As a small business owner, the end of year is a great time to look back on your successes and struggles, to reflect on what worked and what can be improved, and to determine your next steps in business. I know an end-of-year review can sound boring, but it’s something everyone should know how to do — and after reading this, you’ll be able to handle it on your own!

If you’re serious about being a full-time content creator and streamer, you have to look at your work as a business, not just as a hobby or side hustle.

Revisiting Your Goals

Each year, you should set financial and business goals to guide you and serve as benchmarks for your success. Some sample goals: make $500 weekly from cam shows, increase monthly revenue by 15%, promote a monthly special for your content, get to 5,000 followers. Setting these kinds of goals helps you to remember what you’re working toward and to stay focused.

What camming goals did you set for yourself this year? If you haven’t achieved your goals, take a look at what prevented you from doing so. Was it something you could have improved on, or avoided? Was the goal too ambitious? If you have achieved your goals, how did you do it? Can you repeat that strategy next year? Remember that you want your goals to be attainable, so you may sometimes need to adjust your expectations downward while cranking up your work level.

Examine the Fundamentals

Take a look at your basic business practices overall. Are you offering what your customers are looking for? For instance, if your niche is fetish-based, was a majority of your streaming content true to that niche? Was it a good value? Consider quality control as well: We’re your shows up to your standards, or could they be improved? Or was your quality too high, making it hard to repeat such performances consistently?

Finally, what was your most profitable stream or content? Maybe it was a specific scene with a co-performer who brought you more viewers, or a cosplay stream you did. Being able to pinpoint why your best product performed well is important so that you can integrate this information into your business plans.

Follow the Money

The most important part of your annual review is reviewing your finances. You should know which platforms were your highest and lowest earners. How much did you spend on production and streaming costs, administrative costs and miscellaneous expenses? Here are a few key aspects to look carefully at:

Cash flow: Knowing the specific figures of your overall cash flow is crucial for understanding the economics of your business. Compare your cash flow from this year to previous years, to get a broader understanding of how your finances are performing, as well as an idea of what the year ahead may look like for you.

Cost base: If expenses such as props, costumes and equipment are high, it would be wise to evaluate your spending habits. You can identify where your spending may be higher than it needs to be and assess where you can save, perhaps by reusing clothing and props. If you had high equipment expenses, note whether you were replacing necessary equipment; if so, your expenses in that area likely won’t be as high in the coming year.

Financial growth: As your business grows, you will likely need to take on new costs. For instance, hiring an assistant or editor may be necessary to support growth. Review new expenses to make sure that you’re taking full advantage of such additions, and that increased costs are also creating new sales opportunities to boost your revenue.

Review the Data and Study the Market

Many platforms offer engagement data that you can review. Look over your data from throughout the year, noting when engagement was highest so that you can zero in on what made that period special. Understanding your engagement levels is crucial when planning how to move forward. Review any feedback you received with an unbiased eye.

Could you have offered more value bundles, themed streams or custom experiences? Do you know how your fans found you on each platform? Which social media platforms are driving traffic your way and which are underperforming?

Look at the market and see if there are customer needs you may be missing out on fulfilling. Is there a trend toward JOI that you haven’t taken advantage of? Do you notice a tendency for sales and token earnings to drop during a particular time of year? If so, offer more value options to fans during that time and save your higher-quality cam shows for a better financial period. Do you know who your competitors are, and how well their businesses are doing? Sharing knowledge with “competitors” may seem taboo to some, but I believe sharing with each other is how we uplift our businesses and our industry.

Plan Your Next Steps

Together, all of the information mentioned above constitutes a road map indicating what next steps will help your brand and business. The final step of your review process should therefore be laying the framework for the next year.

It’s best to set higher-level goals, such as making $50,000 profit, but then break that down into a series of smaller steps that will help you reach your larger goals. If reviewing your data reveals that being on two platforms increased your profit margin by 20%, then creating profiles on additional platforms to increase that further can be a step goal. If you spent a lot on clothing, try to cut back that expense by 5% this year.

Set some non-financial goals to work toward as well. Some good examples would be: increasing your social media following, working with other creators, hiring an assistant, or attending a trade show or fan event — which could also help you achieve other goals.

If you’re serious about being a full-time content creator and streamer, you have to look at your work as a business, not just as a hobby or side hustle. That means you have to pay attention to your business practices, profit and loss margins, and be able to detach yourself if something is not making financial sense. Conducting an annual review is the best way to orient yourself on the road to success as a business owner.