Q1 Review: New Chapters, Shifting Priorities and The Time For a Bigger Game
For those of you who are new to the Skool of Life this quarter, you might not be familiar with my quarterly reviews and marketing plans. Some of the older ones are quite detailed and could even serve as a framework for how to grow your own blog. I go through this process every quarter for a few reasons:
- To Share My Insights
- To Get Your Feedback
- To Have a Written Plan for the Next Quarter
The Q1 2011 Report Card
- Traffic Review: Believe it or not I don’t check traffic more than once a month. In fact I had no idea how much traffic I actually had this quarter until it was time to write this review and I realized I needed to provide some numbers in my report. Some might argue that this is not good business. I want you to consider this idea as food for thought. Checking your traffic isn’t want causes your traffic to grow. This is like looking at pictures of cars and thinking looking at them would magically cause the car to be built. It’s a bit ridiculous. Personally I think checking your traffic on a daily basis is a complete waste of your time because you’re not not focusing your efforts on what matters. Think of it this way. Do you think the CEO of an organization is concerned with the day to day revenue of the company or do you think he’s more interested in quarterly and annual performance? I think there’s something to be said for setting goals and measuring your progress against them. But, once a month or once a quarter is where you’ll get more value. You’re the CEO of your blog, so stop acting like a worker and focus your efforts on the big picture. I’ve included the quarterly numbers below for those who are interested. These days I focus almost all my efforts on creating content and connecting with people that I find interesting. As a result I’ve cultivated quite a few “true fans” who I’m really grateful for:
- 45,000 Total Visits
- 73,461 Page Views
- 1376 Feedburner Subscribers
- 487 Email Subscribers
Last quarter I had roughly 30,000 visits, not counting the fluke of the post that went viral and threw off my stats. Overall, I’m happy with the growth. One thing you’ll probably notice is that I don’t even have the feedburner numbers on my blog anymore. I did this because I realized that I was wasting time worrying about the wavering subscriber counts rather than focusing on the creation of value.
- The Facelift: For those of you have been around The Skool of Life for a while, you know I’ve given it more than a few facelifts and fortunately unlike those whacked out celebrities who are addicted to plastic surgery, the 24 hour facelift using the Headway theme was a success. I did this for a couple of reasons. I started to notice that many people who had started blogging around the same time I did were hiring professional designers and giving a whole new look to their blogs. Getting a designer wasn’t in my budget, but after an interview with Grant Griffiths, I decided to give Headway a test drive. I was very intent on cleaning up the clutter on my site and injecting personality into all of the elements of the site. While I’m not a professional designer I will say that Headway made me feel like I was a capable of a hell of a lot more. So I’m going to make this offer to any of you who are interested. If you purchase headway through my affiliate link, I’ll work with you on the customization at no additional costs. The numbers don’t reveal any dramatic changes, but I think that a professional design causes people to take your blog much more seriously and given that my brand is growing, I felt it was time for a change.
Break Out Moments in My Career
- Location Independence: In Q1, I started a new chapter in the Skool of Life which was totally unplanned. When the hours at my day job, which I still really love got reduced to 10 hours a week, I decided to pull the plug on life as a I knew it and join the ranks of the digital nomads. It hasn’t been all glitz and glamor, and truth be told because I’m fairly isolated, I’ve found myself working like a madman to push everything I’m doing to the next level.
- My first speaking gig: Combined with my reduction in hours, oddly enough came my first speaking gig where I talked about the Art of Digital Story Telling to the travel industry. I’d been eager to start my public speaking career and I am happy to say that this was the catalyst for many other things that happened in this quarter. Feel free to take a look back how I prepared for my first speaking gig.
- Freelance Consulting: Perhaps the most valuable thing to come out of my speech at the Eye for Travel Conference was a freelance consulting gig with Fox Rent a Car who has tasked me with putting together a team of bloggers for them to take a road trip across America and blog about it. Stay tuned for an update on how you can become of the two additional members that we’ll be adding to this team. To add to that I picked up some freelance design work for a small client.
- Columnist at GROW: After my interview with Mark Schaefer, I definitely got the sense that he was one of the BlogcastFM guests I had “clicked with.” To my pleasant surprise a few weeks later he invited me to be a columnist at his blog and contribute a monthly post. Considering his reputation, I didn’t hesitate for a moment to say yes and I’ve been able to share some of my own thoughts on blogging with a wider audience:
- 25,000 Downloads: BlogcastFM of course has been going through some really interesting times. Last year at this time we were getting 800 downloads a month and we finished off March with over 25,000 downloads. I’ve never been quite sure how much my work on BlogcastFM gets people coming to the Skool of Life. Just thinking about that math I would need to do gives me a headache so it’s not worth my time. I know there are plenty of BlogcastFM listeners who don’t read the Skool of Life. I can’t honestly say there has been any one thing that has resulted in the growth. Despite being featured on Problogger’s List of Bloggers to Watch, we’ve grown organically and steadily and in the last few months that growth has accelerated. We’ve restructured our membership site offerings, hired a virtual assistant to automate things and I’m on the look out for potential sponsors. We’re making a very strong push to start really running BlogcastFM like a business.
- Blogworld: Arguably, this might be the biggest news of this quarter. On a random friday afternoon while I was sitting here hammering away at my keyboard I got an email from Deb Ng letting me know that my Blogworld speaking proposal for NYC had been ACCEPTED!!!. My immediate reaction was “holy shit.” Then of course I did the mandatory tweets and status updates. A few years ago I had set a goal to speak at Blogworld and I always remember the story Scott Stratten told me about how he he walked up the conference organizers and said “I’m going to be your Keynote speaker next year” when nobody knew who he was. The next year he was. I honestly have no idea what will come of Blogworld, but I think it’s going to be fantastic for the growth of BlogcastsFM for several reasons:
- I’ll be addressing the exact target audience of BlogcastFM
- I’ll get to meet more people and diversify the variety of guests we bring on
- It may lead to other consulting and speaking opportunities
- It will increase my credibility as a blogger
I’m very excited about it and I’ve already started working on my presentation.
Goals that Weren’t Met
- The Manifesto: When I started out this quarter I was set on writing a manifesto and I’d even created some of the content already. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that it just wasn’t in me at the current time to write a manifesto. I just didn’t have the kind of content I considered worthy of a manifesto.
- Affiliate/Email Marketing: I had a goal to two do at least two affiliate promotions a month this quarter to my readers here at the SKool of Life. I’ve of course never been willing to promote anything I didn’t consider of tremendous value, but I made zero effort to do this. While I did rewrite my 6 part e-course for my newsletter, I never made the point to start writing out a weekly newsletter to my readers that was more personalized.
- What You Should Have Learned Ebook: For those of you who are wondering what happened to that project, don’t worry. It’s still happening. A good friend who is helping with the design and layout had some major life events that put a bit of a delay on it, but a first draft will be coming soon.
The Q2 Plan: Shifting Priorities and a Bigger Game
My relocation to Costa Rica and all the recent changes in my life have served as the catalyst to really push everything I’m working on to the next level. As a result Q2 is going to be heavily focused on revenue and making the transition from blog to business
4 KEY GOALS: Over the last few weeks in Costa Rica, I’ve realized that if there’s one thing I have going for me right now, it’s time. Strangely when you start to embrace the notion that 8 hour workday doesn’t make sense you seem to get quite a bit more done. I don’t believe in measuring effort. Personally if you work 80 hours a week and produce nothing, then you’re just an idiot who doesn’t manage time very well. If Jack Bauer can diffuse nuclear bombs in 24 hours, we really have no excuse. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made every quarter is setting far too many goals. As a result many of them are not met, and I don’t give it my all for the ones that I do accomplish. So, rather than work on a bunch of goals, I’ve identified 4 key goals.
- Relationship Marketing for Bloggers: For those of you who have been keeping up with my tweets, you know that this project is currently in the works. It’s actually more or less finished and is going through some final edits, and will be in layout mode within the next few days. Part of why I decided to write this e-book is because it’s a subject that I really understand. I’ve built my entire following online because of relationships and many of the ideas presented the e-book are going to give you some really new ways of doing things that will help to grow your brand.
- BlogcastFM Sponsors: I’ve been pushing for a long time to get sponsors for the podcast for a while now because I want an additional revenue stream coming in. While we’ve always had the option to pursue sponsors, we’ve held off to make sure that we get everything squared away in terms of our operations. But, after a year of running the show, and 150 interviews I feel it’s time for a sponsor. One thing I will say is that we want to do our best to choose a sponsor that is of value for our listeners.
- Affiliate Promotions: I will actually be doing a handful of affiliate promotions this quarter for products I believe strongly in. But I’ll only be doing about 2 a month and they’ll have to fit the audience. I may consider doing some affiliate promotions of other peoples e-books in the sidebars just to see how they perform.
- Write a Book Proposal: A recent chat with Jenny Blake, and the publication of her new book has made me realize that it’s time to take the plunge and start writing a book proposal. I’d been debating between topics and realized that I really have no desire to write an entire book about blogging and social media. So, the direction I’m likely going to go with the book is The SKool of Life: A Manual for Life Outside the Classroom. I think that really resonates with my message and I’d just have a hell of alot more fun writing it.
So there you have it. In a nuthshell it’s a look back at Q1 2011 at the Skool of Life. So here’s what I’d like from you:
- Tell me how I can make this report more useful
- Tell me what you’ve learned from it
- Share it with anybody you think might find it useful.
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