Justin McGill
September 30, 2014 9 Comments AUTHOR: Justin McGill CATEGORIES: Founder Journal

I have always been curious to see how other entrepreneurs and startup founders spend their time and what they’re working on.

I have seen several posts that provide “Income reports”, but they don’t really go into detail on the things they are working on – it’s mainly about the results. I am more interested in the details that go into the results.

I figured I probably wasn’t the only one, so I decided to start a monthly series that takes a look behind the scenes. This is the first “Month in Review” post and I’ll be providing one every month from here on out.

Writing

My son started school last month and his school is about 20 minutes away. My wife Angela and I take him and she prefers to drive.

I hated just sitting there in the passenger seat not being productive, so I decided to start bringing my laptop and writing blog posts! I’m able to get about 1,500 words in by the time we get back (40 minutes round trip) so its a HIGHLY productive time.

In addition to this post, this month I published the following blogs posts here on this blog:

In addition to my own blog, I have decided to now start reaching out for more guest blogs. I did one last month for AgencyPost, but now I’m looking forward to getting “out there” more.

I just decided to go for the gusto and reach out to some bigger sites like Forbes, Huffington Post, Virgin, and Entrepreneur. I reached out last week, but have yet to hear back.

I went the generic approach first, but I’ll plan on working towards establishing some relationships next.

One other website I reached out to was Under30CEO, and I did get a guest post opportunity there. In fact, I may be a regular contributor. That guest blog will be going live at the end of October.

I am also planning on reaching out to marketing related websites like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Watch because of the relevance to Workado.

I am planning on doing at least 1 solid guest blog per month (and ramping that up in time).

Reading

I decided to scale back on my Feedly reading. I found myself reading 2 to 3 hours per day. At some point you have to start DOING and I decided to focus on the doing than the reading.

So I scaled back my 84 subscriptions to about 12. In addition, I now only catch up on my Feedly reading and ProductHunt browsing on Saturdays.

In future posts I’m planning to link to the key blog posts I read that I think will be relevant for you as well.

That said, I did read two amazing books this month.

The first I’ll mention is Traction. By now you have probably read about this book. It is seemingly everywhere. I can’t remember seeing a book pop-up so often in blogs and podcasts like this book has. They’ve done a great job implementing the strategies in their book.

The book covers 19 different strategies (with case studies for each) on how to gain traction for your startup. Well worth the read!

The second book is Launch by Jeff Walker. This book has completely transformed how I view email marketing and info products.

It is one of those books that just completely opens your eyes.

I haven’t had a book have this effect on me since I read The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes back when I was building out a sales team for my last startup.

Jeff does a great job with his storytelling. The book has me really focused on building my email list now and was a big inspiration for me redesigning this blog (more on that later)!

Next week I’ll actually be publishing a full write up of “Launch” here on this blog with my opinions and takeaways.

Things I Worked On

WordPress Webmasters (www.wordpresswebmasters.net)

This was documented in a blog post I wrote earlier this month. It was a hectic 7 days to get the product launched.

We have had to rebuild the Stripe integration however in order to provide discount codes to previous Upswing customers. We’re now using Recurly along with Stripe to better manage recurring subscriptions.

I also have a script being developed that is scraping for our target audience (contractors that use WordPress). It’s pulling in all of the various contractors in a given city. We are mapping cities in order to pull in as many contractors as possible per city. It’s doing much more than this, but it should help speed up customer acquisition.

Workado (www.workado.com)

This is my baby and has been in development for about the length of a pregnancy. We’ve passed the 11 month point since this was an idea to take public.

Development has technically only been in development for 8 months (first few months were planning, design, and mapping).

I ended up needing to find a new Javascript developer to get this thing launched. I have a guy in place now that is $90/hr. Very costly, but hoping he will be able to get us to launch smoothly.

In addition, I brought on a server admin.We were having some severe downtime issues during beta so I wanted someone that could monitor those issues. We also decided to move the tool from Rackspace to AWS and so he’s managing that process as well.

I opened up Live Chat on the main website and have been fielding questions. The questions have primarily just been centered around when we are going to officially launch. It has actually been motivating.

Upswing Interactive (www.upswinginteractive.com)

The team is rolling along. I got involved a bit here with a new lead generation effort that we’ll be rolling out this week by focusing on targeted startups.

Job Opening for Virtual Assistant

I posted a job on oDesk for a Virtual Assistant, but wasn’t too impressed with the candidates.

I realized I did this under a new profile under my parent company (where I’ll be placing most of my tools/startups under going forward). This meant I didn’t have much of a history, so I felt that was probably effecting the applicants.

So I reposted it and gave more details about what I was looking for. I then went and spent a couple of hours manually going through several profiles to invite them to the job.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t worked out. I interviewed several candidates, but things haven’t worked out after giving them an initial test project. The results weren’t quite what I needed.

So, I reached out to my brother (who also helps out with my agency) to see if this was something he wanted to do. I’m happy to report he’ll be starting today.

This should help alleviate some of my workload!

This Blog

I was told by some people in my network that I needed to infuse my blog with more pictures. The business looking photos were too stale.

Then I read Launch, and that really motivated me to redo my whole blog. So I spent the better part of a week completely redoing this blog. You can see my main image on the home page (www.justinmcgill.net) for some ‘personality’!

In addition, you’ll notice a heavy focus on email subscriptions. This has quietly turned into my 2 overall goal. # 1 being user signups for Workado.

Ideas Ideas Ideas

As I’ve been waiting for Workado to launch, I’ve been getting impatient and my mind has been wandering. I have an Evernote notebook filled with ideas.

I started mapping out three of them. One of which, I moved forward with a landing page as well as a user interface. I have a developer lined up for this as well who built out another tool in the same space.

The tool is called Pretweet. It helps content publishers, authors, and social media marketers create pre-populated tweets. You can create a specific tweet that you want your readers to share, versus forcing your readers to create a message on their own.

It comes in handy within ebooks, presentations, and blog posts.

The tool is similar to ClickToTweet, but provides more customization, tweet box designs that stand out within content, split testing, and more.

If you are interested, you can visit the URL (www.pretweet.io) and sign up for early access.

I plan to put this out to different beta sites to see what the interest is in something like this. If it is something that generates enough interest (I’ll set a goal of 500 people interested in early access), then I’ll plan on expediting this product.

Purchases

I made a few different purchases this month for my different projects. I don’t know if people care, but I would be interested in what other founders spend money on so I thought I’d share what I purchased.

Books

I purchased seven books this month.

Two of them I’ve finished reading which are Traction and Launch.

Of the other five books, three of them are quick reads on building an email list. I’ll notate them next month in the Reading section.

The other two were Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Outsmarting the System by Anthony Campidonica.

I’m planning on reading those five next month.

Themes

Beta Coming Soon – I purchased a beta signup theme from ThemeForest.net which is what Pretweet is using.

Byron – I bought this theme for this very blog.

Plugins

MashShare – You can see this plugin in use at the top and bottom of every post on the blog. I like how it totals up the share counts as well. It is a free plugin, but I bought the add-ons for mobile responsiveness and additional networks.

OptinSkin – Had some issues connecting this with MailChimp. I put it on the backburner and used OptinMonster (which I purchased previously). Still planning to incorporate OptinSkin within blog posts themselves as I like how it looks.

Tools

SocialOomph – I have started to focus on growing my personal following on Twitter and this tool has been a big help. I use it to find people following other entrepreneurs and it populates a list of potential people to follow. I’ll look for matches and follow those who fit the bill. I am in this tool every day now vetting followers.

I then setup a direct message to go out thanking them for following and asking them what they are working on. This has led to SEVERAL conversations. It is fun to see what other entrepreneurs are doing. I don’t plug my URL’s or anything, just try to engage my followers.

BuzzStream – I literally just purchased this yesterday. This was primarily purchased in order to make sure my virtual assistant and myself can stay on top of outreach and we aren’t tripping over each other. I haven’t had a chance to get setup and running with this yet, but planning on doing that today.

Miscellaneous

Startup Vitamins – I purchased the “Get Shit Done” t-shirt which I’m wearing at the top of the home page on this blog and in the sidebar.

In addition, my office now has these three pictures hanging on the wall:

startup-vitamins

 

StickerMule – I had my designer put together two custom sticker designs for Workado. I am planning to send these out to paying subscribers as a thank you. They don’t know the stickers are coming, and so I’m hoping it will help to build some loyalty.

I had two stickers designed, one is a ‘PC’ version and the other is not so ‘PC’. I’m planning on sending both so they can use whichever they prefer. Here’s what they look like:

workado-stickers

 

VistaPrint – I almost never suggest going this route, as you can (and should) get MUCH better quality.

I have tons of business cards for all my different projects, and I wanted to go away from that. So many times I’m asked, “What do you do?” How am I supposed to answer that when I have so many different things going on?

So, I decided to put together a business card that promotes this blog only and then they can get a better idea from here. Here’s the card:

biz-card

Activities

Angela and I went to a staycation in Scottsdale just after Labor Day. We left the day I went live with WordPress Webmasters, but my team at Upswing handled everything post launch.

It was the calm before the storm.

I knew things were going to start getting hectic with Workado near launch, my focus on this blog, and football taking away my Sundays. So the time away with just the two of us was important.

I had a few poker sessions down at Casino Arizona. I played $8/$16 limit all three sessions and they went like this:

  • Session 1 – I won $67 in 4.5 hours
  • Session 2 – I lost $450 in 3 hours
  • Session 3 – I won $560 in 6 hours

That’s a total of of winning $177 in 13.5 hours. Not a good hourly rate, that’s for sure. I’ll try and log a couple more sessions next month.

My son’s 9th birthday took place September 7th so we had a party for that. He’s my inspiration and a big reason why I work so hard to be successful.

What’s Next

I leave this Thursday for Denver to watch my Cardinals take on the Denver Broncos!

My 3 best friends and I all go on one road game per year (this is our fourth year doing it) and we chose to see Peyton Manning. A pretty big hurdle as we try to get to 4 and 0.

Based on the Cardinals schedule next month (at Denver, home for Washington, at Oakland, and home against the Eagles) I feel like we will be going 3 and 1 in October. I sense a loss against Denver, before winning the next three. I’ll report back at the end of the month.

Next month I’ll be diving into my upcoming book. I’ll release more details on that in next month’s review post, but for now I’ll let you know it is written for digital marketers who are interested in growing and building  a 7 figure agency from the ground up.

My big goal is to FINALLY get Workado launched. I can’t wait to get it out there and to start actually supporting marketing agencies and helping them grow. I’ll be documenting the day before, the day of, and the day after and putting it together in a 3 part series here on this blog.

Is there anything in particular you’d like me to cover in future Founder Diary posts?

9 Comments

  1. Robert 2 years ago says:

    Excellent blogpost, maybe you can add a reading list where you list all the books you’ve read in the last year?

    Reply
    • Justin McGill 2 years ago says:

      Thanks for reading Robert. Glad you liked it. Not a bad idea in sharing everything else I’ve read. I am planning on doing a full review of the Launch book next week, so maybe adding to that post with other books I’ve read this year would make sense.

      Reply
      • Robert 2 years ago says:

        In addition to that: maybe how you started slowly grew upswing. Especially problems in the first 2 years with scalability.

        Reply
        • Justin McGill 2 years ago says:

          Funny you ask – I’m actually writing a whole book on this subject. More on that in next month’s review:)

          Reply
  2. dave 2 years ago says:

    ouch you went with buzzstream lol!
    Outsmarting the system is good, was that my recommendation?
    I was surprised when you launched the development service while waiting for workado but now with pretweet I really don’t know how you have the time!
    Blog looks great though – let me know if you want to talk shop at all. You have the right strategy going for the big guns when it comes to guest posting for sure

    Reply
    • Justin McGill 2 years ago says:

      Hey Dave – still planning on trying out Ninja Outreach when it launches – so don’t worry. 🙂

      Luckily for WordPress Webmasters, I don’t have much to do there as it is on my team. Pretweet would have taken time, but with me putting it on the back burner to ensure Workado’s success I’ve been able to narrow in on that. Very tough tp focus on one thing when you have all these ideas and you are impatient! 🙂

      Reply
  3. joseph 2 years ago says:

    Hi Justin,

    I love reading your month in review blog post. Very detailed report.
    joseph recently posted…How My Authority Site Broke a 5000 Visitors RecordMy Profile

    Reply
    • Justin McGill 2 years ago says:

      Glad to hear it Joseph. Hopefully, you’ve found it helpful for your own purposes!

      Reply
  4. Stephen 2 years ago says:

    Was a good read, i look forward to many more. Thanks for links to services you used.
    Question, do you manage your own sites? do you have a preference in format such as html vs wordpress?

    Reply

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"Justin is the proto-type of a 21st century business leader. Unmatched skills with evolving technology, combined with the social and emotional intelligence required to handle an increasingly advanced consumer." ~ Michael Lambourne of Blend.