2016 has been another great year for me personally and for my business. I feel very blessed for everything I have and I still get excited and motivated about what’s to come. Ever since I started my business back in 2011 the main focus has to become financially independent of any debt. Including a house payment. This summer if everything goes as planned I will have achieved that dream of being 100% debt free!
Aside from being debt free, part of the reason I wanted to start a business was to have more time with my family and enjoy seeing my kids grow up. 2016 I thought would be the year I would quit my day job to have more time but as I approached my goal of becoming debt free I wanted to keep my income stream as high as possible to complete my goal as fast as possible. Other goals I had this year were to read and write more. I signed up for a service called Blinkist which basically breaks down books into 15 – 20 minutes reads. I love this service. I usually read around 3 titles a week. Also in the second half of 2016 I gave up social media for a short time to try to better my writing skills. I would say it worked. Every time I went to go waste time on social media I wrote instead. I was more productive at writing in those 30 days as I was the whole rest of the year. While I back on social media I now only check it a few times a day.
As with most everyone else I had the goal of becoming more fit and making better food choices. I had a big problem with staying consistent with this in 2016. In 2017 I plan to do a 30 day challenge to form a habit in both areas.
My business grew 6% from the previous year and it has grown 132% from 2012. I think I found a way to break through a revenue plateau I have been fighting the last couple of years. If things go as predicted I should see a 15+% increase this year. I still remain a solo entrepreneur and I still have a day job. I don’t plan to change this in the immediate future but will review this every 3 months.
This year I did a major revamp of my flagship plugin, Coming Soon Page Pro, and made my own version of the WordPress customize to make edits in the plugin. I thinks it my best version of the plugin by a long shot and very proud of the work and performance of it. I also released a few other small plugins in an effort to increase my average revenue per user. This seems to be working. More experimenting in 2017.
I also released a platform independent Coming Soon Page builder which you can find at https://comingsoonpage.com This has for the most part has been a failure. With a WordPress product there a clearly defined marketing channels. When you venture outside this ecosystem they channels are more blurred and I’m not interested in doing paid ads at the movement. So for now I have focused that site to be freemium with the hope of organic growth, but it won’t be a focus this year.
OK, so I’m going to change it up this year. While I am going to set yearly goals they will be generic. And to be honest most people all have the same yearly goals. To gain more wealth, become more fit, eat better, and in general become a better person, right.
This year I’m going to set more defined monthly goals and write about them each month in an effort to better achieve my yearly goals. This will also help me write more and find my voice which is a goal.
Here are my generic 2017 Goals:
- Consistently work out/ jog at least 3 times a week.
- Grow business by at least 15%
- Finish becoming debt free.
- Strategize a investment/retirement plan.
- Contribute more to my kids college funds.
- Never stop learning.
- Focus on learning Marketing better
- Review goals monthly and writing more about my experience on this blog.
January 2017 Goals
- Start working doing 7 minute workout app in preparation for a Feb 30 challenge.
- Eat a salad for lunch at least once per week.
- Start monthly blogging on johnturner.blog
- Switch billing for SeedProd from manual to automated renewing.
- Start crazy heatmap data collecting on SeedProd.com in prep for Feb A/B testing.
- Release Form Add On for Coming Soon Pro
- Implement Unsplash search API in plugin and experiment with feature gating this in pricing plans
- Start weekly blogging on SeedProd.com
A few days ago I set a 30 day challenge for myself to quite using Facebook and Twitter. My motivation for this was 2 fold.
- To better spend my time than mindlessly checking Facebook and Twitter every few minutes.
- Avoid all the negative content and comments I see on a daily basis that were polluting my thoughts.
I felt I had become addicted to social media, without even thinking I would be checking my phone to see the latest on Twitter and Facebook all day long and in any situation. And while there is a lot of great content on these platforms it was over taking my day, controlling me and my actions like someone addicted to smoking. Once I recognized this I decided it was time to take action. So here’s the plan.
- Completely stop checking Facebook and Twitter or any other social media site for 30 days. I would also only check news sites like Hacker News , CNN and a few industry site I visit twice a day with a 20 minute limit. The only exceptions to this rule would be to post content to the platforms that I create.
With the time I free up I plan on creating content rather than consuming content. This includes writing blog posts like the one you are reading now to share my entrepreneurial experiences and to write more blog posts on my business’s blog to help promote it.
In the last few days I have caught myself unlocking my phone to check Facebook an Twitter even though I have deleted the apps. If this wasn’t a sign I was addicted then I don’t know what is. I now recognize this behavior and makes me want to even more limit my usage.
After 30 days I do plan to go back to using Facebook and Twitter but in a very limited fashion and not leaving them open on my desktop all day long or checking my phone every few minutes.
I’m on day 3 currently and can all ready tell a difference. With my free time I have already written over 300o words in blog post content. I’ll do a follow up post after the 30 days which should be around November 18th 2016.
2014 was another successful year. There were some goals I accomplished but also some I failed at as well. Over all a blessed and great year.
Revenue from my Coming Soon Plugin for WordPress grew by around 10%. I had intended on releasing another major plugin in 2014 but the rebuild of my Coming Soon plugin took a bit longer than I had thought. My goal was to 2x my revenue. Unfortunately I missed it but the important thing is I know why. I focused this year more on developing than marketing and the numbers show.
One of my other goals was to release https://www.sellwp.co a SaaS for selling WordPress theme and plugins. I spent the first quarter getting this product ready. I released it in limited beta and got lots of awesome feedback. However I quickly realized this would be a slow revenue ramp. I decided to halt the product to the public. My plugins were making more money and it didn’t make sense for me to switch gears to a slow ramp SaaS since I still work a day job and have limited time. I still think this is a viable product however. I get weekly request wanting to know when it will be ready.
2014 was also going to be the year I quit my day job. Well I’m still work a day job…What happened? We had another baby. My wife and I were blessed with my son in September of this year and I took 3 months off to be with him. During that time I evaluated whether I should quit my day job and or not and if it felt right. I decided that I wanted to get my other plugin out the door to see if I could replicate my current success. I wanted to reassure myself I was not a one hit wonder. Plus I want more runway with another child.
Both of these are A+ conferences and I can’t stress how much networking has to do with your success.
One goal I badly missed was blogging more. I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve created a blog post. This is going to be one of my main goals for 2015.
This year was the first year in my family’s new home.
I welcomed the birth of my son Jake Dylan Turner.
We’re putting a pool Clark!
My daughter is learning to ride a bike.
Also I started jogging this year which was one of my goals from last year. I jogged consistently up until my son was born. I have been slacking a bit but plan to make it part of my routine again in the new year.
Goals for 2015
In no particular order here are my goal for the new year.
- Blog more, I plan to post on this blog my experiments for obtaining my financial goals. Plus I plan to do more content marketing on https://www.seedprod.com
- I want to 2x my revenue either by creating a new plugin, growing my current user base or a combo. I have a new sister plugin planned for release in January 2015
- Raise conversion rate over 4%. Right now my conversion rate is the lower 3’s. I plan to constantly be running A/B test on my site to raise conversions.
- Hire someone to handle my support / dev or both. While I want to stay small, I do want to have a back up so I can freely get away from the business here and there.
- Start working out, using this app. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/24/for-a-7-minute-workout-download-our-new-app/ I was good about running this year now to add some strength.
- Spend more time with my kids. As I was setting out presents for my kids at 3 am on Christmas morn it really occurred to me this is a special time and I really want to make the most of it.
- Stop and smell the roses. I want to enjoy life more and not take any moment for granted. I work hard and sometime get caught up in it all. I want to start taking every Sunday to disconnect from it all and spend time with family or friends.
So that’s it. I’m truly blessed and grateful for everything 2014 has given me and my family.
Here’s to an awesome, healthy and prosperous 2015.
Now that I have some historical data on my plugin business I have been going back and looking at the trends. I have a spreadsheet I created the first month after I launched to record sales. When I first started I was so green that’s the only thing I recorded. I had no idea my traffic much less my conversion rate. Now I know that conversion rate is one of the most important key performance indicators (KPI) when you sell your WordPress theme or plugin. Let me tell you why.
How Is Your Conversion Rate Calculated
Conversion rate measures the number of people who come to your site vs the number of people who purchase your product.
Number of Sales / Number of Visitors x 100 = Conversion Rate
This number is important because you can use it to measure and calculate lots of different interesting things. For example: As you make changes to your website you can use this number to see if those changes improved or hurt your sales. Hopefully you are A/B testing these changes but that’s for a different blog post. You can use it to tell whether that blog post or email blast had any effect on your sales.
I See The Future and It’s Bright
You can also predict the future with it 🙂 So say you have a product that sales for $50 and you currently make $1000 per month in sales with 1000 visitors per month. You current conversion rate would be 20(number of sales) / 1000(visitors) = (0.02 * 100) 2%
So just work the formula backwards to figure our how much more traffic you need to generate or how much more you need to convert your current traffic. So if I want to make $10,000 per month you would need to generate 200 sales at the current conversion rate and to get those 200 sales you need 10000 visitors.
200/10000 = 2%
But just what if you could optimize your site and increase your conversion rate to 4% then you’d only need 5000 visitors.
200/5000 = 4%
So as you can see conversion rate should be a key factor in your decision-making process. It’s a great indicator as to how your product is doing.
I started tracking my conversion rate about 4 months after I launched my WordPress plugin for coming soon pages and I was converting around 3% of my traffic. I’ve manage to increase that number by 1.25% over that last year and a half by A/B testing my site and making other optimizations.
I use the Unique Visitors metric in Google Analytics to calculate my conversion rate because this try to measure people. You can also setup Google e-commerce Tracking and it will do it for you. Plus you get lots of other juicy metrics in relation to your e-commerce in all you other reports.
If your site has more than just your product like a blog then you need to account for those times when a post becomes popular or some other artificial spike in traffic. I ran a MightDeals campaign once it drove lots of people to my site but they were going back to MightDeals to purchase. You can use Google Analytics to segment out that traffic and find your true visitors that you’ve acquired through your marketing. Segmenting is another post as well but I recommend this course if you use Google Analytics and run a business. Understanding the numbers should be key factor for your decision-making and running your business.
What are some other key performance indicators you use?
When you are a one person company you are kind of use to doing everything yourself. You wouldn’t have gotten to where you are at unless you could wear many hats. When you are first starting out this is fine but once you start to experience success this can be a downfall because you waste your time doing remedial task.
For example, I’m quite capable of running my own server and hosting WordPress, yet spending my time being a system admin does not help my business. If your business is making money and the cost of you using a service is less than what your time is worth than hire it out.
Another less obvious example is house work. I calculated how much time I spend doing things like cleaning bathrooms, kitchens etc… This valuable time adds up. Why not hire it out and use that extra time to spend with your family or work on your business.
You cannot and should not do everything yourself or you’ll quickly get overwhelmed. I’m still learning to let go of some task and hire it out but there’s a part of me that want to just do it myself. It’s the perfectionist in me I guess. I know though that ultimately to continue to grow I need to start delegating and learn to let go or else I’ll always be a one person company.
What are some things you do to save time and become more efficient?