2019 Year in Review

Last year I wrote my first year in review post. In it, I detailed what happened in 2018 and what I wanted to accomplish in 2019. To hold myself accountable, I created a Google sheet with all the specifics and a monthly reminder to update the sheet. Let’s see how I measured up! (Oh yeah, and talk about my plans for 2020.)

Business

Business name

My goal for 2019 was to put some thought into a business name. I even solicited help from Adam and Kyle at Get Options (check out episode 100) but I haven’t settled on anything yet.

Business systems + processes

In 2019, I wanted to further automate my business processes where possible. Using Zapier, I connected several systems together.

Zaps connecting GSuite, Stripe, Trello and Freshbooks

I created templates for a full website build, a post-rollout recap and website care onboarding. I also updated my proposal and contract templates to be more thorough.

My goal for 2020 is to create a checklist for each step of my client’s journey. I’d also like to investigate a project management system — in the past I’ve used Asana and Trello, but don’t love either.

Establish an emergency plan

I also wanted to establish an emergency plan, but before I could, I had to set up:

  • Freshdesk for ticketing for care plan clients
  • ManageWP for all of the sites I support and any in development
  • Freshbooks for proposals, clients, invoicing and time tracking
  • 1Password for all. the. passwords.

After that, I found a trusted friend and colleague who would be willing to take over for me in the event of an emergency. I wrote a short “what to do” document and shared it with her and my significant other. He has my master password and can grant her access to all of the above if needed.

Content and social media

My goal for 2019 was two blog posts per month, one newsletter per month and to be consistent with social media scheduling and posting.

I was successful with almost everything except the blog posts — in the last two months of the year, I only wrote one blog post per month. However, I did join Instagram and started posting regularly there. I also implemented two lead magnets — find links at the bottom of my resources page.

I wanted to continue making valuable YouTube videos to supplement my blog posts and I did five:

In addition, I created videos for several presentations I gave during the year including Freelancer Finances 101, Using Automated Email Marketing Systems and Building Your Brand.

This year I want to find and execute a content strategy that works for me. I’m enjoying Instagram, but the posts take me FOREVER to write. I’ve also found that some of my blog posts have led to traffic that doesn’t really help my bottom line. I did create a customer avatar in quarter three, but need to revisit and make sure I know exactly who I want to work with and who I’m talking to.

Business cards

In the fall of 2018, I redesigned my website based on new branding but I never updated my business cards. Sometimes you need a deadline to push you into action and mine was WordCamp Jackson in October. I went with a minimalist design, only including my name and social profile link.

In 2020, I’d love to get branded thank you cards made and send them to clients after their new sites are released.

Optimize my website

To optimize my website, I added a premium caching plugin (WP Rocket) as well as a premium SEO plugin (SEOPress Pro). I also updated all of my meta descriptions and titles, created a new page specifically for my presentations and reworked (and updated) my portfolio.

Halfway through the year, I had a crisis about the images I was using on my blog (that they were too varied and didn’t look good together). I replaced them with matching stock images, but I still don’t feel good about it. I’d like to fix this in 2020, finding images that work with each post and the overall design of the site.

Schedule

My goals for 2019 included time blocking, turning off notifications, getting up once in awhile and going outside.

I was successful with time blocking a small portion of the time — mostly when I had very specific things to do in a short amount of time. I used a paper planner sheet (something like this, this or the daily digital momentum planner here) for each day I wanted to time block. I’d like to be more intentional about this in 2020 where I include blocks for my own work, possibly early in the morning before I start on client work.

I was moderately successful in turning off notifications by:

  • Enabling do not disturb on my phone from 10PM – 6AM
  • Customizing my phone notifications to only necessary ones; I also removed duplicates — I don’t need a banner AND a sound AND a badge
  • Removing all notifications and setting daily time limits for social media apps
  • Turning on do not disturb on my computer as needed

In 2020, I would like to limit my use of email. Right now I have it open all the time and end up using it as a to-do list. I know a few people who only check email at certain times of the day, pausing it other times and I’d like to try this.

“Getting up once in awhile” and “going outside” were not nearly specific enough, so I’m counting these as a fail. For 2020, I want to eat breakfast and lunch at the table, free from electronics and take at least one 30 minute walk per week outside. (It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I have to keep goals achievable!)

Work

A few of my favorite clients in 2019 were Melissa Gregersen, Dr. Nancy Berk, Marianna Coiffure and Chic Bahamas Weddings. After working with Melissa on a landing page for her photography business, I realized that I love email automation, so I expanded my offerings. Later in the year I partnered with Termageddon to offer website policies to my clients as well.

I also started two small side projects late in the year — stay tuned for an update on those!

Finances

Financial goals for 2019 included continuing to use the Profit First system and to set up automatic monthly contributions for my SEP IRA and HSA. I achieved all of those goals. I also gave a talk on freelancer finances at two WordCamps which was super fun.

In 2020, I would like to:

  • Start using YNAB with my business finances and the Profit First system (I’m already using it for my personal finances)
  • Increase my contributions by 10% each
  • Do the 90-day proposal challenge in the first quarter

Community

Meetups

As a WordPress Pittsburgh meetup organizer, my goal for 2019 was to plan interesting meetups, focus on diversity and speak myself for the first time.

I scheduled seven regular meetups — a coffee get-together, a blogger meetup, two meetups on Google Analytics, one meetup on CMB2 with new speaker Miranda Knee, one meetup on using GTMetrix with new speaker Alex Brinkman and one meetup on getting started with email marketing — that was mine!

Also, in lieu of a WordCamp, the group and I planned a mega meetup in October (complete with our own mega wapuu). We had three speakers, pizza and lightning talks. Around 40 people attended and everyone seemed to have a good time.

I also gave wppittsburgh.com a quick refresh!

I’m not sure about my goals for 2020. Many of the meetups had low attendance and I feel disheartened that people aren’t very interested in the group. We do have a plugin roundup planned for February, but I’m not sure beyond that.

WordCamp

My goal for 2019 was to attend three WordCamps (including US) and apply to speak at one. I only made it to two — WordCamp Kent and WordCamp Jackson, but I spoke at both of those.

I love attending WordCamps for both the learning and networking opportunities. My goal for 2020 is at least two WordCamps (and I’d love for one of those to be WCUS which is during the week at the end of October).

Slack

I love being a part of the Business of WordPress Slack group, so my goal was to stay active in the group which I did.

Talking with people online is great but meeting people in real life is awesome. I met least eight people from Slack in person — from Ireland to New Jersey to Michigan.

Mastermind

Another highlight of 2019 was participating in a mastermind — in quarters one, two and four with various members of the Business of WordPress Slack group and quarter three with the Personal Productivity Club. My goal for next year is to continue to participate.

Podcast or video guest

My goal for 2019 was to be a guest on at least one podcast or video. I did pretty well with this!

I’ve also been a guest on a few other podcasts that haven’t been released yet, so look for those in 2020.

Teaching

This wasn’t on my list for 2019, but I pitched and taught two four-week continuing education classes at my local community college on Building a Website with WordPress. I’d like to do this again in 2020.

Learning

I had BIG plans for learning in 2019 — several lynda.com courses, the JavaScript for WP Bootcamp and various webinars and in-person events.

This was largely a bust.

I got around 2/3 of the way through the JavaScript Bootcamp. I learned a TON and it was a great experience, but it made me realize that my interest in helping small business owners is more on the marketing side than on the development side. I also didn’t do anything on lynda.com for the same reason — all of the courses I mentioned previously were technical and I’d like to focus more on sales and marketing.

I wanted to attend at least three webinars or in-person events to keep learning, but didn’t have good luck there either. A few times I bailed early because they were so bad. Two were pretty good — one with Cami Farey and one with Kyla Roma (both through Erin Flynn). But the standout was Sara Dunn’s keyword research workshop. This was a paid workshop and worth every penny. Oh, and I also completed the Getting Started with ActiveCampaign course.

For 2020, I would like to take at least one HubSpot course. I also signed up for Rebecca Gill’s SEO Bootcamp in January and am looking forward to it.

Books

My goal for 2019 was to read at least as many books as I did in 2018 (25), however I only read 17.

I started several others but didn’t finish — I think because I didn’t devote specific time to reading. My goal for 2020 is to time block or habit stack regular time for reading.

Goals

I used the 12 week year system consistently each quarter of 2019, but didn’t always plan for 12 full weeks. I noticed that I get around 9 weeks of quality work done, followed by a 3-4 week break before I’m ready to start again. Part of being successful with this is the accountability, so I’ll continue to use the 12 week year system and post my updates in #weekly-standup in Slack.

Personal

I had several personal goals for 2019 including keep doing fun things with friends and family, keep going to the gym, focus more on diet and get a new desk chair.

My top four fun things with friends and family were 1) visiting Ireland with my significant other for 10 days, 2) going to Florida in June with my son, sister and her family, 3) taking a few mornings off during the year to make stuffed cabbage with my dad and 4) going kayaking. I didn’t get to go camping, so that’s on my list for 2020.

I’ve been going to the gym all. year. long. I celebrated a big milestone in December of tracking my fitness goals for three years. But hands down, my absolute favorite part of fitness in 2019 was the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. I’ve run this race before, but this was the first time I ran it with my son and significant other (it was their first 5K each). They killed it and it made me so happy. I’d love to run another race with them in 2020.

2019 Turkey Trot

Diet is tough. I tried a lower-carb diet earlier in the year with not great results. After that, I buried my head in the sand and ignored the scale. In December I got back on track. My goal for 2020 is to find something that works for me.

And yes, I got the new desk chair.

2020

Recapping the previous year helps me to see how far I’ve come and where I want to go. Now on to 2020! Want to follow along? Check out renemorozowich.com/2020update each month where I’ll be updating my progress.