It is New Years Eve and I cannot let the year, and indeed the decade, go without an overview. 2009 has been a very eventful year for most of us so I would love to know what has happened this year for you!
Personally a lot has happened which has changed my life, the first of course being the birth of Success Circuit. The New Year will be 1 year since the first post in which I spoke of the goals and what I hoped to achieve, more about that tomorrow. This has pushed me in many ways, I have met many new people (both readers and interviewees), many of whom have been of immense help to me and are some of the most motivational people I know.
Another new aspect of my life came and an old one left, I finished School and started College. That may sound a very silly thing to talk about, but it was a big change that happened this year. New friends, teachers and motivational people to meet. In September I decided to join the Young Enterprise group at College which is basically 14 young people (first years – between 16 and 17 years old) joining together and starting a company. We started Neo Flow, which I am currently working on a website for. Neo Flow has sold a variety of products, including Christmas gifts and hot chocolate, to raise money for our main venture… customised hoodies, lots of fun!
This post is called ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ for a very good reason; many good things have happened, luckily very few bad but there is some ugly! What would an end of year post be without some photos?
Yep, every year since I started School, I have been involved in a local amateur dramatics group… we had a lot of fun this year, not just with performing Cinderella but also because I was in the mood for photos. Over 200 all of me, and I’m usually the guy that stays behind the camera! I mention drama because I believe that my first performance (which was Peter Pan and I played John), dramatically changed my life. Why? CONFIDENCE! I was so shy when I started but by the end I had improved my confidence by a lot and there is a chance that without it I may not have had the confidence to try to have an “online presence”. So, for all you shy people out there… try acting, or some other group club, it’s fun!
Now it is time to have a look at some of my favourite posts of the year.
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs – This has to be my favourite post of the year as it taught me many lessons. I believe I have told the story before but this post was meant as a guest post for ProBlogger but Darren graciously declined it due to the fact it had nothing to do with blogging. Fine! I was expecting that. I then spoke to John Chow, a big figure in the Make Money Online niche which is in some aspects similar to my own, he did the same.
I did not let that get me down. I published it on Success Circuit and am now laughing. That post is my most viewed page of the year. In my opinion it is perfect for my little niche (whichever it may be, Success, Motivation, Inspiration… I call it my own little niche as some believe it covers many other niches and others say it covers none) as it is about improving oneself… perfect!
The Truth about Lonely Designs – One of my first posts, I am still proud of it as it allowed me to start afresh in terms of moving on and forgetting about the problems I had with Lonely Designs, it allowed me to show my honesty and give everybody the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.
The (Gigantic) Link Fest – I love to help people, linking to their sites is one way of doing that. So this massive link festival was a great way of me “sharing the love” as well as helping some of you find new websites to follow. Also, it was a great way for me to learn about new websites and meet new people!
He’s A Lady – The Sickening Story Of James Chartrand – A recent post of mine which is basically just an introduction to the main post on copyblogger. It is in this list because of the story behind it, so powerful and sickening at the same time. It is a story that everybody in the world deserves to have read and learn from.
Interviews – Okay, not a post but each interview published on Success Circuit is published for a reason… they are all inspirational and motivational. I had to put an interview on this list but could not choose one… so have them all!
Now I must go, please let us all know your good, bad and ugly of 2009!
Most successful people know exactly what they want to achieve, what they need to do to achieve it and how they can do it. To get to this level there is a vital step we all must undergo: Analysis! What’s that I hear, “noooo, not analysis, how boring!”? Well I would normally agree with you, but it really does help. So to get us all through this terrible time of analysing where we need to improve, I am going to share my analysis of Success Circuit. I would usually start analysis on boxing day and finish on New Year’s eve but I have (as I am sure most of you have too) been very busy… so had to delay it a few days.
Makes sence to start analysing by looking at your analytics, doesn’t it? I personally use Google Analytics though I know there are several others that are worth using so if you use them then excellent, would be nice if you could drop us a comment to say what you use and why as it may help some of the other people who read this post. There is such a wide range of different analytics you could look at but I shall list some of the common methods. It is good to use a varity of these!
Month By Month
Although this is a rather slow method, I like to look at each month and decide which decisions I made that were good and which were bad. It helps a lot of if you are organised and do an analysis each month as you would have less to do at the end of the year, just collate your notes.It also helps if you keep a notebook/diary/journal (which you should be doing!) and perhaps a calendar as it will show you what you were doing each day. This might explain any peaks or valleys in the traffic, another thing that helps, which may or may not be recorded in your notebook, is to know when you wrote each article/post.
For this I print out my archives (okay I know a lot of you write more than me, but it should not take up too much paper… I managed to get all of mine onto to pieces of paper by putting them into columns which looks neater anyway) by looking at both the graphs and the archives you can see which posts did well and which did not.
To record my notes I scribble on the graphs. A very simple example is shown below, the writing of which was done with my new Wacom Intuos 4 that I got for Christmas (thanks mum!).
So when doing month by month analysis, remember to:
Check each days traffic with major events (ie. christmas), personal events (ie. birthday), website events (ie. contests) and posts.
Record your findings in both a notebook and on a graph
Reflect (which is found in more depth further in this post) upon what cause the influx/efflux of visitors and decide how it can be replicated/prevented
This method is NOT recommended. It is a method that some people use and can be used in two ways. Firstly, you could check your analytics once every day and record them into your notebook. This could possibly be useful for improving the amount of readers you get and understanding exactly where you stand. Secondly, you could go through every day of the year at the end of the year… this is obviously not a good idea but I know of some people that prefer to analyse that way.
But there are some big disadvantages to it. These include the fact that you would be wasting time every day of the year just to analyse how you are doing instead of using that time to do it! Also it has been proven that people who do this often get obsessed and their blog/website falters because of it.
Personally I, at the end of the year, look at the major traffic peaks and valleys and try to figure out why. For example, for the peak that came shortly after I wrote He’s a Lady, I “zoomed” in on that day and looked through different metrics.
As you can see, although there was a lot more traffic than usual it was not very good traffic. The bounce rate was very high (bounce rate means those that exited the page without looking at any others) and a lot of the traffic came from copyblogger (where the original post was posted). The worst part of it all is that the average Time on Site was 30 seconds! Usually that is around 3 minutes, which is still much shorter than I normally hope for.
Content by Title
This is a way of looking at most of the metrics, for each page. I know many people that successfully use this view to improve their titles and understand what the readers want to read about. If I look at this view for the last year I can see that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, He’s A Lady – The Sickening Story Of James Chartrand and 10 Do’s and Dont’s for Interviews are my most viewed pages (as well as the homepage) so I know that I need to look closely into why each of these posts did so well. I can hypothesise what I think the reasons are, and perhaps even find out the real reasons.
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs – A subject often taught in school, college and university so this page is probably used to assist education. It may also be because people do not understand what Maslow has to do with Success so they read it to understand why I wrote it.
He’s A Lady – The Sickening Story Of James Chartrand – The title is very strong on this post so that probably made some people intrigued to find out what it is about. Also, as shown above, a lot of traffic comes from Copyblogger so the link back and perhaps my commenting on the post would have explained the sudden rise in traffic. This could probably be replicated but as the traffic was not of very high quality and very few people read the post and even less read other posts, it seems a waste of time trying to improve the statistics!
10 Do’s and Dont’s for Interviews – This is a good one for search engines. In fact, it is probably my only post that search engines bring much traffic to. The reason for this is obvious, we are in a time when lots of people are trying their best in interviews to get jobs because so many other people are trying for the same jobs. Everybody NEEDS to be the best they can, so they search for posts like this to improve themselves.
This is something I do not actually have set up on Success Circuit so this section will be very thin. If you know much more about it please let me know and I shall add to this.
Knowing how people search your site can be very useful for deciding what type of content you could write or how you should phrase your titles.
Visitors – Technical
It is important that your site can be viewed easily by all your readers. Google Analytics has a very useful graph that shows how many people use which browser and operating system. You have probably struggled getting your website to work over all browsers, especially IE6! So this can be useful for seeing if you need it to work in those that you cannot get to work. I have decided that when I release the massive update to Success Circuit, Internet Explorer 6 WILL NOT be able to use everything that everyone else will be able to use. I am going to make sure it allows everybody to read the posts etc. but it will not be the same version of the website that everyone else is able to use.
You can also see where people live which may be useful if you run a blog/website that has the option for writing about local events. For example, if you write about things to do in Australia and most people that view your site live on the east coast then you could write more things that relate to there.
This may not strictly relate to Analysis but it is something I have always done at the end of the year for each of my websites. As you know from the Month By Month section of analysis, I print off my archives. For reorganisation I have a look at which categories I have on the site and how to relate to the posts. This could (and will probably) result in new categories being added and some old ones being removed.
At the same time I would recommend looking at each post and relating it to the analytics then have a good look at how you could improve the titles of the posts. Titles usually do decide whether somebody wants to read it or not.
Obviously not something to do EVERY year, but it can help to occasionally look at how your blog/website is growing and what the design needs to look like. This could also include stronger back-end coding, which is one thing that I am doing in this big update that I have promised. Look at user interaction/navigation/interface can they do what they are trying to do? Can they find posts without clicking loads of times?
IMPORTANT! You must record everything you do, think of and notice. It will help you in the future. If you do not have a notebook that you write things down on then go and buy one. Personally I write in mine at least once a day, as do many other successful people I know.
What do you do? Do you do a yearly analysis, how about monthly or even daily? Do you have any excellent posts of the year that you want to share (yes links are allowed today)? Do you have a notebook?!
“I think a community is merely a group of people coinsiding – with or without similar interests.
Interesting that it used to just mean a group of ppl living in the same locale – internet has definitely changed that now it can be people just coexisting on a social network site even if they’ve never met – gotta love globalization through the web; changing the world every minute.”
“Interaction and communication between members of a group in which people share a common interest.”
Shane Hudson (me)
Gary Vaynerchuk – Telling It How It Is
Gary Vaynerchuk is very passionate about interaction, as am I, and I completely agree with him when he says that it is a conference instead of a community due ot the lack of interaction. In fact, whilst brainstorming ideas for posts to write I came up with this post and decided to write something about community.
The problem with that was that my brainstorm of community had one branch, interaction, which then had over 50 branches come from that. So that should make it clear enough, sure does to me, that a community cannot possibly be a comunity without interaction.
So now we have cleared up what a community is and the importance of interaction, where can you join in with communities?
Where Can You Join A Community?
There are millions of communities around us. Schools, churches, bingo halls, sporting associations and country clubs. So many real life communities exist, yet so do so many online! As quoted above, Jeni Larson (on her way out of the door and saying something like “I will tell you my definition but very very quickly”) spoke some very wise words when she said: “Interesting that it used to just mean a group of ppl living in the same locale – internet has definitely changed that now it can be people just coexisting on a social network site even if they’ve never met – gotta love globalization through the web; changing the world every minute.”
Communities are found everywhere: on blogs, on social networks, on forums, on MSN and Sype… everywhere!
But are they really communities? Most of them are, but blogs generally do not act as communities. Though a lot of them are getting better!
How To Become A Community
So, you have thousands of visitors but no community? Yep, a lot of people are the same. Well if you do actually read these posts then you should already know how to be a community… INTERACT!! As simple as that really. Get to know your visitors, ask them questions, be more personal.. share pictures of yourself and tell your readers what you have been up to.
Also, think of visitors/readers as PEOPLE not just statistics that you see on the pretty Google Analytics graphs!
Get to know the people that read your blog – not all of them if you have a lot but at least the regulars
Social Network – let them know about you and show some interest in them
Ask questions – you can even use the answers in your posts!
Allow them to ask you questions – as Gary says in the video, he would prefer to do a whole session of Questions and Answers!
What Do You Think?
This is the end of my chatter. Now for yours. What is community? What do you think of Gary’s view on it? Do you think Success Circuit is a community? I try to interact with you but do you interact with EACH OTHER?
As you all know, Success Circuit is being updated. But I have been thinking “To make Success Circuit even more successful I am going to need help, suggestions and a whole lot of bug hunts”, so, I am now begging looking for beta testers to help me out!
What is a Beta Tester?
A Beta Tester is somebody who looks for bugs/glitches/problems on both new and old features. It is somebody that is able to work closely with me and the rest of the team to improve this website. If you have ideas or want to help in any way, beta testing is just one of the ways you can help (see below).
What do Beta Testers gain access to?
I have just released a brand new forum for beta testers, this will act as both a storage system for bugs and ideas so that I can keep track of them (though hopefully there are not too many!) but also as a community. I have always said that Success Circuit should be a community but how can it be one if there is no interaction (I shall speak about this in the next post).
Access to every new feature of Success Circuit whilst it is being developed – there is no waiting for features, beta testers will be able to see every error I make (and I make a lot of errors!).
Access to their own forum – to keep track of bugs/errors/problems/glitches and so that they have their own community
How do I become a Beta Tester?
Simples! All you have to do is register to the forum. The beta testing forum is not currently private (though in the future we might have expansions to the forum, who knows!) so just pop over to www.Beta.SuccessCircuit.com and register. Once you are registered there, introduce yourself and go back to www.SuccessCircuit.com at where you will see the new theme.
If at any times you find fatal errors on Success Circuit that do not let you use the website, feel free to post it on the forum though hopefully it will be my fault if that happens and I will fix it instantly… I hope! But if you want to get back to the current theme then just log out of the forum.
At first I was only going to ask for Beta Testers, however if you are interested then there are a few other positions available.
Guest Posters – not really a position but if you are interested in writing a single post for Success Circuit then you can become a guest poster.
Authors – these are posters that write for Success Circuit quite often. Although I sometimes call it “full time posters”, there is not really any regularity to it at all. Though if somebody would like to do something like a “weekly column” then I would love them to do that!
Coders – Currently I am the only person working on coding Success Circuit (though sometimes I do get some help) and so that takes a lot of time away from actually writing any content! So if anybody is interested in helping to code then please contact me.
Designers – As with coding, I do not have much time for designing, luckily most of what I do is through CSS but sometimes pictures would be very nice. So if you are interested in helping design Success Circuit then once again, contact me.
Unfortunately, and to great regret, none of these positions will be paid positions however you never know what might happen in the future!
If you would like to suggest something to do on Success Circuit, whether it to be with the design, content or events, then either contact me (see below) or register to the beta testing forum. On there is a suggestions forum which will allow me to track every suggestion!
I expect most of you know how to contact me but here are a few ways you can do so.
Commenting – I read and usually reply to every comment I get on here and each one goes straight to my email
Email – If you would like to send me a private email then you can do so, I read and reply to every one. My email address is Shane@ShaneHudson.net
Skype – This is a great way of getting to know people and I love using it, if you would like to add me to Skype then you can do so by adding successcircuit (or just searching my name)
MSN – As with Skype, MSN is a good way to contact me, just add firstname.lastname@example.org (which by the way, was my first ever email address!)