follower numbers and best performing posts. This will help you to see how your social media accounts have grown over time and if you see that any particular type of posts are performing well, think about how you can naturally include more of those types of posts in your social media activity in future.
6) Put a reminder in your calendar
Finally, until it becomes habit you will probably need to put a reminder in your calendar each month to do your monthly review. Keep 20 minutes free - that's all it takes. Keep a running total somewhere in your spreadsheet so that you can see your total sales/ followers/ website visitors etc for the whole year.
[OVER TO YOU]
It’s easy to set up a monthly review document. Open up a new excel document or google sheet.
Add all of the metrics I’ve mentioned in this post onto separate lines in your document. Personalise it by adding or removing anything else you’d like to keep a record of. Copy this template onto a few more tabs - this will be where you make a record of your number by month, so name each tab by the month.
Create a running total tab as well and set a monthly reminder to set aside 20 minutes to do your monthly review at the end of each month.
I hope that by recording your business progress each month you’ll start to see just how your hard work is paying off and how your business is growing month by month.
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