At the start of each new year, smart business folks review the year past and our business successes -- as well as what we can do better. As I do each year, I share with you some of my personal shortcomings, changes I made and why. Hopefully, my annual review of my modus operandi can help you to improve your success and profitability in the year ahead too!
My Clipboard for 2019
Each year I do a honest self assessment about how I am spending my time and if that is producing the results I desire -- and what I could do better. This process, confirms where I fell short and what I can try to not repeat in the year ahead. I also take note of what I enjoyed most -- which coincidentally is where I had the most success. Surprise!
In last quarter of 2018 I did a total rebrand. New site, new look, new focus. This is something every business needs to do every so often. Standing still is just not something I do very well. So I reviewed everything. Policies, pages, modus operandi -- all of it and modified it to meet my new vision. When was the last time that you refreshed your look and rebranded your efforts?
Part of my rebranding effort was to nail down what exactly it is that I do, how I do it and who is the type of person -- precisely -- that I can help. I've been at this 24 years -- I do know better. But, that doesn't mean the softie in me doesn't fall prey to those who need me that are not a good fit. In 2018, I still flubbed up and got burned a couple of times. Lost time and money helping those who literally did not want to help themselves.
Not. Going. To. Happen. Again.
If I don't get the feeling that I resonate with a new contact and that they "get me", I'll respectfully decline. If my gut is telling me run; I'll run. No exceptions. If it is a client referral, I'll thank them for their confidence and then explain my decision.
Yes, it is hard to say no to additional income, but the income is not worth me compromising the level of quality support and service I am known for. When I dread seeing a name in my inbox -- I know I've made a mistake. And the bottom line is if I'm not into a project or the person behind it, I do not do as good of a job as I should. Personality flaw or just being realistic? Doesn't matter if it means less stress.
New Year, New Newsletter
I lost count of the number of times I was asked last year alone about why I didn't have a newsletter. Not just an RSS feed of my posts as they hit the site, but an actual newsletter. Yeah, that was probably lost opportunity because as any serious marketer will tell you that you need to have a mailing list.
So, I gave in! After 24 years we'll see how this goes! At the end of 2018 I started my free monthly newsletter called WPMuse Briefings.
With each briefing I’ll share resources (and why they matter), tips, my latest articles, some commentary and opinions about what I see happening in the online world. Along with any exciting (or challenging) discoveries and some down-to-earth inspiration. All to help you succeed online. Won't you join me?
Themes and Plugins Review
I review all my site's WordPress Themes and plugins to ensure they are compatible with the latest version of WordPress. While some plugins do not require updating with each WordPress update and will still function without issue, I prefer to have plugins that are clearly paid attention to. This approach minimizes conflicts and problems down the road. Same goes for themes. I do this every year without fail.
Even with all the great WordPress themes available, I am still sticking with StudioPress for all my sites. I've been with them from the start, trust their products and by doing so this approach gives me one less thing to have to worry about.
Site Content Review
Not all content is evergreen. As I do each year, I'm going to continue to review all (that's what I said last year) my content and delete or update that which is no longer current. That process is very time consuming. While I marked my calendar throughout 2018 to block out time to accomplish this, I really didn't accomplish all that I wanted.
Having multiple sites is a real challenge to do well. Yes, you can get the theme and structure in place, the plugins config'd and put a lot on auto-pilot. But great content doesn't write itself. And that's what separates you from all the rest. You and your content.
I'm lucky in that I love writing. I can get lost for hours just on one article. So each week when I do my posts on my other two blogs, I also schedule a little extra time to try and review a few other posts. Easier said than done... Pray for me.
Adding New Content is a Priority
This year I did so much better by going all in with Google Calendar and setting up To Do Reminders to make sure I get my content goals met. It's called planning -- and what a difference planning can make to block out the necessary time! (You just have to remember to look at your calendar first thing every day...)
By doing this I have been able to improve upon my posting consistency. I also made a point when I had an epiphany for a post topic, I stopped right there, opened WordPress and created a quick draft with my thoughts and ideas.
Yes, there are plugins to help with your editorial calendar goals, but why add another plugin to use server resources when I can just make a note in my off-WordPress calendar or create a quick draft. Works for me!
Gutenberg -> Gutenbad
Having crafted websites for so long, new technologies and ways to do things is nothing new to me. If I had $1 for every time I had to evolve into a new way of doing something, I would be retired on a tropical island.
But Gutenberg was different. As much as I've used it and tried -- very hard -- to like it. I just don't. It's buggy and makes my writing life more difficult. For example, this post has 54 blocks! 54 blocks just to write this post
This is the last commentary I will have about Gutenberg in the New Year.
For me "social media" just seems like an echo chamber that is a cacophony of everyone trying to get their sales pitch out. I'm not big on promoting myself -- not fun.
So, being I've always collected inspiration quotes, I started posting "Words that inspire me..." to my socials on each Monday to help others (and myself) start their week with some insight and positivity. Maybe that will make it more enjoyable for me to participate.
I've always enjoyed helping folks out on lists and forums and groups. I continued doing that in 2018. Giving back by its very nature means you give with no expectation of anything in return for doing so. But, is a "thank you" every once in a while too much to ask?
In 2019 I will be much more selective in where I spent my "give-back" time to ensure it is spent with folks who at least appreciate the time spent.
New Personal Projects
Not a good year for those! I started one project that I worked on for months in the background only to shut it down before launch -- after a ton of work. I just wasn't into it and I knew that if I did make the site live I just wouldn't have in me the necessary enthusiasm nor would I budget the time to make it a success. I should have known better. Actually, I did -- I just didn't listen to my inner voice.
I also launched my Email Etiquette Workshop site. Thought that was a good idea. It wasn't. After spending months developing the workshop and managing the site -- it was not a success. I did have students and the site worked properly, but to do it right I needed to offer more features and functions that I just did not have the time to manage. So I shut it down. More time wasted. Bad Judith.
If you don't try...
You'll never know if you can make something happen unless you try. Many times, you won't know if you like it until you dive and and find out what is involved. What is clear for me? If I'm not having fun, I can't do it.
While I am always a upset at myself for starting and then not finishing a project, or as in the case of the workshop not realizing soon enough that I wasn't willing to commit to what that site required, I still learned new things with both projects.
And my primary mantra year after year...
Embrace, Learn and Apply
I will use technology as it is now and whatever it evolves to be in the year ahead to its full potential for my business' success. Whether I like it or not. 99% of the time, I'm good with that.
From Blogging to Social Media to creative marketing tactics and everything in-between. By not investigating how to best use all the available tools out there for my business is what is called lost opportunity.
This mantra is how I've run my business and why I believe that I've survived going into my 24nd year.
Site owners that embrace the opportunities that technology makes available to them will be found, will gain new customers and will support more business than those site owners who do not openly welcome these opportunities.
You now know my frame of mind and what I going to work at for 2019. You can bet your competitors who do the same will reap the rewards.
I'll end with one of my favorite entrepreneurial quotes:
My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had -- everyday I’m learning something new.
~ Richard Branson
Wishing you all the best of success in the year ahead!
At your service,