First Quarter Reality Check

Here we are almost 15 days into the second quarter of the year. I’ve been doing a lot of evaluating and contemplating recently. I think it’s a good thing to do when you’re in business for yourself. It’s so easy to get sucked in to the minutiae of every day that we forget to look at the big picture.

Here’s some questions I’m asking of my business.

1. What’s working?

It makes sense to me to take a look at what is actually making me money. Funny thing is, in the past I’ve done lots and lots of things, over and over again, and when I looked back many of them just weren’t making money. If a system or a strategy isn’t right for me, isn’t making ME money, then it’s not something I want to keep investing time in.

It seems ridiculous to me to keep doing something when it isn’t producing anything in return. Thus the question… what’s working.

How do I answer this question?

Look at my income. Where is the money coming from? Where is the traffic coming from? Are certain types of post bringing more money, more visitors? Are certain sites making money? Are certain keywords bringing in money? Are certain traffic tactics bringing in eyeballs? Are others not working at all?

Ex. I recently started digging into this question around my social media time. You all know I love Twitter… however, when I started crunching the numbers I noticed that for the amount of time spent on twitter the return is not that great. However, I spend very little time on Facebook (because I don’t really love it all that much) AND it ends up bringing me a bunch of traffic anyway. What if… I actually tried at Facebook?

Everything needs to be evaluated… you need to know what’s working in your business. This includes your day, your actions, your time working, everything. If you look at your day and realize you spend 90% of it doing piddly things that don’t make you money (things like… checking stats, checking for sales, organizing your desk or sites for that matter, planning what you’re going to do next… and so many more filler activities that don’t produce income) it’s something to look at. If you’re not making money, but you’re not doing things that will make you money then right there you have something very easy to fix!!

2. Where am I dropping the ball?

This is the next question I have been asking. I’ve been in this business a long time. I’ve had plenty of time to start a million projects and let them fall by the wayside. It’s very sad in one way… but it’s super cool in another. As sites age they get pretty powerful, and it becomes MUCH easier to get things ranking on them. So when I look at my network and see 14 sites I’ve had since 2008 that are basically sitting around doing NOTHING… I realize I’m dropping the ball.

If you don’t have a ton of sites sitting around doing nothing you might look at what you’re doing, or not doing that might be where you’re dropping the ball. You may not be posting to your blog regularly. You may not be backlinking enough (you know 12 links ain’t gonna do it right? ). You may not be reaching out to others in your community. Maybe you need to do some guest posts to get your name out there.

I don’t know where you’re dropping the ball, but I bet if you take a look at your business, with fresh eyes that are open to seeing what’s really going on you’ll find some place where you could do better. Figure out what that place is!

3. What should I do now?

I can see where my money’s coming from. I can see where I’m dropping the ball. I now need to create a plan. When you realize you have 14 sites that could be making you a bunch of money you start running around like a crazy person in your head, trying to figure out the best way to make it all happen RIGHT NOW!! But, realize it can’t all happen right now. It has to happen one step at a time. So figure out what’s going to work for you… how are you going to pick up the balls you’ve been dropping and start making it work?

Depending on how YOU work (because if it doesn’t work for YOU it doesn’t work at all), figure out a plan of action. For the next 30 days, or for the next quarter ~ hell, if you need to, make a plan for the next 7 days.  Then stick to it.

I’m going to say it one more time (probably more for my benefit than yours) you can’t do it all today. Pick 1 or 2 or 3 things you want to do better, and work on them. It’s the good old Jack of All Trades thing. If you try to give your attention to 10 different things, then those 10 things don’t get much of your attention.  You will inevitably end up with 10 half done, half profitable, half crap things.

Yes, I understand people get bored (I can’t even tell you how tired I am of writing about dog strollers!) so go ahead and pick a couple projects to work on so you can switch things out when you want to rip your eyes out… but don’t try to do them ALL this quarter. It just won’t work. (Did you hear that Jackie?!)

How do I best keep track of where I’m going?

This is a great question, and I can’t give you the answer for you… but Charlie’s planners work really well for me. I like to do a quarterly one so I can easily see the big picture, and make sure my daily actions are moving me in that direction. I also do a weekly/daily planner so I know what I need to be doing each day so I don’t find myself (too often) dinking around doing things to look busy that don’t make me any money. What’s going to work for you? I don’t know… but you need some way to stay on track and accountable to where you want to be. At least that’s what I’ve figured out over the years. If I try to just meander through things without a clear path, well, I end up with meandering, come and go profits. No one wants that!

If you are having trouble figuring any of this out I’d be happy to work with you one on one in the Kiss Club and help you create a sustainable plan of action. :)

So tell me… are you doing regular (quarterly) reality checks? What questions do you ask yourself? How do you get back on or stay on track? Can’t wait to hear… tell me in the comments.

Comments

  1. How do you keep track of all your sites and accounts and everything? I find I’m often feeling overwhelmed having to login and check dozens of different sites and accounts. I wish there was some way to manage it all. I started using Google Webmaster:
    http://www.google.com/webmasters/
    It helps a little but there’s so much I still need like a way to see my adsense, amazon, and other accounts on one screen.

    • Jackie Lee says:

      If I was you I’d identify the main things you need to know about your sites to grow your business. For me that is traffic, and keywords. I only work on a couple sites at a time because it can be completely overwhelming. I use statcounter.com which has a really easy to understand interface and lets you see all your sites on one page.
      I keep a “master list” in an excel spreadsheet of all my sites with login/url type info.
      I try not to check adense/amazon and other money info too often, and just work the work I know needs to be done. Sorry, that’s probably not very helpful, but my crazy system works for my crazy brain, and it probably won’t work for you. As time goes on you’ll find a system that works for you. Just keep trying different things until you can piece together something that’s perfect for you.

  2. wonderful post and so helpful to a newbie… some is still kind of Greek to me, but I’m learning and slowly all makes sense.. thanks for a great post.. you have been such a help :0)

  3. I kinda went thru a similar thing here. I had to see what was working so I created a little spreadsheet to tally exactly how much income I make every month from all affiliate sources, Clickbank, Amazon, Squidoo, etc. I stopped buying shiny new objects from internet marketers. Also I have been diving into serious backlinking and just really challenging myself to do it. I have a question I need to throw in here–after I have added 8 new published articles for a blog post, I wait a few days and go into yahoo site explorer and see that only 1 counts as a backlink. wth? If the article was published and I tested the link, doesn’t that make it a backlink? (The post in question is for Philips Sonicare in my signature). Asking because I have doing serious article marketing and want to get credit for the links, ya know?? I add 8 new articles to a post, then move on to the next, then a Squidoo lens, then another blog post, etc.

    So anyhoo that’s where I’m at. Oh I also went back to work part time so I don’t feel as isolated doing the blogging. That feels really good and I’m so glad I did it.

    • Jackie Lee says:

      It doesn’t count as a backlink until after Google finds it and counts it. Just because you create it doesn’t mean it “counts” the page has to be indexed and Google has to count it. Also… I wouldn’t rely too heavily on whether you see it in the yahoo site explorer, just because some of your links don’t show up doesn’t mean they aren’t counting… it’s been my experience that site explorer doesn’t show all links ~ and yet they still give you a boost even when they don’t show up there.

  4. Great ideas, Jackie. I typically do a yearly overview of what did or did not work the year before and set up an overall plan for the next year, but quarterly sounds much more practical. I do informally keep an eye out for what is or is not working, but now that I am more active online I really need to be more constant and quicker about making necessary adjustments.

  5. I use a giant desk pad calendar and a large spiral bound notebook. My notebook has dividers – I’ve got one section that I use for long term planning. I figure out what my long term goals are, then each weekend I go through those goals and figure out what I need to do that week towards them. Break down the weekly project into daily tasks, and then fill in my desk calendar with the tasks for the week.

    I can also schedule things in to the desk calendar weeks or months in advance – like a reminder a couple months ahead of a holiday of any blogging tasks I need to do for it. I also write in special days and events (like Peruvian holidays for instance) that will be good topics for my personal blog on those days.

    Having the calendar literally right in front of me, (under my keyboard!) helps me stay on top of what I need to do. A day planner or spreadsheet never seem to work for more than a short time, because I get too lazy to go looking at what I need to do… and start playing bejeweled blitz instead…. ;)

  6. Your Twitter/Facebook dilemma would drive me batty if it were mine. The extra traffic/cash might be cool in the beginning, but if you don’t actually like what you’re doing, i.e. FB, then is it worth it in the end?

    Perhaps there is a third option?

  7. These kinds of evaluations can get you into a better course of plan and action. Your post is insightful!

  8. Your comment about being tired of writing about dog strollers made me smile :)

    Your comment about Twitter having marginal returns is well taken. My inbound traffic from tweets is low. I am way past due on joining FaceBook and using it.

    As a wise Internet mommy once emailed to me: You just need a plan and then you need to implement that plan.

    Thanks as always for your articles.

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