Monday, January 15, 2018

Looking Back at 2017

Annual review posts tend to get a little bit self-indulgent or serve as a navel-gazing exercise, but still, they are a good way for me to take stock in what I did over the past year. For you, they may be totally boring and you might skip this in the feed or click delete in your email. But it might also give a little behind-the-scenes view into what's been going on that you might be interested in, so I'll go through it and you can choose your path.

On the whole, 2017 was a long year, and for many, a trying one. In my review of 2016, I talked about how I felt like 2016 dragged, but in the end, it almost seemed like 2017 was twice as long.

Granted, we didn't lose as many cultural icons, it seemed, as we did in 2016 (though I will miss Tom Petty, for sure). But we did see a cultural change in our landscape, primarily fueled by social media. My twitter feed, for example, has become more and more political, which at times can be fatiguing just to read. Though much of that is of my own doing as I have been searching for more and more information on various topics and end up following more and more influencers.

So how'd I do in 2017 across my various projects? I'd probably give myself a C or C+ overall. I got a good bit done, but not necessarily in all the areas I wanted to. Let's dive through each area.

The Blog

I did do a little facelift on the overall look and feel of the site, but there are additional features that have yet to be implemented. One on the homepage, in particular, I likely won't do until or unless there's something to sell, and it might require a lot more maintenance than I can commit to.

Overall, I did write eleven posts, but did a pretty poor job of consistently dropping content out here. Part of that was my distraction with other projects. Part was poor planning. Part was not seeing the results I wanted to see from it. But in the end, this is a writing outlet, and that only works if I am writing.

The most popular post of the last year, if you are keeping score, was How To Maximize Your Sales and Revenue Potential with Subscriptions (And What's the Rule of 78). If you haven't read it, go ahead and drop over there.  Basically I explain how a subscription model can maximize your revenue intake with lower focus on new sales and customer acquisition and use a lot of data and examples to actually explain how it would pile up. 

I also started straying a little from the mass-produced listicle type of article, though there's still some of that floating in there.


I mentioned last year I wanted to get some analysis out to the audience, and that's one that I actually was able to do. I published a big pdf with the results of the analysis I did on over 50 top marketers on Twitter to try to understand how they operate. It goes into details of what time of day they tweet, how long they have been on the platform, what tools they use, and more.

But that one was delayed a bit longer than I would have liked, partially from losing about three pages of graphs and research when I ran into a problem with my backup software. The rest of the delay was certainly my fault, so I wasn't able to get to the second analysis project I wanted to do. Still, you should download and read my free Twitter marketing analysis if you are on Twitter.


I wanted to build one - was going to be a how to in setting up your analytics and using tools to build yourself a marketing engine, but I didn't really do that. I had a first module built out, but other projects took priority for me and I lost track of that one. Ultimately I would still like to put something together, but I need better refinement on what it will be. Time for more Workflowy brainstorming.


I did not finish my book on corporate transformation that I had been working on - but I did more than quadruple what I had written on the first draft. Far from done, but getting closer.

I did, however, decide to write a totally different book. That's a dangerous proposition, starting a new book without finishing the previous one, but I was able to crank out a first draft in just under 30 days with an interesting new method that I have started using, leveraging speech-to-text on my phone to do quite a bit of the initial drafting. Hopefully I will get through a first large editing pass on that book this year.

The good news from that is that I learned how to crank a quick draft out faster than I had previously, which may help me with the other book that has been dragging.

But I also need to try to figure out how to juggle the other parts of writing a book to get on a schedule that could actually start producing finished product, rather than just first drafts. We'll see how the editing goes and what I can learn from that.

The book-writing also squeezed into two month-long writing challenges, which provided me an easy excuse to not do too much blogging, because of course my words needed to be plugged into the book. The reality was that those were simply excuses for not writing ahead and scheduling posts.

Other great excuses used were the lack of ideas, which was really just a failure to plan, and a potential desire to write a different style of narrative, which is not exclusive - I can do both, and intend to this year, to give me some different things to work on.

Change for this year is I plugged in all my ideas into Workflowy (affiliate transparency: that link gives me something in Workflowy-land but not cash, I'm honestly not sure what it is but I think it's basically just extra space to store my lists) and sketched out topics for blog posts, essays, and book topics as a giant to do list that I can just start checking off one after another - which eliminates the lack of ideas excuse. We'll see how a year of that goes.

Other Random Stuff

If you've followed for a while, you know one of my hopes is that one day I can open a brewery. I love making beer and have spent a lot of time in the last two years working on recipe formulation and tweaking. A couple of years ago, I named that future brewery, and this year I started setting up a website for it. It's super rudimentary right now, but you can go visit if you want, at Blue Shadow Brewing Company. While it's not a real brewery today, so I can't sell you any beer, I've been working on a merchandise store to sell t-shirts, etc. At some point, I might do a little breakdown on how I got that all set up and how you can build a store of your own, we'll see.

I've been reading a lot, and some of that has been essays and memoir type stuff. Of course, every time I read a different style of writing I want to try it, so I wrote one essay last year around travel. It's in draft and needs an edit or twelve, but it let me know there are a bunch of other stories I might like to write. I've got 20 or so sketched out to write in 2018. We will see if I enjoy it as much as I think I might. The good news: I surpassed my target number of books read in 2017. Upping the target this year.

I did some automation using IFTTT to help share my blog posts even more - we will see how well that works, but automation in that department is always a good thing. Basically I have it sharing to Pinterest and Pocket now, where before I did have some automation out to Twitter and Google+. It still doesn't cover how I post over to StumbleUpon and Facebook or schedule follow-up Twitter posts, but any help is help.

So that's it! My 2017. A year of doing things and planning things yet to do.

Let me know what you did in 2017 by popping over to Twitter and tweeting at me. Have a great 2018!