What a year.
In late 2012 I launched two blogs (Jeffalytics for Marketing and Jeffsetter for Travel) and started to contribute my thoughts on a semi-regular basis. 2013 saw both blogs “blow up” to the point that they were surpassing my original expectations and receiving over 10,000 unique visitors in most months. In that respect, 2013 was the year I put myself on the map as an “authority” in the digital marketing/measurement space.
This blog opened so many professional doors in 2013 that it would be impossible to list them all. Instead, I will summarize by simply saying that creating this blog and working hard to create quality content is the single best thing I have done for my career in digital marketing.
I’ll let that soak in for a minute. If you are on the fence about whether or not you should start to blog/blog more often/write deeper blog content, the answer is yes: Make 2014 the year that you START WRITING!
Writing is Everything
Do you want to be taken seriously? Start writing.
Do you want to get speaking gigs? Start writing.
Do you want to get search traffic? Start writing.
Do you want to get unsolicited job offers? Start writing.
Do you want to grow your network? Start writing.
Do you want to create a legacy? Start writing.
Good writing takes time, but it lives on forever. An article that may take sixty hours of your time could end up being read for nearly five thousand hours by twenty seven thousand unique visitors. Don’t believe me? Check out these stats from my most popular post in 2013:
If my math is correct, this one case study that took me around 60 hours to complete was read for a total of 4,500 hours in 2013. Where outside of writing can one individual get so much undivided attention?
Writing is Hard
Writing is everything, but it’s also hard. It’s not always easy to find the time to put thoughts on paper. It’s very easy to procrastinate or get caught up in other projects. Your best ideas will come in the shower or during a long drive. You will forget them before you make it to the computer.
The short term ROI of writing is usually 0%, yet the long term benefits can be worth millions in potential earnings.
There have been periods of time where I went several weeks without writing something meaningful. I learned that for my site it was better to try and write fewer, more epic posts than to try and blog every day.
There are times where you will need to alter your strategy, change locations, search for inspiration, and involve others to get going.
There are times when you realize that the goals you set for yourself are unattainable or just plain stupid. I failed to deliver on several of my goals for 2013 and it was glorious. At the end of this post I will share how I performed relative to my goals for 2013.
Writers Never Die
The words we write have the potential to live on well beyond our careers or natural lives.
There’s a song by Minneapolis hip hop artist Atmosphere that ends with repeating the words Writers Never Die several times at the end. I’ve probably heard this song a thousand times and get chills nearly every time I hear it. Such a simple statement, yet so powerful in the implications.
While I hope that science proves me wrong, writing is currently my best opportunity for immortality. Words can last forever.
Writing Down Goals
Sometimes the simple act of writing down goals is more important than achieving them. At least that’s how I felt when looking back at what I hoped to achieve in 2013. I can’t help but say to myself “things were so simple then” as I read through what I hoped to achieve on Jeffalytics one year ago.
Some plans changed, some priorities shifted and some goals were just plain dumb. Here is what I hoped to achieve in 2013, along with commentary on whether I was successful in achieving each goal.
1) Write an average of 1 contributing post per month on industry related blogs
Failure: The year started off at a great pace for posting elsewhere, but eventually I hit several roadblocks and started doing these contributions less often. While I still published ~6 posts on other blogs, I didn’t quite reach the prolific level of posting I anticipated.
Success: The most successful post on this Jeffalytics was originally rejected by the YouMoz blog. This is a success because it proved to me that drawing visitors to your own site can be valuable.
2) Conduct a well-attended Google Analytics Training Session in a location outside of Minnesota
Moderate Success: I spoke on Google Analytics several times outside of Minnesota and provided help in workshop form. I even held corporate training sessions that were well attended. However, I did not take my GA training sessions on the road as I originally attended.
3) Speak at a national online marketing/search marketing conference
Success: I was able to speak at several national events in 2013, with SES Toronto in June being the key kicking off point for these conferences. In 2014 I already have several events lined up both in the United States and internationally.
4) Build a WordPress plugin
Failure: I made absolutely 0 progress toward my goal of creating a WordPress plugin. That doesn't mean I did not do some other cool WordPress development. The Interactive Travel Map on Jeffsetter and the Periodic Table of Google Analytics being the most notable WordPress development projects of 2013.
5) Finish resources section of site by making lists of practitioners and thought leaders in web analytics and beyond
Failure: I spent almost no time creating content for my resources section and I’m not sure if/when I will ever get back around to posting content here. Honestly, it no longer fits into my strategy for this site, so it may never become a priority.
6) Publish between 40 and 50 posts on jeffalytics.com
Failure: I published 35 blog posts in 2013. This is actually much higher than I expected, because at a glance it looks like I only posted once per month. Live blogging search and analytics conferences allowed me to increase the total number of posts. Sharing my presentations helped as well. With that said, I probably only wrote 10-15 “meaty” posts during the year, which I consider to be a failure.
7) Receive 300+ organic search visitors per day
Success: While I don’t achieve 300+ organic search visitors each day, it does happen fairly often currently. The most interesting part is that most search traffic comes from a handful of posts about WordPress.
8) Share successes and failures of this website using real metrics and analytics
Success: As promised, I shared my actual traffic numbers with readers several times in 2013. I don’t see this as being goal-worthy in the future, because I always plan to share my metrics with readers.
9) Balance posts on my various interests while still making this site interesting
Success: This is subjective, but I would say that I was successful in creating a balance of post topics and ideas. I covered Analytics, SEO, PPC, WordPress and Social Media in my posts. I also talked about how to create videos, how to blog efficiently and shared my personal stories. I also learned that there are some topics that get better reactions than others. Many posts that I thought would be successful were barely read. Other posts I wrote ended up being much more successful than I could have ever imagined.
Writing the Future
I started writing this post as a way to share my best posts of 2013 and set goals for 2014. An introduction about the power of writing quickly turned into a post about writing. That means the original post is going to have to wait.
Later this week I will publish metrics for my most successful posts and set goals for the future. In the meantime, I will leave you with one final thought:
We have only just begun to build Jeffalytics into what it will eventually become. With focus, dedication and quality content, it can be taken so much further. Here's to continuous improvement, goal setting and the immortality of words.