Welcome to my February 2018 Project Report. My goal with these monthly reports is to help other authors, entrepreneurs, leaders, or anyone else who wants to make an impact through their work. Each month I will share how I spent my time as an author and creative entrepreneur and the successes, failures, and lessons I learned along the way.
How I Spent My Time in February 2018
- 12:28 – The Religion Teacher Email
- 10:55 – Keynote Talks (Archdiocese of Santa Fe)
- 7:59 – Revising The Religion Teacher’s Guide to Lesson Planning eBook
- 8:50 – The Daily Learning Log (archive)
- 2:55 – Morning Preview
- 2:40 – Daily Review
- 2:44 – Business Accounting
- 2:15 – The Religion Teacher Newsletter
- 2:13 – The Religion Teacher’s Catholic Mass Worksheets
- 2:12 – The Evangelization Stack Online Course
Total Time Spent: 66:58
Here is what I produced last month:
- Worksheets: 5
- Articles/Blog Posts: 7
- Newsletter Emails: 16
- Videos: 3
- Books: 7,726 words
- Workshops & Webinars: 1
2018 Goal Update
I used to focus only on mission and vision and not specific performance goals for the year. I’m trying something different this year and setting some big goals for myself as a entrepreneurial author. You can find my goals here. This is the progress I made so far:
25% Progress / double the number of members TRTm members (audacious goal)
0/5,000 copies sold of Christ in the Classroom (good/great)
0/1 published work of fiction (good)
2/7 paid speaking gigs (expected)
10/50 Read 50 books (good goal)
49% Paid Off / Pay off mortgage in 2020 (good goal)
PR: n/a / Run a 5K under 23:00 (good goal)
Start a support ministry for startup founders. (expected goal)
February 2018 Highlights and Lessons Learned
Archdiocese of Santa Fe Keynote
After 17 hours of travel–reminiscent of the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles–I made it to Albuquerque to give a keynote presentation to a few hundred Catholic School Teachers. I was exhausted from travel, but the presentation still went very well. Having a system in place after more than 50 of these kinds of presentations in the last few years put me in a position to give a great talk.
Revising my Email List Lead Magnet
In 2010 I started an email list and wrote a free eBook to give away to anyone who subscribed to the list. I still remember the excitement after 80 people signed up during the launch of that eBook and email list. That list will pass 40,000 people this month and if you count the unsubscribes that means this eBook has been downloaded more than 50,000-60,000 times.
I am embarrassed to admit it took this long to revise it and I’m really excited about the updates so far. It is a much more useful tool and its going to help a lot of people plan much more effective lesson plans. The revision is also well-timed and needed an update to align with my next book, which presents a unique approach to lesson planning that I think is going to change the way people teach religion today.
Books, even eBooks, are artifacts of our ideas and best practices at the time they are published. If it is possible to update a resource, do it as often as possible.
Speaking of newsletters, I just can stress how helpful it has been to add a regularly occurring weekly email to my email newsletter. Every Sunday I send an email to the teachers on my email list with lesson ideas for the week. I surveyed them last month and found that Sunday is the most popular day for planning. I never would have thought a Sunday email would be a good idea, but its the best thing I’ve done for the website in years. I get a lot of thank you email replies and it is great to see the number of people signing up to become members because of these emails. There have been spikes in new member registrations every Sunday and Monday since I stared doing this.
I am experimenting with another weekly email newsletter for authors and I find it to be a useful experience for my personal growth as an author as well. I plan to add one more of these newsletters as a future platform experiment in growing an audience for my work in fiction.
The success of the email newsletters is only solidifying my decision to quit social media to focus on email.
Online Course Complete
It was great to complete my first online course with Teachable. Once I had a system down for writing the articles and activities, creating and uploading the videos, and writing the emails to link to the lessons three times each week, the process went much more smoothly. Next month will be the second offering of the course and it will be interesting to see how it goes.
Stamps.com Saved HOURS of My Life as an Author
Twice a year I have offered a signed copy of one of my books as a bonus for new annual-paying members. With hundreds of new members during these launches, that means hundreds of books to sign, pack, and ship. The last few times I spent hours and hours in the post office watching them weigh, search, label, and process each package. I tried out Stamps.com this time and I am saving a shocking amount of time. Without exaggeration I went from five hours in the post office to five minutes. I print the labels at home, pack up the books in a box or suitcase, bring the in and drop them off at the desk. I don’t even have to wait for them to scan them in. This is just another example of the fact that there is always a faster way.
Short Story Research
I have a goal to publish one work of fiction this year. Since I have almost no experience writing fictional stories, I started reading and analyzing short stories so that I can start writing my own. I am doing a lot of experimenting and writing some really bad stories that are simply not publishable. I have a steep learning curve, but I’m really enjoying the research phase of this venture. I collected all the award winning fantasy and science fiction short stories from the last few years (Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards) and have the freely available stories in my Instapaper app on my phone. I took a break from reading novels to focus on some of these stories. Leo Tolstoy’s “Two Brothers and the Gold” and Ken Liu’s “Paper Menagerie” are my two favorite stories so far.