Well, it’s official. I’ve been at this now for one full year. As many of you know, it’s been an interesting year for this blog.

Throughout my life, I’ve always had an all or nothing type of mentality towards my hobbies or projects. I either get totally enveloped in them or quit. Call it a character flaw or a blessing, I’m really not sure, but it’s either 100% or bust.

I’ve spent 25 years in the workforce, starting with a $3.85 an hour job as a stock boy at Marshall’s department store all the way to my current job as a financial planner. In that time, I have never come across a job that I could honestly said I loved. Sad? Maybe.

The point is that in blogging, I have found my love. I’m all in. I’m even more excited about this world now than I was when I started.

So for those of you who are thinking that I might decide to close up shop and walk away, there is no chance of that!

Regardless of all the stuff that has recently happened here, I am completely committed to creating a highly successful blog. And yes, my plan WILL include creating a full-time income.

My Year In Review

I feel like I’ve been pretty active trying new things and getting myself out there into the blogoshpere. Here are some of the highlights (and lowlights)

  • Started accepting guest posts in February 2011. I did this for 2 reasons. One was to share the stories of people who had escaped their 9-5 jobs and the second was to give exposure to other bloggers who had something compelling to share.
  • Started my Podcast interview series in May 2011. This has been awesome! I’ve had the chance to chat with some incredible people and have learned an incredible amount. A few of my personal favorite conversations were with Marcus, Ash, Mars, and MJ.
  • I started a blog review service which was about as popular as Charlie Sheen would be as a Kindergarten teacher.  I launched the service thinking it was going to be a hit and it was, literally. A one hit wonder. I sold exactly one in 3 months. Lesson: Don’t try to guess what your readers want and are willing to pay for.
  • This led me to post a few surveys, both of which were extremely helpful to me. I want to thank all of you who took the time to answer them and also for your brutal honesty!
  • I started a Mastermind group (now defunct) back in March 2011. I followed the advice of Jaime Tardy and she was kind enough to email me some information and get me started. It was a great experience for the few months it lasted and I learned from each one of the members. If you are thinking of starting one, please feel free to email me and I’ll be happy to share a few tips.
  • I’ve been able to connect with hundreds of cool people and have met many who I can now call friends. People like Benny, Adrienne, Marcus, Deeone, Jacob, Barry, David, and Hector to name a few. All have been supportive and I’m a better person for knowing them.

The Stats

Before I get into all the changes I’ll be making here and what my plans are for the future, I’d like to share the stats for the first year of ETG.

Complete Stats

  • Total visitors: 79,771
  • Absolute unique visitors: 63,494
  • Page Views: 127,762
  • Average Page Views Per Visit: 1.6
  • Average Time On Site: 2:06
  • Bounce Rate: 74.91%
  • New Visits: 79.5%
  • Twitter Followers: 1,481
  • Facebook “Likes”: 223
  • RSS Subscribers: 398 as of today. 2 days ago it was 425. It’s all over the place. I really, really hate you Feedburner!
  • Total Posts: 160
  • Total Comments: 2,988
  • Total Income Earned: $142.40 (that’s not in millions)

A Deeper Look

Normally I would dig a little deeper into these stats but I think that the only real stat that you want to hear about is the last one. Yes, it’s true, I have spent 1 year or approximately 1,000 hours on this blog for the grand total of $142.40.

For all you math whizzes, that comes out to a whopping ¢.14 per hour. This wouldn’t be all that bad if it was say, 1922.

Needless to say, if ETG is ever going to become a business and allow my to quit my job, I need to start making some fucking money!

Enter Penelope Trunk

It was only a week and a half ago when I was typing away on my computer, writing yet another anger inducing post and thinking that I was steadily working my way towards ending my grind.

Oh the fool dreamer that I was.

At about 10pm one fateful Friday night, I made my phone call to Penelope. Fast forward 36 minutes and I was left wondering what the hell just happened. I was shocked that my blog, goals, business, future plans, and integrity was just smashed to bits.

What happened over the course of the following days was something remarkable. My blog was flooded with comments and my inbox was packed with emails. It seems as though Penelope’s ruthlessly honest advice touched on the nerves of many, many people.

A Swift Kick In The Face

For almost a full year, I was living in a fantasy land here. I spent a crazy amount of time writing, building relationships, creating mastermind groups, engaging on social media sites, and everything else we as bloggers are supposed to do.

The problem is that my goal was to create a full-time income here and quit my job. That’s what Ending The Grind is all about.

So while I was busy doing everything under the sun trying to build a business, all I really built was a hobby.

Penelope’s sharp words cut through all my bullshit and self denial and told me straight up what I was doing was not working. And now I believe her.

I’m not sure how many other new bloggers go through this as well, but I honestly felt like I was making progress towards my ultimate goal of quitting my job. I had fooled myself into thinking that activity was productivity. I was always active, but spent very little time being productive. BIG difference.

I’ve also realized that I’ve spent an entire year telling people what not to do instead of helping them with what to do.

Opening My Eyes

If nobody had come and listened to my interview with Penelope, her words would not have had nearly the impact they do now. It was in your comments that I saw the truth and reality of the situation. It was your inspiring words and the fact that so many of you felt like she was talking to you directly that made me look deeper.

I have to say that most of the comments on that post were incredibly thoughtful. It’s was not just the sheer number of them but rather the quality that really meant the most to me.

Here are a few that really stood out and forced me to ask myself the important questions:

“This was as clear and real as you can get, and right to the heart of any step forward. You can’t make a change unless you are aware of how you are showing up in a situation and how you are keeping yourself from what you really want. The question I always have to ask myself and remind clients to consider as they seek transition is “how am I getting in my way?” “I don’t think she’s being harsh or unfair. At the risk of making herself look bad, she’s saying what a lot of people secretly think, but nobody else is generous enough to say. This is the most selfless way to help somebody.”

“I find that I read the certain blogs because I feel I know the person writing them. Of course I’m there to learn something too (that would be Pat’s model. Him + useful tools), but if I don’t feel I’ve connected with the person I move on. With all the guest posts, and podcast interviews I felt like I lost you in this blog.”

“First time I am here and I honestly want to say I felt like I was receiving the reprehension (actually, THE great advice) myself! It was a wake up call for me as well.”

“OK, we’re voting now. Penelope wins. Sorry Steve, but she is right. Your blog would be way more interesting if you were more honest about what was going on with yourself. Personally, I wouldn’t pay someone to tell me how to change my life. I would much rather watch someone else go through it and see the parallels to my own problems.”

“I think the why is as important as the what, because not knowing why you do something can be its own obstacle. Without this awareness we become stuck, we just operate on auto-pilot, get in our own way, and all kinds of unproductive behaviors pop up.”

“As for your interview – here’s what I think: Penelope is Simon Cowell and you just found out that you’re not a great singer. BUT that doesn’t mean that your voice isn’t worth hearing.”

“So, what is your real goal? Maybe, you have spelled it out and I didn’t see it, but your goal should have been spelled out in the first paragraph of this post. What are you making happen to move you closer to that goal? What risks are you taking, today? I want to see you make that change, Steve. I want to see you succeed to be honest, to be true, and to live-wholeheartedly. Do amazing things!”

So What Does All Of This Mean?

If I continue doing what I have been, then nothing. But that’s not what’s going to happen.

I’ve had to face some harsh realities in the last week or so and I’m so thankful that I did. If I hadn’t, I might have ended up being the only blogger you know with 100,000 monthly visitors and zero income.

After all the discussions, here are the most important things that I’ve taken away:

  1. We must create in order to move forward.
  2. If you don’t know where you want to be, how can you get there?
  3. If you don’t know who you want to become, how can you become them?
  4. Use your strengths to leverage results. I love this quote I found in the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book I just read “you cannot be anything you want to be, but you can be a lot more of what you already are.”
  5. Activity is not productivity.
  6. We will never be able to do the things we love ALL of the time.
  7. Ask yourself the hard questions and answer them honestly.

So, What’s Going To Change?

I’ve been thinking about all of this since the moment it happened and I’m trying to do what’s best for me and my readers. Like I’ve said many times before, if I didn’t want to leave my job, I probably would never monetize this blog. I just love doing this!

Not only have I been thinking about what direction to go in, but I’ve been talking with some coaches/bloggers about this as well. Thanks to Allison, Danny, Laura, and Ruth, I have a much better understanding of what to do. But in all honesty, I still haven’t figured it all out. How could I on only a few short days?

I DO know that I will be heading in a new direction and that direction is forward! I will no longer just be writing about hating your job, but rather about really hating your job. Seriously though, I have a lot of thoughts about this blog and will be doing some more soul searching whilst in Vegas. Yes, it is the soul searching capital of the country…

This past week I’ve have made a few decisions to begin the process of actually creating a business. Imagine that!

Here’s what I’ve got:

  • I have started writing an eBook which will be about how to survive your day job while building your business. I actually started it months ago but never followed through. As much as I didn’t want to put this out there, it will launch on November 15th. And yes, I will attempt to collect money for it! It’s so much easier not to be accountable, isn’t it? 🙂
  • I have started a small side business on Fiverr.com. Thanks to Danielle Lynn and her sweet guide on building a Fiverr business, I’m up and running. I’ve already made a cool $4! How bout them apples!
  • I am almost finished with my new free eBook,which will be a compilation of 20 of the best guest posts from ETG. It will replace my other eBook as the opt in bonus for subscribing to my email newsletter.
  • I will be creating a product based on the knowledge from the 25 or so interviews I have done. Many of the gems I found were either before I officially started recording or after the call ended. More on this later.
  • I will be creating more income with my personal training business in an attempt to reduce the amount of income needed when I quit my job. I will also be creating a niche website in an specific area of fitness in which I have a lot of experience in.
  • I will be setting specific goals (and sending them to Penelope) regarding my liberation from my job. This actually petrifies me, but I have to do it! This will come in my next post!
  • And guess what? Some (or all) of these products may fail and that’s ok. I know I need to start somewhere and I plan to start small. Marcus Sheridan told me that I was trying to hit home runs without having learned to swing the bat first. That was part of what has been holding me back. I wanted to create the best product ever and of course, I never did. I just thought about it every day. It’s time to create!
  • This biggest decision I have to make is exactly what the goal is for me and this blog. Writer? Speaker? Coach? Consultant? All of the above or none of the above? My post next Monday will get into this.
  • This is just the beginning. I will be experimenting with many different things to try and find what works for me. I’ve come to realize that I will have to do things that I don’t necessarily love. In order to build a business, I’m going to have to get out of my comfort zone.

Oh yea, one more thing. I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You rock if you got this!

The End Of (Short) Era?

I know some of you read my blog solely for the guest posts and that’s cool. I’ve featured  far better writers than myself and have loved sharing their stories. I’ve also made quite a few friends in the process.

However, I’ve decided that this week will be the end of my guest posts (I won’t say permanently) and I will be focusing instead on the changes that will be happening in my life. The problem is that I feel like I’ve lost touch with many of my readers and it’ very important to me to be connected with you.

I will be in Las Vegas this week and will run my last 4 guest posts Wednesday through Saturday.

I will also not be posting my Podcast interviews weekly and more than likely will do it once a month (if that). I still have a few good ones (Leo Babauta, Erika Napolitano) in the que and don’t want you to miss them. I’ve also have text interviews with Chris Guillebeau and Julien Smith. I Just need to find a time to post them, because they are good!

A BIG Thank You

I want to first say that after I finished this post (four hours of writing), I didn’t feel like it reflected my true feelings and passion. Honestly, I’m sorta numb and brain dead from everything that has recently transpired. I hope I got my points across though and expect me to be fresh and ready to rock when I get back from my trip.

I do owe all of you a huge thank you for being part of my blog. Given that I haven’t really attempted to make money here, I have quantified my success by reader interaction. And in that regard, I am wealthy!

I’m looking forward to sharing some exciting things with you when I return and hopefully you’ll join me on my new and improved journey.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about all of this and in case you’re wondering, I will not be bringing any money for gambling. This is a trip to spend some time with my father, whom I rarely see.

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