I don't usually write an end of year review, but I decided to do one this year thinking I wouldn't have very much to say. Then I started to make notes about some of the things that I achieved during the year and was able to do because of the lockdown (ironically) and realised that actually it has been quite a successful year from an activity and business point of view, despite what was going on everywhere else.
I guess that's partly a reflection of the fact that I've had more time at home, but also, I think, partly to do with the focus that this year has given us on being grateful and on focusing on the things that are important to us. I also wanted to use this post as inspiration for what I'm going to do in 2021. We all know that planning for a new year requires a review of the previous year, right?!
So, what have I done this year?
I've taken quite a bit of time to review and reorganise my business. I've remembered how important the basics are.
I think, for quite a few years now, we've focused a lot on social media and on how the digital marketing space has changed, and we've got all excited about all the new opportunities and tools and platforms and so on.
But this year I've remembered how important the basics are, like blogging, search engine optimisation, email marketing and so on and I've spent quite a bit of time reviewing what I'm doing in each of those areas.
I'm an AWeber Certified Expert
Alongside that I became an AWeber Certified Expert - an ACE, as they call us! If you have any questions, thoughts or needs around AWeber and implementing it in your business, do get in touch! I've used AWeber since 2008 and I love it.
And I love it now even more than before because it's being developed so much. There are new features and functionality coming out all the time.
One of the really exciting things they did this year was to introduce a free level for new starters, which means that you can have up to 500 subscribers and most of the functionality, including 24 /7 support, for free. You only start paying once you get over that number of subscribers or if you want to add in some process sophistication or add a second list.
The free product is really comprehensive and works well for those people with a new business or a business where you've got less than 500 subscribers and you want to go with a really robust email marketing company.
What I really love about AWeber is all the functionality around tagging, and all the integrations with all the other platforms that I use. For example, I use Thrive Themes on my website and all the signup forms that are on there have tags that tell AWeber where that signup has come from and then it kicks off a different set of campaign emails based on what they're interested in. With this, they've really added another level of sophistication to their offering.
I Started Counterpoint Networking
Another thing I did this year was start, or rather, restart Counterpoint Networking.
I used to run Counterpoint Networking as a real life networking group a number of years ago when I was running a business that was aimed at local businesses.
In recent years I haven't done very much networking, which is interesting given that my original publishing business was pretty much built by networking. In fact I won the Networker of the Year award from my local Chamber of Commerce in 2007, a reflection of the fact that pretty much every time there was a networking event running, I turned up and Little Doddsy (my daughter Ellie) was known as the 'Chamber Baby', as she came too!
Networking has always been really important to me but I was really struggling with the idea of networking in the traditional way nowadays. I really don't do mornings so I don't want to network in the morning. I really struggle to leave the house in the evening bearing in mind that I work from home and I'm very comfortable at home (and obviously at the moment I can't leave anyway!). So networking in the evening didn't really suit me either, so I was left with lunchtimes and people didn't really have lots going on in terms of networking at lunchtime... and then lockdown happened.
Early on I went to an online networking meeting, and loved the fact that it was on Zoom (though I might have got a bit more jaded since!) and that there was an opportunity to use breakout rooms which meant that although there were about 30 people on the screen we were able to go into much smaller groups and get to know the people in the group really well.
Proper Useful Networking
One of the characteristics of my own networking group was always about getting to know people really well, learning, sharing resources and really having great conversations. When it was a real life networking group it was never about speed networking or lots of elevator pitches. That's not how I ran it.
So I was really happy to be able to use Zoom to network online with people and I started Counterpoint Networking again back in April. We've met every Monday since at 2pm GMT (apart from on Bank Hols or over Christmas!).
Our networking is really focused on getting to know each other really well. We don't have tons of people that turn up each week but those people who do have got to know each other really well and we've certainly learned from each other. We've shared resources, we've introduced people and so on.
It's true networking as far as I am concerned. If you're interested in coming along to a meeting, you can find out more here.
Consistently Published the POWER to Live More Podcast
When I first started my podcast it was a bit intermittent because there were so many things that got in the way, for example, I didn't like writing the show notes and I didn't have enough guests.
Then I found somebody to write my show notes, the lovely Dawn Lidwell and her team, and I followed a strategy I discovered via a guest, Mark Struczewski, whose podcast I was on too - asking existing guests for referrals.
As a result, I have been able to release a podcast every week ever since (apart from over Christmas and New Year through choice).
Just before Christmas, we published show #189, and we're still going strong. In fact at the moment because I've got so many shows already recorded and so many people lined up for interviews, I've had to close my list, so that I can catch up a bit because it's a bit hard saying to somebody "your interview today is not going out for four months!"
So the podcast is going from strength to strength.
POWER to Live More Blog
I talked earlier about going back to basics and I've been really pleased to see that website visitors have been going up steadily this year even though a lot of the content on my website wasn't written by me.
I invite guest bloggers and many of the blogs on the website this year have been guest blogs and I've been really heartened to see that the visitor levels are going up consistently.
And that's really inspired me to start blogging again properly myself in 2021, so watch this space for content for me.
POWER to Live More Website Redesign
This year I also redesigned my website. I use Thrive Themes and they now have a great theme builder that is really flexible and allows you to basically create your own theme for your website.
It's easy to use once you get going and, when I redid my website, within three hours I'd changed the whole look and feel of the website. I was so impressed with how it work that over the festive break I've used it to change my POWER to Live More CALM membership site design too.
POWER to Live More CALM
At the end of 2019 I launched my membership site - POWER to Live More CALM. 2020 was very much about testing the concept and working out exactly what the benefits are, with my first members. This is what some of them said about this year, as CALM members.
PTLM CALM has helped me to...
This year POWER to Live More CALM has helped me to (so much I could have said here are a few):
...design and sell a new product
...create a quiz to drive more traffic to my website
...build momentum to make necessary changes in my business
...have a 'can do' attitude when things have got tough
PTLM CALM has helped me to...
This year POWER to Live More CALM has helped me to launch my podcast, outsource some of my work to the Philippines, supporting me through the group and getting more organised.
I've added lots of content to the site this year including such courses as Identifying your Target Market, 7 Ways to Add More Subscribers and Communicating and Working with Zoom, to go along with the existing courses on simplifying your life, productivity and wellbeing.
And some of the new Materials include a Content Marketing Planner, Self Coaching Pages and a Quiz Planner.
I've got big plans for the site for this year. If you want to find out more, go here.
5 Fundamentals to 'Getting Unstuck, Getting Stuff Done and Getting to Live More'
If you've followed me for a while you'll know I use my 5 Fundamentals to enable me to run a successful coaching business whilst also getting to live more, which is the bit that I didn't do for many years when I first started running my own business.
Here I'm going to talk about each of the 5 fundamentals in light of the year we've had and looking forward to 2021.
This wasn't always the first one but I decided in 2020 that it's vital to focus on self care first, before we start to think about all the other fundamentals in our business.
What this meant for me in 2020 was that, first, we really hunkered down into lockdown as a family. As soon as we knew that it was coming the first time, and bearing in mind that we live next door to my mother in law in her 70s, we made big efforts to ensure that we stayed in and made it as enjoyable as possible for us, in the circumstances that we found ourselves in.
So, we extended a ritual that we already had in the family, thanks to our French family and friends. We implemented a daily 'aperitif' to get together and have a drink and some nibbles and a chat, and maybe a board game, before we had our dinner together.
And that really gave us an anchor to use for the whole year. I'm not saying it's been perfect - there have been a few emotional outbursts at times - but it's been a really solid way of helping us as a family to get through the lockdown.
I said right from the beginning of lockdown that we all needed to be kind to ourselves and to other people. I maintain that as a mantra and I think that's what we need to really think about during all of this time, that we shouldn't expect too much of ourselves, we shouldn't put too much pressure on ourselves and each other. We're all doing the best we can, in the situation that we're in.
And this fundamental is important at all times, not just during a pandemic!
I think for me this year has made me remember what's really important. It's enabled me to take a real 'back to basics' view on what I do at home and in my business and with my family and so on.
I spent time getting really clear on what I want to do and how I want to do it. For example, I picked up some coaching work at the beginning of lockdown, which helped to replace some of the corporate work that I'd lost. To begin with I found it really hard because it was a lot of time blocked out in my diary that I wasn't used to. I've always known that I don't like having lots of things in my diary but I've realised over the festive break that, as we arranged zoom calls with family and friends and played games online and so on, actually having even one thing in my diary traumatises me. I like my day to be completely clear. Unrealistic, I know!
So, having lots of coaching calls was quite hard to begin with and what I did when I realised that it was causing me some issues was actually corral all my coaching into just three days. Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday is when I do all of my meetings and calls and coaching now, so that I've got Monday and Friday and obviously the weekend with those clear diary spots that I like to see.
So that was a great example how getting really clear on what you want to do and what you don't want to do and then taking action on that can be really helpful.
As I've already said, I've taken some time to get back to basics and I've done some decluttering and organising in my office and on my computer. I've really been able to take a fresh view on what I am using in my business and how I'm using it. I've gone through my computer and I've deleted stuff that I don't use anymore and moved things around so I can find the things that I want more easily.
A big job that I did in the autumn was look at my AWeber set up. I've already mentioned they have lots of new features and with their tagging functionality I realised that I only need one email list rather than the seemingly dozens I had before! So I spent a few hours going through and reorganising all of my mailing lists and ended up with just one list
And I've connected all my lead magnets to campaigns in AWeber, using advice from a really good book about email marketing: Invisible Selling Machine by Ryan Deiss.
I read it quite a while ago and it talks about the sorts of emails you send out when people are fresh on your list, and I wanted to set that up but, because I had so many lists, it was too complicated to do. As soon as I reduced it to one list I was able to work out how that would happen. I've been able to pull those emails together and now have a really clear strategy in terms of how I communicate with people who join my mailing list.
Sharing for me, in my business, is mostly about outsourcing.
I outsourced most of the rest of my podcast admin this year, which was an absolute revelation! I outsourced it to one of my VAs who didn't have any skills in podcast or audio editing prior but, I trust her and I knew that if I gave her explicit enough instructions that she'd be able to do what I needed her to do, particularly because I have a really clear process already (which is key when outsourcing).
So, I bit the bullet, got on with it, and outsourced it and it's made getting the podcast published consistently every week on time, on a Friday morning, so easy. My podcast used to be published on Friday, Saturday, maybe even Sunday, depending on when I got around to doing it. It now goes goes out every Friday morning without fail because somebody else is doing most of it and I have a deadline to do my outro on a Wednesday. And that has to happen because if I don't do that my VA can't do the next bit and so that's really tightened that up.
I've also outsourced chunks of other stuff. this year.
I've talked about this on many occasions, that it's really easy to think that you should outsource something, but the actual process of doing it is harder!
Streamlining what you've got in place so that it is the right process, then going through the process of documenting it or recording it on a video so that your VA, or whoever you're outsourcing to, has that information and can follow it properly is often a stumbling block.
Once you've done that bit then the getting them to do it and making sure the process works in terms of delegating and deadlines is fairly simple. It's always that bit about pulling it all together in the first place that gets in the way and I took the opportunity this year to get on and outsource more things.
And as ever, you outsource them and then you feel so relieved that you did and you wonder why you didn't do it sooner!
The final fundamental is all about keeping things going consistently. It's all well and good getting all organised in the first place but you need to keep it going - a bit like decluttering your office and then another two months down the line doing it again because you haven't maintained it!
Sustain is all about personal development, maintaining and creating routines, rituals and and processes so that you keep things moving forward.
So what have I done in that regard?
Well, this year I rebuilt my regular business reading routine. I like to be constantly reading or learning and improving what I do, but I was forgetting to do that a lot of the time with the change in routine during lockdown.
The other routine that went away was listening to podcasts. I used to listen to them a lot when walking and driving but I've done far less of both of those things since lockdown started.
At the beginning my walking moved to our treadmill and I watched stuff on my iPad rather than listening to podcasts. Now I'm trying to listen to them when I cook, but I also have got the walking process back in place. And I was laughing with my husband earlier, saying that I'm getting too many ideas in my hour's walk every day to implement during the rest of the day!
The other ritual that I've purposely focused on during this year is being grateful. It's something that I've always practised but I think this situation has really heightened that need for me.
I think building our resilience, being positive, thinking about how we can make the best of the situation has been what's carried us through in this household for sure.
And then finally, I'm constantly reviewing my productivity and how I do things. I use Todoist as the tool for my to do lists. I've stuck with it for many years now because it's so flexible. I have spent some time reviewing my setup and how I manage my projects so that I end up focusing on the big important stuff much more than the urgent and daily stuff that will get done regardless of what I'm supposed to be focusing on!
Final Thoughts on 2020 and 2021
You may have heard my story about how I started POWER to Live More. One of the features of that story is about how I had an email from the Pocket app people just before Christmas in 2012 telling me that I was in the 1% of their readers, and showing the hashtags for the types of content that I had been reading.
I can proudly say that I've had that email every year since - I use Pocket to save any articles I want to read and then I use automation via Zapier to share anything interesting that I've read with my audience. A great example of setting up automation and a routine to do something consistently!
Then it's a case or rinse and repeat, adding more routines and rituals as you go. And that's where POWER to Live More came from and how I like to work!
So that's my - rather long, rather self indulgent - review of 2020.
It wasn't the year that I was expecting of course. That was the same for most of us. It has been challenging in some ways it's also actually been a really good year for me, which is a strange thing to reconcile when I see and hear how this year as affected so many.
I don't want to come across as smug in any way. I know how lucky we are in this household and am grateful for that every day.
I think the summary of what I've done in 2020 is being grateful, getting back to basics in my business and spending time working on what's important to us as a family.
£1 Trial of POWER to Live More CALM
If you want to 'Get Unstuck, Get Stuff Done and Get to Live More' in 2021,
you can join the CALM membership site for £1 for the first month using this link
(usually £37 a month, cancel any time).