2020 was…something else.
It was both the year I learned to take my mental health seriously, and the year I learned to cut my own hair.
And I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to write a summary post because just making it through 2020 was an accomplishment.
That might be why we’re a month into 2021 and I’m just getting around to publishing this bad boy.
But I’m sharing for a few reasons:
- It’s still important to recognize and celebrate our progress – maybe especially so these days. Most entrepreneurs I know are constantly looking forward – but from time to time it’s helpful to look back at how far we’ve come.
- The 2019 recap I did last year was one of my most popular posts – and if this encourages anyone to do a recap of their own (private or public), then I’ll consider it a win.
- And the final reason for this post is to shine a light on the people, projects, and tools that have helped me, just in case they help you too.
By the Numbers
I’m proud of Monkeypod, and my business did grow last year, but I’m probably not setting any records.
I decided early on that I wasn’t going to pursue growth at all costs – I care a lot about how it grows.
That said, I figure we may as well start with some numbers so you have some context for how things work around here, and so that I’ve got it documented for posterity.
In 2020 my website had 63,958 page views (56,053 unique).
Last year was, as we all know, not a normal year. COVID had an undeniable effect on the world, and by some measures the small business community was among the most vulnerable.
I point that out because these numbers are actually lower than they were in last year (in 2019 my site had 67,231 page views, 58,968 unique). I call that out because the goal of this recap isn’t to impress anyone, it’s to share an honest look at how things went last year.
As with before, the bulk of this traffic was driven by content marketing, with small percentages coming from paid Facebook and Instagram traffic, and affiliate promotions.
I also engaged an SEO company, Headflood, to help with optimizing my site – and I suspect my traffic would have taken a serious nosedive had it not been for their assistance.
Throughout 2020 I continued to focus on creating content for my YouTube channel – which yielded more views, and an increase total watch time.
For reference – these numbers are all up over 2019’s stats.
Approximately 9k more views, 28 more subscribers, and double the watch time.
That last one blows my mind a bit – in 2020 you guys spent 2600 hours watching Monkeypod YouTube content.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the OG Membership is my favorite part of my business.
I had my share of struggles in 2020, but the OG group was a constant source of validation, purpose, and inspiration for me.
Growth wise, I’m happy to report that in 2020 we added 4+ new members a month (52 for the year).
The membership has a handful of benefits, but at it’s core is our Facebook group where 1,600 posts were started, accumulating 13,000 comments.
No sales pitch here – but if you are interested in the OG group then check out the membership details here.
Again, surviving 2020 was an accomplishment on it’s own, so if you didn’t feel as productive last year as you like to be then please give yourself some grace.
It’s not fair to compare it to typical years because 2020 was not typical.
That said, I still sat down to comb over my calendar and see what I spent my time on. Here’s a list, in no particular order, of some of the bigger accomplishments from 2020:
1. Launched The Infusionsoft 101 Mini Course
A little ironic that I’m celebrating this now, because any day now Infusionsoft will be renamed, and while the advice in this mini course will still be valuable, it will feel less relevant because they’re retiring the “Infusionsoft” name.
There were 212 registrant for this mini course last year, and 185 (87%) of those registrants started the course, and 78 (36%) completed it.
This free mini course was designed as a follow up to the Marketing Automation 101 course – it follows the same montage interview style format, offering high level advice and best practices for thinking about and adopting Infusionsoft.
If you’re interested, you can check it out here.
2. Relaunched the IS Starter Kit Course
When COVID really hit the US and we went into a clear lockdown my anxiety rapidly built.
I tried to keep my mind occupied by updating the IS Starter Kit course – as I was re-recording a few modules, I decided to rerecord the entire thing.
I’m really proud of how the new version of the course came out – it truly was bigger and better in every way.
I did a full re-launch once it was done, and recorded this short video recapping some of the lessons I learned and four tactics I used.
3. Hosted Tribe-pod Study Group
In 2019 I was introduced to Tribe (thanks PJ and Suzi), which is a powerful course from Stu McLaren on memberships and membership model businesses.
Well, in 2020 I not only joined Tribe again – but I also formally promoted it.
And then I hosted a weekly study group to share ideas and brainstorm as we went through course experience – special shout out to Brian Keith for his help organizing and moderating our zoom pow wows.
If your business has a membership, or you’re interested in one then totally check it out, I think registration opens in April of 2021. In the meantime, here’s a guide of theirs you can start with, and a blog post of mine highlighting some of my biggest lessons.
4. Hired an OG Community Manager
Perhaps the smartest decision I made in 2020 was hiring Jade to act as the official community manager for the OG Membership.
Jade was an Infusionsoft user, and Monkeypod Member, and in early 2020 she left her full time job and started her own agency.
Her humor, personality, and small business expertise made hiring her to help support the OG members an easy choice.
In August I registered her for Tribe Live 2020, and during the 48-hour event she wound up designing and launching a membership of her own.
She recapped her highlights from the event here.
5. Built and launched the OG Directory
I love connecting people, so adding a directory to my members area has been on my to do list for a while.
6. Hosted a Copywriting Workshop with Sam Bennett
Sam is a personal hero of mine – and one of the most likeable people I’ve ever met. So it was an absolute privilege to host a workshop with her at IKON in 2020.
Sam is terrific.
And our workshop, Poetry and Pumpkin Spice, covered some of our tips for writing emails you can be proud of, and that your audience actually enjoys reading.
If you’re interested in the slides and resources we gave away during our preso, you can download them here.
7. Launched Lifecycle Marketing course for FUEL
This was a high level approach to Lifecycle Marketing, what it is, why it matters, and how it affects small businesses everywhere.
You can check out the free video series here.
This course, and the FUEL brand, were an exploratory project. The mini course is valuable (and you can totally check it out), but the project is on hold for the time being.
8. Launched The One Conversation Mini Course
This video series is titled “The One Conversation” because it is the conversation I would have if I were consulting with any small business on the planet.
The mini course follows a conversation designed to help any small business evaluate (or design) their Customer Journey, and then identify and prioritize the opportunities they reveal.
Make no mistake, producing content is a lot of work – but it’s also the type of thing that gets easier as you practice.
My advice to anyone who asks is to treat content like a muscle – it gets stronger as you exercise it, and it atrophies when you don’t.
As proud as I am of the various accomplishments above, the truth is that I spent far more total time and effort writing blog posts and recording video content for my various platforms.
In 2020 I published 19 blog posts and 43 YouTube videos. Candidly, those numbers were both down from 24 and 50, respectively, in 2019; but I’m cutting myself some slack because as we’ve discussed, this wasn’t a typical year.
Top blog posts from 2020:
- So, you want to launch an Online Course?
This is an outline I created for designing, recording, and launching an online course
- Reaction vs Response
This is a guest post from my good friend and favorite rising philosopher Justin MacDonald, where he talked specifically about the difference between reacting, and responding
- Marketing Automation Myths
This blog post unpacked three relatively common misconceptions I’ve heard with regards to marketing automation
Top YouTube Videos from 2020:
- Create Your Customers (13:43)
Yes, you can absolutely target people who are a good fit for what you offer – but, I believe you can also create your own customers
- Start Using Dynamic Content Today (7:35)
I still contend that dynamic content is the most powerful feature we’ve seen released since the campaign builder itself – here’s how you can start using it
- Tap into your Competitor’s Traffic (9:12)
This is a quick trick my friend Brett Fairbourn shared (that he learned from Neil Patel) which can help you increase traffic on your site
This section of last year’s recap was actually titled “Travel”, but for obvious reasons, 2020 didn’t feature nearly as much travel as we would have liked.
So I figured I’d use this section to share a few personal updates.
First, and as I’ve alluded to, 2020 was the year I learned to pay attention to my mental health.
I know COVID effected people in a wide variety of ways and in varying degrees of severity, but for me personally, I really struggled with anxiety and stress.
It affected me in a number of ways.
Personally, it looked like difficulty sleeping, and I found that I was generally less patient, and more irritable.
Professionally, I struggled to stay focused. I found that I needed to take more breaks, and I was easily overwhelmed. Little obstacles that I normally would brush off felt insurmountable.
The funny thing about mental health is that these things are all pretty understandable – and forgivable when you’re looking at it rationally. But when you’re not, then you start to get dissapointed with yourself, and the issues compound themselves.
I can’t count the number of times that I reminded myself “It’s not fair to compare your performance or drive to other years, the circumstances are different; and you are different.”
But as much as I know and believe that, it’s still easier said than done.
There were a few main support systems that I relied on to help me last year – first, Sara. She’s the best.
Sara has been my partner for almost exactly a decade now. She often believes in me more than I do myself, and last year I depended on her more than ever before.
And second, was the Monkeypod community. Yes, the OG Membership, but also everyone on my list, or in my network.
There were countless times when I just simply didn’t feel like writing an email, a blog post, or recording a video.
But more often than not, I talked myself into it because of the pride I get from serving you all. So, thank you.
The other coping mechanisms I pursued were exercise, and dogs.
I’ve always tried to stay active – but in 2020 it became an essential outlet for me.
According to my Strava app, I was active for 275 hours across 315 days, and walked, ran, or hiked 1110 miles.
Climbing 65k ft of elevation seems…absurd. But like I said, hiking became a regular source of escape for us, so if Strava says that’s what we totaled, then who am I to argue.
In April Sara accepted a new position with CSU East Bay, which meant we’d be moving up to the San Francisco area. Shortly afterward it became clear that COVID wasn’t going anywhere, and that everything would be online for the foreseeable future, which meant we didn’t need to move immediately.
Our initial plan was to ride it out in San Diego, but 2020 laughed at our “plans” and quickly dealt us some unforeseen circumstances and we found ourselves looking for new housing in October.
A good friend let us use her place in November (shout out to Ronnie), and then we moved up to Reno, Nevada for a longer-term-but-still-temporary stay while we plot our next move to the Bay Area.
These moves are exciting, for a few reasons.
We love the San Francisco area, and we’re excited about this new role for Sara; but they also meant leaving our home and network in San Diego, which wasn’t easy (especially after 10 months of not seeing anyone or going anywhere).
It also meant leaving the Monkeypod Worldwide HQ, which prompted me to record this 54-minute silent video memorializing the backyard Monkeypod has called home for 5 years.
Now, as many of you know, we lost our senior Australian shepherd Gatsby in January of 2020. It was difficult, but he had a long and happy life, filled with adventures.
We started to fill that gap by fostering dogs.
To be clear – Sara did literally all the work, and I just cuddled them from time to time; but throughout the course of the year we hosted 7 foster dogs.
Here are a few of our guests:
Not that we need any more sad news, but in the interest of full disclosure, we actually did adopt a cute cocker spaniel in August, but after only a few weeks Frances went into kidney failure and rapidly declined.
That said, dogs are the best. And fostering, though it had some challenges, was wildly rewarding.
Last year I wrote “The longer I’m in business the more I realize how many people I depend on.”
And this year that was as true as ever.
I’m beyond proud of Monkeypod, but I also know that it’s much more than just Greg Jenkins.
So, if you’re reading this, thank you.
Thank you to my new community manager and Monkeypod co-pilot, Jade.
Thanks to the Monkeypod partners, the OG Members, and to the Keap employees I regularly annoy with my thoughts and suggestions.
And to anyone who has read, shared, commented on, or recommended anything that Monkeypod puts out.
It all helps, and I appreciate you.
I mostly read fantasy to relax last year (any Stormlight Archive fans?), but for business books I want to strongly recommend Rework.
It’s a collection of business lessons from the founders of Basecamp. The lessons were profound, and the modular format made it easy to pick up and put down.
Listen to This
Last year I gave a shout out to two podcasts I dig, and they’ve both continued to be part of my regular rotation in 2020:
In the interest of transparency, I do know Brian and Chris, the voices behind these podcasts but I’m recommending them because they’re good.
I believe in education as a vehicle for personal growth, plain and simple. Here are three courses I completed in 2020:
– In 2020 I participated in Tribe again, and was impressed, again. If you have, or want, a membership offering in your business then start with this free guide and then take a look at Tribe when registration opens in the next few months.
– I checked out the Marketing Made Simple course from Don Miller (author of StoryBrand). His reputation is stellar, and his courses are no exception. He has a variety of topics worth checking out if you’re looking to improve your website, your messaging, or a handful of other topics.
– I have followed Matt and Moneylab for a long time, because I like his voice, and respect the way he approaches small business as an experiment. So when he launched “YouTube for Bloggers” as a course, I figured it was time for me to give him money.
2020 Goals Recap
Man, another lesson that 2020 taught me is to be flexible.
Yes, goals are important – but we need to be willing to recalibrate when circumstances change.
That said, here are the three goals I called out in last year’s recap post, and a quick update on how they went:
Goal 1: “I’m planning to launch two more mini-courses: with the goal of increasing my reach, and creating valuable free content that leads to my progression path of courses.”
Goal 2: “This is the year I take SEO seriously: I’ve always produced a lot of content, but this year I’m going to get serious about maximizing its reach.”
Outcome: Well, I did hire an SEO agency, and we’re making progress. But transparently, I haven’t devoted as much focus to that project as I had hoped.
Goal 3: “Rebuild and relaunch the LCM Real Life course: It’s my personal favorite course, and it’s due for an overhaul.”
Outcome: I decided to overhaul the IS Starter Kit course rather than the LCM course, but I’m calling this one a success regardless.
As far as goals for 2021, well, I want to keep my expectations reasonable, but here are a few I’m forecasting:
- Last year I donated more to causes that I believe in than I have in the past, and it felt good. So I want to get more intentional about that being a normal habit of mine.
- I’m clearer than ever that the OG Membership is the core of my business, but I’ve always treated it as a secondary offering. I want to restructure a bit prioritize it and help it serve the people who can benefit from it.
- I would like to bring the Monkeypod Retreat back this year. In 2019 I felt like the retreat had really hit it’s stride, but then it was shelved in 2020 (as in-person gatherings were prohibited). I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to host a live version in 2021, but I’m also going to explore options for conducting it virtually.
I mentioned earlier that the FUEL project was currently on hold – it is, but I’m working on the next iteration of it, and should have an update to share pretty soon.
Alright – *deep exhale* – this was a doozy, so thank you if you’re still reading.
What’d I miss? Anything you’re curious about?