2021 Year in Review

2021 Year in Review

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I hope you had a magical holiday break and are ready to light up 2022!

Every year I reflect back to help inform the year ahead.

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While many year-in-review posts are self-indulgent humble brags, I’ve tied in some advice & lessons learned for added value.

Here are the biggest insights I took from the past year.

Thanks for being a part of my 2021.

– Jacob Cass

Biggest Wins of 2021

  • Launched the new website for JUST Creative
  • 110+ Creatives joined the Exponential Creatives community (truly thankful for all of you!)
  • 20+ Branding clients served globally with 14 brand workshops completed
  • 70+ Hours of coaching completed to 20+ creatives around the world
  • 507+ Articles posted with 3.76 million unique visits to the JUST Creative Blog
  • 50x Collaborations with experts (interviews, lives, podcasts, etc)
  • 100+ Newsletter emails sent
  • 4x Jury panel member for Global Design Awards
  • The JUST Branding Podcast co-hosted with Matt Davies was named the #1 Branding Podcast in 10 countries
  • We referred millions of dollars to our affiliate partners and doubled our passive income from 2021
  • Effectively grew & managed a team of 7 writers & editors from UK, USA, India and Philippines
  • We continue to give back & make the greatest possible impact in this world through our partnership with B1G1.

Biggest Insights of 2021

1. The wisest decision I made…

Optimizing the speed and performance of our website, plus hiring a team to scale the blog and passive income side of the JUST Creative website.

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Over Jan-June we had a major dip in traffic and revenue but since redesigning & optimizing we have rebounded to our highest peak yet with more competition than ever.

Takeaway: Teams help you scale faster.

2. The biggest lesson I learned…

Only once you go through the motions, can you truly understand a subject. This year I focused on mastering brand strategy and have integrated it fully into our core services. (See top brand strategy courses.)

Takeaway: Theory only gets you so far. True expertise comes from practice.

3. The biggest risk I took…

Finally launching the Exponential Creatives Community after sitting on the idea and domain for over a year.

Takeaway: Ideas are useless without action. 

4. The biggest surprise(s) of the year…

NFTs, Space Races and the fact that COVID is still here which is only just starting to blow up in Australia.

Takeaway: You can plan but you never know what’s around the corner.

5. The most important thing I did for others…

Started a paid membership community + consistently created impact through B1G1.

Takeaway: Give back.

6. The biggest thing I completed..

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The Brand Consulting Mastery Program from the Future Academy with Tobias Dahlberg.

Takeaway: The brand rabbit hole is WAY deeper than you can ever imagine. 

7. The best thing I created

The Exponential Creatives Community. (Apply to join)

Takeaway: Creatives are craving meaningful connection and don’t want to be just another faceless number.

8. Biggest achievement

Not working weekends all year. Well, nearly.

Takeaway: Work will always be there. Balance is more important. 

Areas I struggled with

  • Sharing completed work (I shared just two projects)
  • Growing our email list (we went down 1k)
  • Sharing video content especially short form video
  • Having too many offerings + not enough time to market them appropriately
  • Our group coaching members declined
  • We have no shop or products of our own
  • Our business is becoming increasingly more complex
  • I hired a company to do cold email outreach and it failed miserably
  • Goal setting was not SMART / measurable
  • I was spread fairly thin over social media and lost followers on some profiles
  • I did not have a coach of my own. I have since hired a coach from the Tony Robbins team for 2022.

What I learned about myself 

  • Knowing your core values and purpose is the key to focus & clarity
  • I really enjoy empowering creatives to be free to do what they love
  • The more you know about brand, the less you know
  • Data diving can be fun and rewarding, especially for SEO purposes
  • Copycats and ’emulators’ are rampant. Stay in your lane and leave them all behind.

2021 Stats

We’re all hybrids wearing many different hats and thus have to master a variety of skills.

These are the areas that I specialise in and how I will help others in 2022 (aka how I make money online).

  • Brand Consultancy / Brand Design / Brand Strategy
  • Paid Membership Community
  • Coaching (1:1 and Group)
  • Amazon Associates Program
  • Affiliate Marketing + SEO
  • Course Sales (Referring other people’s products/courses)
  • Ads (BuySellAds, GoogleAds, Mediavine)
  • Email Newsletter Media Buys

Below are some stats from these areas.

Brand Consulting Stats

  • ​​14 Brand Workshops Completed
  • 18 Branding Clients served from

Collaborations + Speaking

  • 5x Virtual Summits
  • 50x Collaborations with Experts (Live trainings, workshops, webinars, Instagram Lives, Facebook Lives, Clubhouse sessions, podcasts, etc)

Blog Stats

  • 507 Articles Posted (42/month)
  • 3.76 Million Unique Visits
  • 4.63 Million Page Views
  • 85% Organic Traffic, 11% Direct, 1% Social

Newsletter Stats

  • 30,000 newsletter subscribers (Down 1k from 2021)
  • 31% Open Rate (Up from 23% in 2021)
  • 100+ emails sent in 2021

Passive Income Stats

  • Record month of $68k passive income in November (This is double our previous record of $34k in Nov. 2021)
  • 70+ Affiliate Partners
  • Key partners include Amazon, Adobe, Skillshare, DesignCuts, Envato and independent course providers

Social Stats

I am so thankful for every member of the JUST Creative community. You are why I do what I do!

  • Newsletter – 30,000 (Down 1000)
  • Twitter – 77,000 (Down 2000)
  • Facebook – 108,000 (Up 4000)
  • Facebook Group – 12,600 (Up 200)
  • YouTube – 5,170 (Up 1300)
  • Instagram – 37,400 (Up 4300)
  • LinkedIn – 7,500 (Up 2500)
  • Exponential Creatives – 105
  • Coaching – ~20

Remember, even just one follower gives you influence. It’s not about the numbers.

Team Stats

We have a diverse team helping run JUST Creative from around the world.

  • 5x Writers
  • 1x Editor
  • 1x Manager
  • 1x Podcast Video / Audio Editor
  • 1x Virtual Assistant

Shout out to Sam, Dan, Judah, Sarika, Gaurav, Bjorn, Subhashini, BeriPod Squad and Bryan. I couldn’t do this without you guys!

JUST Branding Podcast Stats

  • 4.9/5 Star Average Rating on Apple Podcasts (65+ Reviews)
  • 10,000+ Monthly Downloads
  • 3000+ Listens per episode
  • 22 Episodes in Season 2
  • 2 Episodes a Month
  • The #1 Design Podcast in 10+ countries
  • 64% USA, 14% UK, 9% Australia

Awards + Judging

I have been fortunate enough to judge a number of award programs around the world. In 2021, I was a part of 4 different juries.

  • Graphic Arts Today MVP Awards Jury
  • Horizon Interactive Design Awards Jury (2019- Current)
  • LogoWave Jury Member (2017-Current)
  • International Visual Identity Awards (2015-Current)
  • Listed as “100+ Most Influential People in Design” by Design Weekly

Thanks for being a part of my 2021.

JUST keep going!

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