From the Editor's Desk: A Phoenix Rising

Editor's Note: "From the Editor's Desk" is a weekly series that looks behind-the-scenes at my efforts of building a blog and revitalizing my personal brand.

As the new year has arrived, now is a popular time for individuals to look back at the past year, take note of accomplishments and missed opportunities, and set goals for the year to come.  I would rather not spend too much time looking back at 2017, as it was personally and professionally a tough year for me.  I learned a lot of lessons, course-corrected when needed, and scratched-and-clawed my way to the end of the year.  Don’t get me wrong, 2017 was not a complete let down… those lessons I learned are what will help facilitate growth in the future.  I also had the opportunity to meet some great individuals and expand my network, so that was another positive result of 2017.  Nothing left to say other than “out with the old, and in with the new”!

According to Greek mythology, the Phoenix rises from the ashes, renewed and stronger than before. 2018 is my Year of the Phoenix.

According to Greek mythology, the Phoenix rises from the ashes, renewed and stronger than before. 2018 is my Year of the Phoenix.

So looking ahead to 2018, there is a lot to look forward to.  I have a milestone birthday coming in September, when I turn 40 years old.  I have some big plans and goals for the next decade that I am striving to achieve in order to set myself up for life after 50.  So this year will be an important launching point for the years to come.

I also have some big plans for my website and blog.  This might sound strange, but I often see the activity and growth of my site as having a direct relationship with the progress I am making towards my goals in life.  Let me give you an example.

In 2013 and 2014, I was on fire personally and professionally. I was making some strides in my career, had moved up the career ladder, and my speaking calendar was full.  I had just finished speaking at the SMX Social Marketing conference in Las Vegas in late 2012, had a full year of speaking events in 2013, and was prepping to deliver my first-ever keynote speech at an event for Minnesota Computers for Schools, a non-profit in the Twin Cities in mid-2014.  I had a successful podcast that was growing.  Personal income was growing.  All was good.  Interestingly, the traffic to my site during that same 2013-2014 time period was growing 260% and 20%, year-over-year, respectfully.  Things were moving in the right direction, very similarly to how my website metrics were going

I delivered that keynote address in mid-2014, and then I stopped.  I stopped doing speaking events. I stopped podcasting. I stopped blogging.  I went into cruise control, I guess you could say.  I actually got kind of lazy about building and growing my brand, something I had taken very seriously up to mid-2014.  This shift is also shown as a direct correlation to how my site was performing.  As 2017 came to an end, my website hit a nine-year low (see chart below).  Again, kind of how I felt about my personal brand.

Personal branding… The single most important thing I have told all my friends and co-workers to spend time focusing on, I have been neglecting for the last couple of years.

Again, it is not like life has been a downward-spiral. The family is healthy and prospering.  Household income has still been growing.  Opportunities and experiences have been seized.  I just want to start building the personal brand back up to previous levels.

So what does that mean for this blog?  Well, I have struggled finding a direction for where I have wanted to go with my brand and this site.  I have many different interests, but I want to narrow down and focus on both what my true passions are and also strengthen what I want to be known for.

So for the last month, I did two things to help with the decision process.  First, I looked back to what some of my most popular pieces of content were in the past.  Overwhelmingly, content I have posted about my experiences and tutorials about digital productivity methods and tools have had the most traction.  Secondly, I asked some of my closest friends and blog followers what they think of when they think of me and my blog.  The response was similar to the results of my web metrics, in that those individuals saw me as an authority in digital productivity, personal analytics, and digital strategy.

The results of this exercise ended up being exactly what I had hoped for, because all of those topics are things I am passionate about and have lots I want to share about.  It is my hope that the audience I have lost over the last few years will come back and get value out of what I have to share.

So you can expect all the things that made my blog great a few years ago to be returning once again. Lots of talk about living an effective, efficient digital life, as well as my thoughts on what the future brings with advancements in technology, including how the personal measurement and analytics space will grow.  Once a week I will offer a more personal, behind-the-scenes look at how my efforts to revitalize my personal brand are going.  I will be launching a podcast (topic TBD), as well as launching a video strategy.  I am also working on products to sell, including webinars and downloadable guides.  There is a lot on the agenda, but I have about four years of lost time to make up for!

I hope you stick around for the ride.