New Year, New Host

I’ve been a WP Engine (WPE) customer for years. Love the service. Amazing support. Awesome founder. But when you’re running a pet project on the back of a WordPress Multisite installation, all it takes to switch is an overage bill that exceeds your monthly charge and even exceeds the charge you’d typically pay for the “Scale” plan. That is, my little publication network is hogging so much bandwidth that it had to be migrated twice and then kicked me in the … wallet, adding insult to injury.

Fast-forward to Day 9 of 2020 and I’m in the midst of migrating dozens of sites away from WP Engine to DigitalOcean (DO) via Cloudways. The difference? Holy moo! TTFB on my dedicated DO droplet is a fraction of that running sites on a shared WPE server. The WP Dashboard loads instantly! Imagine that! No one or two-second delay. It’s like I’m running WordPress locally. Plus, I get insightful data via New Relic. Did I mention I actually know my server specs? Try asking WPE what your site’s running on. It’s a black box. Horizontal scaling? I can manage that through a few clicks. Done. Best of thing of all? I’m paying a fraction of the price — BAM.

Epiphanies

Extended Play 2020

In keeping with attempting to tackle something new every year that’s an extension of myself, I’ve got something in mind — an EP, or extended play for 2020. I was thinking an album at first, but that’s too heavy and too much pressure. Four or five chillout tracks? Sure, why not … maybe end of next year or so. It’s a break from design, marketing, UX/UI, product, product roadmaps, etc. … just pure art, in whatever crappy form it may end up in. It’ll be like that one time I wrote a book in three months on a topic that I now loathe, ha! Good times.

Epiphanies

Strategic Planning & Forecasting

I used to have many false preconceptions of what I thought were relatively easy skills to master given X amount of time — anything from marketing to design and development. Turns out, all of those are fairly difficult. But again, with enough rigor, grit, trial and error, those have skills have become easier (heavy emphasis on the “ier” part) over time.

Several years into delving into all of these skill sets, I’ve encountered what has yet to be the most difficult task — forecasting. While all three aforementioned skills all deal with some rudimentary type of forecasting, mostly in the form of resource allocation (we predict X should happen when we devote Y marketing/design/development resources to it), when it comes to the financials, that part’s always been a black box and barf-inducing buzzword to the highest of levels. And that black box has to deal with the overall picture and trajectory you want to hit. That’s a huge undertaking and challenge — doing the resource allocation forecasting on all three fronts plus the varying ways you could take something from Point A to Point B —  and it’s something I’m starting to delve into … so, onward and hakuna matata.

Epiphanies

What Monday Taught Me

Nope, not the actual day but rather the project management platform that I’ve been retargeted for. One of the little micro-interactions that sold me on trying it out was the color-coded task statuses in one of their video ads. Very neat feature. But… I’m cheap and I’m on the freebie PM tool that’s called Trello, which sort of kind of has a similar feature with their color-coded labels. Not as pretty but, hey, it works.

Short story long, I had no idea of the power of this color coding it would have of me completing certain tasks, but it’s actually quite satisfying, especially if you have 60-plus or so tasks at hand. The rainbow of colors that you’re greeted with is visually stimulating, anxiety-building yet equally motivating. My favorite part is when said rainbow turns into a field of greens … ahh yes, done, done and DONE! It’s a built-in reward mechanism that keeps you on track. And there goes your productivity hack of the day. Hakuna matata.

Epiphanies

Your site performs above average for male age 25-34

Headline up there comes courtesy of Google Analytics, which you’ve also got set up on your site/app, hopefully, lest you love navigating in the dark. With that in mind, as it has become customary on this written stream of consciousness, here are some tidbits for you guys …

  • If you’re in that 25-34 age range and want to dip your toes into SaaS-land, get as close to the scene as possible … Silicon Valley if you can swing it.
  • If you’ve got a choice between more money up front + stability vs. bigger reward (financial/career/connections/etc.), take the latter.
  • Learn how to sell … lots of different approaches out there. Grant Cardone has dialed it down pretty well but his tactics aren’t for everybody.
  • Set goals where you want to be in 5 to 10 years from now (family, no family, X amount of businesses built/exited, etc.).
  • 10% toward your 401K … compound interest is no joke. Also, CDs with good rates can yield a higher return if you can swing the terms.
  • Sunscreen.

There you go. Happy July Hump Day.

 

Epiphanies

60-Plus Open Items And Counting

It’s that time of the month again when a few random thoughts spur some fingers to dance on this lovely keyboard laying in front of me. That is, in trying to keep up with some sort of regular cadence in posting posts, I’m starting to look at the date of my last post thinking, “oh, I really haven’t posted in a while.” Not a bad thing. More like a floodgate problem. In fact, there are 60 open items on my personal Trello board that I’m keeping track of, with each part progressing ever so slightly — it’s that life-long gantt chart.

BUT! Progress, yes. I used to think I could keep important things in my head. But that list got too long and my memory fails. Next up: a sheet of paper to continue writing that list. But I’m terrible at keeping loose papers organized, too. Awesomesauce. Enter: Trello. Not really a plug… let’s call it kanban-style notes. Monday.com has some cool project management features that ship with that sort of thing, but it’s way too pricey for a personal endeavor, and the former is free, so there’s that. At any rate, now it’s just a matter of managing that list and chipping away at it. Onward then.

 

Epiphanies

Top 3 Audiobook Playlist on SaaS Apps

Mandatory post since life is busy… a good list on audiobooks for SaaS apps.

  • The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky
  • Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Technology Projects to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore
  • Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World by Rand Fishkin

If you like to build stuff online, these are awesome books full of actionable advice and immersive anecdotes.

Epiphanies

24 Notes on Instagram

Not a thorough post… more like sticky notes…

  1. Growing from 0 to 100 feels like a slog
  2. Growing from 100 to 150 still feels like a slog
  3. When you’re near 200, going beyond feels really fast
  4. Growing to 350 feels like a lot of work
  5. Growing 50-100 users per week is doable provided you post regularly
  6. At 150 followers, you’ll start getting bombarded with tons of spam messages
  7. Growing at a good clip means 10-15 posts a day
  8. Posting fewer than 10 posts will lead to a net negative
  9. Posting more than 20-30 posts a day will yield a net positive
  10. Using the right hashtags will far beat out any posts with few and/or unpopular hashtags
  11. Definitely use more than 10 hashtags per post … 20-30 is ideal
  12. Posting original content at 20-30 posts/day if it’s not a full-time commitment will deplete you
  13. If you can’t post 20-30 original posts/day, #repost
  14. If you edit too many posts within a short time frame on the same day, expect captions to be disabled on your account the next day
  15. Most followers will thank you for a repost
  16. Some followers will promote you for a repost
  17. Posting in the mornings will yield more likes
  18. Getting into a posting rhythm is fun … if you can commit to the timesuck
  19. Posting on a large variety of topics will make a very time-consuming and arduous growth in followers
  20. Using the right niche hashtags makes all the difference
  21. Finding niche tags means following the hashtags rabbit hole
  22. After posting hundreds of pictures, you’ll notice the fragile and vapid existence of social media
  23. Everybody is doing the same thing, hence, all the spam
  24. #moodygrams are awesome
Epiphanies

Data Due Diligence

A funny thing happens when your web traffic starts to travel up and to the right … you tend to overlook the outliers. Sure, you’re aware that those tiny spikes can offset your overall raw dataset by a small margin, or even a relatively significant one. But what about 30% of traffic? What if almost one in three uniques is screwing up your whole data? That’s what happened after postponing data due diligence.

In effect, what I thought to be exponential growth was just normal growth, after removing every single spike to smooth out the overall data. My new data is more accurate, less exciting, but it’s also more motivation to try harder and see if there are any improvement I can make to drive it up higher, faster. If you’re analyzing your data through Google Analytics, I implore you to clean it all up by removing data from yourself, your friends (maybe even your town if it’s fewer than 80,000 people) and any cities that have spiked only once a year (I’m looking at you Ashburn, VA and Boardman, OR). Set up those special segments in GA and dive a little deeper into your data. Mahalo.

Epiphanies

The Reality of Setbacks

Last year ended on whimpering note for one of my passion projects. Just as I was recovering from the growth slump following two months of seemingly exponential growth, December 2018 proved to be even more dismal. Numbers stagnated across the board for every single metric and that’s when Gary Vaynerchuck’s advice of “deploying massive patience” kicked in. I chalked up the cruddy stats to the holidays — a drop, not a dip, north of 30% — and went about my usual business of running things.

Fast-forward to the last day of January 2019, every metric across the board jumped beyond the 30% drop. That is the reality of setbacks. They stink. They make you question decisions and keep your mind analyzing on how to solve them. But, sometimes, it’s the actual act of waiting that’s all you need. So, note to self: keep it cool and chill out a bit for this year’s drop in December.

Epiphanies