As I sit here writing this, I can’t believe I’ve completed 2 full years of self employment. I think another shocking revelation is I’m actually doing pretty well. This has been a strong growth year for me, and I’ve got a lot more clarity in what I’m doing, and what I need to do.
Improvements over Year One
The areas I struggled with last year were knowing my audience, carving out a new niche for myself, and accounting for the “slow times.” I’m very happy to say I’ve made great progress on those fronts.
Knowing my Audience
Over the last year I took a hard look at why people follow me, and where I’m considered an authority. There are 3 core areas, I believe:
- WordPress Development
- Gutenberg / new block editor
I’ve reworked my content strategy to focus on these topics.
It turns out that people are really interested in what I have to say about podcasting. My workbook has been the number one lead generator this year, and the biggest driver of mailing list growth.
As a result, I’ve been leaning into that more, and I’m completely revamping my online course. That’s launching this summer!
Accounting for the Slow Times
Last year I learned the hard way that if I’m going to be self-employed with actual responsibilities, I need to manage my money a little better. I’m now applying the Profit First method, slightly modified:
- 50% goes to paying me, but only a set amount of that makes it to my bank account. Anything over that goes into a rainy day fund.
- 20% for Taxes (this is likely too much, but better that than too little).
- 5% for profit
- 25% for Business expenses – which I try to keep to 20%. The other 5% also goes into a rainy day fund.
My goal is to have 6 months pay in the bank. Then I can give us more regular bonuses/a raise.
Client Work and Partnerships
I’m doing a lot of client work this year, as well as striking up some strategic partnerships. This is helping me diversify my income a bit, which is great. There are a couple of relationships I’m really excited about.
I’m working with LinkedIn Learning to produce some courses for their library. This is a bit of a dream come true as I’ve wanted to teach for them since I started making online courses. I can’t say much, but keep an eye on the blog for announcements.
A new Brand for Creating Tutorial Videos
This is another project that’s not quite announced yet, but will be soon. Let’s just say for now that I’m working with some friends to create high quality tutorial and promo videos, and I couldn’t be happier.
One thing I tried to avoid last year was doing coding projects. However, I’ve relaxed that a bit; I’m doing focused projects within a specific scope and budget. After all, I’d hate to lose skills I’ve honed over 15 years.
My main focus is on LearnDash development, and podcast site creation.
What I’m Working on in Year 3
In January I wrote about 2019 being the year of new content. I’ve been doing pretty well with that. So far I’ve:
- Completed 2 courses for LinkedIn Learning
- Finished 3 courses for hire
- Release content regularly on my YouTube channel
- Launched a new patrons-only podcast
That said, I don’t feel like I’ve worked on my business that much here in 2019. I’m going to fix that in the back half.
More Validation of Ideas
Part of it is I wasn’t sure what I wanted to work on. My courses aren’t selling as well as I’d like and I’ve identified a few key reasons. So starting this month, I’m working properly on my messaging, and going all in on the topics above. I need a way to combine and simplify my offerings.
On top of that I’m using my current following to validate my ideas a little bit more, putting out sample content and engaging a bit more.
Using my Platform
My biggest platform is my podcast, but I haven’t done a great job engaging or promoting through it. My goal up until this point was delivering great content and getting sponsors. I’d like that to change in Year 3 of the business (and starting year 4 of the podcast)!
On or In My Business?
They (the royal “they,” I guess) say most businesses aren’t profitable until year 3. They also say that you should spend more time working on your business instead of in your business.
I don’t know about that last bit. I read Company of One earlier this year and I like what Paul Jarvis had to say. I love working in my business, and don’t want to grow too big. I just want to support my family. Thanks to the business, and my wife working, we were able to buy a house!
That said, I do want to grow it bigger than it is now. My wife mentioned she might want to go part time if/when we grow our family. I want to be able to support her in that decision, which means bringing in a little more to cover the income difference, and the health insurance.
To More Growth in Year 3
I’ve grown a lot over the last year. I’ve learned a ton, am focusing more, and understanding the true mission I’m working towards. I’m excited to see what year 3 has to offer.