August is the Month to Go All In
August went by real quick. I can’t believe it’s already September, marking the end of summer and the beginning of the winter countdown in Chicago.
It’s also time for my second Remote Update! Which was supposed to be released last week… I apologize.
If it makes you feel better, I’m currently in NYC till the end of the week. And instead of exploring the city I’m forcing myself to catch up on this post. #priorities
Now why did I miss the deadline? Before you suggest that I may have taken too many vacation days, I want to show you a video by Gary Vaynerchuk that set the tone for my August.
Every Day I’m Hustling
If I’m guilty of anything, it’s of trying to do too much last month. Here’s a quick snapshot of the month:
The Remote Lifestyle:
- Wrote and published 3 new blog posts
- Had two blogs post featured in Collegetopia and Under30Experiences
- Recorded three episodes of The Remote Podcast (coming soon!)
- Doubled my mailing list from 40 to 80 subscribers
- Started working with my Virtual Assistant
- Prepared to start my YouTube channel by:
- Taking several online classes
- Getting together all my equipment
- Took a weekend trip to Washington DC with my former college roommates
- Completed the Hyde Park Angels project
- Joined forces with the web development company B-Tech Group to work on larger client projects
- I’ve been counting calories for the past month in an attempt to get rid of my belly fat and I think I’m winning
I feel like I’ve made tons of progress in August but I’m just getting started. Below I’ll elaborate on some of the bullet points.
Diving into Guest Posting
Since I started blogging, I’ve read so many times that guest posting was a must to build visibility and an audience. So I tried really hard to make a push on that front.
Starting with Content Syndication
A friend of mine enrolled in Daniel DiPiazza from Rich20Something’s Front Page Formula class and said good things about it so I tried the class for myself.
In summary, the course teaches strategies for getting your content featured in online publications. It describes online publications being organized in a tiered system that is divided into 3 levels. These levels reflect the how difficult it is to get featured in a given publication.
Once you understand the system, you can use it to your advantage to get published. They call this process content syndication. The tiers are as follows:
- Tier 1:
- Low barrier-to-entry blogs that have submission forms or allow you to create an account and become a contributor
- These include Lifehack, Elite Daily, and Thought Catalog
- Tier 2:
- Blogs that require you to connect with a gatekeeper (editor or contributor) before you can publish. Tier 2 blogs often source content from Tier 1 blogs.
- These include Business Insider, Entrepreneur.
- Tier 3:
- The hardest publications to get into. They source their content from Tier 2 blogs, many of which are owned by the same parent companies.
- These include TIME, Fortune, Inc.
Struggling with Content Submission
Through the class, I created a database of blogs in my niche that based on the three-tier system. Once I did that, I started submitting content to the Tier 1 blogs. Unfortunately, I kept striking out.
There were a few reasons why I thought this was the case:
- I had no connections within each of these blogs
- These blogs were large publications that were content farms, not personal blogs.
- I submitted articles through a generic submission form
Since I was basically “cold submitting” my posts, it was a numbers game. And if you know me, I don’t like numbers games.
Trying a New Strategy
I decided to approach other blogs in my niche – personal blogs that were started by individuals like me. I enjoyed their writing a lot more and could empathize with their experiences as bloggers and individuals working towards an location-independent lifestyle.
I started commenting and sharing more articles that I liked. This helped me to start developing relationships with other bloggers. Through engaging with other blogs and reaching out through my social network, I was able to connect with Under30Experiences and Collegetopia.
I made sure to do my research on each blog, looking at their content and their submission guidelines. Then, I pitched several of my existing articles that I thought would be a great fit for their audience.
To my surprise, within two weeks I had my first two guest posts. The initial response has been pretty good so I hope to continue working with them and to find new partnerships.
- How to Stay Focused & 3x Your Productivity in 3 Easy Steps | Collegtopia
- Travel Hack: Ultimate Guide to Get Free Flights Through Credit Card Rewards | Under30Experiences
Recording My First Two Podcast Interviews
Last month I announced that The Remote Podcast was coming soon! So this month was all about recording the first few episodes. In fact, I launched the very first, intro episode already. You can check it out here.
It was nerve-wrecking to record my first two interviews, as I had to use recording software for the first time. It was also tough because I had to conduct one interview on Skype and the other in-person.
But I was so pleased with how fun the experience was. One of my favorite things in the world is to have fascinating, in-depth conversations with smart people. And this podcast allows me to do just that!
Here’s a sneak peek at my two podcast guests this month:
- Zoë Björnson, a Product Marketing Manager for about.me who is a current Remote Year participant in Belgrade, Serbia.
- Sami Ahmed, a recent graduate of the Experience Institute. He interned at 3 different companies in the past year, living in Hong Kong, Aveiro (Portugal) and Chicago.
The Podcast Will Launch in About a Month
Over the next few weeks I will continue to record new episodes. This way I’ll make sure that by the time I launch I’ll be a few months ahead of schedule.
I will also be editing the audio files and turning them into podcast episodes ready for upload. This is also something new for me so we’ll see how that goes!
Getting Started with My Virtual Assistant
This one I’m really excited about. If you’ve
ever read the Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, you’ll remember him talking about “outsourcing your life”. The premise is simple: By outsourcing your work to a virtual assistant you will free up your time so that you can focus on the important things.
The main benefit is having your VA work on repetitive or administrative business tasks so you can focus on growing the business instead of being bogged down in weeds your business.
For me, I realized a few months ago that I needed help with my blog. All I wanted to do was to create and write content to share with my readers. But in reality I was spending more time tweaking my website, posting on social media and promoting my blog articles.
This was very frustrating for me. In preparation for finding a VA, I made sure to document all the weekly tasks that I was doing for the blog. Once I did that, I created an operational blueprint that outlined my system of weekly tasks. I put these into a series of spreadsheets on Google Drive.
With everything documented, it would be simple for someone to come in and pick up the work.
Creating Your “3 Lists to Freedom”
A helpful exercise when determining what you should outsource is to create your “3 Lists to Freedom”. This exercise is coined by Chris Ducker, who is the guru of virtual staffing and the author of Virtual Freedom.
The premise is to create 3 lists, containing:
- The things you don’t like doing
- The things you can’t do
- The things you shouldn’t be doing
Creating these lists will give you an idea of what things you should outsource. For more information on this exercise refer to this PDF.
I Needed Help With Content Promotion
For me, what I realized was that I was spending too much time on content promotion and not enough time on content creation. You need time to spend on both and I simply didn’t have the time to write great content and promote it through the right channels.
My goal for the first month working with my VA is help her understand the systems I’ve created and to teach her the basic concepts of growth hacking. Once we are on the same page, I will slowly pass on content promotion reponsibilities to her.
I’m so excited for the opportunity to bring someone onto my team and to work with them to create something incredible in The Remote Lifestyle.
Weekend Trip to Washington DC
Before this update gets too long, I want to share with you my weekend trip to Washington DC. Long story short, I didn’t know much about the city at first. But by the end of the weekend I was blown away.
The trip was a reunion for my college roommates and I. Two of us still lived in Chicago and the other two were in DC. So we decided to spend a weekend together.
DC is a Walking City. A Beautiful One Too
One of the things I fell in love with was how walkable the city was. My favorite thing to do when visiting a new city is to walk around everywhere.
Even though it was hot as hell that weekend I enjoyed being able to see everything. One of my favorite spots was Georgetown. It was one of the most beautiful neighborhoods and campuses I’ve ever been to. I’m incredibly jealous of the students there!
The Nightlife Was Great Too
Another thing that stood out to me was the nightlife in DC. We arrived on Thursday night and went out that night in the downtown area. And boy it was popping. I couldn’t believe it. We stayed out until 1am and the latin club we were at was still full.
Over the next few nights we also hopped around different neighborhoods to get a feel for the different vibes. And everywhere we went had a cool and lively atmosphere.
One of my favorites was the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Here’s a shot of 18th street, which is a street just full of restaurants, bars and clubs.
The City is Very Diverse
Another thing that stood out to me was how diverse DC is. Every night we went out, it seemed like everyone I spoke to was from another place. I met people from other states and countries all over the world.
My friend told me that this is because DC is a place where young professionals come to further their careers. Everyone here seems to have a clear purpose.
My experiences in DC made me realize how much I missed the international vibe. Having grown up in major metropolitan cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai, I sometimes find Chicago to be a little homogenous. Of course, I might just not know the right people there.
Goals for September
Looking forward to the next month, I want to accomplish the following:
- Have a launch plan in place for The Remote Podcast and have the first 6 episodes recorded and completed
- Release my first YouTube video
- Outsource my content promotion completely to my VA
- Be ahead of my blog post schedule for one
- Start making $$$ off of the blog
In future updates, I will always refer back to the goals I set and let you know how I did. Then I set new goals for the following month. Wish me luck and talk soon!