2015 Year End Updates, Announcements, Along With Some Other Thoughts

As the year comes to a close, as usual, I like to do some general “house keeping” on all things related to not only this blog but other projects I may be working on, and/or the direction/directions I’m taking. This year will be no different, although some of those directions will be different, in a few different ways as I’ll explain. (Say that sentence 10 times fast!)

First, a few overall metrics I’m both proud of, as well as gratefully humbled by.

The term “beyond my wildest expectations” is the only one that seems to fit when I’m asked by family or friends “How’s that blog thing of yours doing?” However, let’s be truthful: your family and friends always seem genuinely interested in what you do – but really could care less. It’s just the way of the world.

So with that said. How is this “blog thing” doing? Well, if I said it has grown it would be an understatement. Traffic to the site had exponential growth this year along with the same being said for new subscribers. However, two facts on subscribers really took my breath away. One: the amount of new subscribers was as inspiring as it was surprising. Yet, the second was even more: It appears very few if any older subscribers (older being of at least a year) left or “unsubscribed” as the term goes. (There’s always churn regardless, just how many or why is what you need or want to pay attention to in my opinion)

With as many differing thoughts on subject matter and topics as I espouse here, not losing readers is just (if not more so) as humbling as it is in gaining. And while I’ve said this a hundred times over the years, I can’t say it often enough:

I am grateful, as well as humbled, for every one of you. And this goes for not only readers and subscribers, but also every news source, media outlet, other writers that have quoted me, bloggers who have re-posted or referenced me, and the countless others across the globe. And yes, even my detractors. Again – thank you to all.

Another milestone is the amount of people who vary from around the world that routinely visit. I remember when I released my first book via the site Christmas 2012 and documented the response on a mirror lens I had on Squidoo™ at that time, and was taken aback when it was being downloaded in over 20 countries within first 48 hours. When approximately a year or so later traffic to the site broke readers from 50 different countries I was further amazed. When it broke 100 a few years later I thought surely that was a peak. Yet, this year, this blog marked an all time high with visits from readers in 156 different countries. Think about that – 156. That’s basically the entire known world. And what’s more astounding? They continue to visit routinely.

On any given day the blog is visited on average from 10 differing countries. And the make up of those countries also changes daily depending of the subject matter. On average every 30 days: over 100 countries sporting a diverse group of readers ebbs and flows.

Some might say: “So what. In today’s world of social media doesn’t everyone?” To which I normally reply, “Well actually no – most don’t. And, remember – I don’t use it.” This is where most I’ve spoken with when the topic of “social” comes up become like dear-in-the-headlights because, they are of the mindset – that’s not possible without it.

Remember: I have been one of the lone voices stating, “The only people making money in social media – are those selling you social media.”

That statement has landed me at the butt-end of many an argument, as well as many a discussion from a stage when ever the topic of business practices were on the table. However, the only way to prove my point – was to show that point in actual practice. I have written many times and explained previously such as here and here. And my thoughts currently have not changed.

Yet, as I always have to reiterate: That doesn’t mean I think social or sharing doesn’t have its value. It’s knowing what that value is too you and putting it into its proper place that makes all the difference. For I myself have sharing buttons – I just don’t have any accounts. That may change in the future, but as of this writing, it still holds. Same goes for comments. e.g., I’ve never hosted them. (this again is where I can silence an auditorium)

So, in staying with this theme here are a few announcements, as well as rationals, that you may find useful in your own endeavors because, once again – I’m doing things that everyone else will say, “That’s just nuts! Nobody is doing that.” Which is precisely why I’m doing it.

Not that I’m sort of martyr. It’s just that I believe this is the way. And if you’re going to be or, want to be a thought leader on the big stage; you don’t do it from standing pat and pointing for people too “Go there!” You say “Look, I’m going here – follow me!

What you do is up to you however, I’ll just add one small detail: I have a track record of being correct and ahead of pack. And I’ve done this by doing near the exact opposite of those that proclaim they’re “experts” on such things. Again, what works for you is entirely up too you. Just don’t kid yourself with vanity metrics as opposed to metrics you need to put food on the table with or, pay the mortgage. If you’re running a business – run a business. Know, accept, and be responsible for outcomes. Excuses are for hobbies – not business. Knowing the difference between the two and acting accordingly makes all the difference in one’s chosen career, as well as bank balance. Again: Think about it. For there’s never been a time in recent memory this fact is going to be more relevant beginning in 2016. Trust me on this. So, on to the announcements and rationales.

First: I will be deleting, as well as removing, all audio and video content from outside sources. e.g, iTunes® and others. All recorded material as far as audio, podcasts, video, etc., etc. will only be found here or, a deemed affiliate. So let me answer the obvious – why?

I decided years ago there’s really no reason to give away content for free that doesn’t seem to add or provide any quid pro quo benefit. e.g., social media sites and more. I’ve also found the same goes for the podcast genre. It works for some, however for myself, I’m increasingly finding it more of a wasted effort having my material elsewhere. Sure a few years ago one wanted (as well as needed) to make sure their material could be easily listened to, or downloaded, and places such as iTunes or others were perfect for just that. However, in today’s day and age it’s really no longer necessary and moving away from it I believe will be the prudent move going forward. For example:

I can host all my material (e.g., intellectual property) on my own site and allow downloading (or not) both easily and with less complications such as frivolous DRM take-downs on YouTube™, or others like when Apple™ took down whole podcasts because some had inadvertently pictured an actual apple in their promo picture. Or worse – when users find out their uploaded content can be made available for sale without their consent or compensation. (Remember the Instagram™ debacle for one?) And a whole lot more. (On an aside note – it’s also why I host my site on WordPress™. For they have taken the frivolous DRM take-down shakedown chaos seriously, and have made it a plank in their platform to stand on in defense for their users. Personally I applaud them and is an important reason why I remain a client.)

Also – why would I want to send people elsewhere, where I have less control over my own products or intellectual property, when I don’t have to?

I believe this is an important point many should consider or reevaluate pertaining to their own intellectual property. Again: are you running a business – or a hobby?  It’s an important point, don’t let it be lost on you. Times have changed. Platforms and other things are much more resilient than just 3 or 5 years ago. In most cases – things work today across most platforms and devices in ways that are light-years ahead from just a few years ago. Ask yourself: Are you using them out of habit – or necessity?

So, with that all said: I’m changing things with mine. However, please feel free to download anything you like while it’s still available.

I know there are a lot of you right now thinking “That’s nuts!” Especially if I were to add that thousands have downloaded and most people in these stores don’t even get 10, which is the number or stat I last saw reported. (on an aside I believe it was also reported more than 1/2 to 2/3rds never attract 1 download) Again, with that said, I believe hosting all my own material, on my own site (or, as I stated earlier; on an approved affiliate) is the way or direction one should take today. And like always, if I’m going to say others should – then I’ll do it myself i.e., leading by example.

And for those who may be new to my work I’ll just add this for some insight on why I may be saying, or doing what I’m doing now. Because I know at first blush it sounds the exact opposite of what anyone else would say or do. However, I do have a track-record of being ahead more often than not. Below is just one example. But its a relative one.

I was one of the first (if not 1 of only 3) along with Seth Godin, and Guy Kawasaki who had an app in the App store dedicated solely to one’s writings. This was at a time when most were not only wondering “What’s an app?” but also many of the so-called “smart crowd” were professing apps were a passing thing and stand alone software programs were going to dominate for the foreseeable future (circa 2010.) My app ran for years till I decided it was no longer necessary (for it would have taken a complete rebuild to meet new security requirements in iOS9®) and I found the cost as well as the “necessity” of having it no longer equitable. (even though it still runs on my own iPad® in the newest iOS without a hitch. How’s that for durability!) So it’s not like I haven’t thought things through.

I mention only for the idea that maybe this might help spur, or make one reconsider any plans you may be contemplating. Just a thought. For remember: I don’t use anything the people telling (or selling) say that I (or you) must. The results? Using verifiable, accepted standards, and practices, not some pie-in-the-sky metrics – mine usually dwarf those of all the others using everything I’m not. So with that said, to quote Jobs, “Think different.”

Second: This site itself is changing. Again, just as I expressed changes in content elsewhere, so too is content going to change on this site. The blog has grown so much, and become so diverse with readers, it’s now time to start and compartmentalize a few things for the benefit of everyone. Here are a few key points:

The blog itself is going to have 2 distinct sections.

One for general readers, and one for “Exclusive Content” made available only to paid members and/or email subscribers (or followers.)

Segmenting and why:

As I iterated earlier the blog has grown, and subscribers have grown. But it’s now grown far beyond my original expectations with many of my articles now appearing on other news sites and blogs. Yet, as proud as I am about not losing older subscribers we’ve also experienced another phenom with the exact opposite effect. We’ve had just as impressive a number that have signed on as new subscribers – then – unsubscribed within 1 or 2 subsequent posts.

I wrote about this last year and expressed what we believed was the underlying cause. The reason (we believe) many came or, were redirected here from the myriad of other news sites or blogs that may have picked up or used a topic I wrote about. (and again let me say thank you too all) The new readers seemed to have liked the viewpoint (why else subscribe being the reasoning) and decided it was worth while to read more when published. Then, because of the nature of the blog being what some have deemed “eclectic,” they next received not any insight of news per sé. Rather, maybe a motivational insight followed by an executive insight then thought “What’s this crap?” or “I don’t care about any of this stuff!” and poof – unsubscribed. Or, vice versa.

So with this newly formed understanding becoming a little clearer over this past year, the segmenting seems an obvious conclusion. After all, in the end, it really is about giving people as little – as well as – as much as they want – when they want it, no? It will roll out over the coming weeks and be “a work in progress” as we work out some kinks.

That being said: If you subscribe or follow (or currently are one) you’ll see the change in the way the emails will come. I believe it will be easier for those who want to read this, but not that, yet, don’t want to miss anything greater flexibility in choosing what’s of interest. Again – this part will all be for Free.

OK, now to the 800lb. gorilla: “Purchases? What do you mean – purchases? Don’t tell me this thing is going behind a paywall?!”

Well no – and yes. So let me explain: Many posts over the years have been directed primarily at entrepreneurs, business managers, executives, and more. The ideas behind these writings were for the sole purpose of helping many struggling with quantifying their efforts between profitability or, insolvency, and a whole lot more. I have been pleased by the responses from readers that have told me things such as, “That idea alone helped me increase our margins by 20%!” and “I was just about ready to venture into this project when I read your article and it made me rethink – why am I really doing this? I decided to go a different way and it was one of the best decisions I made in years. Thanks! for that insight!” And there are many more along these lines where I’m grateful I could help shed some light.

However, what I’ve also found, as well as had demonstrated is the old adage “free advice” falls on deaf ears no matter how good it may be. Most times, unless there’s some form of “buy in” it may as well go unsaid.

I’m not the only one thinking this way. Seth Godin has also expressed a similar view recently when he announced he was raising the price on some of his offerings purely for the “buy in” effect. If you are serious about offering ideas that you feel need to be facilitated, then you need people committed to that idea. And “buy in” is one of the ways to help facilitate just that.  So, with that said, much of my business insights (e.g., “Profiting At The Bottom Line™” and others) will now take different forms and be available only within segregated offerings. Some will be repackaged, some will be re-written, some may stay just the way they are only now will have a price tag associated with them. Many will be removed from the archives and more. There will be more updates coming as the year goes on so, as they say on TV, “Stay Tuned!”

And remember: People who make the effort to subscribe (or follow) for free via the email links, too me – are more than just casual readers and should be rewarded accordingly. Therefore all subscribers (both free as well as paying) will be notified of any discounts available to purchase other products or services that will be made available on an ongoing basis if they so wish to take advantage of these. Again: these will be made only to subscribers (or followers) whether free or paying. It’s my way of showing appreciation. And remember: We won’t share your email with anyone. Period.

Onto another monkey: The book! When is this book “The Business Of I” coming out? It’s been over a year! What, do you have writers block or something?! Don’t know how to use a keyboard? C’mon already!”

Yes, those are some actual comments I’ve received, and they are legitimate in some ways. But no so much in others. And here’s why.

Although I control and own all my own material as well as intellectual property. I also produce it. In other words – I am beholden to no outside forces as to how, why, or where my property will be released. Nor do I have any imposed “meet the deadline or your advance gets pulled” hanging over my head. It’s good in some ways, bad in others. But overall it’s for one purpose: If I don’t like the direction, or even the finished product itself; I can (and have) changed in midstream or, in finality junked it all together. Which I have done on more than one occasion. Plus we built a new studio and I’m working out some of kinks there also. More on this subject as the year unfolds.

Normally I have no issues when it comes to “shipping” products (shipping meaning creating something and actually sending it out into the world when it’s good enough rather than waiting or tinkering around the edges forever where it stays in limbo indefinitely) for I usually ship far earlier and often than most. However, the more I worked on it – the more it became obvious it was more than just a book. It was evolving into more of a program, or course, seminar, and such. The more I tried to make it fit into a book form, the more it took on the outward appearance of being as thick as War and Peace. So, I’ve once again (to StreetCry’s call for my head!) decided to scrap the “book first” original concept and offer it in other ways or mediums first. Again, more details on this later as 2016 rolls out I promise.

I fully expect 2016 to be a banner year for those who didn’t buy into the “everything is awesome” nonsense and have been fortifying as well as vigilantly observant for opportunities to be exploited that maybe once in a lifetime opportunities in the upcoming future. Again; to those who are prepared. I fully expect 2016 will shake what many now conceived as “impossible” or “implausible” scenarios to its core exposing many where they will find themselves totally caught off guard, and no idea of what to do next. It’s sad, but true.

However, that doesn’t mean it has to be you. And just the very fact that you are reading this makes it manifest that you have decided to be one of the few that won’t be caught off guard.

Whether you agree with me or not is in some way inconsequential. What’s more important is you have demonstrated by your own action in reading this – that you – are in fact – looking for answers or clues. Again: so that you – can navigate your own vessel in what might be the next watershed event. And for that I salute you, and am proud to stand with you. For remember:

There are greater and more lasting riches made in times of uncertainty by those who are certain to not fall prey to calamities – than all the riches made then lost when everyone thought getting rich was easy.

Here’s looking to a prosperous 2016.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr