The step-by-step process to how I made over $350,000 last year with my online business. Includes a checklist with 12 steps to build your own online success as a brand. Fabi Paolini

The step-by-step process to how I made over $350k last year

2018 was an incredibly powerful year in my business, full of a ton of growth (literally in every sense), a lot of ease and an incredible expansion for my business.

People love to share incredible success stories and wins, because who doesn't want to share how amazing they are? But I wanted to write this article to share with you the truth behind having a business that generates multiple 6 figures in a year. The reality is, it takes time, effort and a lot of hickups to getting to this place in business.

The good news? You can do it too. If I could build my own business in less than 3 years into multiple 6-figures, you can do it as well. Hopefully first by learning from stories like my own along the way.

I also shared a webinar case study in which you can hear and watch all of the behind the scenes of what it takes to generate $350,000 in a year. You can watch that here. 

I also created a checklist with 12 steps you can take in order to build a successful business. You are going to love it! You can download it here:

the backstory

So let me start at the very beginning. I have been working in branding for about 11 years. I had a mildly successful business in Venezuela (where I'm from) that was pretty easy to maintain. My business was built 100% on referrals.

One client would lead to the next and that one to the next and so on and so forth. I never had to do absolutely anything to make money or have clients coming my way. This made things quite easy for me, but it also made me play small for years of my life.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2016, my husband and I make the decision to move to the US. This meant that every single one of my clients and referrals were gone in one second. Because Venezuela has currency control it means that people don't have simple access to dollars, and, as you can guess, I needed dollars to make a living in the US.

So I had to start fresh, I had to start at the very beginning - trying to figure out what it is that I needed to do to get clients and how to build my own business. I was T E R R I F I E D. I felt as though a rug had been pulled from beneath my feet. I didn't know what to do or where to begin in terms of getting new clients and that's where my journey begins.

2016: discovering online business

2016 was the year I decided I was going to build my business online and it's when I discovered online marketing.

You see, by then, I knew nothing about digital marketing. I had no clue it was even an option for me to build my business online. However, I also knew that I didn't want to be dependent on my location or who I knew in order to make an income.

2016 for me was all about learning everything I possibly could about online business. At the time I didn't have an email list, I didn't even know that communities such as Facebook Groups existed and I didn't have any sort of online presence.

I did about 15 online programs learning everything I could about list building, funnels, marketing, branding, Pinterest, Webinars, Facebook -  you name it! I spent the year implementing everything I possibly could and taking massive action.

My Work

At the time, I was working with any and every sort of business. I wanted to make money, build my portfolio and, honestly? I was in the process of discovering myself as an entrepreneur. So, I took clients who had brick and mortar businesses as well as clients who had online businesses.

I was designing everything from logos, to menus, to simple websites, to packaging. You name it.

But I wanted to give my clients something else, so I created brand books which I called Brand Briefs. These documents had basic information such as a general overview of who their clients were, definition of the brands values, mission statement, etc. I felt it was important for brands to have an understanding of who they were and what their message was about - I didn't realize at the time that my business would evolve to have this document be the most important factor of the work that I do.

Content Creation Lessons

That being said, I focused most of 2016 in the creation of A LOT of content. I began by creating a video series that I was SURE was going to turn me into a millionaire (spoiler alert: it didn't).

I had done so many courses and programs talking about inbound marketing and the importance of creating valuable content, I thought for sure that all I needed to do was create something super valuable and voilá, I would have a list of potential clients knocking on my door. It took me DAYS to record these "perfect" videos and hours to edit them to show me as this very credible authority and source on branding.

The same thing happened with my webinar which, I was SO confident about, I spent over $3,000 on ads which resulted in a ZERO ROI. As in, nobody even booked a call to find out more about what I offered. Ouch!

What I realized is that while creating and sharing content was important, it wasn't enough just to give that much value. I needed to find a way to improve my conversions. Additionally, I needed to start building momentum around me and my business as well.

So, I stuck with what I knew: networking. I messaged EVERYONE I possibly could think of and let them know I was looking for work. I joined a few networking societies for women and attended industry events. Anything I could to do to get clients.

2016 ended with me making $46,850. Not bad considering I had no clue what I was doing.

Remember to download the checklist with the 12 steps to follow in order to build a successful business 🙂

2017: the big hustle

2017 caught me 100% ready to take action and show up massively. But, it also caught me uncovering one of the biggest secrets to success of all: mindset.

You see, up until then, I had been tackling business from a 100% strategic perspective. I was going to do the programs, implement by taking action and then get a result. Period. I had left no open space for life and energy and feelings.

That was until I stumbled upon mindset. I then realized how my fears, beliefs and limitations could sabotage the results I was getting as well. And boy, I had a LOT of limitations. I had a ton of things holding me back, the most of important of which was a scarcity mindset. I always believed I was never going to make it. I thought that I would run out of money. I was sure that nothing I could do would ever be enough.

So I would spend hours feeling sorry for myself, crying, and worrying; totally consumed in anxiety. What I didn't realize was that staying stuck in that frame of mind was also keeping me from being resourceful and taking action.

So I started really working on my mindset. I started getting honest with myself about my fears and limitations and little by little I started trusting. I have to be honest though, it was a tough rollercoaster. I would spend 1 hour crying, the next hour feeling motivated only to go back down to fear. Again and again, it would all repeat itself. This was probably my biggest roadblock on 2017. I talk about it more extensively right here. 

My Work

By 2017, I made the decision that I was going to focus on working with entrepreneurs who had online businesses. That meant it was mostly service providers and consultants. In terms of design, I was evolving too.

The Brand Briefs I was doing were much more complete with additional information on how to communicate with their audience and a more in-depth description of the Unique Selling Proposition of the brands. I also created a client section in which I could teach my clients some of the things I had learned and implemented in terms of marketing as well.

The Simple Life Pattern Company | Rebranding | Branding strategy | Web Design | ecommerce | Fabi Paolini

This brought really INCREDIBLE results for my clients too. Like for example Katie from The Simple Life Pattern Company, who had a 403% income increase within 2 weeks of us launching her new brand and strategy which was absolutely amazing!

Content Creation and Visibility

I was now ready to really raise the bar in terms of visibility and taking action. I definitely took this to the next level.

In 2017, I focused on generating a LOT of value. I wrote weekly blog posts, all with incredible opt-ins and valuable information to help my ideal audience discover more about their businesses. I created about 18 pds, 1 free email course, a video series and 2 challenges. I also went back to creating and sharing my webinar - this time with a better strategy to bring people in.

I took content creation and sharing seriously - in fact - I would say I overdid it. Apart from the weekly blog post, I would write about 10 shorter posts every single week which I would share in about 10 Facebook groups. It was a lot of work and I was doing it non-stop. All this work gave me my first $10k month, and then a $27k month! I was so excited!

I was visible anywhere and everywhere. Doing Facebook Lives and answering questions in other people's groups, replying to emails, doing client work, implementing ideas, creating pdfs. It ended up being too much, and by the end of 2017, I had had enough.

I genuinely felt burnt out, I was completely exhausted and ready to take a break. My mind was so tired, I couldn't process thoughts or feelings. I was in a constant catatonic state. I knew there were things I needed to change.

I began by doubling my prices - you see, I knew that if I wanted to make more money, there was no way I could do it by taking on more clients. I realized my clients deserved more of me. More focus and more attention. I also saw my clients getting incredibly results and a massive ROI, so I knew it was the right time.

I also sat down and looked at my offer. By this time, I knew that I was definitely much more than a graphic designer, and I wanted to incorporate my entrepreneurial knowledge much more into what I was doing.

2017 ended with me making $161, 875. Pretty amazing, right?

2018: flow and let go

By the time 2018 rolled around, I was beyond ready to take action and to make things happen. I had learned so much about mindset, marketing and entrepreneurship, that I knew that I could grow my business even more.

When I started to analyze what had been working and what I needed to change, I uncovered something that completely paved the way for my business in the future. I discovered the Brand Strategy Pyramid.

The Brand Strategy Pyramid™

I realized that I had been focusing on business the WRONG way. Conventional wisdom and what everyone had been telling me to do where not the answer. Running straight into marketing like a mad person? That was definitely NOT the right way to go.

I realized that the actual way to get results was to look at my brand and my business as a whole. I needed to start with building a rock-solid foundation from which I could create a signature offer, marketing strategy and visibility plan which, aligned with my visual brand, would be capable of expanding my business like never before.

So, that's exactly where my focus went. I started with clearly defining the foundation of my brand and understanding what it is that I stood for. What my message was truly about. I shed my "credible authority" persona, and started just simply being myself - with my flaws, mistakes and imperfections. I stopped trying to perfect what I was doing, and started simply being.

From there, I created a complete framework in which, using the Brand Strategy Pyramid, I could serve my audience. This allowed me to recreate my signature offer completely. I was going to help my clients build and gain clarity on each of the aspects of the Pyramid - from messaging, to offer, from marketing to design. Something that no one else was doing in the field - not like this.

Finally, I rebuilt my marketing strategy completely and I focused on the things that truly mattered. I leveraged my strengths and created a funnel that was genuinely powerful.

Bringing these pieces in, completely transformed my business. My income immediately shot up, getting me my first $45k month, and bringing in multiple 5 figures every single month on autopilot.

My Work

Of course, in changing my signature offer, my work radically changed as well. The Brand Briefs transformed into Brand Strategy Books, 30+ pages of in-depth messaging that allows brands to powerfully position themselves in their fields.

The marketing strategy I was helping my clients with completely evolved as well, and even the design of their brands looked more powerful and refined.

Maria de Luz da silva | BRand strategy + Design | branding | Marketing online business | Fabi Paolini

This led them to have INCREDIBLE results such as $25k months, becoming Amazon Bestsellers, being fully booked, selling their first $10k package and creating massive momentum for their businesses.

As part of my new line of work, I also focused on creating a brand new client portal with incredible trainings on everything from mindset, to marketing strategy to Facebook ads.

Content creation and life

I was on fire - creating incredible content, sharing major truthbombs and showing up like never before. My calendar was completely full, my clients were insanely happy with the work that we were doing and everything was going smoothly.

...and happened. The first major change was finding out I was pregnant in May. I was incredibly happy, of course, but extremely tired as well. My first trimester left me completely out. Of course, I was still working for my clients and creating incredible results, but my momentum and capacity to be out there dramatically diminished. I stopped generating content, stopped doing lifestreams and completely relied on my marketing strategies which I had implemented at the beginning of the year.

Then, August happened, and with it a TON of things that went wrong. From my grandmother getting sick and then subsequently passing away, to my house in Venezuela getting broken in to, to problems with my Facebook ads account. While I had been feeling upbeat and strong mindsetwise all year, my energy still shifted with all these things going on.

This taught me that no matter how wonderful things are in your life or business, mindset still needs to be a priority because you never know when life will get in the way.

It also made me extremely grateful that while I had so many things go wrong, I still have my business and systems work for me, and it still allowed me to make a stable income. This was truly invaluable.

The year ended with me making $351,524. Yowza!

powerful lessons

So there you have it, my road to $300k+. In the end, there are a few crucial takeaways I want you to have from my story.

First, you need to focus on mindset because, no matter what level you are at, you will always have one thing or another pop up that's going to challenge you. If you don't have your mindset in place and if you don't believe in yourself enough, you will find a reason to give up. And I don't want you to give up. I'm extremely glad that I didn't at least. There were many challenges along the way, but no matter what, I stayed focus and in my lane until I achieved my goals, and always with my large vision at the back of my mind.

Second, you need to get very clear about what makes you different, what it is you bring to the table. No matter what field you are, you will find competition - that's a no-brainer. Your job as an entrepreneur is to give your audience so many reasons to choose you, they do! You already have inside of you many traits and characteristics that make you unique, you want to leverage these to your advantage in order for you to stand out. I talk about how to do this right here.

Then, I would say, that once you have clarity on your audience and their needs, you want to create content consistently in order to build your list, but most importantly, build their trust. You want to give incredible value that positions you like an expert and leaves people truly wanting to work with you.

Finally, stay consistent, deliver value, show up and keep going no matter what. This is the key to building success.

You can find more lessons and specific steps to follow right here:

The road to success is never a straight one with no curves and while I know I might make it sound easy here, I promise you it took a lot. It took time, money and a lot of anxiety to get here.

More than anything, it took work with the belief that I could do it. Knowing that inside of me, I had the tools to make it happen and then celebrating when I did.


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