My Business Is Two-Year-Old: Where I Am Now And Where To Next?

First of all, I want to wish Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers! Today is a holiday in Canada and we all enjoy a day off.

Yep… that’s how I started my year report last year 😀 😀 😀 This time, it is again Thanksgiving and I again publish a yearly report!  I guess it is kind of unavoidable since it is a beginning of a new year for my business.

This time, I decided to make the beginning of my post it a bit different and include a nice pumpkin picture I took a few years ago:

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Now, let’s get to the business!

The Past Year: Projections And Reality

Revenue Results

Here’s the chart that shows the projected income vs the real one by a website. This time, I decided to go with a cumulative year review rather than doing a break-down per month.

My Business Is Two-Year-Old: Where I Am Now And Where To Next: 2016-2017 annual chart

As you can see, I projected a certain growth but the reality was quite different. Only Horse 🐎 Website produced as much as I planned and the rest of the z̶o̶o̶ websites felt short.

Got lost in my elephants, horses, and other creatures? Read here to find out what the website nicknames mean 🐀🐘🐎🐝

The reason is simple: I did not work on any of my websites but Elephant 🐘 Website. However, despite my dedication, it was not enough to pull it up to the level I wanted it to get.

The lesson I am learning again and again to that it is better to concentrate on one website rather than spreading efforts on multiple ones. I do not have enough knowledge to grow multiple websites at the same time.

Looking At Each Website

Here are the plans I had for the websites the last year and how it went in reality:

Elephant 🐘 Website

  • Work on adding more content

I did it! In the last 3 months only, I added almost 10,000 words of content.

  • Optimize mobile ads

I did that one, too.

  • Run more experiments to find out optimal ad layout and improve Amazon conversion

Nope, did not do anything here. It’s not an easy task and now, I have doubts it is necessary. It is better instead to add more relevant content.

  • Keep fighting the competition

Oh yes… This was big. It was the main thing I worked on during the year.

First of all, I built backlinks through guest posting. I spent a lot of time doing that. In total, 6 guest posts with do-follow links were published over the course of 6 months. It does not look like much – 1 guest post every month – but there was a lot of work behind it. Some posts took about 4-6 months to get published.

Here is the summary table of my guest post efforts where Min and Max time is how much time elapsed between the initial outreach and the publication:

Duration Total # of outreaches # of published posts Min time Max time
6 months 43 6 11 days 5.5 months

As a result, the ranking of the website has improved.

However, it was not enough to recover to the pre-competition level. Hence the gap between the projected revenue and the actual one.

Apart from working on the website itself, in the end of 2016, I launched its small sister, a baby Elephant 🐘 (read about it here).

Note that its revenue is always included in the revenue of Elephant 🐘 Website.

Technically, I created it in Aug 2015 but back then, I did not have a specific plan of actions for it and never wrote about its launch. Only when it did the first sale, I believed my strategy of expanding horizontally will work.

Here is a table with the stats for it where the total revenue is captured by the date this post was published:

Creation date First sale date # of published articles Total # of words Backlinks built Content cost Total revenue
Aug 31, 2016 Mar 17,2017 26 37,800 0 $210 $300

This should give you an idea of what to expect from a new website. I did not build any backlinks to it; it picked up a few naturally, nothing serious.

Horse 🐎 Website

  • Apply in an affiliate program in its educational niche
  • Run more experiments to find out optimal ad layout
  • Add more content

I did nothing of what I planned to do… Maybe, just a few AdSense experiments that did not bring any improvements. Still, the website did great. At some point, I worried about its competition but it got resolved on its own. The competition is still out there but my revenue is not affected by it.

Rat 🐀 Website

  • Turn it into an authority site

Nope, did not have time to do it. Still, the revenue was not that bad. Each time I get a sale from it, I get slightly surprised 🙂

Honeybee 🐝 Website

  • Use it to experiment with a PBN

I wanted to crack the PBN secret last year 😂😂😂 Such a naive girl. Managing PBN is a full-time job! I already have one so nope, did not have extra time for this one.

Other Goals

Education: Yep, I bought a course in June 2017 as planned. Very useful and quite large! I maybe have gone through a third of it so far.

Expanding business: Nope, did not happen. I chickened out and did not buy any extra websites. I was very close to buying a SaaS business in June 2017 but decided against it. The reason was that I got a promotion at my day job and decided to not leave this year (and a new website would require a lot of time investment).

Better management: It was not exactly a goal, it was more of a guideline for my work. During this year, I realized I do not need it. I was not really thinking of high/low seasons while planning my work. It is not important anymore for me.

Making full living off cloud: Well, clearly this ultimate goal was not achieved. My life has changed and my plans have changed, too. However, I do not give up on it. It has just got pushed to later.

The Next Year: Plans And Goals

Why am I making plans for as long as 12 months despite knowing that it all may go sideways like it did the past year? Because…

It's much easier to get to somewhere you want to be if you know where it is and what's the path Click To Tweet

Also, it is extremely valuable for me to reflect on how the reality differs from my imagination. In my mind, I know everything and can do it super fast… the reality shows the gaps. In fact, it shows that all my brain is one big gap 😂😂😂

Here’s a chart showing my revenue and projections (and expenses) during the last two years. As you can see, my planned numbers are constantly behind the reality. That’s ok… I am learning. Also, it seems I am closing the gap between the dreams and the reality and this is good.

My Business Is Two-Year-Old: Revenue and expenses for last 2 years

I included the expenses only to show the full picture. I do not plan to optimize it for now – I know I am always good with my expenses =) Also, I realized I need to invest more into the content.

In the next year, I hope to bump it a bit up comparing to what I planned for this year. Here is how I plan to achieve that.

Possible Scenarios of Developing My Business

This time, I have a few possible global ways how my business future may unfold. It depends mostly on my feelings through the year hehehe rather than any other life changes. I do not think I will get yet another promotion at the day job. What can happen is that I get laid off or fired. Not that I foresee it but it is always a possibility.

I think of getting back to my plans in February and see how the things are doing.

Based on that, I decided to outlay three different plans and then choose one during the course of the year:

  1. Keep everything as it is now
    I keep the same fleet of the websites I have now and try to grow them as much as possible. I would again concentrate on Elephant 🐘 Website and its family. If time permits, I will work on Rat 🐀 Website.
  2. Sell Elephant 🐘 Website family and buy a new business
    This is a bold move. Plan of actions:

    • grow Elephant 🐘 Website family as much as possible before the high season comes (spring 2018)
    • sell it before / during the high season to maximize the revenue
    • with the money, buy a new business, most likely a SaaS one
  3. Keep all the websites and buy a new business
    This is an “all-inclusive” option =)

    • grow Elephant 🐘 Website family
    • with the saved money, by a new business, most likely a SaaS one

If I keep Elephant 🐘 Website, I will most likely do a re-branding. It is growing out of its niche. However, for the expansion, I need to move to at least a different domain name.

As of choosing which path to follow, I already mentioned it above.

I plan to revisit my agenda in February and see how I feel and how my life unfolds at that moment.

Other Plans

Regardless of what path I will choose during the next business year, there are a few things I would like to work on.

Being more entrepreneurial

This goal falls on the self-improvement side. During the last year, I got a bit frustrated with myself. I feel I was not enough entrepreneurial and this is what I am talking about:

  • too much procrastination
  • not enough risk taking
  • too much planning
  • not enough delegation

I feel I am maybe too cautious and plan too much ahead. Instead, I should “move fast and break things.” The most important learning comes from doing stuff… so instead of thinking and planning, I should do more! And when I say “do more”, it means “delegating more”. It is probably the hardest thing for me; I feel I have an internal mind block.

So the concrete and measurable goals for the next year would be the following:

  • Delegate more
    Get at least one writer, one designer, and one VA to work with for at least a half a year
  • Fight procrastination
    Implement at least one more social promo strategy for at least one website. Here, I am thinking of Pinterest for Elephant 🐘 Website. I have been reflecting on it for a while but have not dared yet 😀
    Also, get prepared for Black Friday, Prime Day, and other significant online events that I missed the last year.
  • Take more risks
    Depending on how my business grow based on the chosen path above, risk-taking can mean two things:

    • a re-branding for Elephant 🐘 Website if I keep it
    • getting a new SaaS business if I do decide to buy one

I think 80% or even 99% of the success in this business depends on me and my ability to deliver. It means these goals are the most important ones.

Learning

Here’s the goal for the Learning section:

And maybe take another one?… Not sure at the moment.

PBN

I am not sure I will have time to work on my PBN… Somehow, it moved down in terms of the priority. I have one goal for it, though:

  • Consolidate all PBN blogs on one platform

This will facilitate managing the blogs and also save some money.

Conclusion

Somehow, I feel I will need to make hard choices if I want to succeed or at least move to the next level.

1st step to getting what you want is having the courage to get rid of what you don't–Zig Zaglar Click To Tweet

As of quitting the day job, it may or may not happen in 2018. I will revisit my plans in February and then decide.

Stay tuned!

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