My 2015 Goals—In the Middle Of A Transition

Happy New Year. I hope you didn’t stay out too late last night and are paying for it today. Me? I barely noticed when 2014 ended and 2015 began. I rarely pay attention to the clock. I have been thinking about 2015 though.


2015 calendar

On Monday I took a look back at the goals I set at the start of 2014 and how well I did in completing them. Today is the look ahead and the goals I have for 2015.

I’ve mentioned how setting goals this way helps give direction to the year ahead. My main concern with these goals is that together they point the way. They serve as a guide. I can follow it when I’m not sure what project to tackle next and I can ignore it if an unanticipated opportunity presents itself.

On Monday I provided links for the looking back posts. Here are the looking ahead posts from years past.

Thoughts and Goals for 2015

This year I’m doing something a little different. I’m listing a total of eight goals for the year, but they fall under four different themes. I’m less concerned with completing all eight goals (especially as I’ve never completed more than five), than I am in making progress in each of the four themes below.

  • Create More Products
  • Market New and Existing Products
  • Design/Plan for the Future
  • Improve My Productivity System

The last goal should be familiar if you’ve read any of my previous goal setting posts. The rest are all meant to continue my transition from service driven to product drive. My apologies if you’re getting tired of me repeating that phrase after the last post.

As I said, I have a total of eight goals within the four themes above. Here’s the list of goals with details to follow.

  • Write more books
  • Develop a content marketing strategy
  • Learn email marketing
  • Increase distribution of my books
  • Be more consistent as a guest poster
  • Improve existing site
  • Prepare for new site
  • Continue to improve productivity

Theme #1—Create More Products

I’ve talked for a few years about wanting to transition from services to products. For nearly as long, I assumed the products would be themes or plugins or something similar. Then in 2013 I decided to write and publish a book. It hasn’t made me rich, but it sells enough to replace a client.

Last year I was approached to write a book for Adobe and for a few years now I’ve been able to sell articles I write. Overall I’ve been bringing more revenue into my business through writing each of the last few years.

I won’t know until I start working on my taxes for the year, but I think I earned about the same from writing as I did design and development work in 2014. Somewhere over the summer I realized it could happen and it convinced me writing was a viable way to transition the business.

Write More Books

The theme is to create more products. For 2015 that means writing more books. I started one last year that I want to finish this year. It’s meant to be the first in a series of practical guides. The optimist in me wants to have three books in the series published by the end of the year. The realist in me thinks two is a more reasonable goal.

Three might be too many, because I’d also like to work on the second edition of Design Fundamentals. I had meant to make some improvements last year that I wasn’t able to get to.

I want to remove the opening section about visual grammar and replace it with a section about visual perception and how we interpret what we see. I’d also like another run through to clean up typos and awkward sentences.

In theory, more books should replace more income that I currently receive through servicing clients, which then frees me to write more books and eventually other types of digital content.

How many books I can write isn’t the real goal. The idea is to write as many books as I can to my standards of quality. Whether that’s one book or a dozen over the year isn’t as important as creating whatever I can create, while still maintaining a client list and a web design and development business.

By the way, I’m not planning on dropping clients now or in the future. This is about having to find fewer new clients than giving up existing ones. Ideally more products leads to less need for more clients.

Theme #2—Market New and Existing Products

When I first released Design Fundamentals I was disappointed with how it sold. I wasn’t disappointed with people for not buying it, though. The disappointment was in myself for not having done more to market the book and help it sell.

There are plenty of things I can do, but there are three specific goals within the larger marketing theme that I hope to address this year.

  • Develop a content marketing strategy
  • Learn email marketing
  • Widen Distribution

Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

I want to establish a more unified strategy around the content I create. That includes the content I’m selling as well as the content I give away for free.

In a sense there’s already some content marketing present in that I give away free content on the same subjects as the content I sell. People who come for the free content are likely to enjoy the for sale content as well. At best, it’s a haphazard strategy. I want to develop a more unified strategy.

There should be more harmony between all the different content I create. All, or at least most, of it should fit into the larger picture of my business.

I discuss a handful of themes consistently that weave their way in and out of my writing, but there’s no real business strategy behind any of it other than to create more content for the site to attract more visitors to it.

I want to change that this year and connect the content I’m creating to strategies for increasing revenue.

Learn Email Marketing

By email marketing I don’t mean blasting out spam emails to as many email addresses as I can collect. I’m talking about opt-in only email where I create something of value that I deliver via email. You sign up if you’re interested in receiving what I’m going to send.

Maybe it’s a monthly newsletter. Maybe it’s an email course. Maybe it’s something else, but the idea is I create something of value to you and in exchange you give me permission to send you email about that same something.

More and more I see email marketing mentioned as outperforming other forms of marketing and done responsibly I think it’s something worth trying.

If you believe in the idea that someone who creates things can earn a living by reaching 1,000 true fans, email marketing becomes a way to reach those 1,000 true fans and begin an ongoing relationship with them.

For me the goal this year is less to be running email marketing campaigns and more to learn how and possibly get started with the actual doing. I’m sure this goal will be closely connected to the previous one about developing a content marketing strategy.

Widen Distribution

Right now I sell Design Fundamentals in exactly one place, here on the site. I’m not reaching as many people as I can. When I published the book, I was hesitant to offer it through Amazon, the iBook Store, and whatever else is out there. The hesitance was mostly a lack of confidence, given it was my first book.

If I want to make a living selling my writing, I really should learn more about how and where I can do that. Fortunately the lack of confidence is no more. Having a publisher contact you to write for them has a funny way of making you believe you belong.

By this time next year, I want to be selling Design Fundamentals and any other book I write beyond this site alone. I can also do a better job reaching out to people I’ve helped in the industry and asking for a return on the favor.

In general I should be doing more to get my books in front of more people who might be interested in buying them.

A second part of this goal is wider distribution through writing for other sites. As a bonus I can usually get paid to write for other sites. It’s not getting rich money, but it is replace the need for another new client with writing money.

The only reason I haven’t written more for other sites is the time it usually takes me to write the articles. I managed to step up my production toward the end of the year and think I could now swing at least one guest article a month. Ideally more, but I’ll aim for a dozen guest articles in 2015.

Again, it’s a way for me to replace the need for another new client with content creation and it helps get me and my writing in front of new people likely to be interested in the things I write about here.

Theme #3—Design/Plan for the Future

Since the goals of my business are changing, this site needs to change to reflect the new goals. In 2015 it will be more important for me to create products, but I should be thinking about what to do once the products have been created.

Improve the Existing Site

I doubt I’ll find the time to redesign the site this year, which means I will need to make some changes to the current design.

You may have noticed I don’t yet have a page about the CSS Animations and Transitions book outside of a blog post or two. I need to rework the Books section here so each book has its own page and I need to create a main section page showing all (currently both) books I’ve written.

Maybe I’ll even get around to fixing the archives page I meant to work on last year. Umm…probably not.

Prepare for a New Site

I’ve also hinted here and in Monday’s post about an idea for a new site. I don’t want to say too much about it now, other than it fits in with my overall plan to move from service to product.

While I don’t want to talk specifics, I can tell you that I’m thinking through business and revenue models for the site and thinking through the content.

I want to write content for the site quietly in the background for awhile. Writing for myself will help me find the right voice for the site while working out some of the business and revenue stuff as I do.

It took me a few years to find the voice for this site. For the next one I’d like to do more of the finding in private before the site launches. This way I can refine my ideas for the site and its content.

Theme #4—Improve My Productivity System

Maybe this should be theme number ever-present. This is my annual goal that I’ll likely include forever in some form. Last year I worked hard to increase my productivity by really looking at how I could incorporate GTD and creativity into my workflow and into the tools I use.

Aside from simply getting better using the system I have in place, there are a couple of specific things I’d like to do.

Include More Tools

I now have all three versions of Things. Apple made the iOS versions free for a week and I was smart enough (or cheap enough) to get them. I now have access to my system on my phone, tablet, and laptop. I’d like to spend some time learning how the extra devices can work together to help me be more productive.

Until now I haven’t had a good way to add new tasks when I’m away from my laptop or have access to them either. I can now expand the system to have access and control from whatever device(s) I have with me.

I’m not sure how much it will help. Most of the time I’m at my laptop. I can see how access on my iPhone will help, but I’m not sure when I’ll use the iPad version. A year is a long time though, so I have plenty of days to figure it out. Hopefully I’ll let you know how it’s going before too much of 2015 has passed.

Try a New Set of Tools

I’d also like to give OmniFocus another try. While I chose Things, there’s a lot to like in OmniFocus. My main complaint with it was that I didn’t care for the design to the point that I didn’t like using the app despite all it can do.

Omnifocus 2 was released in early 2014 with a new design. It’s worth exploring again. I’ve also noticed the topics of productivity systems and productivity tools are generally popular and I don’t mind investing a little extra money in tools if it can lead to a post or series of posts.

I’m not sure when, but I’m thinking I’ll run the demo of OmniFocus alongside Things for the two weeks its trial lasts and see which I find myself using more at the end of the two weeks.

Depending on how the two weeks go, I may buy the OS X version of OmniFocus and perhaps even both iOS versions to fully compare OmniFocus and Things and see which works better for me.

Summary

I’ve added a slight twist to the goals I set each year. For a change I’ve organized my goals into several themes that contribute to my overall goal to transition from services to products in my business.

There are a variety of reasons for wanting to change business models and I’ll have more to say about it starting next Thursday.

Overall there are eight goals organized into four themes. I don’t expect to complete all eight goals. What I do expect is to complete enough in each of the four themes to have made significant progress in each. I’ll have to figure out how I’ll grade myself with the new organization, but I have just shy of a year to figure it out.

As always I’ll close by asking how many of you set goals for the year? Do you review the goals you set at the end of the year? I don’t always accomplish the things I set out to do, but I always learn more about myself and it helps give direction to my business.

Even if you don’t do this publicly, I recommend the practice. I find it helpful in keeping my business on track.

Happy New Year and enjoy what I hope is another long weekend for you. May 2015 be good to all of us.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

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