Writing annual reviews allows for the ability to time travel. I’m a Looper nor do I own a Delorean with a flux capacitor but these reviews grant me the ability to peer into my past mindset and evaluate if I took the necessary steps to bring hope into a reality.
I’ve enjoyed reading yearly reviews from Adam Clark, Justin Jackson, Nathan Barry and these reviews put things in perspective and serve as a reminder to compare myself to myself. Getting caught up in the comparison trap will only lead you to try to outdo someone else instead of focusing on how you can be better. I hope the summary of my year helps you with goal-setting and clarity let’s take a look at how 2017 went for me.
This year I want to be completely transparent and to give an honest review of the year. Some things went well, but in other areas, I didn’t accomplish what I initially set out to do, and it has left me in a place where I can no longer follow the online gurus and will have to trail blaze my path my way.
I will break things down into two parts
- What I felt went well
- What didn’t go so well
What went well
I always strive to learn something new every day, but I can say 2017 was an immense year of learning. The learning was focused on what I precisely needed to change in my business. The central question that resonated throughout the year was:
Are things going as I planned?
This is a tough question because it involves the admitting of failure. Often I would repeat the same behavior not because I didn’t notice it wasn’t beneficial but because I didn’t want to admit I failed. Client work, the types of clients and the need to change my product offering became more apparent when I was willing to accept that certain things were failing.
I found a secret weapon, the public library. I discovered that the Houston Public Library has some Digital Services which include lynda.com. Lynda is one of the largest learning websites that exist on the web and has an over 6,000 courses and over 205,000 videos. I had access to this as well as many of the best selling books all available because I had a free library card.
Between the books at the library, podcasts, and conferences such as the seanwes conference and WordCamps I learned so much. The main difference between this 2017 and previous years is I discovered exactly what I needed to change and how to go about doing so. It’s not about obtaining knowledge for the sake of securing knowledge, but you must discover what should you implement in your business to get results.
When it comes to revenue in 2017 in comparison to 2016, there’s not a stark difference between the two since both years were similar. In 2016 I didn’t take on as much client work because I started teaching online and producing weekly content. In 2017 I didn’t take on as much client work because I was focused on changing the structure of my business to maximize my time and allow for growth and scalability. I won’t get into the details of the numbers here, but it became clear that I needed to commit to creating my Product Spectrum.
In summary, a product spectrum is a list of services that you offer which range from infoproducts to high-value consulting projects. This means you will have to separate your services into tiers with each product leading the client down a path toward more value. Start with lower-priced introductory products, move to mid-level services, and finally your premium offer.
In the past, my premium offering of custom web design was the only service available for purchase. The need to create a product spectrum is something I’ve known for some time however now that I have built an online audience through teaching it is abundantly clear I need to expand the types of services I can offer.
I’m still in the process of setting up my product spectrum but I’m excited at the potential of multiple streams of income, and I look forward to seeing which one will perform best. The goal of developing this product spectrum is to solve a cash flow problem that plagues most creative entrepreneurs. Solving this cash flow problem should result in evenue coming in from both active and passive sources of income.
2017 was a great year of public speaking for me. For anyone who is looking to get into the world of public speaking, it is a progression. I went from relatively no public speaking experience to engaging with audiences and often told I was one of the top speakers at every conference I attended as a speaker. This was a process which started with me committing to podcasts on a weekly basis back in 2015.
Committing to my video podcast allowed me to be more comfortable as a speaker and speaking the people I didn’t know, and it created references for conference organizers to view. In other words, my videos on YouTube became portfolio entries of my speaking experience.
If you are reading this and have a desire to get into public speaking, it is essential that you build up your confidence level. You have to be willing to craft a talk that is relevant and hold the audience’s attention, but the first step is to convince a conference organizer your talk is worth it.
Some resources to refer to for public speaking are
What didn’t go well
I was thinking of putting this section in what went well but based on my goals courses did not go as planned, but there’s a reason. I spent the first part of 2017 finishing up on a course I’ve been working on called The Freelance Jumpstart Course. The course is an expanded experience inspired by a book I wrote on the business of freelancing and was created to help beginning business owners learn the business side of freelancing.
The course was well put together. However there was nothing that distinguished this course from other courses that already exist, and I did not adequately communicate the value of the course. I also noticed many people suffered from “course fatigue” and if you add in the false promises from online course creators people are not as willing to purchase as they used to.
Many course creators promised a particular outcome but don’t often deliver. I believe what I created delivers on the promise and equips you with everything I wish I knew when I started freelancing. The course allows people to get years of knowledge within a month.
When I finished the course I realized one thing, there was no natural progression for someone who discovers my brand that leads them down a funnel for the course. It’s not all about creating sales funnels however I want to get to know and build a genuine relationship with different members of my audience. I’ve discovered it’s not about how good your copywriting is, but it’s about if the person in your audience trust you enough to invest in a course that you’ve created and trust is the most important thing in marketing.
In summary, creating the course revealed my need to redesign my website as well as redesigned how my business was set up.
Email again did not go as I planned. However, there is one silver lining: I made the switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit. Years ago Nathan Barry put the thought of ConvertKit in my mind, and I never made the switch, but now that I’ve made the switch it makes all the more sense. I made mention earlier that I didn’t set up any sales funnels for my services, but now I have this capability.
I want my newsletter to be different from others. On my email list, subscribers will only get emails on what they are interested in, and I separated the topics into categories:
- Starting a Business
- Pricing Your Services
- Working with Clients
- Marketing Your Business
- Building a Product
I didn’t create as many YouTube videos in 2017 as I did in 2016. As you can see from the numbers above the previous year, I was much more consistent with making videos while in 2017 I focused a little more on my business but still released quality videos that were updates of what I was working on.
Though my overall Channel growth for 2017 doesn’t look to be that impressive (+180/2017, 176/2016), I’m encouraged because without trying to intentionally grow my YouTube following I almost achieved the same amount of growth in 2017 as I did the year prior. This means without weekly posting my channel still grew. I believe if I were able to post on a weekly basis again I would probably grow my following at least 4X what it is now.
Similar to YouTube since my YouTube channel is directly connected to my podcast many followers may have noticed I did not podcast as much as I did the prior-year. This is due to what I mentioned in freelance jumpstart TV episode 55 and the fact that I needed to work on specific aspects of my business.
The podcast has been great regarding meeting new people, building authority, and improving my speaking skills which helped lead to more public speaking engagements. However, crafting the episodes as well as the video as well as writing at least a thousand words per episode was time-consuming and I needed to take my focus to restructure some things in my business for the better.
Simply put if you know certain things on your website and business aren’t fully optimized then why would you create a marketing channel that drives visitors to your unoptimized website. This was a part of the reason for the break I will get a higher return on investment (which is not always money) if my website is optimized to help people and get them the information they need more quickly. Also, people need to see how I can help them and how connecting with my brand would be smart for their business.
Some of the work I did paid off because even though I was not podcasting as much, my podcast still received listens I even received offers from various sponsors even though I wasn’t podcasting on a weekly basis. This encourages me that people are listening and when I return to weekly podcasting the audience is in for a great treat with all the new content I have for them.
In 2018 there are some main goals I will move toward, and I want to state them publicly to hold myself accountable to reaching those goals.
- Reach 1,000 subscribers on YouTube
- Publish an audiobook
- Build an Alexa Skill
- Launch a Course on Pricing
- Secure a sponsor for my Podcast
- Launch the Traffic talk segment on my podcast
- Goal income from every product in my product spectrum
- Use money from freelancing to pay off student loans completely
I believe all of these goals are attainable, but the key element for me will be learning to use the word NO more often. Currently, it’s not about hustling and doing as much as I can but only pursuing activities that will get me closer to my goals and if they don’t then I do not need to pursue.