At the start of each new year, smart business folks review our business successes as well as what we can do better. I’ll share with you some of my shortcomings and 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.
My Clipboard for 2018
Each year I do a honest self assessment about how I am spending my time and if that is producing the results I desire. Almost every year I discover that there are ways I can better spend my time. Ways to spend the time I have doing what I truly enjoy.
This year, I messed up by blindly accepting client referrals. To me referrals from current clients reflected they trusted my judgement and were putting their friends or colleagues in good hands. I took that trust seriously and never juried referrals as carefully as I would say inquiries through my site.
In 2017 I found out the hard way to not accept every “referral” from great clients. Great clients don’t always refer great clients. I ignored my gut several times and by doing so I did a disservice to all involved. When the red flags start waving, I don’t live up to the new clients expectations nor do they to mine.
If I don’t get the feeling that I resonate with a new contact and that they “get me”, I’ll respectfully decline. I’ll then call my client, thank them for their confidence and then explain my decision.
In the same vein, I will not take on new clients if I don’t have the bandwidth. 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. A couple times last year I came too close to not being able to live up to my own standards.
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.
Last year I’ve decided to stick 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.
But… I found a really cool theme on ThemeForest (<= affiliate link) that I couldn’t resist that was a perfect fit for my new project. I’ll let you know on my next annual review if I regret this decision. (I hope not — the theme is really incredible in features, layout and so far, the support has been impressive! [x-everything])
Site Content Review:
Not all content is evergreen. I’m going to review all (that’s what I said last year) my content and delete or update that which is no longer current. While I made this effort throughout 2017, if I am to be honest, my effort was not even close to enough.
When I look closely at any of my sites, including this one, I discover that I do have redundancy on some topics and need to delete and/or combine so my sites are more coherent. It’s easy to lose track over time as you type about the issues of the day. This is definitely where quality supersedes quantity! Another thing to add to my calendar of website chores.
It’s a time thing. So each week when I do my posts, I will also schedule a little extra time to try and review a few other posts. Easier said than done…
Adding New Content:
This year I did so much better by simply utilizing 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!
By doing this I have been able to improve upon my posting consistency and find opportunities to update previous content. I also made a point when I got 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!
SEO & Readability:
I’m not an “SEO”, don’t sell SEO and don’t play one on T.V. For me, SEO has always been about a few simple basics that I’ve integrated naturally in all of my site content from day one. Yoast’s SEO plugin is still my go-to SEO plugin.
I have tried others but always go back to Yoast. I am now literally addicted to the Readability check to make my writing better for the Web. Now I can’t live without it. I also added Hemingway to my toolbox to help me with my off-site writing projects like when I write for the GoDaddy Garage Blog.
The King and Queen:
You’ve heard “Content is King”? I beg to differ. Content is Queen; promotion and marketing is King! After writing a new article I have to do a better job to get the word out on social. In 2017 I still struggled with this and I know I fell short.
For me “social media” just seems like an echo chamber that is a cacophony of everyone trying to get their sales pitch out. The fact that social sites throttle and selectively display your posts all to encourage you spending money for exposure and I lose interest. Fast.
Add to that my style is not sales-pitchy. I write about what I see clients struggling with, what I get asked about or a topic that I am passionate about. I hope folks like them and that it helps them out. To “promote” my posts, while I know that is part of this gig, just doesn’t come naturally to me. I know my attitude about “social media” doesn’t help. Gotta work on that — still.
Visuals & Usability:
Have you looked at your site on your mobile devices? Some folks are shocked when they do. I know I was when I checked one of my sites that I had neglected. Due to a theme several years old, while it looked great on my desktop, not so much on my smart phone.
There really is no excuse to not be on a responsive theme at this point. Having the same look for years is also noticeable if your site doesn’t keep up with visual trends. You must keep up visually as well — don’t underestimate the power of that initial impression!
I start by running my sites through Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to get information on what you need to address and then make that your priority. Usability also includes reviewing my WordPress site navigation (for both desktop and mobile devices), tag and category structure to make sure they are intuitive and not duplicative.
I am now happy with how all my sites look at this point in time. I did do a spur of the moment redesign on my hubby’s site before the holidays — got that itch and it had to be done! (The bane of being me.)
The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.
~ William Shakespeare
Back in the day I was a volunteer List Guide for the HTML Writer’s Guild. On my hubby’s site we have several charity bracelets where proceeds benefit our top 4 Veteran orgs. I also help U.S. Military Veterans with their website needs en gratis. If I were independently wealthy that is how I would spend my days.
But I missed the conversations and helping others by sharing my tech knowledge like when I volunteered at the HTML Writers Guild, so I was looking for something like that — and I found it. While I’m not a shill for GoDaddy (I only use GoDaddy for my domains), I do volunteer my time (when time permits) and knowledge on their Community Forums (User: Muse).
I also work with GoDaddy to help the develop and test new products on their Pro Advisory Council. Their Pro WordPress Hosting is => almost <= there. Can't complain about something unless you are willing to be part of the solution, right?
I’m also mad at myself for not getting one site I’ve been working on out of beta. It’s been there for over 6 months. Which anyone who knows me knows that is not typical. I am excited about the project but it requires a lot of data entry. That bores me. So I’m going to have to put data entry time on my calendar and stick to it — whether I like it or not.
While it doesn’t get any easier than WordPress, the “set it and forget it” days, are years behind us. Yes, even for folks “like me.” I know better and still let that site slide.
Online is now the playground of serious businessmen and women with the insatiable desire to succeed. You hesitate and someone will take that great idea and whiz right by you! This means being ready dedicate the time, to learn and embrace what having a WordPress website requires and the skills necessary to reach your goals.
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. From Blogging to Social Media to creative marketing tactics and everything in-between. By not investigating how to best use these applications for my business is simply lost opportunity.
This mantra is how I’ve run my business and why I think I’ve survived going into my 23nd year. (Yikes!)
I understand this will take some time and a learning curve to fully use all these resources effectively on a daily basis, but I am a smartie and I know if it needs to be done for the health of my enterprise — I’m there! I hope you are too!
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 what I’m thinking for 2018, 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,