Around 2007 I was sitting across the table from a frantic colleague of mine. She was planning a wedding, and it was clearly getting the best of her. Her desk had transformed into an angry mess of post-it notes, notebooks, and repurposed envelopes.
She’d peeked into my notebook over my shoulder once, and said she could never be that organized. I told her she could because there was a method to my madness, and I offered to walk her through it.
I’d never explained my process to another person before. After all, sharing your notebook, is like letting someone read your mind, which, well…yeah. Regardless, she needed help, and all I could offer was this personal practice that proved immensely helpful to me.
At the time my methods didn’t have a name yet. Explaining it all took some time. I stumbled through it as best I could. When I was done, I found her staring at me with her mouth hanging open. My stomach dropped; now she thinks I’m completely nuts.
There was a brief silence, and then she said “You have to share this with people.”
I had just rolled off a long, frustrating contract. I had nothing lined up, so I decided to create a fun personal project. I gave myself two weeks to design and launch a website that would share something valuable with the online community. I thought back to my lunch with the panicked bride in 2007 and realized that my journaling system could be that ‘something’- a tool to help people get organized.
On August 18, 2013, I launched bulletjournal.com, with a tutorial video and step by step instructions. For the first few days – nothing. As expected. I remember being thrilled when I passed 100 visitors to the site.
One day I was casually checking traffic and I noticed what I thought was a bug. It wasn’t. I was getting thousands of views..that day! I had been featured on Lifehack.org. A few days later on Lifehacker.com, then FastCo. My little website had gone viral.
Soon, the first tutorial video was getting hundreds of thousands of views on Youtube. Bullet Journal communities sprung up to share their customizations. I started getting interviewed on podcasts. One particularly fortuitous interview, was with the Pen Addict podcast hosted by the wonderful Myke Hurley and Brad Dowdy. They rewarded my incomprehensible ramblings by telling me about a notebook company called Leuchtturm.
Month after month, I looked on in disbelief as the Bullet Journal continued to become more popular. Blogs dedicated to the Bullet Journal starting popping up. Forums appeared all over. I was receiving a lot of email from users who shared touching stories about the transformative effect Bullet Journaling was having on their lives. But what next? After all, I had already shared what I knew.
Then it dawned on me: it wasn’t about me at all- it was about the community. They were sharing so much valuable information and helping each other in very meaningful ways. Unfortunately a lot of it was getting lost online. So, in September of 2014 I launched a Kickstarter to raise the funds to build a new website to curate the best of what the community was sharing.
By this time I was a Leuchtturm notebook convert, and I thought that a special edition would make a wonderful reward for Kickstarter backers. I reached out to the folks at Leuchtturm to see what could be done. We agreed to create a limited edition designed from the ground up for Bullet Journaling.
So, I launched the campaign for $10,000 to build the new site. Then two unexpected things happened. First, I met the funding goal in 8 hours! Secondly, when all the notebooks sold, people got…upset. Like, a lot upset. It quickly became clear that the notebook was just as interesting to the community as the new site. I went back to Leuchtturm and we decided to create an unlimited edition.
In October of 2014 the campaign ended with the support of nearly 3,000 backers. Over the next year, I focused on creating the best notebook I could, and getting it into the hands of my supporters. All 3,000 of them all around the world. I had my work cut out for me.
In September the new website launched with all new tutorials, content, and a fresh new batch of notebooks. Along with the new website, The Bulletjournalist was unveiled. More than just a blog, it’s a monthly online magazine that embodies the Bullet Journal lifestyle. The thing that I was most excited for was that it featured the first guest post. It meant the world to me, as it ushered in new voices that could speak to things I simply can’t.
Building on the momentum of last year, we continue to look for great contributors to deliver great content on the site and our social channels. After being featured on Quartz, The New Republic, Vogue, and Buzzfeed, our community continues to grow by orders of magnitude, and with it, the questions that people have.
To address this, we’re unveiling the new “help” section. It’s a knowledge base that addresses the most frequently asked questions. It’s designed to evolve over time to provide the most up-to-date resources at a click. Give it a try by clicking on the “?” in the blue circle on the bottom right of the screen.
The help section also features another one of the most requested features: a FREE downloadable one-page starter guide. Originally created by Kim Alvarez, it has since been translated into over a dozen languages by volunteers from the community – an amazing example of the incredibly positive and helpful culture we’re building together.
This year has also shifted the focus to teaching the Bullet Journal in more specific ways. In addition to our regular programming, we’ve launched two new series: Bullet Journal for Moms and as of today, Bullet Journal for Professionals. Our hope is to inspire our community and help demonstrate how the Bullet Journal can be applied to their lives.
Last but not least – as big thank you, we’re giving away 1 Bullet Journal notebook a day until the 18th, which is the official Bullet Journal day! Click below to enter.
Photo by: Ian Schneider