Epic Business and Lifestyle Review for 2015

So after seeing my friend Navid write an epic post on his business and lifestyle I thought I whip up something similar (might be a bit shorter though).

If this works out well, I might write them quarterly (so be sure to let me know on my Facebook page or something).

2015 was my biggest year yet for my business.

Financially speaking, but also meeting some incredible business minds and pushing myself further than I thought was every possible.

It was a rollercoaster ride to say the least so let’s get into it.

The Milestones of 2015

  • Visiting the United States
  • Building an Autoresponder
  • Launched An Epic Marketing Tools List
  • Moved Towards Building Equity and Cash Flow Longevity
  • Tried a Float Tank
  • Press of 2015

Visiting the United States

Heading over to the USA for one month was a massive highlight of my year.

After jumping on the ClickFunnels team as their head of content marketing, it meant heading over to plan out some content marketing fun. Then I flew around the country (NYC, Miami, San Diego, Las Vegas) and connected with various friends and marketers.

down1

One awesome marketer, I met in person for the first time was the well known Neil Patel, who came and consulted for ClickFunnels. I’d had him on the podcast earlier in the year so was great to pick his brains in the flesh.

Neil Patel & Stephen Esketzis

Then I headed over to Las Vegas and caught up briefly with Charles Ngo  while passing through. Then I ended up going to San Diego, Miami and the remaining cities around the states before heading back to Boise to present for the ClickFunnels Certification Program.

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It was an awesome opportunity to speak and connect with 150+ marketers and dive deep into what it takes to reverse engineer a profitable sales funnel. Some pretty ninja tactics in that presentation (not for the faint hearted).

So all in all, the states was very enjoyable, and I can’t wait to go back. One highlight was driving Lamborghinis and Ferraris in Vegas.

If you love fast cars, you MUST do it. Was like $700 for seven laps or something on a race track and was one of the best experiences ever.

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I’ll go into detail further down in this post, but I’ll be heading back there very, very soon.

Building an Autoresponder (Properly)

So I’ve been really slack with my autoresponder and email marketing since I launched this website, and this was the year I decided to step it up and make sure if people want to hear more from me, they actually get some value that will literally change the game for them.

So within my autoresponder I did a few things:

  • Rewrote the entire sequence head to toe
  • Segmented my audience so now I know who wants to read what
  • Added multiple points throughout my funnel (if not all) where people can just reply to connect with me 1-1 (I read & reply to all emails)

The hardest part of this process was definitely the email writing. I’m not naturally a writer (especially of emails), so it took a little while to start. But after a few emails in, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to writing a lot more of them.

It kind of takes the pressure off when you write them as if you’re speaking to a bunch of friends who are sitting around in a room with you having a drink.

There’s no need to keep it all formal and proper.

But owning an email list is the most important part of running an online business, so now anyone who enters my world will get some amazing value.

For a continuous length of time (sign up and find out how long) you’ll receive an email from me very regularly on how to craft and launch a profitable sales funnel.

So where does my email list sit right now?

515 People.

organics

With extremely little lead generation through my website, let’s see what we can get this puppy to by the end of 2016.

Keep in mind, I’m after a segmented email list (I’m not 100,000 emails from people I know nothing about).

I’ve got a figure in mind for what I’m going to get this too by the end of the year, but I’ll keep quiet and see if it comes to fruition.

Launched An Epic Marketing Tools List

One of the areas of my website I wanted to improve upon and have fun with was adding some additional tools and resources that are unparalleled in the marketing industry.

To just give you parts of my website that you’d expect to pay for, for free.

Twitter___Notifications

The biggest differentiator between a ‘good’ marketer and an ‘innovator’ is someone who can bring a game changer to the website. So having these tools not only means creating epic content, but I get to have fun creating tools I wish already existed – kind of scratching my own itch per se.

So you can expect more of these neat tools to come out in the near future.

But the marketing tools list is a hub I want to continue to develop. As soon as I launched the Marketing Tools List, I started seeing some unusual spikes in traffic.

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I started looking deeper into the traffic to see where the source of it was, and it seemed to be Stumble Upon.

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The traffic was all organic, the only marketing I put into it was posting it in 2-3 Facebook groups and my Twitter account.

Pretty neat eh?

At the end of the day, the Marketing Tools List was a success, and I think it’s going to have a bright future ahead of it. A lot of people struggle with tools and technology so my hope is to start expanding that out this year (see more for the 2016 plan below).d2

I still haven’t really launched it, so I’m looking forward to driving traffic to it properly.

One piece of feedback I’ve already received is using some sort of ranking method. I might look into ranking three different categories for each tool, “Advanced Features”, “Ease of Use”, “Affordability”.

Not sure if they’ll be final, but we’ll see. It’ll take a while to go through each tool and do this so I might have to do one category at a time or something.

Either way, there’ll be complete and detailed tool reviews on the way.

Moved Towards Building Equity and Cashflow Longevity

One area of my business that was fortunate enough to grow was my cash flow.

Financially 2015 was a great year that saw a significant increase from 2014 (I don’t plan on disclosing figures, but I was quite happy).

With that in mind, as I realized business started to ramp up and things started to move faster, I wanted to start investing in the long term growth of my business.

I did this in two ways.

1. Implementing Business ‘Safe Guards.’

I make the majority of my money online, however with that in mind, if someone hacks my website or I spill coffee all over my laptop then that could cost be thousands and thousands of dollars.

But more importantly, that would cost me a lot of time to go into and fix.

So some ways I invested in ‘safeguarding’ my business from bad events like this occurring were:

I joined their $99/mo, month to month plan and thought I would test them out. Even though I have a developer I work with, I wanted to make sure backups were taken daily and any tech bugs that popped up could be handled on the spot with just an email. This seemed like a logical and low-cost solution so we’ll see how we go with it.

    • Buying a Macbook Pro 15″ Laptop – Apple

Finally made the leap to the dark side. Goodbye my little Acer which spent more time updating windows than it did being used.

Posted by Stephen Esketzis on Thursday, June 11, 2015

So up until this year I was a ‘Mac Hater’, but the lack of productivity and slowness of everything just got to me so making the $2200 AUD investment just had to be done.

Now…I’d never touch a laptop with a windows logo on it ever again. It’s just so inferior it’s mind boggling how they’re still around.

So yes, I concede, I was wrong. Macs do have their place in the world, and if you value your time and productivity, please get one.

This also led to the great backup solution ‘Time Machine” which Apple uses to backup their machines. It’s super easy and now means I can backup all my data before I go on business trips and do anything risky.

2. Investing in the Fundamentals

The other area I started investing in was my Virtual Assitant.

I had many issues with hiring a virtual assistant in the past, and it eventually came to be that my previous assistant who was with me up until around August this year had other commitments, so I was back on the hunt.

I ended up going with a friend’s company called Outsourcing Angel which so far is producing pretty good results.

The main thing I was looking for in my new assistant (this is me if you’re looking to hire I suggest this blog post) was:

  • A project manager who could handle multiple tasks and people
  • Have previous experience in specific tools (Autoresponder, Project Management Software, etc.)
  • Could speak English Fluently (Over the phone and in emails)
  • Was punctual with reports and updates
  • Was a problem solver and was not someone who could just follow what was shown

And the main thing I was looking from the agency was hardcore accountability and accessibility. If there’s something not right, I can tell them, and it’s their job to figure out what’s going on. I have a middle man (in Australia) who I can speak to. Obviously for that, you pay a bit higher rate, but that’s something that I NEEDED if I was going to grow my business.

I ended up hiring my first VA through Outsourcing Angel, who was fantastic (she’s an absolute gun) and will be looking to expand the team very shortly.

Currently working on a part-time basis (20 hours per week) however will be transitioning to full time in 2016.

Tried A Float Tank

So I heard about this thing called a float tank, thought I’d get myself a one-hour session to try it out.

Turned out pretty freaky and felt like I was floating in mid-air while dreaming…

Here’s what the tank looked like.

Shoot me a message if you want more information on them, but I suggest you try it at least once.

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Press of 2015

One big area that has started to grow is press for my website and I in the industry.

This year included:

The WordPress Summit – Speaker
The Sales Funnel Summit – Speaker
Business.com Feature #1
Business.com Feature #2
Podcast Interview – SEO Profits
Podcast Interview – Studentpreneur
Podcast Interview – Stop Riding The Pine

All of these appearances and mentions were completely organic which is great (no real push or campaign to join them). Next year there’ll be a bit of a different strategy to this which I’ll share with you below.

So What’s The 2016 Plan for StephenEsketzis.com

So after writing my goals out at the end of 2015, there’s a lot of “to dos” I want to tick off this year.

Update and Grow The Marketing Tools List

As I mentioned above, one area I want to expand traffic to is the marketing tools list. There’s such a wealth of information on marketing tools that I really want to make sure this is a good opportunity for people to get a nice clear understanding of what’s what.

This will involve developing a slightly newer and more in depth grading of each tool and maybe some other changes too.

Launch My Funnel Builder!

So this project has been going on for about three months now because I’ve been too much of a perfectionist to get it out the door. But it’s finally ready and will start seeing traffic in about seven days from writing this.

The funnel builder is a complete custom sales funnel builder that other marketers would charge you thousands for which you can customize yourself and launch. It’s got overflowing amounts of value, and I just wish I had something like this when I launched my first sales funnel.

Coming Soon…so watch your emails.

Focus On Hard Core List Building

Again as I mentioned above, list building is one area I’ve always slacked off in, but this year is going to really take things to the next level. A lot of strategy planning and time has gone into putting together a list building machine.

What that also means is giving so much value to my audience that you really won’t be able to compare my site with anyone else’s in the industry.

The site is taking a unique approach that I think is really going to be refreshing. This also means sending a lot more emails in 2016, so keeping my list engaged with what’s happening. Building rapport is absolutely key to establishing trust.

Event Networking & Digital Networking

This year I’ll be doing a lot of traveling, going to Traffic and Conversion Summit in San Diego in February, Funnel Hacking Live at the end of March and then maybe a couple more events throughout the year.

All this flying and event attending means I’ll get to network with some fantastic marketers. I’m planning on Vlogging all the events I attend this year and creating ‘mini movies’ for each one that way you guys can follow what I’m up to.

I got the idea from Charles’s recent video he did in Affiliate World Asia.

Hopefully, they’re a fun way to bring some personality to events and really show you what it’s like.

One the digital front, I’ve got a goal of doing a lot more podcast interviews with leading professionals in space. I slacked off a bit last year but this year you can expect weekly interviews alongside more of my rambling.

Weekly Blog Posts

One area I improved a lot in 2015 was my blog post writing. I’ve started training myself to write more in a smaller amount of time (between writing here and the ClickFunnels blog).

So for my website you can expect some longer posts on key topics to do with building your sales funnel from top to bottom. There’s a lot of fluff and misdirection online, and not many people go deep into specific areas. So keep an eye out for longer posts just like this one and this one.

Follow-Along Thread

I always look for ways to innovate and keep the website interesting and one area I noticed that might be valuable is starting a follow along thread. Similar to how Neil Patel and Groove have started blogs talking about their journey to xxx, xxx visitors or xxx, xxx dollars in revenue.

Blog

These types of threads get a ton of readership because of their transparency and details, and I think it would fit in really well with my site. So one idea I had was to do a follow along thread with building a sales funnel from scratch to $500 a day in revenue.

I need to plan and see if I will have the time to write this, but if I can squeeze it in, I think it’ll do very well, and people will get a lot of value out of it.

Running a Virtual Summit

I mentioned my friend Navid at the beginning of the post who’s a virtual summit expert. We were speaking earlier last year and suggested I do one but was simply too busy. However in 2016, I plan to make time to setup and launch a summit that I think will be really valuable.

I took part in 2 of these in 2015, but running my own one would be a lot of fun.

Not only will it have some of the world’s best experts on it for sales funnels and marketing but it would people a good opportunity to have their questions answered.

What’s Next?

Well, now I (and you) get to work.

Planning is crucial, but the execution is critical.

Let’s see where the year takes us.

What are your goals and plans for 2016? Share them in the comments below then check back at the end of the month and see how you’re going.

Speak soon,

Stephen.

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