Slow Start - January 2022 retro

New year, new products, new problems.

This is my January update.

Recap of the projects I’m talking about this month

Map of Strength - A directory of top gyms for enthusiast lifters and strength-sport competitors.

Breeze - A Django + TailwindCSS SaaS starterpack.

My full project list is here

January’s goals

Grow Map of Strength Instagram followers to at least 80 ✔

The very start of January went well for Map of Strength. Some Reddit and Instagram engagement bought in followers and traffic - which also meant gym submissions.

There are now a few gym owners that manage their own pages on the site - so it was definitely a good idea to support that early on. I do need to add the ability for owners to add and delete images on their pages though. At the moment it’s still a manual process. But it’s not something I have to do often enough for it to be the biggest priority for the project.

Right now I think it really is a case of marketing and SEO to grow the site. SEO is going to be very difficult though because of how many gym finder sites already exist. Map of Strength’s USP is that it’s manually curated and niched to strength sports. So although SEO will be useful, the main focus should be on participating within the community to make it the way to find a gym.

I ended up creating a blog for the site. Content has been a huge part of growing my other sites so far, and it’s something I need to keep doing. I wrote a couple of initial posts about how we curate gyms and how we maintain the information on the site to prevent it from going stale. I don’t think these will be useful for SEO, but it’s a start.

The blog was also a feature I wanted to create for Breeze too (more on that in a minute). So it’s a 2-for-1 deal. A lot of the features and improvements I make to either project should help influence the others. It’s win-win - but it does take extra time.

Grow Map of Strength’s gym numbers by 10 ✔

We hit this goal by the 5th of January, all from people’s submissions thanks to the afore mentioned traffic boost.

By the end of the month, we hit 128 total gyms approved on the site. 1 over the goal with no additional research needed.

Interestingly, because gyms get re-reviewed every few months, a couple of gyms were removed from the directory (1 had barely any info, and the other had closed).

Launch the new project ✔

Whether I accomplished this or not depends on your definition of ‘launch’. I’d call this a very soft launch.

I published a landing page for the new product, but I’m still working on the actual product and full site. I’m also planning some of the marketing effort before the actual launch.

Breeze is a Django and TailwindCSS SaaS starter codebase. It helps people kick-start their SaaS business.

The whole idea is that you pay for most of the ‘standard’ stuff that a SaaS will need - a landing page, user management, a blog, payments, and so on. It then allows you to create the part of the product that actually provides the majority of the value.

Productivity on Breeze was really low for the whole month unfortunately. Initially, getting back into building Breeze was quite difficult. Basically just because I lost all momentum after taking a break from it at the end of December.

Breeze will save weeks - possibly months - of dev time every time it’s used.

Pricing hasn’t been decided yet. Though I suspect it will start relatively cheap before I start raising them. I’m also planning to offer a more bespoke and hands-on service - like a productized freelance service. It feels like doing it this way round is antithetical to the common advice. So we’ll see how it plays out.

Bonus

  • Created and shipped a couple of PC Nameplates

The orders that I had back in December got created and shipped. There were no orders this month. Although there was an enquiry that I had to turn down.

  • liftingstones.org relaunch

In December’s retrospective I noted that I had rebuilt liftingstones.org. I launched the new site and it definitely resonated with people. The overall design is just so much nicer compared to the outgoing design.

Along with the relaunch I wrote 2 new articles for the site, and I sent out the first liftingstones.org newsletter. Right now I’m planning to publish one article per month along with a newsletter.

Unique visitors were up about 25% higher than last month which is fantastic too.

It’s actually quite sad that I neglected the site for the majority of last year.

  • SEO for devs course

I signed up for and completed Monica Lent’s SEO for devs course - and I thought it was a great overview into site structure, blog optimization, and audit tools. Although now I have a bunch of small issues that I need to fix across my main sites. Recommended if you haven’t thought too much about SEO before.

  • Lower productivity

January as a whole has been quite unproductive. Especially on Breeze. And although I think I got an ok amount done (across projects) I feel unproductive because Breeze is supposed to be my focus.

Low productivity in winter is something I’ve noticed in past years too. The winter isn’t good to me. I wonder if moving to a better climate during the winter months would be beneficial?

And no - before you mention it - I don’t have a vitamin D deficiency, nor SAD. I supplement vitamin D and my depression isn’t seasonal.

  • Deciding to shut down Art by an AI

Art by an AI has been fun to work on, but I’m going to be sunsetting the project.

Sadly, the project has only cost money, and because I don’t have much desire to market or pivot the project I think it’s best to shut-down the art generation.

I’ll keep the site up for at least another year as a static page with a gallery of some of my favourite images that were created (and they will still be available to buy as prints). But there won’t be any more interactive components to the site.

I still need to create a full plan for shutting down. But I want it done before I properly launch Breeze.

February goals

Here are my February goals:

  • Grow Map of Strength Instagram followers to at least 100
  • Grow Map of Strength’s gym numbers by 10
  • Sunset Art by an AI
  • Launch Breeze, and continue marketing

January’s revenue from projects: $0

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