So it is December again, another year bidding us a swift goodbye when we are just starting to like the sound of it. Ready or not, like it or not, in the cold of the night (except for you lucky souls on an island or in the southern hemisphere), we switch over to a new year. Every year, I would hold a ritual not uncommon to a million others; I would write down (with a pen on paper in a notebook, remember those?) my year-long deep reflections and promises of command performance for the new year.
This year is different, a massively better kind of different. I have a captive audience (you lovelies) and a blogging community encouraging us all to do the Year in Review without letting up (Srini, this one is thanks to you, my dear!) ! I am all for self-reflection but the challenge isn’t in doing a year in review but in doing one without sounding irrelevant to you, my readers (and as importantly, without sounding anything like Time magazine!!)?
How can I make you care about me without showing you that I care about you first?
In that spirit and in the amusing coincidence of this being the 200th post, I decided to do a year-end review by relating every change, experience, and milestone to you. Everything that went well or served a huge learning curve has made the list if — and only if - it is relevant, useful and helpful to you, so read on, dear one, this is our year-end review:
1. Nurtured Blog Growth:
For the first time, I am sharing some numbers here in the light of transparency as to what Prolific Living has done of late:
Subscribers: From a mere 38 lovely subscribers on Jan 1st of 2010 to 923 awesome ones as of Dec 30th of 2010 and with most of the growth happening in the last 3 months.
Hits: From 5300 hits a month to 21,100 hits a month on web traffic and from a daily average of 173 hits to 718 hits daily.
Alexa: This is a website that rates and ranks all world’s websites. The score went from an abysmally large number to 84,775 Alexa Score. The lower, the better, apparently!
The relevance to you is the sheer confidence and assurance in that anything is possible if you steadily and consistently nurture it.
If you blog, you can grow it. If you pursue other goals, you can make visible and tangible progress with nurturing your goals day in and day out, especially if you have built a practice around it.
Growth is an inevitable fruit of our labor and its rate happens at the ideal speed. Faster we may prefer and slower than desired we may witness, as we do all things in life thanks to our human nature, but in hindsight, you will see that all things come to you when you are ready so keep nurturing and keep celebrating the smallest of milestones, for you will not be there long.
2. Beheld Social Mentions:
Prolific Living was mentioned and praised, much to its humble gratitude, in 25 major blogs and sites. We were also listed in Kikolani’s “125 Fearless Female Bloggers” and interviewed on BlogcastFM and FareCompare.
The relevance to you is the credibility and social proof for what you read here.
Self-promotion can be grand and at times even necessary but there is nothing like unsolicited, organic and natural praise bestowed on you by others in your community and industry. Beyond the initial excitement, these types of organic “testimonials” on your work build your brand and increase your credibility. That others are willing to speak about you and reference your content or your expertise brings invaluable credibility to your current readership and to all future ones yet to come.
3. Launched Facebook Page:
I started Prolific Living’s Facebook page on May 1st. Today, I adore my active 378 fans: to my surprise, the stats show 42,000+ post views.
The relevance to you is to be able to keep up with all content on Facebook if it is your primary (or preferred) social media platform and to take part in growing community of like-minded fans.
I took what Scott Stratten advised on Blogworld to heart: Offer your work on all mediums to your audience. Facebook lovers may never care to show up on Twitter or on RSS or even on your blog. If your audience uses a particular platform, you must go there to spread your message if you wish to make your content available to them.
4. Offered First and Free eBook:
This came about without a concrete pre-conceived goal, a great example of when your passions get ahead of your schedule.
When I came home from Blogworld, I was overwhelmed with inspiration and knowledge. Also, many of my blogger friends hadn’t the opportunity to attend it and many of my non-blogger readers were wondering how that all relates to prolific living. So I blogged about it. The posts turned into long conversations and requests for more. I felt compelled to respond in kind and to package the entire experience in a free eBook complete with pictures, which has now been downloaded over 1000 times.
The relevance to you is that I listen and follow my readers’ voice and you can have the best of Blogworld as it applies to life and blogging as a free download formatted ideally for all e-readers.
The lesson for me is the sheer enjoyment of creating content in a different medium; so take note dear ones, as you shall see more of this in the future.
5. Contributed via Guest Posting:
My first experience with guest posting — the act of writing a blog post for other blogs – was gruesome (don’t ask!) and funny enough, that blog went away altogether soon after. The subsequent experiences were phenomenal and I loved contributing to other blogs and engaging with other audiences. This year, I wrote 13 guest posts with most done in the second half of the year, more in the pipeline and a plan to write a weekly or bi-monthly guest post in 2010.
The relevance to you is to hear my voice on topics that may not fit prolific living from other platforms and to see that blogging is not just about growing our own blog but about growing the community.
6. Collaborated with Community:
Collaboration had a funny way of introducing itself; I never sought it but I welcomed it with open arms.
Jonathan Wells of Sharing Life Skills newsletter, features top writers and bloggers in a monthly newsletter and asked yours truly to be a regular contributor. How could I say no?
The Daily Brainstorm, a mash-up of a vibrant variety of blogs in the interwebs, asked me to join their staff as a photo editor. Again, how could I say no?
Raam Dev, a good friend who was spending time in Nepal at the time asked me to contribute to his eBook along with 40 bloggers: Small Ways to Make a Big Difference. What an honor!
Last but not least, Abubakar Jamil started the Life Lesson Series project, where bloggers participate by writing their unique take on what they have learned in life, a self-introspection if you will. We are aiming to hit 100 bloggers for the list and then offer the best of the series in a free guide. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the unique reflections of 90 of amazing souls on life.
The relevance to you is the enjoyment of these collaboration products and the renewed sense of thriving tight-knit blogging community, which brings you fresh content time and again.
At 91 participants, we are short by a precious few (care to participate and help us make the number?)
7. Experimented with Podcasting:
I have been intrigued with podcasts for years. When I decided to introduce new mediums beyond print, I set out to create a few podcasts. I learned Garage Band in the process and felt a closer connection to my readers when I was talking — rather than writing — to you.
The relevance to you is the choice of enjoying content in an audio medium, which is ideal if you are on the road or multi-tasking.
8. Made Photography Investment:
Years of being in love with photography and photo editing later, I invested in Photoshop and a new DSLR camera. As you may know, I use only my own photos here in Prolific Living. No stock or marketing photos now or ever.
The relevance to you is that you consume original and unique content here on this blog and hopefully, come to believe in the importance of always creating your own art whenever possible.
9. Traveled 100,000 Flying Miles:
Travel was a primary goal in my lifestyle in 2010 as we set out to see more of this beautiful world. This year, I went to Argentina, Hawaii, London, Washington, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Toronto, Singapore, Indonesia, Germany, Switzerland, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Boston. I renewed Executive Platinum Status on American Airlines but not without a few double mile promotions!
The relevance to you is the smart travel tips shared from my experience and a few pictures to inspire you to infuse travel into your life in either small or large capacities.
10. Ran Two Fun Reader Contests:
Laura Roeder talked about creating fans out of thin air by running contests. I loved the sound of it so I ran my first contest with Picnik in 2009. Then I fell in love with the sense of community, healthy competition and the joy of giving something of value to my readers. Since then, I ran two fun contests, on your favorite book and on your favorite film.
The relevance to you is the chance to participate in the community, to win something, and to know how much you are appreciated.
11. Devoured 11 Books:
I had planned and hoped to be a far more prolific reader this year and yet I only read 11 books. If you love to write, you will love to read. And when you do read, you improve your writing. Alas for now, my focus on the blog optimization and growth has taken temporary priority over my beloved habit of reading.
The relevance to you is the deeply personal reviews and life lessons brought to you from these books and a sincere hope of passing the infectious love of reading onto you.
12. Met Many Awesome Bloggers:
I had not even conceived of the possibilities of meeting my fellow blogger friends until I was headed to Singapore and casually asked if Celes Chua may be interested to meet up. She was totally up for it. In fact, I disappointed Evelyn Lim who is on top of my list for my next Singapore trip. Since then, I went on to Blogworld to meet an amazing part of the community, met Mars Dorian in Berlin and Raam Dev in Boston and now travel nowhere without seeking a blogging soul with whom to connect.
The relevance to you is to seek your community. While the virtual world is where we survive, thrive and grow, nothing can replace a face to face meeting or bind relationships for life with that initial greeting in person.
13. Embraced Awesome Products:
Awesome products are not an every day occurrence and it takes a while to get to know them. A year after using and learning Thesis theme and completing 31 Days to Bigger Better Blog, the urge to endorse them became irresistible because they are products I know, love and trust!
The relevance to you is seeing the plain proof of what awesome products can do (I attribute much of the blog growth to them, for one) and to hear those thoughts live and in detail if you are interested.
14. Introduced a Newsletter:
I ran into every possible roadblock with Aweber service as I was setting up this newsletter for my readers. In the process, I learned the system inside out and have built even a more amazing relationship with my email subscribers. Life is good.
The relevance to you is that you can get the entire scoop on prolific living in email, first dibs on offers and contests and interviews and whatever other goodies 2011 brings, not to mention the comprehensive guide I wrote about using Aweber (odd but practical!) next week at a blog near you so stay tuned.
15. Learned to Listen and to Give:
I learned to listen more and give even more. “Finally”, I can hear my parents saying something to that effect in response! A blog that started all about me and my love of expression is now thriving on my love for my readers.
The relevance to you is that it is all about you, so long as I am writing, producing, creating content aligned to prolific living’s vision of smart habits for rich living, you get to play a fundamental role in shaping the future of the community and the space here.
Now if that does not make a very Happy New Year 2011 for me, frankly I do not know what will.
So Happy New Year and a Million Thanks bundled with Heaps of Love for your Support!