Can someone please tell me how the hell we only have two weeks left in 2016?!
I swear the older you get, the faster the years go by.
Just looking at the simple fact that next year will mark the EIGHTH anniversary of when I first started this site, is completely mind boggling.
But you know what? Those have been the best eight years of my life, and I can’t wait to see where the next eight and beyond take us.
Each year I do some kind of annual review here at Location Rebel.
Usually it’s in the form “what I rocked” and “what I sucked at”. (See the end of the post for previous year’s reviews)
This post, my 2016 annual review, will have a little bit of that, but mostly I wanted to be as real as I could with you.
In the last few months I’ve been having a lot of conversations with other entrepreneurial friends about goals for 2017, what’s working/what isn’t in our businesses, and just having a lot of conversations about the online landscape as a whole.
I’ve received some really good insights and gotten pretty introspective. These have been the most beneficial conversations I’ve had in awhile, so I think it’s important and hopefully valuable for me to share them here.
“The Business With Personality Wins”
This has been a really common theme.
When I began Location 180 in 2009, it was all about me.
It was about my journey, my struggles, my wins, and it was real. The readers of this site got a very clear idea of the ups and downs that went along with quitting a good job, moving abroad, and building an online business.
Somewhere along the way, I feel like some of that personality has slipped away.
I made a conscious decision to move locationrebel.com (what this blog used to be) to locationrebel.com for a number of reasons. Among others:
- The two domains was confusing for people
- Seanogle.com was in desperate need of a new design and we had a shiny new site at Location Rebel.com
- I wanted to take the focus off of me and put it more on the community
Let’s look at that last one a little bit.
Part of what made this site so successful was you could very clearly see the transition I made from being miserable in my day job, to running my own business. (Go take a look at the archives from 2009)
It was relatable, and you could follow along with that entire transition.
Fast forward 8 years. I’ve been very successful with my business, and I think that while aspects of my life can be inspirational and motivating – to others it becomes un-relatable.
I think it came to a head with this video in particular:
Despite the fact I literally only paid $300, I think a lot of people couldn’t relate to it.
And this is part of why I wanted to rebrand from Sean Ogle to Location Rebel, so that I could do a better job of highlighting our community and people who are at different points in their journey.
I think in the process we went too far.
Now we have this slick, professional looking site – and frankly, I don’t write very many posts like this any more. It’s all business this, and tactics that.
There are thousands of sites out there.
What will make Location Rebel successful isn’t more of the same. It’s playing up our unique story and personality – whether mine or our community members.
In 2017 I’d like to get back to our roots more. Less regurgitated crap that thousands of other sites put out, and more honest, real content about both the ups and downs of this lifestyle – while still providing content that helps people make the transition into lifestyle entrepreneurship.
This brings me to my next point:
“Stop Listening to Experts”
I do feel like we’ve put out some really good and useful content this year.
Content that was perfectly SEO optimized, polished, but frankly, similar to what so many other sites are creating.
At one point I really got into tactics and advice from other popular marketers, and kind of went down a rabbit hole of trying to implement their advice.
Here’s the thing, for the most part by the time much of that advice gets to you, it’s too late.
There’s a natural evolution online for many of the advanced marketing tactics that people are writing about:
- First, Marketers do it for themselves until it becomes more valuable to share the advice than be the only personal capitalizing on it.
- While there is still opportunity, they will start to share it with their premium audiences: inside information products, at conferences, on webinars etc.
- Only after all of that, will you see it start to show up in free blog posts – this is usually long after they’ve moved onto the next big thing.
Sure, it’s important to educate yourself on the basics. Know the fundamental principles of blogging, email, marketing etc.
But for me? I’ve been doing this nearly a decade. I know a lot.
Rather than putting in a little bit of effort into being creative and coming up with my own strategies, I focused too much on trying to implement other people’s strategies. I was playing their game, which is only going to take you so far.
Again, I think for the total beginner, following other’s training or advice is the best way to start. But the more advanced you get, the more you need to think for yourself.
Jiu Jitsu master Marcelo Garcia posts all of his training sessions online. This means his opponents can literally watch and dissect everything he is doing to train for a fight.
His reason for doing this?
To paraphrase, he says:
If they study what I’m doing it brings them into my game. And no one will ever beat me at my game.
Reference: Josh Waitzkin Distilled.
For the first 5 years of blogging I played my game. Then I got too caught up in other people’s ideas and tactics and got lazy in my thinking.
This led to a plateau:
In 2017 I want to focus more on me. No one else out there has my story or my background. Very few people have the freedom and flexibility of time to get creative and truly do some unique things.
Like this video:
It’s fun, representative of my personality, and even if there hasn’t been a specific dollar amount tied to it, it’s been valuable to the brand.
“I know you don’t realize it, but you’re being lazy.”
One of the most dangerous states a lifestyle entrepreneur can be in is one where you think you’re working hard, but really you’re being kind of lazy.
Being honest? I’ve battled off and on with being in this stage throughout the entirety of my entrepreneurial career.
It hasn’t been until the last 3 or 4 months that I really feel like I’ve been working my ass off.
It’s easy to spend 3 or 4 hours a day doing things like writing blog posts and answering emails. After doing that I feel like I’ve done something worthwhile – and frankly, I have.
But those are things that maintain the business.
It’s these things that grow the business, and for a long time I wasn’t doing these every single day.
It’s been good having conversations about this with others – because I’ve realized I’m not the only one who feels this way.
It’s important to find a balance between working hard and enjoying the life you’ve built. In the last couple months I’ve gotten closer to that balance, but there is always an ebb and flow and it’s important to be mindful of that.
“Always be creating multiple streams”
This is more true than ever. In the most cliche thing I’ll say all month: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
The biggest struggle I with Location Rebel I have right now is that traffic has been down over the last couple of months.
While obviously I get a good amount of traffic from other sites, and social media – the bulk of it comes from search engines.
Through the process of switching domains, and despite the fact that logically everything we’ve done should improve traffic, it’s gone down and has yet to reappear.
We’ve been doing everything right, and I’m confident that it will turn around sooner or later – but it’s been an eye opening experience.
Whether it’s income, traffic, relationships – always be creating multiple streams or paths. The world is moving too fast to think you can keep doing the same one thing forever – eventually at best it will evolve, at worst it will disappear.
So while it’s not like traffic has completely plummeted, it’s down just enough to notice and teach me an important lesson 🙂
On a More Positive Note…
So far, I’ve focused a lot on the conversations about things I feel like I’ve been failing at or struggling with.
The good news, is that in many of these conversations there’s been a lot of positive things that have been discussed as well.
“Be Real and People Will Notice”
Slowly but surely over the last few years Breaking Eighty has grown. It continues to grow in traffic, followers, and reputation.
It’s pretty wild when you go play a round of golf, get paired up with a stranger, and they actually know who you are because they follow your blog.
Going back to that bit on personality above, where I feel like I’ve struggled with this on Location Rebel, it’s been thriving on Breaking Eighty.
Through Instagram and blog posts that really play up the fact I’m just a normal guy, and not one of the big corporate golf magazines – people have started to pay attention. I’ve created something unique, different, and the fact I continue to travel and take pretty pictures helps too.
The bottom line is, I’ve been real and that has paid off.
“The Smaller the Niche, the Easier the Sale”
I talk to a lot of Location Rebel Academy members about their niche ideas, and the advice is almost always “niche down”.
Logically when you’re just getting going you want to cast as wide of a net as possible.
But if you tell someone “we built a site to help people lose weight.” Who is that going to resonate with? Not many people. Even the people who do want to lose weight have heard that message so many times that there needs to be more to it.
But what if you heard “I help 25-35 year old, single, working moms, lose weight without having to sacrifice time with their kid” – that is much more niche, and you can bet that people in that people who fit that description will pay much closer attention to your message.
For instance, in my new business I’m creating something for people who fit this:
- On average are 25-50 year old men
- Members of an architecturally significant private golf club
- Travel for golf frequently
- Enjoy hosting others at their home club
- Are passionate about golf and enjoy talking about it (rather than just doing it for business reasons)
Every single one of those narrows down the field even farther, to the point where there probably aren’t many more than 25,000 people in the whole country that fit that mold.
But almost without fail, every single person I’ve told about this new idea has been interested.
Because it fills a need so directly, and is so tailored to them, there’s almost no way they could say no.
I know this, because I fit that mold, and I’m creating the thing I wish existed.
I’ll reveal more about it in a future post, but the lesson is this:
“Despite every urge you have to cast a wide net, niche down as small as possible and the sale gets easier with each step down.”
“What’s your secret to success? Exercise.”
Nearly every single person I’ve talked to says the same thing. The reason they have the energy and focus to grow their business is because they take care of themselves.
I’ve always been a pretty active person. I walk a lot, I play a lot of golf, and so on, but it’s always been tough to get to the gym on a regular basis and truly work out.
This year has been different. Through the help of Mike Goncalves, I’ve been exercising 5 to 6 days a week, and feeling great about it. The diet is still a work in progress, but I really notice on the days I take the time to go to the gym, my focus increases and my desire to do other positive things for my body and business goes up.
We still have a long way to go, but this has been the most active year I’ve had in a long time, and that feels really good.
To Sum Up the 2016 Lessons
Here’s the more cliche, tl;dr version of this post:
- Be yourself. That’s the most important and differentiating aspect of your business you have.
- Always be experimenting. Even when you have something good going, keep looking for the next thing, because you never know when your situation will change.
- Go Deeper. It can be easy to stick to surface level conversations with your friends. Go deeper on a regular basis, and specifically do this with other people who are in a similar enough situation to understand where you’re at.
- Recognize what drives productivity. For me, I’m vastly more focused on days when I go to the gym, and weeks when I play a round of golf in the middle of the week to break up the work.
There’s lot of other things I could add to this list, but I think these are the most important lessons I’ve truly learned in 2016.
They’re not unique, they are all things you’ve heard, but hopefully having a little bit of context as to how they have pertained to my life and business has been valuable.
I also know aspects of this post were reflecting on some of the down parts of the year. I think it’s worth mentioning that by and large things are still really good both with me personally and here at Location Rebel.
We’ve had some incredible success stories I’ll be sharing in the next couple weeks, just released our latest blueprint, and we’re continuing to update and evolve to make sure that we continue to be the relevant and insanely useful community that we always have been.
Keep an eye out soon for more on my 2017 goals and plans, and thank you again for being a part of this fantastic community!
Oh, and I had a post about why I think bucket lists are important go live on Huffington Post today – so go check it out if you get a chance 🙂