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My 2011 Reflections and 2012 Plans | Working Towards Home

Ah, the post you have all been waiting for where I will shower you with all of the great wisdom I have gained over the past year combined with a stellar plan to dominate the world in 2012…or maybe not.

Sadly, 2012 isn’t starting out too well since I seem to be having issues getting back into the groove. I did almost zero IM stuff in December and while I don’t regret it, it is hard to get my brain back in business. In fact, that is why I am writing this post now when I should be working on my sites but hopefully writing this will help out.

I was pretty sure I had no goals written for 2011 because I am not a big yearly goal type person, but I did have some “plans” written up in January 2011 and was amused to find them:

So I have made a decision to approach “my business” very differently in 2011. I know many other IMers are moving in a similar direction and reading all of your blogs has helped me (thanks). In 2011 I plan to move to a more hands-off approach and only work 1-2 days a week. The rest of my time will be spent doing all the things a stay at home mom is suppose to do (shopping, cleaning, etc), getting my new house renovated, and pursuing some of my passions that I have let slip. I am still working out the particulars but that is the jist of my plan.

Epic failure on all parts. I can’t remember what I did as far as IM in the first half of the year but  in September through November I was working more like 4 or 5 days a week on my sites. That was a good thing which I’ll get to later. As far as getting my house in shape – oops. Actually, we did make some progress in 2011 and got the majority done in Nov/Dec since we were hosting Christmas Eve dinner so maybe epic failure is harsh.

But just for fun and so I can pretend to be an organized blogger like the rest of you, let me share some 2011 highlights with nice headings.

What Went Wrong in 2011

1. My earnings were shakey.

I was making some small strides as far as earnings, but the road was bumpy. I lost about $100/month in passive income when eHow closed up. I lost a few hundred when my main adsense site got de-indexed.

2. I was unfocused in the first half of the year.

Even though I knew I needed to focus in on one or two sites to really improve my earnings, I still flitted around too much. The benefits of focusing only sunk in once I started doing it and saw the results.

3. I still looked for the shiney new object, hidden gold, easy way, etc.

Instead of focusing on what works for me (which again, I did later in the year) I still looked for an easy way. I spent too much time dreaming of ranking and earning rather than doing the dirty work of building up lots of content.

What Went Right in 2011

In case you haven’t seen the pattern yet, the second quarter to half of 2011 I had a plan and did much better.

1. I focused on Christmas sales starting around August.

For those on my mailing list, you will know that I had a very nice increase in earnings in November. December earnings (which I will send out soon) were even better. Want to know my secret? It’s simple – I was focused and had a timetable which I couldn’t modify since everyone INSISTS on keeping Christmas on December 25th. And while my productivity still had its ups and downs, it was much better than I had ever experienced before. I even checked the mirror to make sure it was still me.

2. I focused on what was working TODAY.

Sort of related to number 1, but this is still another lesson for my tendency to worry about the what-ifs. Rather than worry about whether a particular backlinking method or platform will still be viable in 6 months, I just got behind what was working at the moment. That was easier when I knew the jig was up by December 25th but there is no reason to not treat everyday like this.

3. I realized passive income from IM is a myth.

Again, this point is related to point #2 and focusing on the moment. But in 2011 I saw the loss of eHow income (not in my control), one site hit by Panda (mostly out of my control) and a de-indexing of my best earning site at the time (mostly out of my control). There are no guarantees in IM and even if you build a great website wearing your whitest of hats you still may get hit by an algo change (look at DaniWeb.com or AsktheBuilder.com) or have your state change the tax laws (ask CA affiliates or me since PA just pulled a CA, still waiting to see what Azon does).

Instead, I would call website income “potentially passive” or “temporarily passive”. You could build up a site that will earn for the next 10 years or only earn for the next few months. You just never know how it will turn out which for me means 1) Milk current earnings as much as possible, 2) Worry less about taking some chances to do #1 (within reason) and 3) Be ready to adjust when needed.

So there are your nice highlights with formatting. But overall I would say that 2011 was a volatile year for me but I learned a lot about myself and about the business. I am entering 2012 feeling much more confident and yet with more realistic expectations. My income for November and December was pretty good, great if you consider I did no work in December, and that money will be a big help this year (when it is finally paid out).

But enough looking back, let’s look forward. As I said, I am not big on yearly goals but I would like to put something out there so I have come up with just two: one personal and one business.

My Goals in 2012

1. Earn $2000 per month by July 1st.

I stopped publishing my earnings on the site and only do that by newsletter now, but I thought I would still put a number out there. To be honest, I have no idea where my income will land for this month. During my Christmas focus I did do some work on one of my Amazon sites and I expect traffic to be better this month than pre-Christmas, but Christmas has skewed everything. Same with Squidoo – I made a bunch of lenses for Christmas but some are evergreen products so I expect some continued sales.

I picked $2000 per month because that will be almost enough (barring my outsourcing budget) to pay for my kid’s school. We send our kids to a private Christian school and my basic goal in IM was always to be able to pay their tuition. If I can’t make that happen by summer then I will have to consider getting a contract/temp job in the Fall (yikes!). That gives me a little incentive.

2. Exercise Regularly

Just before my birthday in June I decided I was old and fat. Since I couldn’t change the former I decided to change the latter. I went on a low carb diet and lost about 15 pounds by December. But what really motivates me is how much better I feel. I have so much more energy and my moods are stabilized – low carbing really works wonders for me and I plan to continue it forever. I also think my IM productivity was bolstered greatly by the change.

BUT, I now need to go the next step and start exercising. I’d love to lose a few more pounds but my main concern is just health. I want to be healthier and fitter as that benefits all aspects of my life. By nature I hate to exercise so this will be a battle, but I have already started back at the gym and will also try to incorporate some walking on the days I don’t go to the gym. Specifically, I would like to take a 20-30 minute walk mid-day when I am doing IM work because let’s face it folks, sitting on your bum for hours at the computer isn’t pretty (I have the pictures to prove it).

So those are my two main goals this year. I do have another goal which is very general but I think I will post that later as this post is long enough.

Since I took all of December off to focus on home and family, yesterday was my first week “back to work”. I feel like I am floundering a bit trying to come up with a plan of attack for hitting my income goal, but I am getting there. Hopefully I will get onto a more productive schedule next week and maybe find time to post about HOW I plan to reach my income goal.

Your turn – What are your goals for 2012? Do you like my attempts to format my posts? :)



27 Responses to My 2011 Reflections and 2012 Plans

  1. Michelle says:

    Epic post, Carrie. Your earnings last month really blew me away, and I’m really looking forward to your December earnings newsletter post.

    I’m guessing you will have no problem meeting your $2/k a month goal this year. (I’m also trying to fit more exercise into my daily routine). And I really like your formatting! ;)

    Best wishes for 2012!
    Michelle recently posted..Looking Back At 2011 And Looking Forward To 2012

  2. LIssie says:

    I can’t find your newsletter sign up? Yeah old and fat I can relate to that! I have to get fit too though cause this is the year we are going to be CHAMPION dancers, and we aren’t fit enough to get through a decent practice session at the moment!

    And yeah passive income – I hear you about that – I think its delayed (or no) gratification income – but that doesn’t make such a good blog title!
    LIssie recently posted..Empower Network Scam or Legit?

  3. James Hussey says:

    “I realized I was old and fat…” Ahem. Had to laugh, I’m not getting any younger. If you check out pics of people at some major blog-related or IM-related expo’s, besides Rand Fishkin (OK, SEO expo’s, too)…well.

    IMHO it seems the battle of the bulge is par for the course.

    You could always buy the treadmill desk I so kindly linked to in my “What to Get an Internet Marketer for Christmas” post, you know…just sayin’.

    Honestly, I think you, me and M should do the Paleo diet and Cross Fit thing. I’m already beating you to 1/2 the punch, my wife and I were deadlifting in the garage yesterday, doing the beginner’s course for Cross Fit…

    And really just some simple weights or kettlebells are needed (I have an Olympic weight set I got off a garage sale)…

    30 mins or less a day. Run 2x a week – nothing really drastic time-wise, no hardcore time commitment or over-cardio “thing.”

    Or you know, get an XBox Kinect and “Rise of the Nightmares” and kill zombies w/your hands. :D

    Honestly the XBox Kinect = good times for exercise w/ the kids. Holy crow I’m babbling here….I just thought it was interesting we’ve been at this about the same time-frame and all of us are thinking: gotta get into shape.

    (Having a heart attack just doesn’t sound like fun, you know?)

    OK. Getting back to you for a minute: I can totally relate to getting back on the ball. I’ve been writing this book very calmly lately, b/c the holidays and whatnot: getting back into the groove is always tough.

    So a deadline: that seems to be what’s missing (in my case: I noticed it worked for you last year you GANGSTA). “When I run out of food” isn’t a good deadline…

    By Monday. That’s my deadline. Thanks for the inspiration. BTW, this is your funniest post evah – you really need to post more, you and M both.

    Sorta sucks not having a ton of IM blogs to read these days (seems everyone either has quit or moved on).
    James Hussey recently posted..2011 Lessons and 2012 Goals MMO Yr 2

    • Carrie says:

      You are, and will always be, younger than me :(

      As far as exercise, my plan is 2 days a week at the gym mostly for weight training and then walking 3 other days. After reading the 4 Hour Body I now really want to buy some kettlebells but I’m not sure what weight to get – working on that one.

      Glad you mentioned the book, I was gonna email you asking where it is. Chop Chop, man! I had an idea for you also but not sure it will work…will email you.
      Carrie recently posted..My 2011 Reflections and 2012 Plans

      • James Hussey says:

        Thanks for the email, great idea. I think it’s a goodie. :D

        Now about Lis saying you need to sweat…do clammy hands count? Am I losing weight?

        I really learned a lot, BTW, from my wife’s insistence (who doesn’t look like she’s had 1 kid, much less 7), and research on MarksDailyApple.com and other Paleo blogs.

        Mark’s Daily Apple has a free exercise book you can get, he’s pretty awesome to be honest – I think he’s older than you (sorry, couldn’t resist – he’s about 60 and looks incredible).

        But the “diet” isn’t really a “diet,” it’s incredibly easy. We’ve done and succeeded/failed at Weight Watchers more times than we could count, this is the first time I’ve been full all day and felt good about things.

        I’m still not sure why we don’t have a Paleo blog…I think it may become a project. We bought “PaleoEnvy.com” a while back but never developed it, but that’s gotta change methinks…

        Writing about it would certainly help motivate me.
        James Hussey recently posted..Merry Christmas – An Affiliate Marketers Perspective

  4. Carrie says:

    Ah, I meant to add this video to my post but forgot. This also helped inspire me to get more active:

    Carrie recently posted..My 2011 Reflections and 2012 Plans

    • LIssie says:

      I think 30 minutes of walking/day is good for someone who never does anything! I do see it in my sister-in-law who is extremely obese, can hardly walk down the road – and that’s a scary place to be!

      I’m trying to do an extra walk a day for the moment. The thing is at some point you really do have to start sweating, otherwise you will never improve your cardio fitness
      LIssie recently posted..Empower Network Scam or Legit?

  5. Tiffany says:

    I’m learning that focusing really does work to improve your income, but sometimes it is just hard notto be attracted to the shiny new objects. lol

    I’m sure you are going to easily make your goals for 2012, especially if you continue to focus on the task at hand.

    As for losing weight. I actually just started a blog on my weight loss and it doesn’t get much traffic but it is more for me than other people. I am the person who you see one year and I’m wearing a size 6 and the next year I am wearing a size 14. It doesn’t help having 3 kids in the past 4 years, but that shouldn’t be an excuse.

    I also just started a low carb diet as it is the only thing that works for me. I am totally addicted to carbs and unless I completely limit them I overeat. I’m not the type of person who can eat one roll and be satisifed, nope I need 2 or 3 rolls. Anyways, know that you probably know way too much about me, exericse has always been the easiest part for me. It’s the food that gets me. lol

    I love fun workouts like Turbo Jam and Turbo Fire, kickboxing, dance-type aerobics (Zumba). I hate running and realized it was stupid to push myself to run if I hated it. I actually just bought The Firm Express and the workouts are only 20 minutes but they work! So, my advice is find something that you like to do and make exercise fun! Good luck :)
    Tiffany recently posted..Choosing My Niches and Overcoming Procrastination

    • Carrie says:

      Maintaining a weight and having kids is rough. I really packed it on with my pregnancies. Luckily I am done with that :)

      Wait, exercise can be fun? Not for me. While I may enjoy walking at just the right temperature outside I really do struggle with exercising. My inner voice/child screams to be a couch potato.

      But being fat and out of shape isn’t fun either so I’ll try to stick to the plan.
      Carrie recently posted..My 2011 Reflections and 2012 Plans

  6. Sara says:

    I think you have realistic goals. I’m also trying to concentrate on just one or two sites at a time but it’s HARD not to get off track and start doing random link building for sites that I am not maintaining LOL.

    I’m also recommitting to low-carb/Paleo diet which I started doing last year (I started sliding when Halloween candy appeared in the house!). I wholeheartedly believe in the lifestyle but with a JOB and kids it’s really hard to do all that planning and cooking! (and let’s not even talk about exercising!). I feel so much better eating that way though. You should check out the Fat Head documentary if you haven’t seen it yet (Amazon, Hulu, Netflix… or http://www.fathead-movie.com)

    I bought some Kettlebells too but again, finding the time (when I am not utterly exhausted or working on IM) has been hard. I got the 10 lb but found it was too heavy for any overhead stuff so I dropped to a 7 lb which is better.

    I just need to put it all together so I can really see some results. I’m literally trying to have my cake and eat it too and that doesn’t work :) Good luck!!

    • Carrie says:

      Thanks Sara.

      Doing low carb when your family doesn’t is extra work. Many nights I cook 2 dinners so I can imagine it would be really tough if I still worked outside the home.

      As far as the Kettlebell, I mostly just want to do the swing which requires a heavier weight. I found a 20 lb KB at Target and tried to do the swing but it was hard to tell if that was a good weight without looking like a huge fool squatting in the aisle. Unfortunately my gym doesn’t have KBs.

      Good luck with focusing this year. I’m trying to get some of the distractions dealt with this week and hope to focus in next week.
      Carrie recently posted..My 2011 Reflections and 2012 Plans

  7. Dave says:

    Low carb rocks. Back on it myself since Monday to lose a few pounds I put on after a 3 month weight training and eating like a madman cycle. Now it’s time to see some abs!

    Alexis is on it permanently and is looking amazing. No sugar spikes and it does make you feel a lot more energized all the time.

    I think you will hit your earnings targets no problem Carrie, just gotta keep the faith and do the work. Which I know you will. Nothing like having a concrete goal in mind to motivate yourself.


    Dave recently posted..Gurus

  8. Dave says:

    Carrie, definitely have a cheat day once a week. Not only does it give you something to look forward to all week, to keep you on the straight and narrow, but it actually makes any diet work better. Not just low carb.

    Apart from it making it less likely for you to cheat in the week it is important to break a restricted calorie diet on a regular basis. Your body begins to get used to less calories and will try to find any way it can to hold onto the bodyweight it has. It would rather slow you down and make you more lethargic than lose the weight.

    By having a day a week where you up the calories significantly you are tricking it into thinking it is being fed plenty, and it means it won’t try to slow down your metabolism to compensate for the lack of food. Then you sneak up on it for the rest of the week before it knows what has hit it.

    Plus, chocolate and bread and french fries are nice ;)
    Dave recently posted..Gurus

    • Carrie says:

      Yeah, the idea of kicking up the calories once a week makes sense. I guess I’ll have to try it and see if it works for me. Thanks.

      If it does work then I missed a day full of Christmas desserts :(

  9. Norm says:

    You are right about passive income with IM. It is never really passive, however once you have a really good site the content on a site can continue to make money over and over. However adding new content/updating posts from my experience is a continuous exercise for all my sites. So is it really passive income?

    In my opinion the term have been mixed up with the term used in investing. Investing in Shares or Property is passive as you spent money on it and someone else is actually managing the investment for you. In which there little or no effort on your part, and the investment grows overtime. I am no financial guru, just my opinion, perhaps Tracey ;) can answer this more accurately.

    I am sure you will kick ass on both of you goals this year.

    In terms for your health/exercise highly recommend P90X, if you havent tried it yet. I personally used it early last year and the results speaks for themselves, however once I stopped! Over Christmas and NY, I put it back on…to be honest quite depressing, so easy to put it on in 2-3 weeks of eating and doing nothing. Well I am back on it this week…o the pain! Legs hurt, arms hurts … how can one type with everything so saw!

    Norm recently posted..2011 Review and 2012 Goals

  10. Bethany says:

    I also have to second James’ paleo suggestion… made a huge difference for me! I’ll commentluv link my post about it.

    Anyway, it’s kinda funny because I set my goals kinda the opposite of yours. My $ goal is $3000/month by 1/1/13, and I’m dropping a lot of my other hobbies and passions for this year in order to have more time to work.

    2011 was when I really saw the potential in IM, and after my December I am feeling really encouraged. I spent 9 months of the year pregnant and useless but I’m getting more done now even with a newborn waking me up at night. Plus I took my mom on as a partner and she is blowing it out of the water. I have a gut feeling that both of us working together will end up in a lot more results than us working separately.

    I do this because if I can reach that $3000/month goal, that’s enough for my husband to quit his job and for us to move to our property in the mountains. I figure if I get to $3000 (net), we can use the money to build a small cabin to live in, move by the end of the summer, and then spend the rest of our lives doing IM together, and raising pastured beef, poultry and pork with my folks. $3000 will get us there!@
    Bethany recently posted..The story on why I stopped eating grains, and what happened as a result

  11. Carrie says:

    Good luck with your income goal, Bethany. I think it helps a lot when you have something tangible to work towards and sounds like meeting your goal really will be life-changing. That is cool.
    Carrie recently posted..My 2011 Reflections and 2012 Plans

  12. Andrew Smith says:

    In my opinion the term have been mixed up with the term used in investing. Investing in Shares or Property is passive as you spent money on it and someone else is actually managing the investment for you. Thanks for the sharing, keep up good work.
    Andrew Smith recently posted..How to make money in forex

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    レイバンサングラス recently posted..レイバンサングラス

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    Comprar Polos Ralph Lauren recently posted..Comprar Polos Ralph Lauren

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    Dexter recently posted..Dexter

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