A Long Drawn Out Look Back at 2010

Quick Note: Last Year at this time my blog had about 300 subscribers. Most of what you see below has taken about a year, so don’t underestimate what you can accomplish in a year.

First I want to let you know that this post is going to be fairly long. So, you’ll probably want to set aside some time to go through it. As many of you know I like to review my progress and write about it every quarter. The end of the year report is one that’s always really interesting because it ends up being full of valuable insights for me, so I recommend you actually consider doing one yourself. I think you’ll find it has a very powerful impact on your blogging efforts.

I do this as a routine for everything. For instance, my trading journey is reviewed every quarter too. You can go to my blog and check if there is anything on trading that will interest you. Trading per se and online is a great initiative to creatively consume your free time as the markets are never closed any time of the day or the night. Check them out now at https://cybermentors.org.uk/

This has been one of the most amazing years of my life and one that I feel truly grateful for. After close to 10 years of IBS, ADHD, and uphill career battles, I’ve finally found my groove and I realized that I was nothing more than a victim of the late bloomer syndrome.

In the first part of the year I had set one goal to reach 1000 subscribers. Despite insane amounts of guest posting and numerous other efforts, I failed to reach that goal. But I can honestly say that I’m grateful that it took me a bit longer to reach some of my goals. As you start out, you might be in a real hurry to grow your blog. The fact that it took me longer than many other people who started after me has given me so many valuable insights and lessons that I think will be instrumental to my success in the future. So consider that when you think about the fact that you’re not growing as fast as you might want to.

BlogcastFM:

This has really turned into my calling card in the Blogosophere and I have to credit Sid Savara for having the foresight to see that my weekly series Interviews with up and Coming Bloggers could stand on its own as a completely separate site. Because of BlogcastFM, I’ve had the good fortune to pick the brains of the most successful and interesting content creators in the blogosphere. I want to share a quick story with you about why BlogcastFM turned out much differently than we thought it would.

In the early days of BlogcastFM, Sid and I thought we’d interview the biggest and most well known bloggers we could find and they would tweet their interview with us, and it would go viral. It’s safe to say that idea was a complete failure. The first 6 months were an uphill battle. We weren’t growing that fast and the numbers just didn’t seem to be all that great. But then something really interesting happen.  Our listeners started coming out of the woodworks, sending us emails about how useful they found the site, and started to make us realize that we were in fact creating something of value.

That was the beginning of a fundamental shift in how I started to approach the site. I decided to forget about the numbers for and focus on creating value for the listeners. Once we made that shift our community really started to take off. An excitement and buzz started to surround us. When I emailed Jade Craven (aka Kevin Bacon of the blogosphere) for the first time about interviewing her for the site, she decided to included us in her 50 Netsetters You Should Know about list, and before long I found myself with a list of close to 100 people to interview. That resulted in an ongoing series of highlights and growth moments which I’ve briefly summarized below.

  • As of this writing, BlogcastFM is averaging about 6000 downloads per month which is really exciting.
  • To date I’ve interviewed over 100 of the most successful content creators in the Blogosphere. In other words everything I know is just a compilation of other people’s brilliance ;) .
  • In November we launched the BlogcastFM premium service, a paid version of the site to add additional value for our listeners.

Let me also say thank you to all our listeners and interviewees who have made the project possible. Without all of you we wouldn’t have had nearly the success we’ve had.

The Must Listen Interviews

The other day when I put out a tweet asking what I should cover in this report, some of you had asked what my favorite interviews were. That’s something I consider an impossible question, so instead I want to give you what I consider the must  listen interviews for 2010

  • Yaro Starak: Nothing I’m doing today would exist if I hadn’t discovered Yaro Starak and his Blog Mastermind program.  That program really was the start of major changes in my life. So, I definitely consider him one of the must listen interviews for 2010.
  • Dave Navarro: It was a chat with Dave Navarro that finally convinced me that I was capable of launching a product. He packed so much information into my conversation with him that to this day I think I should be charging you for it ;) . The result of this interview was my first mini product How to Grow your Blog with Interviews, which I co-created with David Crandall.
  • Jade Craven: We jokingly refer to her as the Kevin Bacon of the blogosphere and if you read her post The 6 Degrees of Jade Craven, you’ll understand why she’s earned that nickname. To say that Jade has been instrumental in putting my name on the map would be an understatement. I’ve learned so much because of my friendship with her and her interview was an eye opening look into relationships and networking in the blogosphere.
  • Ashley Ambirge: In a recent post I referred to her as a literary seductress. I consider Ash one of the most unique voices in the blogosphere.  Everything she writes is inspiring, entertaining and draws you in. As you explore finding your voice, I think spending a few minutes listening to her interview would be an essential component to your growth.
  • Ramit Sethi: To say that Ramit Sethi was one of the smartest guys I interviewed in 2010 would be an understatement. Famous for letting us know that “blogs are a horrible way to make money”, this interview was a game changer for me. He’s been massively successful and he’s somebody you should consider listening to.
  • Scott Stratten: I used to hate twitter when I first started blogging. I thought it was complete nonsense and a ton of noise. While I started to embrace it slowly, it was a conversation with Scott Stratten that got me in the deep end of the twitter pool. Personally, I think you could learn everything you ever wanted to know about twitter in this one hour chat with Scott.
  • Danielle Laporte: I had heard about Danielle’s work from Kelly Diels (one of my great friends and mentors from the early days of blogging). Danielle’s interview was another one of those that I’d have no issues packaging as a product and selling because I thought it was that good.

10 Thought Provoking Posts from 2010

In the past I would make a list of all the guest posts I’d written all over the blogosphere, but for the purposes of this review I wanted to share what I consider some of my most important ideas that I shared in 2010

Community Building

  • How to Build An Insanely Loyal Tribe One Reader at a Time
  • 150 Followers Is All You Need
  • Networking Awesomely, Kissing Digital Babies, and the Lifeblood the Blogosphere
  • How to Leverage Another Blogger’s Audience to Grow Your Business
  • Focus on the Creation of Value

Career/Productivity

  • Why the 8 hour work day Doesn’t Make Sense
  • Finding the Company that Lets You Be You
  • How I ended up with the greatest job in the world

Personal Stories

  • A Culture of Expectations8 Failures that Led Me to Where I’m at Today
  • A story of Immigration, Persistence, and Inspiration
  • Don’t Look for a Job, Look for an Opportunity to Remarkable

Tipping Points and Key Moments in 2010

  • 1000 Subscribers: The 1000 Subscriber goal was a major milestone for me because it seemed like it took forever. There were bloggers who started after I did who reached 1000 subscribers in a matter of months, while it took me close to 15 months. Oddly enough, shortly before the goal I stopped caring about it and realized it was mainly an ego inflation statistic. My advice to anybody who is on the path to 1000 subscribers is to make your readers love you. The numbers are really nothing more than ego-inflation statistics and not really valuable in the long run. You’d be better off with 100 people who spend tons of time on your site than millions who don’t stay very long.
  • Reaching 100 Interviews: This was an interesting moment and an important lesson in focusing on what matters. Sid and I had planned on having a special guest or doing something special for the 100th interview on BlogcastFM. We got so caught up in producing content and running interviews that we completely overlooked the fact that we had already reached 100 interviews. In many ways, this came  down to putting our focus on what mattered, creating value for the listeners.
  • Attending Blogworld: Getting to go to Blogworld as part of my job at Flightster was one of the most amazing experiences I had this year. To meet all the people that I’ve been talking to online over the last year was really just incredible. It would be hard to quantify the value that comes from attending Blogworld, but I will say that it definitely helped us to put BlogcastFM on the map and it also inspired tons of new ideas for content, products, and collaboration. More importantly it created a deeper connection between many of us who only had interacted online. I’ll be writing a separate post about the members of my tribe you should pay attention to in 2011.
  • Watching a Post go Viral: My dream of putting an end to the 8 hour work day didn’t quite become a reality but it definitely got some attention because the post ended up going viral, and received over 20,000 visits in one day. The day I wrote the post it got tweeted over 42 times while I was on the phone screaming at Godaddy about the fact that my site was down.  About a month later it went viral and received about 300 tweets.

3 The Keys to my Growth in 2010

  • Consistent Posting: I had a fairly slow, but consistent upward trending growth pattern. I think consistent content production played a major role in this. I’ve kind of blanketed the social web  with a content production schedule that looks something like this:
    • 3 Posts a week on the Skool of Life
    • 3 Interviews a Week on BlogcastFm
    • An occasional guest post
    • A weekly presence on Flightster
  • The Inner Circle on Twitter: Believe it or not I think this was the biggest factor in the growth of my blog in 2010. I turned into a mad social scientist conducting experiments on Twitter and I’m still conducting different ones.  I went from hating Twitter to seeing an absolute gold mine of information and interesting people. I think when I started to see twitter for the people rather than the stats, it became much more valuable.
  • Improved Content: One thing I can say for sure is that I’m a better writer now than I was when I first started. I make a point to write almost every single day. Sometimes I’ll put fingers to keyboard in the morning and what comes out is gibberish. Those days I just abandon the writing. I think this has been instrumental in my ability to improve my writing. I’ve also made a point to experiment with different content ideas.

10 Lessons Learned in 2010 in 140 Characters or Less

  • Relationships fuel the blogosphere
  • The best way to be interesting is to be exactly who you are
  • Prioritize your lifestyle and passions as much as you can
  • Take the Scenic Route Through Life
  • Use twitter to surround yourself with brilliant, interesting and creative people if you really want to get value out of it
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the lesser known bloggers. They won’t be small forever
  • Make sure you watch at least one TED.com talk a week
  • Read as many books as you can. Then put the ideas you read into action
  • I think it’s all about art and creativity, not about marketing and metrics
  • Don’t get caught up in the comparative and competitive disadvantage

Things I would have done Differently

  • Email: I honestly think my email newsletter here at  The Skool of life could use some work. I’ve mainly been sending out the content on the blog via my newsletter. Fortunately Sid is doing an amazing job on the BlogcastFM newsletter. One of things I’m planning on doing is turning my newsletter into a 6 part course on all the things you should have learned in school, but didn’t. I feel like that would be really fitting with many of the themes of the Skool of Life.
  • Monetization: A few things happened here. I lost a client that was paying me $500.00 a month in income because their budget dried up. This might have actually been a good thing because it forced me to start thinking about how to most effectively do this. I think I’m going to make a point to create more mini-products over the course of the next several months. I stopped posting craigslist ads for consulting opportunities as well. I do think that BlogcastFM Premium will be a substantial income stream by the end of 2011 and it I think it’s much more scalable than consulting.
  • Strategic Guest Posting: One of the opportunities I believe I wasted was the byline in guest posts. I read somewhere on Problogger that you are better off plugging your product or email newsletter in the bio of your guest post rather than just your site.  So that’s something I’ll do in the next quarter. I actually scaled back on guest posting in this quarter to focus on creation of some evergreen content for my own blog.  Like most strategies, even guest posting has a diminishing return after some point, so I started to look at where the overwhelming majority of new subscribers were coming from when I did a guest post, and focused my efforts there.

Overall, I would say 2010 has been an epic year for almost all of us who started this journey together in the middle of 2009. People have left day jobs, setup full time income streams, and had the good fortune of surrounding themselves with brilliant people. I’m excited about what the future holds for everybody that is taking this journey and the possibility of an extraordinary life that lies ahead for all of us.