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Looking back to get ahead: What I learned after 30 days of creating content.

What I accomplished, missed and learned from 30 days of posting articles, sending emails, creating podcasts, filming for YouTube and writing a book.

Hey. It's Wil.

I write about the intersection of communications and technology, especially for those looking to build new ways to communicate with their B2B clients. Thanks for being here.

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Well, February is here.

It's the shortest month of the year in terms of days. Yet, it can feel like the longest month considering the weather and temperature transitions.

A little over a month ago, I rededicated myself to posting articles on a regular schedule. And while this effort was to better my writing and communications skills, it was also an opportunity to give back.

After 30-ish days, how's it going?

Some might think 30 days is too short of an evaluation period, and I won't argue with that.

However, I'm trying to get myself back into a regular rhythm of writing while trying new communications channels. And part of that is adjusting on the fly based on what's not working (and what is working).

I've dedicated myself to creating three 'look-back' articles over the first 90 days of 2022, then quarterly for the remainder of the year.

I'll split this article into three parts:

  • Planning
  • Tools
  • Communications

First, a note about productivity

Nearly 10 years ago, I wrote this article about productivity and tablets. This was only a few years after the original iPad was released. My hope back then was to structure my work routine where I'd be able to accomplish 90% of my work 100% of the time.

Since I was traveling a lot for work at the time, this made a lot of sense.

I still believe in that productivity goal. I need a specific  setup for 10% of my work. The other 90%, I should be able to use a device (like a tablet), no matter my location.

That article rings even more true today, especially with the advancement of cloud applications and multi-factor authentication.

The thing is, I haven't quite achieved 90% with this series.

I'll get there. Just not there yet.

PLANNING

In December of 2021, I planned communications out for 60 days. Thinking I'd have a good grasp on my schedule through February, these first 60 days were to follow a communications template.

That template has stayed pretty much intact with only a few updates:

  • I was going to film a video for the photo series. I haven't started that yet. (I'm wondering if I should dedicate videos to the members program?)
  • I was going to record a podcast for the photo series. I haven't started that yet either. (Should that podcast be for members only?)
  • I was going to post my photos to my Instagram account. As much as I enjoy scrolling through Instagram photos (and even the ads!), I'm just not that into it.

I'm continuing to use Asana as my project management tool. Using boards has helped me better move things around as I need to, while providing a quick view into my schedule.

Splitting the boards into series types (articles, photos) and channels has helped me keep notes on each week's article or photo series, then which channels each series will be distributed on during the week (with dates and times).

A small change with Asana: I'm no longer classified as an Asana Certified Professional. Nothing I did, rather they are moving away from that program. I'm waiting for my partner approval status any day now.

I plan to extend the planning by a month each month. So now that we're in February, I'm working on the March schedule.

So far, it's been really reliable with some delays due to life.

Asana: February schedules

TOOLS

I've stuck pretty close to the tools I set out to use. That's hard for me. I really enjoying testing new tools and their impacts on efficiency!

Here's the list of tools, in no particular order.

  • Asana: I mentioned my continued use of Asana. With an added integration into Google Calendar, I receive daily updates by email from Asana and Google. This might be overkill, however I now see what's coming up (Asana) and how it fits into my overall schedule (Google).
  • LinkedIn: This was a February initiative. And by golly, I hit it right on time. My hope was to share more of my photo series articles on my LinkedIn account. I really don't have long term plans with LinkedIn, however I normally see good engagement when I post articles.
  • Glass: I want to like Instagram. I just can't. So I moved to Glass.
  • Matter: In 2021, I started using Matter. It's a little more complex than Instapaper, however I've really enjoyed the community sharing aspect. The majority of my research is done through reading (Matter) and listening (Overcast).
  • Ghost: I'm going into my second year of using Ghost as my website and email platform. And I'm pretty happy with that decision. (I moved over from Squarespace.) Seeing this recent tweet from @Jack got me thinking there's more to come from Ghost.
  • Cloudflare: I've extended Cloudflare's usage to capture new domains, too. Their analytics are at the right level for me. (I saw the most unique visitors to my site over the past 7 days. Nice!)
Cloudflare analytics: Up and to the right.
  • Twitter: I'm posting lazy tweets on Twitter. It's my favorite research + communications tool, yet I don't have a plan for it.
  • Writing: I haven't found the right tool yet. It goes back to the 10% / 90% goal. I want to find a tool I can use that seamlessly syncs across all my devices (and has a clean interface). In addition to Ghost and Asana, I've also been trying IA Writer and Apple Notes.

COMMUNICATIONS

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the quality and frequency of communications in January and into February. With the photo series, I'm mixing up the type of content, which is likely keeping my mind fresher.

As for feedback, I haven't asked directly. Here's what I see quantitatively:

  • Email subscribers: Ticked up a tiny bit in January. This will take time.
  • Website traffic: Continues to increase week to week.
  • Twitter engagement: Fine, I guess. See Twitter notes above.
  • LinkedIn engagement: That first post created a lot of traffic. Looking forward to continuing this experiment.
  • YouTube: Not a ton of traffic, although up from previous periods. I don't have a specific goal here. This is a learning platform for me.
  • Podcast: Similar to YouTube. I don't have a specific goal here. I am relearning the art (and love) of audio creation and production.

A new book?

If there's one thing I regret doing over the past few weeks, it was releasing a new book. It's a very short, very high-level book for building small business marketing plans.

I don't regret that it's done, I just regret the time I sacrificed to create it. Opportunity costs and all that.

(The book is available on the Apple Books store. If you are interested, let me know and I'll send you and a colleague a promo code for a free download.)

Closing

If I look back to the first article I posted this year, there are two reasons why I'm restarting an effort to share more of my insights and reflections:

  • In my case, I'm creating stuff that I want to see more of in the world. A focus on moving that stuff–stories, articles or explanations–from ‘what’, to ‘why’ and ‘how’.
  • There’s this goofy attitude I have about giving back. I’ve taken a lot from this world - how can I give back, or at least have the feeling that I’m giving back?

Given those two reasons, I feel pretty good about where this project is.

And I'm excited about what's to come.

Podcast

Podcast: Looking back to get ahead.

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