Sarah’s Corner – November 2011 in Review

Sarah’s Corner – November 2011 in Review

Hey there, friends!

Hard to believe it’s time for another monthly wrap-up post, but I’ve checked the calendar several times, and somehow it still says it’s November 30th… 🙂

So let’s get down to business! This month, I had six posts go live here on Common Sense Marketing:

Selling Simplified – 5 Steps to Descarifying Copywriting (I’m really proud of this one, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already)
Effective Email Marketing Strategies
Case Study 4 – Exciting News and a Wrap-up (Even more exciting – the product has made 3 more sales since I posted this wrap-up!)
How to Write Killer Amazon Affiliate Product Reviews (Did you get your free ebook yet?  If not, check out this post!)
Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving!
What Do Pat Flynn, Corbett Barr and Karol Gadja All Have in Common?

I’m not really satisfied with this list, as it doesn’t meet my two-posts-per-week goal, and some of the posts (the last two especially) don’t provide you with as much helpful information as I’d like. In large part, this stems from the fact that I’ve taken on several new writing clients lately, so I’ve been relearning how to balance that work with my writing here (along with that whole “full-time job” thing…).

But! Never fear! Things have calmed down a bit over the last few days, and I have some exciting stuff planned for December. Starting this Friday, it’ll be back to business as usual with the kind of great content that you guys have come to expect here at Common Sense Marketing. Here’s what I’ve got planned for the next few weeks:

Friday, December 2nd – Essential On-Page SEO Techniques
Tuesday, December 6th – How and When to Invest in Your Internet Marketing Education
Friday, December 9th – The Complete Guide to Choosing Amazon Affiliate Products to Promote

I’ve already started writing the post on choosing Amazon affiliate products, and it’s gonna be a good one – I’m at 2,000 words right now, and I’m not done yet. Be sure to mark your calendars for that one 🙂

And, if there are any other topics you’d like to see me cover in December, I’m always open to hearing your ideas – just leave a note in the comments below!

Now, on to other updates… When we left off last month, I was experiencing a crazy surge in traffic from an article of mine that went viral on Stumbleupon. I’m both happy and sad to report that things have died back down to normal levels, with my November traffic stats as follows:

As you can see, this is quite a bit of a decrease from October’s 31,000+ visits. In a lot of ways, I’m happy about this, as the traffic I was getting from Stumbleupon was incredibly poor quality (which meant a lot of eating up my bandwidth and crashing my site for very little return). It’s nice to get back to regular traffic levels because I know I’m working with visitors who are more engaged, and I’m able to better analyze my traffic stats and make informed decisions when they aren’t so cluttered.

But, of course, there’s a part of me that’s sad about the decrease, because – even though I might not like to admit it – there’s a certain amount of pride that goes along with seeing your traffic numbers go up that high (even if you know, deep down, that those extra visitors aren’t doing a thing for your business). I guess I’ll just have to get back to work so that I can see those numbers again naturally 🙂

In financial news, my goal from last month was to put $2,000 towards debt in November. I came up a little short (my husband and I splurged on a Black Friday Xbox 360 bundle – don’t judge me!!!), but was still able to put $1,888.43 towards debt this month.

In a surprise twist, we wound up putting that money towards a personal loan we’re working to pay off instead of our final remaining credit card, as the credit card still has a promotional interest rate deal that makes its interest rate lower than the loan (don’t worry – we plan on paying off the credit card as well before the promotional rate expires in May 2012).  Because of this, we’ve decided to take care of the loan first, which now has a remaining balance of $2,000.

My goal again for December is to put another $2,000 towards debt, paying off the rest of that personal loan.  In addition,  I anticipate needing at least another $1,000 extra beyond that to pay for some upcoming business expenses, plus holiday gifts and travel to see my family over Christmas. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but I know I’ll have to work hard to hit my goals!

The other thing I’ve been working on during November has been preparing myself to make the transition to self-employment successfully. As I discussed in my “Dirty Little Secret” post, the last time I tried to be self-employed, I failed miserably. I had a hard time managing productivity without a boss peering over my shoulder, and I hated the social isolation of being stuck in my home office all day, which is why I wound up going back to the working world.

So throughout November, I’ve been using my weekends and holidays to “practice” being self-employed, and I’ve come up with a few rules for myself that I think will help avoid the “my only friends are the Golden Girls” pit of despair I fell into last time:

1. Put on pants every day. I know that one of the perks of being self-employed is that you can work all day in your jammies if you want to, but personally, I need that clean division of “now I’m dressed like a grown-up” to get me into a productive mindset.

2. Go outside every day. I plan to take advantage of volunteer opportunities and a co-working office in my area to help manage the social isolation aspect of being self-employed, but even on days when I’m working from home; I think it’ll be helpful to break up the monotony by going outside at least once a day.

3. Hold a morning meeting. At my day job, there’s a meeting at 8:00am every morning where people assess what the day’s priorities should be, what’s going well, what’s not and so on. I can’t guarantee I’ll stick to that time schedule, but I like the idea of having a daily ritual where I’m prioritizing my projects and making sure items don’t get missed.

4. Keep the damn house clean. If I’m home more, there’s no reason to have a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. I work better when the house is uncluttered, so I’d like to make it a priority to keep it that way.

5. Identify and act on problems before they become major issues. While I’m doing my best to plan ahead for this transition, I’m sure there will still be challenges that come up along the way. Instead of just sweeping them under the rug (like I did last time), I plan to be more proactive about resolving issues before they become big problems.

That’s what I’ve got so far, but I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list as I go. If you’re self-employed right now and have any tips you’d like to share, please add them in the comments section – I’m going to need all the help I can get!

So for December, in addition to posting more great content and paying off more debt, I’m also going to be working on prepping my home office, getting the paperwork ready to transition from a sole proprietorship to an LLC and doing some strategic month-by-month planning for next year (FYI – 2012 is going to be *huge* for me!). That, plus getting ready for holiday travel (my husband wants to road trip around Lake Michigan at the end of December…) and documenting my day job activities to make the transition easier for my replacement.

What have you got planned for next month? Let me know in the comments section below!


9 Responses to Sarah’s Corner – November 2011 in Review

  1. Glad to hear you’re taking the steps to get ready for self-employment again. It’s also encouraging to see that you failed once but are still going back to do it again. I’m about to go self employed in a few months time so I’ll definitely keep these tips in mind.

    • Sarah says:

      Jeffrey – I’m probably over-thinking everything, but coming off a bad experience last time, it’s something that’s important to me. You might be better suited to some of the different aspects of self-employment than I am, though, so you might not need to work as hard as I am.

      Definitely worth thinking about how you’ll manage the social aspect, though. The Golden Girls, while funny, do not make up for actual, human interactions 🙂

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I came across your blog through the MDBP and wanted to connect. The site I signed up for on the MDBP is, but my “real job” and site is, which is along the lines of online marketing and somewhat similar to the topics you are covering.

    Also, not sure if you’re aware of it yet, but Alan over at has an ongoing dialogue going with some MDBP participants. Nice to connect with others and hear what challenges and accomplishments they are experiencing.

    Just wanted to say hi and let you know I’m really enjoying your blog and all the great info. Happy holidays and best of luck in 2012 with the new transition you’re planning.

    • Sarah says:

      Hey Sherri – Thanks for reaching out, and nice to meet you! I’ll definitely take a look at Alan’s project, and I’m glad to hear that people have a place to discuss some of the challenges we’re all going through.

      Best of luck with your site in 2012!!!

  3. Justin Mazza says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I had the same thing happen with my stats a few months ago when several of my posts went viral on stumbleupon. It does feel good to see those visitor counts increase like that, but as you said, they are not really targeted visitors.

    take care…

    • Sarah says:

      Haha – Yeah, I don’t like to admit to being a prideful person, but it sure is nice to see those high numbers 🙂

      I’ve heard the same thing about StumbleUpon traffic not converting for other people, though, so at least I’m glad it’s not just me!. Here’s to both of us getting that much legit traffic soon!

  4. Uttoran Sen says:

    Traffic, when goes up, does make us feel good. I usually get a lot of visits from stumbleupon and other social websites and yes, i agree that the conversion is poor. I get a very small percentage of that traffic in my feeds, that converts as regular readers… but apart from that, it is mostly garbage traffic. The only real good part of that is, sometimes i do get linked and featured on certain sites because of that visibility, as some bloggers do use stumble upon to find good articles.

    I work from my home, and i like being isolated at work… home office environment provides me with comfort and peace, but i guess it does not work like that for everyone. Working in Pajamas is cool, but i do wear my dress and go out shopping etc. But i don’t really like working with Jeans on… something that i guess is different with your way of living,

    If you are planning to be self-employed in the future, here is my most important tip, “don’t let laziness get you” – it is easy to sleep late in the morning, knowing that waking up is not a priority, getting to bed late in the night is also a possibility… the only way to beat all this is to get self disciplined… no other way really.

    And, after all, no one is alone in this Internet, just turn on your instant messenger.

    • Sarah says:

      Very good advice, so thank you! I’m definitely aware of the need to stay structured and organized in order to prevent laziness from creeping in – but knowing something and actually doing it are two different things 🙂 I’m sure I’ll have to focus to stay on track with all my goals.

      Thanks for sharing!

  5. Tiffany says:

    Sarah – I’m catching up on your older posts and saw that you were writing a post about choosing amazon affiliate products. Did you ever publish that?

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