Three-hundred and sixty-four days ago I published My 2011 Goal Post - and as the year 2011 comes to an end, it is now time for my performance report.
Setting goals is extremely important, but it’s even more important to evaluate your performance toward those goals so that you can understand the four W’s of self-evaluation:
- What went wrong…
- What went right…
- Why, and…
- What’s next.
To quote myself from a year ago: “Some things in 2011, naturally, will happen unplanned.”
And of course – they did.
I met a lot of my goals, and some – I completely missed.
Here’s a recap of my goals from one year ago, what I learned and where I stand now.
Goal: Coach 20 Students to 20 “1st Page of Google” Niche Sites by March 31st, 2011
At the beginning of the year I co-conducted a niche site coaching program – an 8 to 10 week intensive course that taught a handful of students how to build successful niche sites from scratch.
Several hundred people applied for this coaching course when it was announced, even though the Niche Site Duel Hub walks people through the same process from start to finish, for free.
Even though most of the material was basically the same, a lot of people were still interested in it because:
- It was delivered in more detail via an interactive webinar session each week;
- There was homework, which kept people on track;
- Accountability checks to make sure progress was being made; and
- Access to an active community.
This was my first time coaching a group of students – and the experience was amazing!
It’s definitely not a passive form of income, but I was extremely happy to trade my time here to teach a passionate group of students. It was awesome to watch them learn, take action, see results, get excited to take things to the next level.
So – did I meet this goal?
To be honest – no, I didn’t.
We had 20 students go through the first round of coaching, and unfortunately not all 20 students were able to complete the course for various reasons unrelated to the course material.
As I soon learned, a 100% success rate is an ambitious, yet difficult goal to meet – but that HAD to be the goal because that’s what I had to shoot for. Of course, some things were beyond my and anyone else’s control, but my belief is that a teacher should always shoot for a 100% success rate, even though in reality it probably will not happen too often.
Many students did succeed though.
Several of them created websites for the first time in their lives, and many of them are now ranking in the top spots in Google and making money. One student actually had such good success, that he decided to quit his job and do this full time, which is incredible.
After the success we had with the first round, we conducted a second round and more students were able to come out of it with successful niche sites.
In total, there is well over 20 sites in the top 10 in Google now from students, several in the #1 and #2 spots and making money too – however the second round happened after March 31st, so as far as the deadline, the goal was missed – but I know the courses were a success for those students who completed it.
Goal: Launch My First Premium WordPress Plugin by February 15th, 2011
My attempt at creating WordPress Plugins for the year was a complete failure.
At the beginning of the year I already had two plugins in development.
A beta version of the first plugin was finished by February 15th, but I was unhappy with the end result and was not ready to release something of poor-quality just to meet a deadline. The idea was there, but the execution was not – and that was mostly my own fault.
You see – when doing any kind of software development, especially when you’re outsourcing it like I was – you must be extremely meticulous. Every detail of every page and function must be drawn out, and every possible action that a user can take must be thought of to ensure a good and complete user experience.
I fell into the trap of knowing what I wanted the plugin to do in the end, but I didn’t think of how the plugin would work in its complete form, which is not an easy thing to do.
With plugin #1, it finally came to a point where it didn’t make sense for me to move on with it – so I dumped it. I had other things that required my time and energy.
Plugin #2 was halfway complete, but it started to get too complicated and, for the same reason, I have put it on hold.
Sometimes, you have to cut your losses and know when to move on.
Goal: Launch My “New Business” by April 30th, 2011
This “New Business”, which I actually never revealed publicly here on the blog, was postponed.
The reason was because at the beginning of the year I was contacted by a Hollywood Producer (who actually found me through my podcast on iTunes), to help with the web and social media campaign for a new independent movie that’s coming out this Spring.
I normally (and respectfully) decline requests to do stuff like this, but since this was Hollywood, I had some vested interested in it. Some of you know from my podcast that one of my life long goals was to one day be seen on the big screen, at least as an extra.
This is the single client I’ve been working with over the past year and the experience has been nothing less than amazing.
I’ve learned so much about the movie industry too, and let me tell you – it’s a totally different ball game.
As a result of this business relationship I’ll be credited in the movie as the Director of Web and Social Media, and I actually got to fly to Boston to be on set, as an extra, in the film.
Check one off the bucket list.
I’ll talk more about this multi-million dollar movie soon, but to work with the producers and the rest of the crew was a choice I made over launching this new business, and I’m glad I made that decision.
Goal: 40,000 Subscribers by December 31st, 2011
With one more day left, it’s unlikely that I’ll obtain an extra 4,800 subscribers in time to reach 40k – but that’s okay.
Even though it’s obvious that I missed the target on this goal, I set the target extremely high, as I always do, and ending the year above 35k is nothing to be disappointed about.
The traffic on the blog has been amazing this year, cracking 5000 in Alexa ranking for the first time , including 15,000 visitors in a single day at one point.
I’m extremely happy with how things progressed and where things are headed.
Goal: 12,000 Facebook Fans by December 31st, 2011
As I write this post, my Facebook Page has a total of 16,430 fans – which definitely surpasses my goal for 2011!
More importantly, the page has never stopped being active.
For that, I am very thankful! It’s an amazing community and an incredibly powerful resource for the SPI brand – so if you’re not yet a fan, click here to become one and say hi!
Big thanks to Thomas Strock, Alex Blythe, Jesus Ramirez, Tram Tran, Kent Olinger, Rivka Kawano, Benny Hsu, Wendy Harrison, Sundi Jo Graham, and Gracie Ruth for being some of the top fans!
Goal: 10 Money Making Niche Sites by December 31st, 2011
After the success with my security guard training niche site from the Niche Site Duel, I wanted to create more niche sites – and I did.
Technically, I did complete this goal. I currently have exactly 10 niche sites that are all making money.
That said – only 3 of them bring in anything significant (at least $100 per month), and only one – the security guard training niche site – is in the thousands per month.
I’m satisfied with the accomplishment, but it would have been awesome to have 10 niche sites all earning thousands per month.
Unfortunately, there were a lot of things holding me back from making this happen – some under my control, and some not:
- Time: It definitely takes time for niche sites to get to the top of Google, rank for long tail keywords and begin to make money. Most of these sites were created in the later half of the year and are still a work in progress. Some are taking longer than expected to climb the rankings.
- Focus: Although niche sites really excite me, and I still get a high from earning my first dollar on each new site that I create, I had other projects of higher priority that deserved my focus. One of those projects was taking my existing security guard niche site and optimizing it for Adsense. I think it worked out though, because in January of 2011 the site earned $450.80. Last month, it earned $2,170.15
- Keywords: Some of the keywords I targeted were significantly less searched for, and as a result, most of them have lower earnings, even with the same amount of traffic. Part of the reason was because I knew I it would take less work and time to rank at the top of Google, but that was the trade off I made knowing how many other things I’d have going on during the year.
I still feel niche sites are a great introduction to making money online, and I will have plenty of updates in 2012, including version 2.0 of The Backlinking Strategy that Works (which is essentially the same, just a few minor tweaks from what it is now), more income reports and new sites and experiments revealed.
Goal: Speak in a Panel at Blog World Expo 2011
I’m happy to say that this goal, which was actually a dream of mine since I started SPI, came true in 2011.
But instead of being on a panel, I had my own 1 hour solo presentation, and according to those who attended – it rocked!
Later, I found out that I had the most attended non-keynote presentation in the entire conference, and several people shared that it was the best presentation they sat in on. I was even invited by Rick Calvert, the founder of Blog World Expo, to come speak in New York next year!
I’m truly blessed to be able to have lived out this dream this early in my blogging career, and I can’t wait to experience it again soon.
So that sums up my evaluation for 2011, and as I mentioned before, many unplanned things happened, both good and bad, but that’s expected.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with my progress and I can’t wait to share my goals for 2012 in my next post after the new year.
Thank you all for making 2011 an awesome year for myself and the SPI brand, and as always I will continue to give back even more in 2012.
Have a safe, happy and healthy (and profitable) New Year!