My First 12 Week Year in Review

Since the launch of my first 12 week year a lot of things have happened and I’ve been able to continue churning out projects as part of my challenge.

12 Week Year One Results

Overall, this has been a successful 12 week year, with a lot of learning and launching. The total score for year one is 85%, which looks like I’ve completed a lot, but I don’t think that my scorecard was good enough. The most setbacks have come on the outsourcing side. The biggest wins came in the projects and reading.

Projects

The core of this three month year has been the projects and it has worked well. I’ve worked on other projects too (like the Target Shooting Journal), but the core of the challenge has been kept alive through:

BIGF Method™ 

My method to come up with more business ideas for solopreneurs is up after a small test run and two platform changes. I’m not ready to start selling it yet, but I’ll be promoting it to get more beta testers and to improve it.

Fight Hate Not Sport Shooters

This is my not for profit initiative to promote shooting sports. Thanks to it I’ve set up my first e-commerce site, which has started selling (it works!) but very little. More marketing is needed. It started as Fight Hate Not Shooters, but some people found the word shooter to strong. Following their lead I renamed the site, moved it to a new domain and ordered new designs.

Grow coworking income

I relaunched the coworking community course in my own Learnpress installation. It has not done well in sales yet. My mailing list has gone a bit stale, so I cleaned it up. I have to do something with it after the summer to see if I can get some more traction, but not now. I also repackaged the webinar I did before launching the course and made it available as a free coworking course.

The abridged version of The Coworking Handbook was a total flop (more on this below). I got crap back when I outsourced and I could not bring myself to do it. Dropped.

What I did do is start selling the coworking advantages infographic so that coworking spaces can customize it to their needs. The post I based it on has been rewritten by a contractor and it is still one of the top traffic sources for that site. No sales yet.

I have a few ideas more that I think are valuable and can be very helpful, but I also think I need to break away from coworking. Some thinking about it shall be done during my summer vacation or, even better, after it.

Outsourcing

Mixed results here. I did outsource and implement one drip, three landing pages and a lot of website work, but I also had a few awful experiences that wasted my time and money and ended up costing me reaching my goal.

What I’ve learned from this is that:

  • It is not always worth to outsource: if I can do the job in less time than it will take me to outsource then it is better to do it myself. My most valuable resource is my time. It has been good to do it now because it has helped me learn.
  • There are a lot of project management overcosts: you have to go back and forth a lot. Even the projects that work out well are very time intensive.
  • You have to rewrite a lot: even with the best experiences I’ve ended up rewriting all the final deliveries and I had to do a lot of back and forth to get there. You can see a landing page example for the business idea generation framework.
  • Give small tests first: my biggest mistake was giving one person the job of making and abridged version of my coworking book. When I gave someone the original file of the book where they just had to remove text and do some condensing, I did not expect to end up with something that did not have anything to do with the book itself: made up words and concepts where all over the place, the style was indirect and with lots of passive voice, lots of filler… Awful. I could not bear the idea of wasting my time to rewrite the hole thing and pay the person for forcing me to do all the work, so I ended up just paying.
  • Outsourcing platforms don’t have good tracking systems: some rely solely on email, others use the generic gig name instead of something useful, some have an online repository of the tasks (hurray!) but you can not close them. None have clear instructions of how to work with them.
  • Tracking all your projects in multiple platforms is complicated: I created a spreadsheet to do it, but it is not really working that well. At least I have something I can use for the future.
  • You are compelled to over rate: even if the work is not excellent, you fear giving a true review because that may close the doors to working with that person again, so you end up rating excellent what is not.
  • Cancel / complain early: don’t wait for the job to be done to give feedback when things are not working out. One of the WordPress services I used started delivering much better after I cancelled. I should have done it sooner.
  • Don’t waste your time with bad contractors: don’t even contest the work, give them a one star rating and move on. You are paying to get a job done, you are not being paid to amend someone’s poor education.
  • Always send a message before contracting a gig: if they can’t reply to you well, they are not worth your time.
  • Be super critical when you interact prior to the job: if they are bad communicators they will not improve during the job and they have an infinite higher chance of botching the gig.
  • Price is not a good indicator of quality, nor are reviews: some of the best jobs were done by cheap contractors and some of the worst by expensive ones. Reviews are inflated and can be bought.
  • Fiverr is not good for buyers: their system is set up to encourage wrongdoing in the part of the sellers: partial deliveries, ultra low quality deliveries, right before the weekend deliveries to promote default acceptance without having the time to review… They don’t want to be in any of the conflicts and they’ll do nothing for you unless you prove again and again that the seller is acting wrong. You have to waste your time schooling the people you pay and even then they are not acting cooperatively. They just increase the burden on the seller so that you end up giving up (which I’ve done). I did manage to get reimbursed for one of the botched jobs but it was awfully long and hard, and my money is kept by Fiverr so I have to figure out low quality requirement tasks to spend it on instead of having it in my account. Also, don’t trust their reviews, at least one negative review I placed does not show up. Plus the paid review problem… I don’t recommend working with Fiverr.

Reading & summarizing

Reading has worked out great. I have really stepped it up both for learning books (the ones in this objective) and leisure books. I love reading and I come up with a lot of ideas when I’m reading. It is helpful to learn and to inspire.

I have an issue with reviewing what I read and remembering.

Summarizing has not really worked. It is a lot of work to summarize to publish, it requires a lot of paraphrasing and thinking about the reader instead of just me. It takes me about 4 hours to draft a good book summary. And on top of this, I got lawyered, which is very demotivating.

Summarizing has been the biggest flop of my first 12 week year.

At least I’ve been reviewing my highlights and notes more, which is a win 🙂

Keeping track

I’ve been tracking progress in a fancy scorecard I created, but I don’t think I set it up correctly to reflect the goals of the challenge. I’ve ended up having to do manual work to get a result that sounds right.

The hardest part is finding lead indicators. I’ve basically used the scorecard to track what had been done. The only good lead indicator in it is daily reading time: if I did not read at least that amount of time I would not be able to read one book every week. But this indicator did not reflect the total time read, only doing the minimum I set, which I went over almost every day.

Breaking down the three objectives into tactical tasks helped, but the progress I marked was a lagging indicator. Setting up the tracking percentages and formulas was not easy and I’m sure it did not reflect what it should (I wish I knew what that looked like). I think I ended up having a complicated scorecard that did not make it easy to have a quick overview.

Rewards

I have an issue with the material rewards I set up for myself. First of all, I never really believed in them. I have a hard time coming up with rewards for myself in general, and in this case:

  • I knew I was going to get the SCATT sooner or later and I ended up buying it in the middle of the 12 week year because I got a super deal for a second hand unit.
  • I ended up dropping the reading day at the spa because I was sick last week and found that I already had enough rest and reading time.

I don’t know what to do for the next 12 week year in terms of rewards. Help much appreciated.

What I’ll be doing in the week off

I’m now on my week off. It should have been last week, but as I was sick and not able to do any planning, I decided to just drop it until I felt better (now I do!).

What I’m doing this week is first reading a lot of articles that are withering in Trello. My Learn tab is like an elephant cemetery where links go to die. So, radical clean up and a lot of reading are needed to get ideas and to improve things (also my use of Trello).

Coming up with the next projects for the challenge and plan the next 12 week year is the biggest challenge ahead. I have to go trough my BIG Freaking list of ideas for projects and business to plan what I’m going to be working on next (at least three projects). There are a bunch of new ideas to add (over 200 already) and questions to improve the BIGF Method™ itself.

What would you recommend?

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