2015: The Year in Review
This will be the third year I've done a community survey and the second year I've recorded a video while going through the survey results. I really enjoy a look back over the prior eleven and a half months.
Want to listen? There's an audio version below
We all should pause, often, to examine not only where we're going and our progress toward that goal, but to also review where we've been and how far we've come. Too often, we hustlers and go-getters lose touch with the world around us due to our focus and drive to move forward. So, it's always good to look up and see the mark our progress has left on the world.
Each year I do a short survey to help me better understand people in the community. If we're friends on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (or anywhere else), or you enjoy the blog or my podcasts, I consider you part of the community.
If you haven't yet taken the survey for 2016, you can click here to open it in a new window.
The Survey Says…
2015 By the Numbers
As of December 11, 2015…
- Total visitors – 147.19% increase, total of 35,999
- Bounce rate – 3.31% decrease, total of 10.26%
- Page views – 57.77% increase, total of 108,100
- New visitors – 11.1% increase, total of 84.5%
- Best overall traffic month – October, total of 4528 visitors
- Best overall traffic day – September 28, 2015, total of 214 visitors
- Total comments – 76.5% decrease, total of 102 comments this year
- Most popular traffic day of the week – Wednesday
- Most popular traffic hour during the day – 12 pm
- Top 5 most popular countries with readers –
- United States (56%)
- United Kingdom (4.3%)
- Canada (4.3%)
- the Philippines
- Top 5 most popular cities with readers –
- New York
- Round Rock
- Los Angeles
- Most popular browser – Chrome (50% of users)
- Most popular devices –
- PCs (63.89%)
- Mobile (30.33%)
- Tablets (5.78%)
- Most popular mobile devices –
- iPhone (46.26%)
- iPad (12%)
- unknown (7%)
- Samsung Galaxy S5 (1%)
- Most popular traffic sources –
- Organic search (64.15%)
- Direct (19.46%)
- Social (4.24%)
- Email (1.49%
- Most popular social sources of traffic –
- Facebook (58.6%)
- Twitter (30.9%)
- LinkedIn (4.1%)
- # of Email Subscribers – 228.5% increase
- Most popular day for email – Thursday
- Most popular email client – Gmail
- Facebook page likes – 134% increase (271 total)
- Twitter followers – 979 total
- LinkedIn connections – 661
- Overall revenue – 404.47% YoY growth
- Fees paid to PayPal – $509.99
- Fees paid to Stripe – $0.33
- Affiliate income – 191.8% YoY growth
Top 5 Most Popular Posts
- 7 Types of People Successful People Avoid
- Leadership and the Importance of Follow Through
- Podcasting Essentials: How to Create a Podcast Studio in a Bag
- 9 Incredible Lessons from Disney's Tomorrowland
- 49 Things To Do Before the End of the Year
Top 5 Most Visited Pages
Top 10 Search Traffic Terms
- ideal work environment
- axel show
- the axel show
- seize the opportunity
- think and grow rich
- successful people
- digital addiction
- blog post ideas
- ideal working environment
What Worked in 2015
Masterminds – Hosting and facilitating my private masterminds has been a huge success for both the business and me personally in the past year. I've been able to develop strong connections with aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners around the country. Also, I've been able to introduce my mastermind members to people they need to know and add to their network. One of my favorite things about these masterminds is seeing members connect with one another and even partner on business deals. It's a really cool thing to be a part of.
Email Segmentation – Early in the year I realized how important email segmentation would be to growing my business. In a span of 4 months, I tested MailChimp, AWeber, GetResponse and finally ActiveCampaign. I wanted not only to be able to utilize autoresponders and sales funnels but to also segment my growing email list. Sending increasingly relevant emails improves open rates and helps build credibility.
Giveaways – 2015 saw several giveaways. I purchased the KingSumo Giveaways plugin from AppSumo and tossed Rafflecopter to the curb. Providing high-value giveaways that include a mix of physical and digital products gave my email list about a 20% boost.
Conferences – I attended three conferences this year, two as a “thank you” from coaching and mastermind clients. These events allowed me to meet like-minded people, learn new information, and make new friends. I also picked up a few new clients from fellow attendees. I would recommend each of the conferences I attended – Podcast Movement, The Machine Live, and Thrive.
Automating Tasks – If “solopreneurs” are going to scale our businesses to make enough income to live the way we want to live, we have to automate things. However, there are risks (see below). 2015 marked the beginning of automation for my business. I don't think I scheduled a single meeting, phone call, podcast interview or business lunch without using Calendly, and I absolutely save hours across the span of 12 months. Automation doesn't make a business impersonal; automation allows computers to do what computers do best and you to do what only you can do.
Working with a university – When my bank began charging me to hold my money, I switched immediately. While setting up my new business account, I met with the business advisor for the bank who connected me with the Texas Small Business Development Center at Texas State University. Through that connection, I've been able to speak to entrepreneur and marketing students in the business school and volunteer to work with their business plan competition that is one of the best in the state.
Split-Testing – You may have heard me mention split testing on multiple podcasts, but 2015 saw me go all in on testing. I purchased PrettyLink Pro, which allows for testing multiple landing pages, and I started using various products from the SumoMe plugin to see what colors, layouts, buttons, etc., convert the best. Be on the lookout for my results in the coming months. If you're not always testing and making small improvements, you'll get surpassed by the guy who is.
Linking within a post – Last year we saw the death of “you might also like” plugin nRelate. To compensate, I began linking to archived posts with relevant links within all new posts. This strategy helped me reduce my bounce rate by 3.3% and helped new readers discover older evergreen content that could help them. I would highly recommend this method to anyone with a large library of existing content.
Giving a shit – Sorry to be blunt here, but too many people are fake online. They start believing their own hype and begin thinking they're too good to associate with beginners and newbies. Everybody is somebody whether we realize it or not. I made a fair amount of money this year by caring and staying in contact with people who weren't quite ready to commit to working with me.
Giving a shit also means doing more, going the extra mile, and putting in the long hours when you're small. I realized that existing clients were my best advertisements. To me, that means answering emails, calls, and Facebook messages from clients at all hours of the day (and sometimes into the night). I know I won't be able to do this forever, but right now I'm doubling down on the success of my existing clients because I know their successes will only make things better for me and my business in the long run.
Asking for business – I wish I didn't have to ask for business and that all clients would come to me, but that isn't the case. Maybe someday, but not today. Asking for business works and it's how I was able to grow my revenue 404% year over year. It can be humbling to suck it up and ask, but it works.
What Didn't Work in 2015
Inconsistency – In August, I slowed down my podcasting schedule. That slowdown also led to a slowdown in regular blogging in October. You can see the negative results of that inconsistency in the graph at the top of this page. Consistency is key to growing your blog readership, your podcast audience, and your business. I dropped the ball and will have to work double-time to pick it back up again.
Losing momentum – Without consistency, you can't build momentum. My momentum slowed in the second half of the year as I focused on other things (and lost some focus too). Momentum is hard to build, so don't let it go.
Reading – I've read fewer books in 2015 than I've read in the last four years. Books are wonderful teachers, and I've slacked on my reading. I've watched more TV than I'd like to count.
Automating Tasks – While I'm a big advocate for automation, I think I over did it in a few areas. However, I started to correct that in October when I sent personalized videos to about 50 people who signed up for my email list. New subscribers got a kick out of it, and I had fun too. Do the things that don't scale. Make personal connections when you can, and do for some what you wish you could do for all. If you make mistakes, get over it and fix them.
You can only rest on what you've done for so long. Momentum, once it's lost, is hard to get back. Whether it's readers wondering when the next post is going to come back, or me getting back into the habit of writing, long breaks are costly.
Though my business grew significantly year over year, I'm still very much in the building phase.
Begin with the end in mind. Early in the year, I outlined what I wanted my business to look like in 5 years, and I changed where I spent my time. I realized that if I wanted 60% of my revenue to come from passive sources, I had to spend more time making that happen.
To the right is a page from my notes while reading The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. These notes helped me outline the business model that will help me continue to grow. Had I not outlined the way I wanted my business to look in the end, I wouldn't have been able to change my behaviors and activities today.
Passive income is a mirage, almost an illusion. A tremendous amount of work has to happen today before you can make passive income tomorrow. If you and I want more passive income, then we have to work overtime to make it happen. For me, that will mean directing traffic to my membership site and increasing enrollment.
Action Plan for 2016
The Ellory Wells Show – One of the reasons the Empowered Podcast slowed during the second half of 2015 was that I wasn't sure of the direction I wanted to take my show. After months of internal debates, I decided to bring the Empowered Podcast to a close and begin a new show called, The Ellory Wells Show. I'll share more of the reasoning later, but I'm excited about the new direction and look forward to sharing it with all of you.
Coaching – I set a goal to get more coaching clients in 2015, and I missed the mark. In 2016, I'm going to ask for more business and begin building a pipeline of coaching prospects. Eight clients could change my family's financial future and improve the lives of my clients. If you're interested in exploring a coaching program with me, click here.
Membership Site – I've learned a lot since starting my membership site in 2014, and I've been fortunate enough to add valuable new content almost every month in 2015. The value continues to grow, and I plan on making enrollment a continued focus in 2016. You can register here and get your first 30 days for only $1!
Conferences – I've already mentioned the benefits of attending conferences so I won't do it again. However, bringing my business partner and wife, Ashley, to more of them will be a continued goal moving forward. Having your spouse or partner with you at these events will do wonderful things for your motivation and ability to focus and hustle.
Consistency – You want consistency from me; I know. I let my readers and listeners down the last quarter of 2015 and I've got to pick up the ball and get back into the action. Regular blog posts on Mondays and regular podcast episodes on Wednesdays (though I'm intrigued by the way Netflix does seasons).
Video – One of the goals I've had for a couple of years now is to incorporate more video into my messaging and branding. I like the 3-5 minute video communique that show up in the Facebook news feed. 2016 is the year you'll see more of me in video form. I'll be using this guide.
Get Better at Email – As we each get increasingly social, email grows in importance. With email, there's no question about which social platform is best, no wondering about if your status update was seen, and no wondering if your friend sees DMs at all or if she's just ignoring you. My goal with emails in 2016 is to not only continue to grow the number of subscribers I have but also to send even more exclusive content to those people. Additionally, I want that unique content to be as relevant as possible and to grow and evolve as each subscriber starts, builds and grows their business.
My wish is that this Review and these numbers show you that it doesn't take an audience of millions to change your life. You don't need a stadium to show up every time you hit publish or press record. Everything I've accomplished is something you too can achieve if you're willing to get up early, show up consistently, and put in the work. There's no magic formula.
I hope you'll join me as we move into 2016 and beyond. Without you, my awesome reader, I would have quit long ago and I'd still wasting away in cubicle nation with the belief that that was all there was to life.
I appreciate you more than you know. Thank you for joining me!
Over to you: How did your 2015 turn out? What results did you get in your blog, podcast or business?