I couldn’t decide whether to post this here or on my personal blog. In fact, I’m anything but clear on where I want this blog to go in 2019 and beyond.
See, I was following Neil Patel’s rules for SEO on blog posts, which states that every single blog post should be, at minimum, 2000 words. And they should be good.
So I did that, dutifully, for 26 weeks this year. I know that it takes months for Google to start noticing new posts, so I didn’t panic. But writing 2000 words sometimes took an entire day, and the payoff is not guaranteed.
As of this writing, the blog isn’t picking up much traffic, organic or otherwise.
Certainly not in the same way that spending that same amount of time building a slide deck would, for example.
Plus, I did the math, and 2000 words a week for a year is over 100,000 words. That’s a book!
A relatively substantial book!
So, is my time really best spent writing keyword-driven articles that may (or may not) pay off down the road?
I doubt it. At least not at this stage. So, if I’m not going to be writing big, bulky blog posts, what am I going to focus on in 2019?
2019: the year I focus on daily habits
In previous years, I would have focused on building (double! triple!) my business’s income, but this year, instead of doing that, I’m going to focus on building daily habits.
Specifically, these three daily habits:
Daily writing habit: 200 words a day
200 words. If you’re a writer, that sounds like nothing. But if you’re not in the writing habit, or if, like me, you can go weeks without writing your own stuff, 200 words a day is doable. If I’d said I wanted to write 1000 words a day, then the first time I missed that goal (let’s be real, it would be in January, sometime), I’d stop entirely. The point with this goal is to make it so doable that if, by bedtime, I haven’t written anything, I can just write for a bit late at night.
There’s no structure here, either. No rules on what type of writing has to be done. This can be a journal entry, a bit about something I’ve discovered in the world of marketing, anecdotes for my family, fiction, writing prompts, whatever. What it can’t be is something someone has paid me to write. So sales pages, email sequences, case studies… do not count.
5 video uploads per week (261 videos for 2019)
As much as it might not seem that way with my previous goal, I’m much more comfortable as a writer than I am on screen. But video is the way of the future, and I’d like to make it easy for people to put my face with my name. The best way to do that, of course, is to actually show my face!
I’ll be on YouTube talking about marketing and working online, and it’ll be rough for a bit, but I know the only way to get better at something that scares me is to simply do it.
Follow me here: Dabble Media YouTube
Re-establish a daily yoga practice (275 sessions in 2019)
I used to get on my mat at least once a day, sometimes twice. It was such a great way to:
- Disconnect from everything
- Shed all of my identities
- Move my body
- Quiet my mind
For 60-90 minutes. I’m woefully out of the habit, and will remain so until about mid-March, but as soon as I’m cleared for exercise post-baby, I’m going to get back to it.
It’s funny. 2019 could be the year that I say, hey, I’m going to lose x pounds! And actually follow through on that, simply because having a baby helps you lose weight. After my last pregnancy, I lost 30 pounds in ten days. A dear friend joked that I should sell an ebook with that title, then have it be one page: step one, get pregnant, step two: gain 60 pounds, step 3: have the baby.
But maybe I’m finally mature enough at 37 to not set scale-based goals. (I’m not yet to the “let’s throw the scale in the garbage!” mental state though.) All I know is that I will feel so wonderful having ended 2019 with a yoga habit.
Chasing a scale is unfulfilling. First of all, the scale doesn’t tell you anything other than mass. Second, let’s say I set a goal for 130, and in December, my weight is at 140. Instead of feeling good about my body, I will focus on the ten that didn’t leave. But looking at the yoga goal, let’s say I get 265 yoga sessions in, not 275. You better believe I’m going to give myself a high five on that front!
Plus, I’m about to have my second girl, and my oldest is an impressionable toddler. Cultivating a positive body image for myself is going to pay off in the next generation in a big way.
Finally finish all the Pulitzer Prize winning novels
When I first moved to Washington, DC, I was lonely. I was 23 and I’d just started at a company where eventually I’d make friends, but hadn’t yet. I spent my weekends wandering around the city, and when I stumbled into a Barnes & Noble, I felt at home. There was a table that had a bunch of different books on them. “Buy two get one free,” it said. So I bought Middlesex and Empire Falls (sorry, third book, you’re lost to memory). They both had seals on the front that said, “winner of the Pulitzer Prize!” and I loved them both, so I thought, “hey, maybe this Pulitzer committee is onto something!” and gave myself the goal to read all of them.
That was 14 years ago, and there are fewer than 100 winning novels, so you’d think this would be a simple goal.
But you’d be wrong! This is one of those things you really need to focus on or it never gets done. So in the last few years, I’ve focused. Some of the books have been excellent. Some? Not so much. The Killer Angels was a surprise — a page-turner about Gettysburg! — and I finished that in a little over a week. Encouraged, I went onto another Civil War novel: Andersonville, about the worst prisoner of war camp in American history. It took months.
According to my Goodreads profile, I’ve read 86 of the 91 winning novels as of this writing. So I have five more to go, then I can start reading the other fiction on my shelf. Here’s hoping there’s not another secret Andersonville among the last five!
After that, I’ll be like a lost kid in the library, seeking direction. The list has guided my fiction decisions for so long that I’m afraid I won’t know what to do after I’m done!
In addition to writing, recording, getting back on my mat, and reading fiction, I have some work-related goals.
Sell 100 copies of the Dabble Media TOOLKIT
The toolkit is the backbone of my business, and, as such, is something I really want to share with people who need it most.
One of the things I focused on in 2018 was building systems that will allow me to scale Dabble Media into a big marketing consulting agency. The one way for me to do that was to write out how to do every piece of what I do for clients so that when a contractor like Emma comes on board, I can remove myself as the bottleneck of getting things done.
Caelan, my friend and owner of Stellar Platforms, asked me, “What in your business can ONLY you do?” and I surprised myself by saying, “nothing.” There’s nothing now that needs my particular stamp. I could dig into my ego and say that ONLY I can write a sales page. ONLY I can redesign a website. ONLY I can talk to clients. ONLY I can write blog posts.
But that’s not true. Especially now that I’ve created this bundle of “standard operating procedures” that we follow when we work with clients or launch something internally.
I’m calling it the Dabble Media Toolkit after much back and forth on names (related: do you ever spend too many hours going back and forth on something that doesn’t matter? We call that “playing work” and it feels like you’re working, but you’re not actually moving forward on anything — more on that in the next goal). The person who would buy this is someone who has created a digital product or service and wants to sell it but doesn’t know how AND wouldn’t hire Dabble Media (or any other agency) to do all the work for them. Partly because they’re not willing to commit the money to that kind of a project and partly because they want to do it themselves.
It’s everything a business needs to get their product or service into the hands of people who need it most.
Launching a product or service follows the same basic framework. My estimate (which you’ll see if you look at the sales page) is that a business owner only needs to contribute 7% beyond the basic framework to launch a product or service.
Every single one of my beta testers has said this is excellent, so I’m going to focus more on getting it seen. I know it’ll help people reach their goals of getting their digital products out into the world. It’ll have its own marketing plan, and it’ll also serve as a downsell to people I pitch, who decide they simply want some guidance. It goes along really well with the marketing/business coaching I do as well.
Do 600 things to move my business forward (3 things a day, with breaks)
I mentioned this in the last goal, but there are a lot of things that feel like work that we do in any given day that do absolutely nothing to move the needle in terms of growing a business.
- Fussing about what to call a particular product (I spent days and countless hours of other people’s time trying to figure out the perfect name for the Dabble Media Toolkit that I’ve put together).
- Trying to learn a new front-end web design platform even though none of my clients OR potential clients have expressed a desire to leave WordPress.
- Endlessly editing my home page.
- Researching “the perfect tool” for whatever problem I’m trying to solve. The latest rabbit hole has been trying to find the perfect CRM, when all those hours of research could have been better spent actually reaching out to prospects.
Given enough time, I’m sure I could come up with more examples, but you get the idea. When I was putting together the Toolkit, I hit a snag related to website load time and wondered if I was recommending products that slowed sites down. I don’t want to do that! I panicked, until I reached out to Andrea of Nuts and Bolts Media, who reminded me that the tools I recommend don’t slow sites down all that much and that if a business wants to get 100% on a page speed test, they’re not coming to me in the first place.
It’s human nature to do things that don’t matter, and I’m enough of a realist to know that I can’t help but spin my wheels every now and again.
But the difference is, I’m not allowed to “play work” in 2019 unless I’ve done three things every day to move my business forward.
Think about it: if you only do three things every weekday to move your business forward, by the end of the year you’ve done 789 things!
Let’s say I’m going to take some time off in 2019 and not hit that target every day. That’s still ending the year 600 steps farther along than I started!
And the things don’t have to be big. They can be:
- Emailing a prospect to catch up
- Working on any piece of the toolkit to promote the toolkit (meta!)
- Setting up Facebook ads to bring in more subscribers
- Uploading a new video to YouTube (two goals, one stone!)
- Sending an email to my list
- Talking with other entrepreneurs
- Attending a networking lunch
Basically, anything that is outreach and growth oriented and not just balancing the books or replying to email.
Put a spending freeze on information products, new tools, and new books for 2019
I have a shelf of unread business books. A virtual shelf of unfinished courses. More tools than an operation of my size (or really, a larger size) needs.
I love learning what other marketers are doing, and when another entrepreneur starts talking about the latest book they’ve read, my fingers go right to Amazon and place an order.
Honestly, I’m glad I do this. It’s an indication of a growth mindset instead of one that says I don’t need to learn more, that I’ve already learned enough.
But the truth is, I buy these things FAR more often than I consume them. So I’m putting a spending freeze on everything and instead, diving into the courses I already have. Reading the books that are collecting dust on my shelf. Learning my way around the tools I already pay for.
An example is the CRM research I didn’t need to do. I have ActiveCampaign, and it’s its own CRM, complete with the ability to add other people to the process. And I’ve already paid for a year of it!
My job isn’t to know every single tool out there. My job is to create high-converting launches for my clients and to scale my business.
So no more buying. Instead, I’m going to dedicate an hour a day toward learning. I’ll read the books on my shelf, take notes and share with my team the pieces that I like the most, and move my business forward.
I’m sensing a theme!
I’m relatively certain I won’t run out of material I’ve already paid for but haven’t consumed yet. But if I do, then I’ll head to the library when someone recommends another resource.
Personal goal: give myself some grace
In 2019, I am intentionally not setting income goals.
- If I do three things a day to move my business forward, growth (including income growth) will happen naturally
- Adding an income goal will add stress to my day-to-day life and could very easily cause a conflict between the other goals (especially the yoga one)
- I made more than I expected in 2018 with a “let’s see what happens” mentality
- I carry a lot of weight on my shoulders anyway, and an additional “but you haven’t doubled your gross revenue” layer will make me feel less than, even when I’m doing all I can
- I want to create a life I will continue living after the money comes in, so it’s important to me to prioritize these daily habits I’m cultivating now, while I’m not running a seven-figure agency because I know that if I don’t make time for them now, I won’t magically find it when my income increases
Those are all good reasons.
But the main one is that in about a month, I’m having a second daughter, which is certainly going to turn my house upside down for a while.
I want to give myself grace and time to discover my family’s “new normal” and I don’t know how long that will take.
2018 was a big year. I left my previous company, moved from a city I loved to a city where I’m an outsider and a stranger, and got pregnant. More about 2018 here on my personal blog.
2019 is going to be big, too. I get to meet this new human! I get to discover what it’s like to grow a business into its second year! I get to help all kinds of entrepreneurs reach their goals!
I think I’m ready.
But first, coffee.