Happy new year! It’s now been one full year since I’ve launched yaKesho. At every year’s end, I intend to reflect and weblog a review of the trials, tribulations, failures, and triumphs of that year. As well as, establish goals and planned actions to achieve such for the new year.
I got the idea from one of my favorite blogs, CSS-Tricks. Shout outs are in order to Chris Coyier and CSS Tricks for being a great source of inspiration regarding designing, developing, and blogging. Not to mention, a major go-to for how-tos.
Unfortunately, I didn’t set any quantitative goals at launch. Was way too busy just trying to launch. Probably for the best didn’t know enough to set realistic benchmarks anyhow. However, here’s “them” numbers:
The site enjoyed only 590 sets of eyes, engaging in 632 sessions, resulting in 986 pageviews of the total 190 (36 posts + 12 covers + 142 products) pages of content published. Hey, it’s a start! 😝
This source was responsible for 7.4% of traffic, which is surprising since I barely got the chance to seriously post to social media. I started but failed to maintain posting regularly to the site’s Facebook page and Instagram profile.
Goals: I must thoroughly integrate social media into my workflow this year. I don’t really use social media much personally so it’s going to be another skill to be acquired.
My understanding is it takes about 4 days to 4 weeks for Google to begin indexing your site. And in 6 to 12 months for Google to rank your site. Either way we are now hazed. Now I expect it will be a slow but steady climb.
From organic searchs 14.2% of traffic was acquired. I wanted to see what percentage was from Bing, but then I learned as of Dec 2020 Google has 91.38% of the global market! Bing 2.69% so it doesn’t really matter, it’s Google or invisibility.
Goals: No one has control over the god that is Google search. So no specific number for this goal, just more.
I plan to get into keyword research just a little bit more this year mainly for products. Touched on it this past year, but it was a bit overwhelming at that time considering I was still trying to get my web legs.
This one makes up 17.6% of the traffic. I have some ideas of ways to boost referrals, but I don’t think I will take it on this year. Best to build more of a track record first.
And a whopping 60.4% came in as direct traffic. Can’t fathom how or why.
A total of 48 (36 posts + 12 covers) “posts” were published. And the most viewed page was none of them. That honor goes to the home page, responsible for 41.48% of all pageviews!
Which I guess correlates with the 60.4% of direct traffic. Still getting familiar with Google Analytics, it’s a beast that I’m sure will never be conquered. At least not by me anyway. 😏
For clarification, there were 12 pages published one for each month that served as the home page, fancied as covers. While technically not posts, they contained cards of posts in a full-screen slider so, I’m including them as posts.
Goals: A bit of background on why the 36 posts total is not haphazard. The idea was to produce a micro magazine that curated 3 meaningful articles a month (ideally with deep discussion and spirited debate). I plan (for now) to stay at least in spirit with that objective.
However, maybe I can squeeze in some other content-types such as link-posts for content that isn’t under a CC license.
I’m seriously considering killing off the manual static cover pages (which remain as covers to “back issues”) in favor of a single dynamic home page. They are just too time-consuming to set up every month.
Sometimes what seems like a great idea in concept doesn’t pan out in practice. And the home page is crazy important! Particularly when your site is new and direct traffic tends to make it your #1 landing page. We’ll see.
In this first year I’ve managed to publish 142 apparel products comprised of mainly short sleeve and long sleeve shirts and hoodies. Sprinkled with a few joggers and cropped-styled garments.
A major bottleneck in productivity is the time it takes to create and sync products with our POD provider. Unlike Teespring, you have to create each type of product individually for every design. I understand why but it’s a serious PITA!
Goals: I want to expand our offerings this year to include hats, mugs, and posters. As well as to offer some free digital products for promotional purposes.
I’m shooting for a minimum of 480 new designs by year’s end, which should push the grand total of products well over 1000. It is important to note that each design can result in several unique products.
This is a volume game and there is without a doubt a tight correlation between the number of products you offer and the number of sales generated!
I also want to experiment with Woocommerce’s external/affiliate product type to offer complementary products from affiliates.
I haven’t managed to work social media into my workflow in the first year. But this year it is a priority!
I’ve posted to Facebook and Pinterest sporadically at the beginning of the year mainly to make sure everything was set up, working, and integrated with the site’s social share buttons and whatnot.
Instagram, is the first one I started to get serious with and develop a workflow with the app Later towards the end of the year, but got sidetracked.
Nevertheless, Facebook accounted for 88.64% of social referrals. Instagram and Pinterest contributed 4.55% each.
Goals: I intend to focus on primarily Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest and secondarily on Twitter and LinkedIn. The first 3 have shop/eCommerce features integrated into them that the latter doesn’t have and I plan to leverage them this year.
Not to mention, I just don’t see getting much traffic from Twitter and LinkedIn. However, I will maintain a presence on them through auto-posts and reevaluate at year’s end whether to invest more time or maintain the status quo or even straight drop them.
Decided to go with Mailchimp to handle our Email capture and marketing efforts. All is setup well enough for now, but there is much to learn about this platform. No numbers to report yet.
Goals: I’m considering simplifying the signup form. Right now it gives you the ability to choose which categories you are interested in. Might dead that and make it just all inclusive.
Also, though I’m no fan of pop-ups, they are annoying! However, I hear or read over and over again they increase engagement. I might implement a subtle pop-up (slide-in) from the corner of the screen. I still don’t like it, but it’s worth an A/B test and it’s a compromise I can live with.
I want to try to squeeze in learning and configuring the templates and automation features with Woocommerce that Mailchimp offers as well, time willing.
Similar to the email/newsletter, push notifications is set up with OneSignal. No numbers to report yet.
Goals: Include the option to enable notifications inline as a native link within the content. This can be accomplished with OneSignal though I may switch to DigitalPUSH. They have some interesting options that may mitigate “ad blindness”. I myself, ignore those boilerplate popups without mental effort during my frequent Interweb travels.
It was premature to advertise in the first year while our ducks were still fledging and not in a row.
Goals: This goal is tentative… come to think of it a lot of my goals are tentative. I might start buying very lightly some Google ads later in the year for remarketing purposes and to build brand awareness.
Right now the performance of page loads is horrendous. PageSpeed Insights is reporting scores of 6 to 9 for mobile and 42 to 49 for desktop. So this is mission-critical to be fixed ASAP.
Goals: Get the average page load time, in the 3 seconds range. I plan to achieve that by implementing the recommendations by PageSpeed Insights. Add Cloudflare’s APO plugin into the mix and if neccessary increase host memory.
At year’s end, I will give the percentage differential of revenue, expenses, and net profit here. For now, it’s premature.
For starters the revenue streams (more like revenue trickles 😝) are:
This is and likely always will be the largest source of revenue.
Goals: A big objective this new year is to increase revenue streams by leveraging multi-channel marketing and placing my designs or products in or on several marketplaces and platforms. There are too many to list here and I haven’t decided just yet which will make the shortlist.
For now, I know platforms Facebook (Shop), Instagram (Shop), Merch by Amazon, Redbubble, Teespring, and Bonfire will make the cut for starters. Come to think of it that’s a pretty good shortlist right there.
Wish maybe the only additional marketplace I consider for this year. Etsy and eBay would be considered for 2022. Those listing fees make them cumbersome at this stage.
For the record, I did apply and was accepted into the Merch by Amazon family. I was crazy excited, but it happened right when the pandemic started to spike in the spring.
Amazon had all but shut down MBA due to personnel shortages and to focus on essentials. After about 2 months of throttling, I got frustrated and bounced. The year 2020 was not a great year period let alone to launch a business. However, we press on! 👊🏿👊🏽👊🏻
I just incorporated AdSense ads into the posts in the last quarter. Need to build up a lot more traffic before considering making any adjustments with this source of revenue.
Similar to ads I just started to scratch the surface of incorporating affiliate links into the site (primarily in the posts and the footer) in the last quarter.
Goals: I’m definitely going to focus on leveraging this source of monetization more this coming year, tastefully, without littering the site too badly.
Note to self: In future Annual Reflection & Reviews, I want to include a cost-to-benefit analysis with a focus on return-on-investment as it pertains to time for all revenue streams.
I started the year doing a great job of tracking my time, but then fell off. In large part because it in itself took up too much time! 😊
I employed The Pomodoro Technique to great effect. I think it was the Pomodoro app I was using and my attempts to integrate it with Trello that was the time suck.
If I had maintained the time tracking and logging I would have some very useful metrics on how time was spent. Time management is crucial when it comes to productivity!
Goals: Resume accurate time tracking of my work and streamline the logging process. Easier said than done. Believe me.
At one point I was strongly considering sunsetting the micro mag. The reasoning is, it ate up too much time. Time that could be going into designing, but it’s too early to make such a nuclear decision and I’m committed to establishing diverse revenue streams from the start.
Instead, I’m going to focus on reducing “features” and simplifying the processes and workflow.
More of a wish than a goal is to bring on one assistant to assist with routine tasks. That way I can focus more on churning out designs.
The following is by no means a comprehensive list, but rather a synopsis of some of the major achievements of the year:
- Refinement of the brand’s custom theme as it was fleshed in with real content and end-user use in a live real-world environment.
- Gained proficiency in the ins and outs of Woocommerce (our eCommerce platform) and Printful (our POD and fulfillment partner) and the funky integration between the two.
- Configuring and testing our payment processors (Stripe and PayPal). For obvious reasons a scary process.
- Establishing Trello templates for task management, Adobe Illustrator templates for design production, product description templates, Instagram profile templates, etc.
- Gained Partial familiarity with the 5 social media platforms of choice and their integrations with the site.
- Establishing task management and time tracking workflows with the assistance of Trello and the PomoDoneApp, as well as integrating the two in an effort to increase productivity.
I never expected yakesho.com to be the main breadwinner. It’s the official brand site. It’s deployed with the understanding that most of the sales are to come from established third-party platforms and marketplaces such as Merch by Amazon and Teespring.
The difference between a business and a hustle is a business establishes a brand with autonomy, which entails it having its own independent platform.
Think of it like this… even though Nike sells most of its products through other channels, that doesn’t negate the need for it to have its own eCommerce site and brick and mortar outlets.
Thank you for sharing a bit of your most precious resource with us. I hope you found some value in my 2020 reflection and review and until next time, I wish you all a prosperous year!
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A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step Unisex Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Patience is a virtue and everything big begins small. That long road ahead must start somewhere with a single step. Express the thrill! 👊🏿👊🏽👊🏻
Taine is an all-around IT guy, system administrator, graphic designer, and code slinger. He is also a self-admitted news junkie, who has a lot of opinions regarding education, economics, and politics. A Bronx, New York native, now living happily in tropical Kwale, Kenya.
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