Jay Shirley

Striving to be a man of gallantry and taste

A Successful January

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I’ve never been big on New Years. Neither the celebrations nor the resolutions. Last night, like previous years, I was asleep by 10pm. I am a curmudgeon, just the way I like it! When the kids are older, I’ll probably take them out to watch the fireworks. For now I get to enjoy the benefits of their young age, which suits me well.

However, it’s still the start of a brand new month, which means a brand new challenge!

A Brief Recap

In December, I tried in earnest to describe my purpose. I sat down for at least 15 uninterrupted minutes each day (except Christmas) and thought about it.

In November, I wrote 20,000 words describing my thoughts about how to leverage social sciences in the tech sector. I targeted 15,000 words but went way over.

In October, I reached out and had conversations with interesting people. It was a fantastic experience and I met some awesome people.

In August, I published a post every day. It tested my preparation, planning and endurance to keep things going. It was rewarding to do, but I didn’t notice much benefit (in quality, readership, or enjoyment).

January: Putting it all together.

In December, I realized something about myself. Most of what I work on I simply don’t really care if it hits mainstream. I built my daily habit tracker for me, and it was awesome that other people used it. I’m very selfish.

As I wrote through November a vague discomfort deep inside started to form. As I thought through my purpose in December it grew into uncertainty. This feeling boiled inside me and I tried to not listen. But soon I had to acknowledge this part of me, and I did, but I could not label it. My wife and I spoke and it finally hit me. I want to produce something for other people.

I’m very proud of what I wrote. It aligns, as expected, with my purpose. These ideas mean nothing if I cannot share them, and share them successfully. This is where the challenge lies; I don’t know how to share successfully. My entire life has been building products that someone else defined, or building for myself that just allows others to tag along.

Build a landing page, test, learn.

I’m going to learn how to market. I’m not going to learn everything in a month, but I’ll learn enough. I can devote 20-30 hours of intense study this month, with trial and error and figure it out.

I’m turning what I wrote in November into an actual eBook. I’m planning on launching it as a Kindle Single, but it still is some time off. I have the content written, it needs organization, editing and all the other things you do when you turn a bucket of thoughts into a book.

But I need to test some things first. My December Challenge is to build a landing page, setup an email list, get traffic to it and get people to sign-up. Those who sign up will get pre-release chapters. This will validate the idea, premise and voice of the book.

But wait, there’s more! I’m also going to learn more about proper analytics. This has always been a sore spot that I’ve leaned heavily on others to setup. I’m going to be A/B testing slogans, cover ideas, and comparing what works and what doesn’t.


Success is at least 1,000 unique visitors (this may be too high?).

Testing at least 10 titles, bylines and copy to see what works and what doesn’t and record the comparisons.

Full analytics. I want to know the details of everything I can.

Notably, I’m not tracking conversion rates or anything. The end point here will be a mailing list signup, but I don’t know enough to gauge what a successful campaign would end up with. I could say I want 10% conversion but I don’t even know if that is reasonable. Is 5% reasonable? The success of January will be in discovering what are reasonable expectations for conversion, but not setting a goal.

What I need help with.

  • Book stuff. I read The APE Book and have a strategy for editing, sharing, getting a paid editor, cover, etc. If you know something I don’t (which is likely), let me know!
  • Slogans, bylines, copy! I’m doing this, but I don’t think I’m very good. If you like this sort of thing, email me or leave a comment and I’ll give you more details on what I’m doing.
  • Traffic and advertising ideas. I’m planning on finding the free coupons and just using Google AdWords, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. The book is targeting business and technology. I’m sure my ideas here are terrible.
  • Tips for Google Analytics (and maybe Heap). They’re free. I’m cheap. Google Analytics continues to boggle the mind, though.

If you have other ideas, want to help me success (or walk with me while I fail!), please email me! And, of course, Happy New Years!