At the risk of sounding like Ebenezer Scrooge, I don’t like this time of year.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have a break with friends and family but, here in the UK, it seems like the world shuts down for two weeks. And I can’t wait to get going.
Time to reflect. I feel that 2013 was a pivotal year for me. 2013 was the year when I lost nearly half of my traffic, created 5 new products and realised the importance of my personal brand (if I didn’t already!)
I lost half my Google traffic in 2013
To be honest, if you’d told me 365 days ago that I would lose half of my Google traffic in a year, I’d have cried!
As you can see from the above Google Analytics screenshot, I had a gradual reduction in search traffic since the beginning of the year (complicated by a post that does very well towards the end of the year).
But, guess what? It didn’t matter! I just didn’t realise how unimportant Google organic traffic is to my brand. Almost every other metric, email subscribers, comments, engagement and, most tellingly, revenue, has increased.
2013 was the year I realised the importance of my personal brand and following – two factors that are mostly nothing to do with organic search.
Just think of the great bloggers you discovered in 2013? Think of the great tools, articles and sites you were made aware of in 2013? How did you hear about them? I’m guessing it was through your network, not Google search. Am I right?
People buy from people
2013 was the year I realised people need to trust your personal brand if they are going to buy your products.
Not so, maybe, if I was selling pancakes – then I would need to create the tastiest pancakes and sell them for the right price. But for those of us who are selling digital information products it’s only the brand trustworthiness that matters.
People buy from people. Purchasing is an emotional decision that’s not based on algorithms, conversion rates or sexy graphics.
One of the great mantras of Internet marketing is “test, test, test and test again”. But, I was never very good at tests at school.
For me I think it’s possible to get a little bit too obsessed with testing. For example, little tweaks via A/B tests on conversion pages don’t make a whole lot of difference if you’re not getting much traffic to that conversion page.
Another way to test is to do loads of content.
Why don’t we just create products instead of testing? If you can create a product and it does really badly – there’s a test right there! I’m being a little flippant here, but I don’t think I can over-exaggerate the importance of action.
The importance of an email list
I have come to realise the power of my website and email list in “kickstarting” new products. Every time I published a new course or a new Kindle book I send out an email and I always got, at least, a few sales and a few positive reviews – sometimes more. This starts the product’s lifestyle with a nice bit of momentum.
It’s a really good idea to incentivise people to join your email list – say that you will email them the next time you have a free course or a free book out. That is a good reason for joining a list and it’s something of real value you could offer.
The importance of “2nd tier” platforms
What am I talking about here? “2nd tier” platforms are, for want of a better phrase, the online platforms that aren’t huge (Google, Facebook, Twitter) but are still big.
Some examples of “2nd tier” platforms:
Small personal brands like mine can’t compete on the super-massive social networks – there’s too much noise. However, take a step down to the next level and you have platforms that aren’t huge but still have millions of people on them. This is where you can compete.
The importance of relationships
And I can’t finish without mentioning the most important thing of all – and that is relationships.
I would like to thank each and every one of you who is reading this article at the moment. And thank you to those who have tweeted, shared, commented, emailed and generally engaged with me this year. There have been more of you this year than any other year in the past and I would be nowhere without your help. So thank you so much!
You can do it
You can take your personal brand to the next level in 2014. Let’s do it together – it’ll be fun!