A Letter To Our Readers: Looking Back at Our First Year

It’s January 31st, 2015. Tomorrow marks the 1 year anniversary of launching Intentionally Refined. It’s been a very interesting first year, and we thought you might be interested in hearing some of the highlights.

Looking Back Image

Below we will share the biggest things we learned, statistics about what you liked, and what the future holds.

What We Learned

We could probably write a book about what we learned just in the first year, but here are a few highlights:

1. It takes more effort than you think. That’s probably a good thing or we may have never started in the first place. Maintaining a website, consistently posting, coming up with content that interests you, posting to social media, and growing a subscriber base, just to name a few, all seem easy. And individually, I suppose they are, but doing them all together takes quite a bit of effort.

2. The newness wears off. We knew that the initial excitement and energy would wear off and that we would have to push through. But we didn’t realize how hard it would be to push through.

The biggest challenge in this regard is putting yourself out there and hearing nothing. We were expecting to have instant involvement and feedback and participation. Looking back, we were naive to think that. Thankfully, the engagement is definitely increasing.

Accepting that not everyone wants to hear what you say. When you do your best work, you expect everyone to be interested in it. Even though we talk a lot about dealing with people that are different than us, that doesn’t mean we’re experts at it. Again, we were naive to think that everything we had to say would be well received by everyone.

Working through this though has taught us that just because everyone may not get something out of everything we do, someone might. So instead of focusing on the people that don’t get something out of it, we need to focus on that someone that might.

3. It’s a challenge getting different personalities to work together. Again, we talk a lot about dealing with different personalities. Talking about it and practicing it are two different things. We’ve had to work hard at getting our personalities to work together. We both have the same goal (to have a positive impact on others), but because of our personalities, we have different methods for getting there.

When we first started, the plan was for both of us to write posts, be active on Facebook and Twitter, etc… It didn’t take long for us to figure out, that wasn’t going to work. Troy is more interested in writing about the concepts, developing the site, and developing other services. Taryn is more interested in being in the trenches. This may have created an argument or 12 before we figured things out.

You may have noticed in the second half of the year, Taryn didn’t as write much and Troy wasn’t as present on Facebook. We didn’t both need to be doing the same things. To have an impact, we need to work in the areas where we do our best.

4. Be careful when you’re messing with integrations. One of the integrations we have on the site is Google Analytics. It’s a great tool that allows us to see how people use the site. It tells us things like how many visitors we have, what pages they visit, how they found the page and so forth. As you can imagine, this goes a long way toward telling us how to find subscribers and what they like to read.

Well, we had Google Analytics integrated. Everything was working great. Then one day, Troy was trying to update our Google Plus page (that we don’t really maintain – Facebook and Twitter are enough to keep up with). Troy was having a hard time accessing the Google Plus page, and since we didn’t really do anything on it, he decided to delete it and start over. Big mistake!

Not only did he delete the Google Plus page, he deleted the Google Analytics page and the YouTube page. All analytics, all videos – gone. Permanently. That was a very frustrating learning experience.

5. It costs more than you think to do it right. We know there are a ton of things we can improve on, but we do our best to do things at the highest level possible. We could have started the site by buying a domain and using a free theme (the way the site looks and is laid out). That would have cost about $60. Here’s a breakdown of what we spent so far:

  • 3 years of web hosting – $142
  • Domain name renewal – $15
  • Initial theme purchased – $40 (This is the initial site we designed that we didn’t release.)
  • Theme we decided to use – $197 (This is the site design we released. Yes, we designed it twice before starting.)
  • Plugins for site to add functionality – $67
  • Stock image subscription – $225 (It’s copyright infringement to add an image to your site that isn’t yours. We’ve since stopped this service that gave us legal access to images.)
  • Podcast logo – $30 (We got ahead of ourselves so we won’t be using this logo.)
  • Other graphics for the site – $100
  • Site logo – $100
  • Site security – $40

There were other miscellaneous items, but not including podcast items (more on that later), we spent around $1000. That’s about $950 more that we expected to spend during the first year!

What You Liked

If Troy wouldn’t have mistakenly deleted all of the analytics in November, we would have been able to give a lot better information, but based on recent statistics and going from memory, here’s some information about what visitors to the site liked:

1. We posted 106 times to the website. When we started, we said we wanted to post 2-3 posts / week. We achieved that goal.

2. We averaged about 1500 unique visits to the page per month.

3. The most visited post on the website was the post about DISC Profile. The reason for this is because it was the post and page that was the most organically found. When someone searches Google for “DISC profile”, the post shows up and people click on the link. Unfortunately, most people read the article then left the site.

4. The most popular posts on the site were:

5. Five of our most shared posts were (this information was deleted too):

What The Future Holds

Even though we had to work through plenty of mistakes and challenges throughout the past year, we are as excited and energetic as ever.

We will continue to post more blog posts once or twice a week. That target is down from last year’s 2-3 per week because we are planning on also posting short videos as well. We don’t know the frequency yet, but as those increase, the blog posts will probably decrease.

The thing we are most excited about is releasing a podcast. We’ve invested a lot of time, effort and money into getting the podcast setup and started. Our goal is to release it in the next few months. The reason for doing the podcast is to give you another medium to take in the ideas we discuss and also to attract more subscribers.

Finally, we will probably spend nearly $5000 this year on projects, and we expect that number to increase in the following years. So, we are working toward monetizing the site this year. We didn’t start the site to make a living off of it, but we know that generating income from the site will allow us to do more and bigger things in the future.

We’re not 100% sure how we are going to generate income from the site because when we finally do, we want to deliver something that contains much more value than the price paid. A few things we are considering are:

  1. An I.R. Membership site. The site would contain forums, weekly videos of lessons / classes pertaining to marriage, self-improvement, productivity, etc…
  2. An online course. Either an online marriage seminar, couples goal setting class, or something else.
  3. A Kindle book.

We will start to focus on these in the second half of the year, but as always, if you have any input, we would love to hear from you.

Thank You

We know that was a lot of information. But we hope it was somewhat interesting to you. However, none of that information matters if it were not for your interest. We know that we aren’t going to completely change your life. We can’t change anything about you – only you can do that. But hearing from you, and hearing that we have made you think, and that you are interested has a huge impact on us.

We guarantee we would have already stopped what we are doing if it had not been for you and knowing that you’ve gotten something out of what we do – no matter how small.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

And don’t forget to be:
Better Today Than Yesterday. Better Tomorrow Than Today.

Troy & Taryn

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