2018 Year in Review

By Sean Ondes

As part of a new tradition for me, I’m publishing my very first, extra special, long time coming year-end review.

I decided to write a year-end review for a few reasons. The first and most important reason is that writing this review is an exercise that encourages me to think about my work life and how well it’s doing in hindsight and with a broader view that I usually have on a daily or monthly basis. That’s the reason to write the review but the reason to share it like this is that there may be someone out there who can learn from my (many) mistakes and (occasional) successes.

What Went Well In 2018

Client Work

My work with clients was a highlight of 2018. Overall,  work with longstanding clients was extremely steady. There were almost none of the periodic gaps in work that are to be expected. Importantly, I personally enjoy working with all of my current clients! That is a truly amazing thing to have going for me. Pulling back from or trimming away clients who are unnecessarily difficult to work with, disorganized, or unmotivated was my greatest success in this area in 2018.

Web Projects

I developed and launched a personal project called WP Pagebuilder Pro (WPPBP) where I rate and review the most popular WordPress page builder plugins like Beaver Builder and Elementor. I didn’t take the time to build an audience ahead of time for this project so the launch was mostly to crickets. That was something I expected so there’s no disappointment there. I didn’t have any expectation that it would blow up right away (or ever). I really just had the idea to create a resource for people that build WordPress sites.

What Didn’t Go As Well In 2018

Education Products

I’ve been putting off work on an educational product line for some time (far too long). The two main reasons for my procrastination are not knowing exactly what audience I want to reach and the fact that I’ve had plenty of client work.

To help better identify the audience for these educational products and find ways of connecting with them, I put in the time thinking about who it is exactly I want to reach and what they really need. This was in some ways new territory since this audience isn’t exactly the same as the one that makes up my potential clients. In the process of identifying this new group, I began formalizing how the process itself. (Lightbulb moment) It occurred to me that my process could be helpful to someone else too so I created a workbook on the topic.

The client work has kept busy enough that time for product work has been scarce. All that paid work also means that I already have enough revenue (a good problem, I know) and don’t need the extra revenue that a digital product can provide. I’ve rethought my conclusions about creating products quite a bit in the last year. Given that I am doing well enough, I want to create more of a feeling of service in some of my work. I would also like to shift more of my efforts toward creating educational material rather than only client work.

To address my lack of success in product building, in 2019 I’ll be blocking out time on my calendar each week for discovery and development.

Time Management

The combination of having a really good group of clients and a fully booked schedule has caused my revenue to increase by about 17% over 2017. That’s the good part! The not-as-great-part is that my schedule is pretty tight with all this client work. That means any work that I do on side projects happens either after client work hours or during periods of occasional downtime. I’ll need to get better in 2019 at blocking out time just for side projects.

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

More Efficient Client Work

Addressing my Time Management failures in 2018, I’ll be scheduling more time for projects like WP Page Builder Pro. I know that there’s only so much time that I can add to my schedule without risking burnout. To add the time I need, I’ll need to find it within the hours that I’m already working.

Here’s the plan to do that:

  1. Get more efficient in my client communication and project planning
  2. Review my project workflow and revise my standard operating procedures to include repetitive tasks

More Product Work

I’ve been stewing on the idea of creating a small line of workbooks to go along with my other website building services. My idea is to keep my focus on a few specific topics:

  1. A lot of people don’t completely understand or might even struggle with,
  2. Once understood can really help a small business or solo operator to be more successful.

Hopes for 2019

2018 had a good share more of sadness, grief, discomfort, and confusion than I’m used to. Please don’t misunderstand that statement. I’m not complaining. All these things are parts of life and are necessary if we want to keep learning and growing. No one ever got wisdom without experience. My hope for 2019 is to get a little wisdom.

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Sean Ondes