2011: Art of Ass-Kicking Year in Review
2012 has begun and I thought it’d be a good time to reflect on how the site has done. I’ll start with top posts, dive into some analytics and finish with reflections and thoughts for next year.
Top Posts of 2011
(* denotes it was one of the top 10 most read posts of 2011)
The biggest thing for me in 2011 was founding a company called Ridejoy and going through Y Combinator. Based on the survey I took a few months ago, this is one of the topics my readers are most interested in reading more about.
- A business cofounder’s dilemma: learn to code, outsource it, find a cofounder.
- How to Make a Great Startup Product Video
- Startup Career Advice for Recent Grads & Corporate Staffers
- Questions to Help You Come Up With Your Startup Idea
- How to Give Your Product Personality *
- Introducing Ridejoy
- Great by Choice: the surprising lessons of how tech startups succeed over the long term *
Some of my posts defy any particular topic or categorization and really can only be placed under the “general ass-kicking” header. People really seem to love these posts: Cold Showers was my post popular post of 2011, and Winning Isn’t Normal, another general ass-kicking post, was my top in 2010.
- Taking Cold Showers *
- Make Time To Read
- Loud. Arrogant. Rebellious. Asian. *
- Why Inspiration Matters
- Getting Your Groove Back *
- Love the Hate
- Keep Your Commitments
I started getting into running in May of this year and little did I realize how much it would change my life. I predict many more running posts in 2012 – just getting started on this and am loving it!
- I’m Running a 5k
- Running in Boxer Briefs: My First 5k Race
- Dealing with Blisters, Avoiding Ankle Pain and Other Lessons From My Second 5k Race
- Running Through Fire – My First Warrior Dash
- Why I Run
- Going the Distance – Back-to-Back 10ks in Stanford and Eugene
I try to include actionable ideas in every blog posts, but these ones in particular were focused on how to do stuff. Survey results said readers wanted more lessons/tips type posts and these are my best ones.
- What Do You Do When You’ve Got Tons of Ideas But You’re Not Executing?
- 8 Steps to Nailing Your First Tech Conference
- 7 Ways to Get More Energy for Side Projects
- How to Be Your Own Coach
- The Anatomy of a Great Email Introduction
Gymnastics + General Fitness
Outside of running, I did a series of posts on gymnastics and general fitness that people seemed to like. I think it’s really important to stay fit if you care at all about performing at a high level, whether that’s for your job or something else.
- How I Blew Out My Knee and Came Back to Win a National Championship (3 part series)*
- What Gymnastics Taught Me About Acquiring and Mastering Skills
- How Gymnastics Taught Me to Man Up, Get Tough and Crush Fear *
- Step Up and Deliver: What Gymnastics Taught Me About Performing Under Pressure
- How Working Out Makes Us Better Entrepreneurs
- Start Up Fitness: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Working Out
Sales and Marketing
I announced that I would be working on a series on sales and marketing to put down on paper everything I’ve learned so far on these topics. The first two (nondouchey self promotion and everyone being in sales) have been quite popular.
Meta (Blogging on Blogging)
I try not to be a blogger that blogs about blogging, but once in a while it creeps in. In these posts I pull back the curtain on how I run this blog or what I’ve learned from doing this site.
- Writing More (a new personal challenge)
- How Long It Takes Me to Write a Blog Post
- How Blogging Can Increase Your Luck Surface Area
- 9 Lessons From a Full Year of “Real” Blogging
- Results of the 2011 Readership Survey
Finally, a grab bag of miscellaneous posts that I thought were good but didn’t make it neatly into any other category.
- How To Find Awesome Startup Roommates
- Being Strategic vs Being Opportunistic
- This Girl Will Crush You – Mari Asp in Kick Ass Interview #6
- Dust, Community and Dubstep: My First Burning Man
- 6 Thoughts on Online Dating from a Guy’s Perspective
Analytics for 2011
My traffic is still very spiky, based on getting hits on various blog posts.
I had about 3x as many visits as last year (44k visits in 2010) and about 40% more pageviews (127k pg views in 2010). People spent a bit more time on the site but less pages per visit, which doesn’t really make sense to me – let me know if you can explain that one!
Sources & Keywords
As I’ve grown, I’m getting more search engine traffic and less referral traffic as a total proportion of my traffic. Direct visits has stayed constant. In terms of the keywords that come to the site, it’s dominated by my name, cold showers and rejection therapy. Referral sources still have HN topping out, with direct traffic coming in second and search results coming in third.
Lessons / Reflections / Looking Forward
I started blogging seriously again in July of 2010 and so 2011 was my first full year of operation, so to speak. I learned tons about writing interesting and (hopefully) insightful blog posts. I renamed this blog from jasonshen.com to “The Art of Ass-Kicking”. I started a small email list with special updates. I got to connect with tons of smart/interesting people. I posted 5 days a week for a month and I held my first readership survey.
So what have I learned?
That it’s good to experiment. Some of my best posts were written in the heat of the moment (rebellious. asian.), on a random topic I didn’t think anyone would care about (cold showers), written in a different style than my normal articles (getting your groove back) or about stuff that was deeply personal (blew out my knee).
That people care about the personal touch. I reply to every single person who signs up for my email newsletter and people seem to really appreciate that. It gives me good ideas for blog posts and also helps me stay connected to what my audience is interested in.
That bloggers are regular people. Sometimes people will tell me they’ve read my blog posts when we first meet (at a mixer or meetup). I’m usually a little surprised but it’s a nice feeling. It gets awkward though when the other person gets gushy about it. My blog isn’t even that big/good! I got to meet Patrick Mckenzie briefly at a YC event and was barely able to rein myself in and act cool. It was only because I remembered how I feel in these situations and tried to “do as I would have done to me”.
What are my plans for 2012?
Well, my primary focus for this year is Ridejoy, so that means the blog will only get secondary (or perhaps even tertiary treatment as my running training ramps up). But don’t worry too much, as I’ve grown as a blogger, I hope the quality of the posts I put out will increase, even if the frequency / sheer quantity decreases some.
I did upgrade my blog theme (I’m now running the Premium Pixels theme by Orman Clark). I’d love to get your feedback on it. I’ve also created a logo for myself – which you can see on the left. I’m excited by the upgraded look, I believe it builds a stronge professional brand for this blog, without looking too corporate or stuffy.
I’m hoping to do more interactive stuff with the blog – more giveaways, contests, perhaps even a meetup! I want to expand the range of the blog.
I also hope to vary my post style. I’ve read some good books over break (including the wonderfully elegant Different) and will be trying a couple different styles of writing. Would love to hear what you all think.
Most importantly, I want to continue serving you – my readers. I am very fortunate to do this and I hope to continue producing valuable content and sharing my learnings with you.