December is a time for reflection in my life. A time to look at the things that went well over the past year, the things that didn’t go well, and a time to prepare for the future.
Earlier this week I paid homage to the location independent lifestyle I’ve built for myself and reviewed the “10 Coolest Offices I Had in 2011“. While it was really fun to write and reflect on some of the high points of the year, there’s no doubt that there are some things that I could have done a better job with.
Ok, that’s putting it a bit lightly.
There are some things that I really sucked at this year which I want to identify.
I’m not doing this to be self-deprecating or anything like that. This has been a way for me to honestly assess what I need to improve on in 2012, as well as give you guys some resources for improving these areas of your own business.
So with that, let’s get to the the top 10 things I’ve sucked at with my business in 2011.
#10) Being a Lazy Ass. Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh. But when you work on your own, you will constantly battle yourself. When you don’t have to show up at any certain time or place, it can be all too easy to slack off and get sucked into hours upon hours of surfing the internet. If I’m going to take my business to the next level next year I’m going to have to be more disciplined in all that I do.
Who does it better? Chris Guillebeau. If I didn’t know any better I’d think the guy didn’t sleep. Between free manifestos, paid ebooks, traditional books, incredible conferences, oh and traveling to every country in the world, by and large he’s anything but lazy.
#9) Doing More Interviews. I think one of the coolest and most useful ways to inspire an audience is to bring in other people that have done extraordinary or interesting things with their lives and business than you. For as social as I am in some situations, I can have a difficult time reaching out to more successful people than myself and asking for an interview. I did a fair amount of this for Location Rebel, but I know the Location 180 community would benefit from more high quality interviews.
Who Does It Better? Andrew Warner of Mixergy. Granted Mixergy is a podcast, so the whole thing is based around interviews, but the bottom line is, his are some of the best out there. He gets useful information out of his guests and doesn’t just stick with the same old conversation. Highly recommended both from a business perspective, as well as a lesson on how to conduct a successful interview.
#8) Split Testing/Conversion Tracking. I was being interviewed the other day by Maneesh Sethi, and he asked me how I tracked conversions and sales. I basically responded, “I don’t.” Aside from the click through and open rates of some emails I send out, I do no split testing and pretty much nothing is optimized. While I certainly think there are some more important things to focus on (like adding value), spending more time learning and implementing some of these tracking strategies could pay off big time in the future.
Who Does it Better? Derek Halpern of Social Triggers. Derek is a conversion machine. He tests everything and his blog posts are always some of my favorites to read, because it’s useful information presented in an entertaining way.
#7) Webinars. Webinars seem to be all the rage these days – everyone is doing them or talking about doing them. Last month I gave one a shot with my buddy Derek. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but in the end I felt like we added a lot of value to the people who listened in, and I made 5 Location Rebel sales. Seems like a pretty good deal all the way around – definitely hope to make the whole webinar thing a more regular occurance.
Who does it better? Laura Roeder. Every few weeks I feel like I’m seeing a webinar from Laura come up. She’s consistent, provides valuable content, and most importantly, she’s herself. She let’s her own personality shine through and I think that’s one of her biggest strengths. Maybe if I ask nicely, she’ll do one with me? 🙂 Don’t care about webinars? Still go check her out if you want to learn a thing or two about social media.
#6) Follow Through. This kind of goes along with #10, but all too often I’ll put something aside, forget to send an email or let a project go on for weeks longer than it should. I’d to be better about following through on projects both small and large in a much more timely manner.
Who does it better? Nick Ramil. Most of you probably don’t know Nick, but you will. He’s living in China building an importing empire, and I’m working with him to get an iPad case site up and running, among other projects. Bottom line, every time I send him an email, he responds almost immediately (even from halfway across the world). Working in multiple timezones with high dollar executives has made Nick and his partners the perfect example of people who follow through. There are few traits that are more admirable.
#5) Not Branching Out More. This works on so many different levels. I did a lot in 2011, but I played it pretty safe. My international travel almost entirely to places I’ve already been. My online projects were right in my sweet spot of “location independence” (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). In the next year however I hope to take a few more chances. Exploring things directly related to some of my personal interests and really creating some cool and unique projects.
Who Does it Better? Corbett Barr. He started with his personal blog which in many aspects is pretty similar to this one. But then shifted gears to talk about building traffic. Now he’s delving into the world of developing expertise. This among numerous other products related to these brands. He took a chance, branched out, and it’s paying off.
#4) Focusing on the Details with Video. I personally think that video is going to play a huge role in blogging and business moving forward. That said this year I made my first forays into the world of video where I learned the basics of Final Cut Pro and started a video blog. With that being said, with all of my videos I’m still pretty rough around the edges. 2012 is going to see me taking it more seriously, and hopefully bumping up the quality of my “productions”
Who Does It Better? Chase Reeves. The man that taught me the importance of a quality cigar and a good bourbon can also teach you a thing or two about how to create a professional looking video on a low budget. Check out his video series on Father Apprentice.
#3) Cohesive Branding. I was sitting down with Charlie Gilkey over the summer and we were talking about my brand and business. He mentioned, “you’re site is great, you’ve got the fear product and Location Rebel, I thought I understood your brand. Then I saw this ad for a photography book in the sidebar that made NO sense at all.”
This was the moment I realized just how bad my branding was. It was all over the place, didn’t have a tagline, and nothing was really cohesive from one site to the next – still isn’t in many ways. With any new projects, this will be an important consideration going forward.
Who Does It Better? Joel Runyon. Joel started out blogging about the idea of “achieving the impossible”. It was a simple blog that’s now grown in to a full blown brand with a community, manifesto and even t-shirts. By sticking with one thing and running with it, it’s immediately clear what the goal is of each of the separate properties – working to achieve the impossible.
#2) Leveraging Facebook. Facebook is at almost ONE BILLION users. Just about every single potential Location 180 reader on Earth is on Facebook. Well as of right now, out of nearly one billion, only 420 people “like” Location 180. Why is that? It’s because I’ve done very little to promote it or build up my page as a useful and entertaining resource. Many people have proclaimed that Facebook is their #1 source of traffic – for me its not even in the top 5. I’ve been hesitant to jump in, but I think the time has come to take Facebook more seriously.
Who Does It Better? Pat Flynn. There’s a lot of things that Pat does very well – this is why he’s one of my favorite bloggers out there right now. However one thing he has done an especially good job of is leveraging Facebook in numerous ways. He has over 15,000 Facebook fans for Smart Passive Income, and has facilitated meaningful conversation on the page. He’s also done some training videos that have thousands of views. If one person is using Facebook well, it’s him.
#1) Content Creation. My buddy Andy once asked me, “What would make success for you inevitable?”. My answer: write 1,000 words a day. When you have an online business such as mine, just about everything you do is related to content creation. More content, more value, more eyeballs, more income. It’s pretty much as simple as that. While I’ve put out a lot of content over the last two years, it’s time to up the ante. Discipline will be extremely important, and if I want to take things to the next level I need to up not only the amount of content I create (in various forms) but that quality as well.
Who does it better? JD Roth. The man behind the insanely popular personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly is a content machine. He posts multiple blog posts a day. That’s a lot of content no matter how you look at it. While he doesn’t write everything himself any more, he’s done a great job cultivating the community and providing other unique voices to keep the quality engaging and interesting.
So after going through all of the things I’ve sucked at, you know what I’ve realized? I have some work to do. Luckily, I’m in some good company. The people mentioned in this post are all extremely successful in their own right, and to be able to learn from them and apply some of their strengths to my business is pretty cool.
I’m not all negative during this reflective month however, stay tuned next week for 10 Things I’ve Rocked at In My Business.
Photo Credit Proimos