Last year I wrote my first end of year blog post. I view these type of posts as a good chance to look back over the year and see what I accomplish, but also what I had difficulty with.
Some people reflect too much and that prevents action. I am on the other extreme. Thus, I try to fight against my natural impulse to just barrel ahead with posts like this.
To keep this from being totally self indulgent experience, I will be publishing additional blog posts in the coming weeks that talk about what I learned this year, including tips and tricks, in four different areas.
Here is my year in review…
Blog Post Types and Frequency
One of my focuses this year was to blog more consistently. While I didn’t achieve my goal of blogging once a week, I did do 80 blog posts over the last year. While most of my posts were text focused, I feel like I better incorporated video and images this year into my blogging. I am not a professional graphic artist or videographer, but I do feel that like writing, the ability to use these mediums is an increasingly important part of being able to express ideas and reach people.
Blogging as News
This year LLsocial became a venue to publish actual news. I am grateful to have worked with many friends who are reporters. They were instrumental in helping me navigate this field.
My final point on last year’s year in review post proved to forshadow the year to come.
Joined Pinterest and found my collecting impulse reignited.
My February story on Pinterest using Skimlinks to monetize links was picked up by the New York Times and then pretty much the rest of Internet. This blog got 30,000 unique visitors in one day, and it was great to see the site actually stayed up. My other reporting on Pinterest continues to get picked up by leading online publications across the web.
The most extensively research piece I ever published, Search Secrets, may have led to Google taking action to temporarily remove an entire SEO agency’s website from Google. The story was featured as a “Must Read” by AllThingsD as well as getting extensive coverage and debate in the SEO community.
It resulted in me being the target of threats and ad hominem attacks, but also led me to better research the SEO space. The research for the Search Secrets piece and subsequent observation of the SEO industry has made me better consider how my social and content work figures into the SEO space, and for that I am grateful. A variety of SEO tools have been added to my daily use, and I plan to blog about some of them in the coming year.
I also produced news stories that where picked up by other publications around Kickstarter, Twitter, Facebook and many around Pinterest.
My friend Patrick Conroy helped me learn some of the basics of creating videos. It is always helpful to be able to learn from someone who already is using a medium, so I am very grateful.
I did some screen-casting to supplement blog posts, interviewed the Clipboard CEO as well as a doing Pinterest video series with Lauren Orsini. Lauren and I created 30 videos over five episodes, but we stopped doing our show due to other commitments. Video takes some getting used to, but I am glad to have the experience and knowledge in my “tool box”.
I created three infographics in 2012. All of them revolved around Pinterest. In all cases I used Piktochart to create them. This is a very intuitive tool that can help you create high quality infographics with your data. It is template based, but if you have design skills you can supplement their existing image options.
My Pinterest image size infographic has over 2000 Pins/Repins and generated half a dozen high quality links back to the site. Beyond that, I think it was plain useful. Ironically, this first infographic was likely my best one. The two subsequent ones where a bit of a stretch in terms of how useful they were, but they still got a good reception and took much less time to create than the first one.
While @free was a top focus in 2011, it suffered a bit in 2012. Last year I regretted creating a custom text marketing service, and this year I continued to let the text service flounder. @free is still doing sponsorships, but the number of sponsorships didn’t keep pace with last year.
I have learned that reach alone is not a business model. Ad based revenue is not enough unless you reach a scale that is fairly substantial or is very specific to a niche. I have learned a considerable amount running @free, but most important was trying various business models. When you start with the premise that everything is free, it can be difficult to monetize.
I am still committed to sharing free offers, but it doesn’t appear that @free will be my sole focus and or my primary income. It is hard to say, but I believe it to be a realistic side project/hobby that generates respectable income.
That said, there were a number of small successes. @free took off on Pinterest with close to 10,000 followers in less than a year. We maintained our reach on Twitter and expanded our highlighting of free iOS apps.
Perhaps our biggest success came with our new site BdayFreeDay which shares free birthday offers. The site was developed by Philsquare, and achieved a half million unique visitors in its first year. Keep an eye out for a blog post in the couple weeks that covers the details of this site’s success, and how you can leverage what I learned.
Social Media Club of Lawrence
June was the second anniversary of the Social Media Club of Lawrence. I was the Program Chair this year. I organized and came up with unique topics for over 40+ weekly, in-person meetings. I had some ambitious ideas for the club, and I think we did make some improvements, but I found that most of our members were happy with weekly Wednesday meetings. I plan to continue to part of the group, and will be interested to see where the club is at in June and a year from now.
Most of my client work is done in the Enterprise B2B space. As much I would like to talk about our successes (and yes, provide clients with some high quality links from my blog for SEO purposes 😉 ), the nature of these industries is that agencies don’t really talk about clients’ work publicly.
I will say that I have got to work with some great companies, and I am excited about not only working with companies who are looking to get started on thought leadership and social media , but also companies who already have of history of success in this area. Working with companies that already produce high-quality, consistent content, has allowed me to do more specialized and detailed work.
The amount of client work in the second half of 2012 has resulted in fewer blog posts, but I am hopeful that some of this experience can transfer to meaningful blog posts in 2013.
Thanks so much for reading the blog this year. If you have any topics you want covered in 2013 or have any questions related to your own projects, please feel free to post a comment here or contact me.