Our Next Chapter, Five Months Later
Julie and I are nearly 5 months into our next chapter and I'm going to share some updates on how things are going.
I mentioned then that I was starting a new site with two key objectives. I'll restate them here and give some detailed follow up on each.
- Build and engage with an audience of youth football coaches that are either running or want to run the Wing-T offense. I'll be writing posts at least weekly, running free online web clinics, and engaging folks through email via my weekly newsletter. I'll be putting the Wing-T book up for sale in January 2015 through both the Apple iBooks store and through my own site (for the PDF version). I have at least three more book ideas in the works and hope to publish #2 by late spring.
- Update -- I've written 36 articles this year and we are just wrapping up week 19. That's almost two articles per week. I've run two webinars so far and will be running my third next week. My newsletter goes out consistently each week and I'm up to over 150 subscribers. I released my second product, a set of printable play cards, and now have a bundled offer to get both the play book and play cards. I've also been running a local clinic (called the "Wing-T Academy") for rising freshmen and it seems to be an effective way to ease the transition into HS football.
- Build a framework (both technology and business process) for repeating this engagement and selling model across new topic areas. My hope is that Julie and I are able to flip between content expert /support role on these different ideas. We've had so much fun working together over the past few months. While I've been writing the book, producing videos, and writing content for the blog Julie has been setting up our email marketing tools, doing graphic design work, and playing the role of editor and proof reader.
- Update -- This part of the business has been an amazing learning experience. In addition to what I first wrote about, we've also become adept at putting on webinars with mostly free tools (relying on Google Hangouts on Air). Julie is becoming a master of pixel-based editing (we use the amazing better-than-Photoshop tool called Pixelmator). We dove into social media advertising using Facebook ads, and we are extremely impressed with the ability of Facebook to target our audience and attract them to our free offerings (mostly the webinars).
Even with this successes, we have moments of doubt and frustration. It takes a long time to build an audience; it really is a grind. Let's look at some growth stats:
While the absolute value of the numbers isn't large, I love the growth that I'm seeing. Even after the engine got started in Jan/Feb we are seeing 50-75% growth each month in our key engagement metrics. Google page rank has gone up for the key words and phrases we care about (e.g., Google "wing-t youth football" and you should see my site in the top 5 rankings) and I feel like I've built some authority in this topic area. I get phone calls from coaches all over the country (and in Canada) asking for advice on Wing-T installation and play nuances. Even from high school coaches.
It helps when I reflect back to what Julie and I discussed back in the summer of 2014: I would leave the workforce and likely take at least a few years off completely, then we would re-assess and consider our next move. At the time we never even considered starting an online business. So even the meager success we are seeing is beyond what we had contemplated less than a year ago. And best of all, I'm really enjoying this work. Most of the time it doesn't feel like work. I love collaborating with Julie on these projects. Which is a good segue to...
We are hard at work on our next site and (potentially) next online business offering. This one will also be a grind - it might take 6 months or longer before we start to monetize any part of it. But like the football work I've been doing, this work promises to be fun and will align perfectly with our planned adventures over the next 5 months.
Lastly, I should give an update on our plans. Here's what's happening in the coming months:
- Matthew graduates from high school on June 5, and we start driving east to Keuka Lake on June 8, arriving about June 13.
- Matthew reports to West Point the weekend of June 27.
- If all goes well, Matthew finishes "Beast Barracks" and gets accepted into the cadet Corps the weekend of August 15.
- Julie and I fly to Ireland (from NY) on August 25.
- Julie and I return to NY from Ireland on October 5.
- Julie and I will join Matthew at Parent's Weekend at West Point October 8-11
- At some point after that, we will drive back to Oregon. We hope to stop by and see various family on our return trip.
All the while (even while in Ireland) we expect to be fully engaged in our online endeavors. Our hope is that the travel is mostly transparent to the business. That's sorta the whole point, after all.