A few years ago I created a Word document with a business plan for my website, The Religion Teacher. I spent hours on it. It had a long list of statistics and strategies that I was going to work on for the year. I quickly forgot about it, of course, and just got back to work.
Needless to say I am wary of business plans and documents that get ignored. Still, I have spent some time this month looking ahead to 2018 and trying to decide what NOT to do. In the past, I made plans of what I should do to find success. This year, though, I am going to eliminate rather than add. I am going to focus on what works so I can make a bigger impact. When you are a solopreneur, you are a one-man (or woman) show and you can’t do everything no matter how tempting the next big thing might be.
This image from the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown is driving my thinking about the next year:
I could spend my energy doing many things and achieve limited results or I could focus my time and energy on one thing and make a big impact.
The Rule of Five Ones
The second inspiration for this business plan comes from an interview Clay Collins did on the Smart Passive Income Podcast in May 2017. Collins, who grew his email marketing business from an idea to a multi-million dollar startup in only a few years, introduced what he called The Rule of Five Ones.
According to my notes from the interview, the five ones are:
- One Offer/Product (product, delivery format, pricing plan, guarantee)
- One Conversion Mechanism (sales pages, product launches, webinars, sales calls)
- One Traffic Source (SEO, partnerships, pay-per-click)
- One Year to Find the Right Combination
- One More Year to Get to Six Figures in Revenue
I slightly adjusted this approach for my Five Ones for 2018:
- One Traffic Strategy: How will new people find my business?
- One Platform Strategy: How will I connect with my community?
- One Conversion Strategy: How will I motivate my community to share my vision and buy my products?
- One Product Offering: What product will provide the biggest impact in turning the vision into a reality?
- One Networking Strategy: How will I develop relationships with other people who influence my community?
I know that if I do these five things well, I will make an impact on the most people possible. I will move forward in my mission.
I also know that spending my limited amount of time on multiple strategies in the same area spreads myself too thin. The 80/20 Rule applies across the board for every one of these strategies.
Here are my criteria for selecting the one strategy over the others:
- There is proof that it works.
- It aligns with my strengths and interests.
- It accounts for 80% of impact compared to other strategies in the same category.
- The strategies compliment or overlap with the focus in other categories.
My 2018 Business Plan
Note: This business plan is focused solely on TheReligionTeacher.com. Although the books I publish and the speaking I do this year will be intertwined, they are supplementary and not the sole focus of this particular plan.
The Vision and Mission of The Religion Teacher
Provide practical resources for religious educators to get students engaged in class so they can learn, love, and live their Catholic faith.
I have three specific visions for how The Religion Teacher will make an impact:
- A religious educator plans a lesson with The Religion Teacher website open on the computer.
- A classroom of students is engaged in an encounter with Christ because of The Religion Teacher resources being used in class.
- A religious educator shares something from The Religion Teacher with a colleague in a conversation or email.
One Traffic Strategy
How will new people find my website and business?
My one strategy: SEO
Say “NO” to: Facebook posts, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Guest Posts, Viral Videos
My goal with The Religion Teacher is to help religious educators prepare their lessons. When they plan, they use their textbooks and then they search for additional resources. I want to create resources that they find and use in those searches.
The website traffic from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo far outweigh any other traffic source. Pinterest, which should be seen as a search engine more than a social network, is also a major source of traffic.
I will also spend additional time this year creating videos that can be found through the YouTube search function and worksheets that can be found by searching on the website Teachers Pay Teachers.
One Platform Strategy
How will I connect with my community?
My one strategy: Email Newsletter
Say “NO” to: Posts to Facebook Page, Facebook Groups, Instagram, Instagram Stories, Twitter posts, etc.
I am so tempted by social media! I would love to figure out Instagram as a platform. The thing is, though, email works best. It’s “old school” but so much more effective than anything I’ve tried on social media. Plus, I will have more than 40,000 people on my email list this year compared to a few thousand anywhere else.
- Content upgrades to add to the email list
- A weekly newsletter to help with weekly lesson planning (one for the main email list and one for members)
- Better autoresponders that everyone will get when the join the email list.
One Conversion Strategy
How will I motivate my community to share the vision and buy my products?
My one strategy: Email Launch Sequence
Say “NO” to: Webinars, Sales Calls, etc.
In 2016 and 2017 I used an approach to product launches that I learned from Bryan Harris (Videofruit) in a product he offers called Slingshot. It not only lead to the biggest growth in memberships to my website, the process of writing the emails helped me solidify why I really believe in the work that I am doing. The most recent product launch became the inspiration for my newest book.
Next year I am going to use that same approach to do two big launches in January and September then mini-email launches throughout the year for worksheet packs and my new book.
One Product Offering
What product will provide the biggest impact in turning the vision into a reality?
My one strategy: Worksheets for Members
Say “NO” to: Online Courses, Class Videos
I believe the best way to encourage an engaging encounter with Christ in class is to use a Lectio Divina approach to religious education. Basically, you teach what everyone should understand, then provide students with an opportunity to meaningful meditation, prayer, and contemplation. The worksheets I create are tools that can be easily used to guide students in the meditation, prayer, and contemplation. This is something that makes my website unique.
There is so much more I could do, but I think of this as a step-by-step approach. Create the library of worksheets now and then move on to other kinds of tools that will be useful in other ways later.
One Networking Strategy
How will I develop relationships with other people who influence my community?
My one strategy: Interviews
Say “NO” to: Event networking, Comments on blogs, Instagram Comments/DM, Twitter @replies/DMs, Facebook Pages comments, Facebook Groups comments
I love the way Ray Dalio put it in his book, Principles. He described a turning point in his career when he shifted from an “I’m right” mentality to ask instead “How do I know I’m right?”
He decided that the first way to answer was to seek out other independent thinkers on the same mission as him who see things differently. He sought to understand their reasoning so he could test his assumptions, learn, and improve.
Networking is my biggest weakness. I’m a natural introvert. I know, however, that I would not be anywhere near as successful right now if it wasn’t for the influencers who have recommended me and my website and books to their communities.
The idea of “networking” seems so insincere. I don’t want to “network;” I want to build meaningful relationships. Most of all, I want to learn from others so I can be more helpful to my community.
That’s why I am going to approach networking from the perspective of learning.
What can I learn from the other influencers?
Over the years I have built some great relationships with influencers of my audience, but I’ve lost touch with a lot of them. I just haven’t reached out to touch base. I haven’t featured their work for my community.
So, next year I am going to make a point of learning from others influencers and featuring short interviews with them using my platform.
Follow along here at jareddees.com to see how these approaches to making an impact develop and change this year.