This month is a very special month. Why? Because House of Brazen turns one year old! 🎉 That means two things: 1) My crazy wild idea of starting my own business wasn’t so crazy after all, and 2) it’s cake time! 🎂🎂🎂

Starting and running your own business is one of the most eye-opening and life-changing experiences you could ever gift yourself, and now that I’ve just finished up my first year in business I am so excited to share what that experience was like for me. Let’s start with a little backstory..

This post contains affiliate links.

The Backstory

This was my first ‘pro’ year in business. I say ‘pro’ because this was when I decided to take my blog seriously as a business and stop screwing around with it. I’d had my blog since 2011 but had completely half-assed it changing niche topics every 5 minutes. I was sick of my excuses so I told myself that in 2016 I either go for it a thousand percent or I give it up entirely. Well you can imagine how that lit a fire under my butt!

January hit and I transferred my website from Blogger to Bluehost, changed the domain name, gave it a brand new makeover and set up my office! Once that was done, I was in business baby! Ready to take on the world!

Now that you’ve got the backstory, are you ready to go behind-the-scenes of my business and go over what I did, the lessons I learned and the challenges I overcame? Let’s go!


I learned pretty early on that if you wanted to grow you had to invest in your business, so I invested from Day One. Alongside the domain, hosting and theme costs I also purchased The Ultimate Blogging Handbook which had all the blogging tools and strategies I wanted to learn at the time. I also bumped up my Mailchimp plan to include automation workflows and joined Boardbooster to market my blog on Pinterest.

Next up I joined List Surge to learn more specific strategies to grow your list as well as ConvertKit because Mailchimp had caused me a lot of issues. I then joined Webinars for Introverts because I knew I’d eventually want to do webinars even though it makes me feel nauseous even thinking about it! I also invested in software like Deadline Funnel and ConvertPlug to help grow my business which is paying off every single day!


My goal has always been to create a life of freedom for myself and to help other women business owners do the same, so income was the focal point for me. Almost all of my efforts were focused on creating passive income in the beginning. I was using what I already knew, learning new strategies, implementing and experimenting and then relaying the information back to my audience.

And when I started House of Brazen I also started focusing on growing my list immediately. I didn’t publish a blog post until after I launched my first product in March. I think it’s a big waste of time writing posts to fill up a blog when you have zero traffic. It’s a far better use of your time to drive any traffic you do have to a landing page to capture email addresses so that when you do start blogging you have actual humans who will read it!


In this video you'll learn how & why I grew my list and launched a product before ever publishing a blog post!


I also created my first sales funnel at the same time which was a free email course called Blog Your Way to Passive Income that teaches bloggers and entrepreneurs how they can make passive income from their blogs.


The first course I launched was Flawless Funnels, and in it I put everything I knew at the time about sales funnels and creating evergreen sales systems that run on autopilot whether you’re working or not! From creating email sequences to pitching to marketing with facebook ads, it was such the most exhilarating and terrifying thing I ever did.

It took me a week to create the slides, record the content and upload to Teachable and believe me it wasn’t perfect! I only knew a small sliver of information at the time and yet without that information I would not have been able to earn over $10,000 dollars passive income from it.

That’s an important point a want to make because a lot of you seem to worry that if you have a letter out of place it’s not going to work!


Click to Tweet: Your sales funnel does NOT have to be perfect to be profitable!


The next product I created was Affiliate Affluence and this course came about from my audience asking to learn more about affiliate marketing. To be honest, I thought affiliate marketing was a dead income avenue. My previous experience with it made me think it was spammy and only creepy dudes on the web did it. Boy did I prove myself wrong!

In June I decided to experiment with affiliate marketing with only promoting digital products and within 24 hours I had made my first sale! And by the end of the month? I had made $500 dollars in extra passive income! Needless to say I was a born again affiliate marketer.

Alongside the course, I also created an ebook called How to Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours because I wanted fellow bloggers and entrepreneurs to see how they could start creating or bumping up their income without even having a blog to do it!


Even though I didn’t start doing this religiously until the end of the year, I have still had massive shifts since deliberately making time to work on my mindset every day. I’ve come to realize that a lot of things that have held me back in my business has all come down to my thoughts. When I’m stressing out, procrastinating or getting flustered over something small, it’s all because my thoughts led me there. But once I started doing the work, little shifts have been taking place with my income, with my daily habits, with my productivity and more. So now I fully believe that to be successful at anything, it’s 90% is mindset and 10% is strategy.


Leaving my job was bittersweet. I absolutely adored the people I worked with but I no longer enjoyed the job. I’ve had my fair share of horrible bosses but it wasn’t the case here. Honestly, I was just over employment altogether and wanted my freedom. But I will be forever grateful have to left employment on such good terms.

In saying that, I did quit my job well before I was ready, before I was making a full-time living from my business and with only a couple of grand in savings. This was a HUGE risk and thankfully it did pay off! However it wasn’t without it’s dramas.

I got pretty low on funds a few times. Nothing that put me in dire straits but enough to let scarcity run havoc over my mind. I’d feel so helpless that I’d just stay in bed and cry my eyes out. The anxiety was unbearable. Thankfully I have an amazingly supportive partner and family who are always there to prop me up when I’m down.

And once I bounced back, like clockwork something would happen to make it work out for me. I’d make a sale, be given money from family, get a tax refund or a rebate, sell some clothing online or find cash I left in a handbag that I’d completely forgotten about.

But that scarcity can be an absolute killer for your business if you don’t know how to get out of it. So I really want to stress to those who are thinking of quitting their jobs to work on their businesses full-time to have at least 6 months of financial back up. Whether it’s savings, a loan from the bank or your parents or family helping you out, have enough to cover your weekly expenses. It is not worth the anxiety. TRUST ME.


Ugh, this year was a huge learning curve in seeing just how undisciplined I was when I started working for myself. Sure I can do the tasks and hit those deadlines when I’ve got a boss who’s keeping track on my work every day. But when you are your own boss? Well sometimes you want to spend the day outdoors, or you had a rough nights sleep so you’ll just take a quick 4 hour nap, or you MUST watch the next episode of Sense8/Marco Polo/Game of Thrones/OITNB/Downton Abbey because you won’t be able to function without it!

So yeah, I got to see just how much I like to procrastinate, which looking back caused me a lot of unnecessary stress at times. Like leaving launches till the last minute and staying up all night to execute the plan and trying to do 500 things at once and yet not able to be consistent with something as simple as publishing one blog post a week.

To be fair, this is how you learn. I don’t think I would have seen how much I can sabotage myself if I hadn’t started my business. Already I’m a lot more disciplined because I know my tells and excuses, which means I can deal with them and get on with the work. I imagine I will get a lot better each year, thank goodness!


I consider myself blessed that both my parents are entrepreneurs and totally supportive of me choosing the entrepreneur life. 😇 My bestie who is a Neonatal Nurse realized that she wanted to move back to Fiji eventually and be able to travel the world but with 12 hour shifts and a demanding job she knew she had to start creating passive income streams to enable that for her, so she started up Kitchen Hani and will be launching her food blog soon!

My other bestie and ex-colleague, John, became a franchisee for Rugby Tots here in New Zealand and wants to expand areas soon. We used to share an office together and instead of doing work we’d talk about our businesses and strategize how we’d become millionaires. Haha! 😅 #sorrynotsorry

I’m also pretty lucky to have met an amazing girl called McKinzie who runs Moms Make Cents, she bought my Flawless Funnels course and reached out right after and we hit it off right away! It was so nice to have an actual blog friend who I could talk to, bounce ideas off and chat to without eyes glazing over.


Oh wow, talk about an emotional roller coaster! 😭 There are mega highs and mega lows in your first year and they seem to come out of the blue and make zero sense most of the time. Some days it’s like you’re on cloud nine grinning like an idiot at the fact that this is exactly what you wanted, and the next you’re literally having a melt down because you’ve made “too many sales” in one day and adamant that you don’t deserve it! WT-actual-F!?!?!

This is a totally normal occurrence that a lot of entrepreneurs face. It’s called hitting your upper limit or your limiting beliefs. Thankfully this can be overcome and I am now able to calm those irrational thoughts down with the mindset work I’ve instilled as well as going to my support network when I need a dose of reality!


In this video you'll learn how & why I grew my list and launched a product before ever publishing a blog post!


To Summarize

What I’ve learnt is that you can’t figure it all out from the sidelines, you actually have to dive in and swim around a bit to discover where you’re really at. The lessons I’ve learned about myself and about business this year are invaluable, and I couldn’t have learnt any of it if I didn’t take the leap to do so.

There’s so much more I understand now that entrepreneurs I’ve followed for years have said but I didn’t quite get at the time. It’s so much deeper, and grander and meaningful than you realize but you will never know what I mean unless you yourself take the leap. So if you’ve been sitting on the fence, consider this your push to something greater!


Elise xo


  • Love this look into your first year of business, Elise! My biz is going to be a year old next week – it’s gone so quickly! x

    • Awesome Zoe! Are you going to do a review? If so, please share it with us! <3

      • I’m not sure yet! Maybe I will 🙂 I’ll let you know if I do! x

  • Rebekah Phillips

    Such an inspiring story! My blog is only a couple months old, so to hear how fast yours has grown in only a year gives me motivation to keep pushing on. And you have the most beautiful view from an office ever! 🙂

    • Hey Rebekah, you can create this AND MORE for yourself! Just keep at it and you will get there. You’ve got this! xo

  • Loved reading your year end review Elise! Ive been following you for a while now and its been exciting to see what you’ve been up to with your business. Im actually thinking about investing in Deadline Funnel. Gonna check it out though to get more info about it.

    Wishing you a blessed and prosperous 2017! Onward and upward 😎

    • Hey Kim, dawwww you’re making me blush! So happy to have you here. And I can definitely vouch for Deadline Funnel. Take up the month trial and see if it’s going to be viable at this time for you. That’s what I did and it proved very viable! 😉

  • Shevy Bee

    I only recently started blogging but this post provides some useful info that I can apply to myself and my blog in the near future. Thanks for sharing. Its great to know that you are reaping the rewards of your hard work.

    • Aw thanks Shevy. I can’t wait to be reading about your successes in the near future too!xo

  • Oph Elie

    I put my hat off 🙂

  • Oph Elie

    What a journey in just one year!! It’s amazing. I can totally relate with your fear of doing a webinar when we’re introvert. It’s definitely not as easy at it seems.

    • Thanks Oph! And haha I totally feel ya! One day.. 😉