Welcome to the first Thursday Update!
When I started writing articles on this site a little over two months ago I did it because I wanted to learn some new skills and habits. I wanted to get better at writing and I wanted to get consistent at writing. I also wanted a place to put down some of the things I’ve learned in my journey starting and running a business with the hope that it would be helpful to me and others.
Since starting this site I have published 9 articles relating to business that I thought would be helpful or interesting to people, mainly because they were helpful or interesting to me. I’m now in the habit of making notes in my iPhone whenever I think of a fun topic so that I can write about it later, and I’m proud to say I’ve kept up with my goals so far of getting one article published a week (every Monday) since starting. My goal for 2015 is to publish 52 articles, one every Monday, whatever it takes.
So why am I writing and posting something up on a Thursday? Well, I’ve become obsessed with finding ways to create things that are genuinely helpful and valuable to people. That’s a big reason for this site, not only can I learn new skills but I can hopefully share things with you that are beneficial as well. As I reflect on the 9 articles I’ve written so far and looked at the data, I am starting to see signs that people are engaging with the content and seem to at least be reading it.
But, I’ve also noticed something else as I read through these articles. There’s a lot of motivational and inspirational content (at least to me) and I’ve sprinkled some interesting concepts and encouragement to start your own business, but I don’t think there’s enough actual hard data from running my business as I originally intended. So, as I continue experimenting and writing, I’m going to try and run two separate style blogs and see how that works.
Mondays I will continue to try and keep a similar format to what I’ve been currently doing. These will hopefully be interesting, inspirational, creative, blah blah blah.
Thursdays, I am going to try to be a little more raw and conversational. I want to write shorter articles (because I spend on average 6+ hours on each Monday article) and I want to include more data from my own current business. I also want to occasionally update you on how things are going with this site and any other projects I might be working on. So, on Thursdays look for shorter posts about our shop and running a business for the last 5 years and updates on how this project is turning out.
I want this site to be useful and interesting to people so I am going to try out several different things and try to gauge what is most impactful for you and what you like. Feel free to comment on these posts if you enjoy them, hate them, etc. This is now your site so tell me what you want more of!
So, with all that said, let’s start Thursday off with what I’ve learned so far after just over two months of writing consistently and starting “SmallBusinessRob”.
- Learning new skills is still crazy hard! I’ve never run a WordPress site or used any of the plugins that I am running right now before. I want the site to be simple and have very little clutter so I found the best generic template I could but my lack of experience means it takes me hours to make even simple changes. More often than not I seem to be unable to get things the way I want. That gets very frustrating some times.
- Mail Chimp may be the single greatest and worst thing to happen to me. Mail Chimp includes all kinds of awesome metrics and has some great plugins to allow people to sign up for the mail list but again, my learning curve is very steep! If I give the format on the website a C+ I give the format on my newsletter a D-. As I practice more I hope to make these better looking and more user friendly, and I hope people will continue to sign up for our newsletter because it helps me track what is useful and what isn’t to you!
- 1/3 of my traffic comes from Russia! If you’ve never run a site like this you probably don’t know that in Google Analytics there are companies that bomb your sites so that you will follow the source links and end up at their website where they do anything from sell you stuff to scam/hack you. It’s actually an advertising strategy!
- Hard work is contagious! I thought starting this might distract me from my business but it’s turned out to be to opposite. I’ve found that as I have more to do and I have to start scheduling my time each day, I’m actually getting more work done at the shop. It’s also forcing me to be more aware of how I spend my time and on what activities so I try to spend less of my day doing things my employees were hired to do. We will see how this turns out in a few more months.
- After 5 weeks of promoting the site on basically just Facebook, 118 (non-Russian) users have come to the site in the last 30 days. Of those, we have 21 regulars (return visitors) who spend an average of 10 minutes on the site. This is about what I expected and I figure it will take about a year to get any momentum and the point is really to share information and learn new skills anyway.
So that’s it for this week! Next Thursday I plan to talk about advertising dollars at our shop including our biggest wastes of money and our biggest surprises.