I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by.
First of all, I want to thank you all for being loyal readers and listeners. About two years ago, I decided to start Growth Everywhere as a way to pay it forward to people looking to learn about business and personal growth.
I’ve learned a lot since then (and have made a TON of mistakes).
This will be my first year doing an annual review. I find that whenever I write down recaps of the past year, it helps me see how much I’ve actually accomplished.
Who knows, I might even start doing this monthly.
Here are the Growth Everywhere highlights of 2015:
How to Find Fulfilling Work: The Framework by Best Selling Author of ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’ Cal Newport
Cal Newport is the author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You and the brain behind the popular blog Study Hacks, which helps decode the patterns of success in both school and the working world. He’s been featured in major publications like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the New York Post.
The biggest takeaway I got from this interview is how to do deep work. Cal is exceptional at eliminating distractions (he doesn’t really touch social media) and hones in on his craft meticulously. We can all learn a thing or two from that.
How Foundr Magazine Grew Its Instagram Account From 0 to 300,000 Followers In Just 10 Months
Nathan Chan is the founder of Foundr Magazine, an app-based subscription publication that features high-quality interviews with entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and Barbara Corcoran.
Beyond revealing his process to actually land these interviews with such seemingly hard-to-get celebrity-level entrepreneurs, he also reveals the step-by-step process he went through to grow Foundr Magazine’s Instagram account from zero to 300,000 subscribers in just 10 months.
This is my favorite interview because of all the actionable insights that Nathan shares. He doesn’t hold back; he gives the exact numbers, tools, and tactics to grow your Instagram account.
10 Steps To Creating A Successful Sales Team From Scratch
This is a post I wrote two years ago and it’s the gift that keeps on giving. It’s around 2,000 words and has a lot of statistics and links to outside sources.
Take a look at this graph:
You can see that the majority of traffic coming to this post is from Google. The key takeaway here is to write posts that are longer form, actionable, and backed by statistics and links.
You’re not always going to hit a winner like this one, but if you keep doing it over and over, you’re going to build compounding organic traffic over time.
Content Expansion: How To Maximize Your Content
This is a post on content distribution. There’s a ton of content on the web on the importance of content marketing and how to excel at it, but I found that there’s a lack of actionable information around distribution—the second most important thing after creating a great content piece.
I spent over four weeks writing this post (more than 4,000 words) and I’m happy with the results. More importantly, this is a documented process I can show to my team members in the future so they’ll know exactly what I’m looking for when it comes to distribution.
The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
I’m just finishing this book right now and I think it’s a must read for anybody. Author Ryan Holiday gives many examples on how to turn trials into triumphs and makes it easy to understand how stoicism can help us succeed in life.
We ALL have to deal with a myriad of problems every day. This book teaches you how to respond to them.
I’ve read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and while I think it’s a great read, it’s not particularly easy. The Obstacle Is The Way makes everything simple to understand and practical.
DotComSecrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online
For a large part of 2015, I spent my time focused on moving to a new e-mail service provider and learning more about marketing funnels. This is THE book to educate yourself on how you can build out a funnel for your business.
You might be thinking, ‘But funnels are aggressive and slimy, so they would never work for my business!’.
Not entirely true. You can take the fundamentals of this book and apply them in a way that won’t damage your brand.
All it takes is a little creativity.
This is the best ‘hack’ I’ve started implementing in 2015. When I go to the gym in the morning, I no longer listen to music. It’s all 100% podcasts. On 2x speed. Double the learning while I get stronger? That’s like cheating.
Here are my favorite podcasts:
Derek Halpern Drops Knowledge On How He Built A 300,000 Subscriber E-mail List
This is another incredibly actionable interview I did…this time with Derek Halpern. The basis of building a 300K e-mail subscriber list? Distribution. This is one of the reasons I wrote my post on ‘content expansion.’ You’ll love the energy from this interview.
I did a survey to see what type of content you’re most interested in. Based on your input, I will be producing more content around content marketing, SEO, conversion rate optimization, and advertising in 2016.
Here are the results:
In terms of lessons – Wow. Where to start? I learned A LOT in 2015. I tried a bunch of new things and had some successes and some failures. But it’s all about the lessons you learned along the way.
In-person dinner – At Digital Marketer’s Traffic & Conversion conference in February, I hosted my first dinner that included a few marketing notables such as John Lee Dumas, Pat Flynn, Rick Mulready, Jaime Tardy, and friends of mine. Being able to connect in person will always trump online. I plan to host more of these in the future to develop actual relationships (instead of Skype contacts ?
Spoke at VC event – Although I spoke at a few events during the year, the most notable one was the FirstMark Marketing Summit in NYC. FirstMark Capital is a VC firm that has invested in companies such as Spotify and Pinterest. The audience was a very savvy group and I met people from SAP and Pepsi. Was also great to catch up with Brian Balfour from HubSpot, Mick Hollison from InsideSales, and Clark Varberg from InvisionApp.
You can watch my talk here:
APHB – My wearing out list! Most of you on my e-mail list know that I launched a hiring course this year. This was my first foray into courses and I can say this was a humbling learning experience. The product is great and has a lot of utility but I made the mistake of trying to go for the transaction too aggressively. I also wore out my list by shoving the hiring webinars down their throats. The truth is my audience is interested in marketing content and I ignored that fact. Moving forward, I’ll be tweaking this product to make it work in 2016.
Growth Bites – Growth Bites was a daily 5-10 minute audio segment of just me talking on the Growth Everywhere podcast. I shared thoughts on book recommendations, tools to use, how to deal with certain business situations, and more. This was growing at a solid pace but I just became inconsistent with it. My goal is to convert some of these successful episodes into longer-form pieces in 2016 while also bringing back a similar format to Growth Bites.
Summit – The next ‘course’ that I did was an online conference called The Growth Summit. This is where I brought together industry experts such as John Lee Dumas, Neil Patel, Hiten Shah, Steli Efti, and many others to teach the latest in marketing. Typically, summits that are more consumer focused (e.g. weight loss) do really well because they’re very broad. I didn’t think about that in this scenario and we only did OK for the time invested.
Skillshare content marketing course – Skillshare reached out in August and offered to fly to my home to do a course on content marketing. As of December 22, 2015, the course is live!
If you want to access the course absolutely free, just click here.
Currently, I already have 1,269 students and a 100% rating, so this will continue to grow over time. I’m amazed by the distribution power of Skillshare and will consider doing more courses with them in 2016.
2016 is all about the year of content. I’m calling it ‘Content Blitz 2016’! I’ve improved my processes for both Growth Everywhere and Single Grain where I can now focus on doing the things I love: getting better at marketing and sharing my learnings with you all.
Some of my goals:
If you have any thoughts on how I can serve you better, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your thoughts in the comments below!