Three years of consulting: where we’ve been, and what’s to come

This morning, Facebook informed me that it’s been three full years since I first announced I was “going freelance” and starting my consulting business. That freelance excursion would eventually grow into Hines Digital, and over the past few years that terrifying leap of faith has yielded tremendous returns personally and professionally.

So what did the last few years hold, what did I learn, and what’s next? Let’s recap.

Year One: Getting my bearings

In that first year, I was admittedly flying by the seat of my pants. I think that’s normal for new small business owners. I knew a great deal about my craft, but very little about running a business — and it showed.

In that first year, I focused mainly on web design and had the chance to work for some really fantastic clients, including:

  • Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam;
  • North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory;
  • The Convention of States Project;
  • The Harris County Texas Republican Party; and
  • The Quebec Life Coalition. 

Year Two: A BEAG Step

After that first year, I realized it was time to grow beyond freelancing. I called the new company BEAG — the Irish word for little and pleasantly an acronym for “building, engaging, and activating the grassroots.”

While the name didn’t stick (hence the name Hines Digital), the work did. We had a big second year, with the 2016 cycle bringing us loads of great opportunities including:

  • Alain Juppé for President of France;
  • Bill Bryant for Governor of Washington State;
  • Britain Stronger in Europe (The Remain Campaign); 
  • John Fleming for US Senate, Louisiana;
  • Kelli Ward for US Senate, Arizona;
  • The Kent County Michigan GOP;
  • The National Party of New South Wales;
  • The National Party of Western Australia;
  • The Republican Party of Florida; and
  • Rick Santorum for President of the United States.

Year Three: Hines Digital

Early this year, I formally changed the name from BEAG to Hines Digital. And boy… did HD have a great (official) first year. 

In 2016, we worked with campaigns and causes from around the world and from every corner of the conservative movement, including:

  • Alain Juppé for President of France;
  • Better for America PAC;
  • Bill Bryant for Governor of Washington State;
  • Britain Stronger in Europe (The Remain Campaign); 
  • Campaign Resource Group;
  • Dan McCay for State House of Representatives, Utah;
  • Evan McMullin for President of the United States;
  • Free The Delegates PAC;
  • The Institute for Faith & Family;
  • Jonathan McConnell for US Senate, Alabama;
  • Justin Amash for US Congress, Michigan;
  • Justin Grabelle for US Congress, Florida;
  • Kelli Ward for US Senate, Arizona;
  • Maryland State Senator Justin Ready;
  • The National Party of New South Wales;
  • The National Party of Western Australia;
  • North Carolina Values Coalition;
  • Theresa May for UK Prime Minister and Conservative & Unionist Party Leader;
  • Partit Nazzjonalista (Malta);
  • The Republican Party of California;
  • The Republican Party of Florida;
  • The Republican Party of Maryland;
  • The Republican Party of Wyoming; and
  • Rob Maness for US Senate, Louisiana.

There’s no two ways about it — 2016 was a tremendous year for Hines Digital, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of so many friends and allies who’ve made connections and referred us work. To those of you who have (you know who you are): thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope we’ve made you proud.

What’s to come?

 2017 is the off-off-year in American politics, so I expect things to slow down a fair bit over the next several months. We’re still working internationally in Australia, France, Malta, and New Zealand, so it’s hardly vacation time, but late 2016 and early 2017 will be a time to regroup and refocus for the future.

The 2018 cycle, however, will likely be even busier for us than 2016 was. The Democrats have to defend an absolutely brutal US Senate map, while Republicans have to defend an unusual number of vacant gubernatorial seats in traditionally Republican states.

Our focus over the next two years will be on building on the lessons we’ve learned about developing engaging user experiences, executing effective online fundraising efforts, and integrating digital & field so that all voter contact — online and offline — is data-directed and accurately measured in real time.

These past three years have been a blast, but I’m convinced that the next few years will be even better. Thank you to everyone who’s helped, even in a small way, with making Hines Digital a success. Building this business has been one of my proudest achievements, and I could not have done it without you.

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