If you’ve been a long time reader, you’ve seen the posting frequency slowly dropping down in the last 12-18 months. I’m still alive, but 2014 in particular for me has been a difficult year to come to terms with. There’s been some highs and lows, but mostly I’ve been struggling with direction. In no small part because I’ve hit some finishing lines and achieved what I’ve wanted to…but there are other things that have seemed so far out of reach I’ve considered giving up. In the end, 2014 has probably been my greatest year of personal growth.
So now it’s time to talk about what I’ve learned, what I’ve done wrong, what I did right and what is coming up next in 2015.
The name Married Man Sex Life
I actually remember standing in the hallway outside our bedroom door talking to Jennifer about choosing it. I figured it was going to be great for SEO purposes, which it is, as about 30% of my daily hits are gay guys searching for “Man Sex”. I kid you not. It’s never fallen out of the top one or two search terms for the blog.
I’m also filtered out by spam filters in many places and you can’t even access the blog from many locations.
That being said, it does identify a target audience quite well. Married guys wanting a better sex life.
I attracted a female audience along with a male one
This was unexpected. I really had no clue this was going to happen, though now I look back, it should have been expected. If you explain to guys how to attract women, if women aren’t showing up to your blog, you probably aren’t teaching the guys what the women actually want.
This has turned into both a good and bad thing, good in that it’s attracting a new potential audience, bad in that the original audience starts feeling neglected.
Over time I have fine-tuned my theories, tools and approaches
This is both a good thing and a complicating thing. Compared to what I knew in 2010 when I started, I’m several degrees higher in experience, knowledge and above all – smoothness in application. There’s not much I disagree with in what I’ve said in 2010, or in The Primer, but there’s so many missing thoughts and nuances from what I know now.
This fine-tuning has all come from reading tens of thousands of emails from 2010 through 2012 and reading thousands of people’s threads on the forum from 2012 through 2014. The biggest influence though has been the coaching from 2013 through 2015. I don’t give advice in a vacuum. Thousands of people follow my advice, then report back. If I see a problem somewhere, I start altering my advice to compensate. In an abstract sense, MMSL is also been a giant research project where I watch a massive data set playing out. More personally, I have lain awake at night worrying about hundreds of painfully real situations, trying to figure out how to best solve them.
This is all good, because I’m not stagnant and the advice is better now than before. It’s bad though because it’s almost impossible to see that change unless you wade through 1300 posts, read all the books and have a conversation with me. If you read something from 2011… you’re getting 2011 era advice and there’s some disconnect with what I think now.
I’m in competition with a free (slightly confusing) version of myself
Back at the beginning, MMSL wasn’t a business. It was just some guy with a day job, blogging at night. Back then it didn’t matter what I said, or how I said it, because worst case scenario I could just delete the blog and that would be that.
There are 1300 blog posts. All free. So most people just read the blog and maybe buy a book. You can essentially get five years of my work for $20. That’s fine in the sense of it having built something, but long term it’s not sustainable as a business model. Just as importantly, if you go the free route, the advice is less clear and easier to misapply.
In part posting is down in 2014 because I don’t want to continue to give it all away for free anymore. Plus it’s exhausting to write for nothing.
Essentially *all* the marketing types I’ve ever talked to about this have been utterly horrified at the idea I have that much content freely available.
Likewise the free forum is in some senses competition with the paid coaching. The coaching is superior to the forum on multiple levels, but there’s probably plenty of people who would pay for the coaching, who just opt for the forum. Plus it takes time, money and effort to support and moderate the forum. I don’t have a solution for that at the moment.
I’ve only been a writer, instead of a communicator
I’m a big reader and I love books. So I wrote a blog and wrote books. Because that’s how everyone else in the whole world learns too.
Er… no they don’t. It’s been a huge error to have focused on nothing but writing. Just because I would never listen to a podcast without a gun to my head, doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t love to have my stuff as a podcast. Or a webinar, or whatever.
And apparently Jennifer has been trying to tell me this for the last couple of years, but I’m obviously so much smarter than her that I didn’t listen very well. Which explains why when I told her about this amazing breakthrough in insight I had about this, she put her forehead against my chest and hammered her fists against my shoulders. My bad lol.
I’ve not been sharable
Here’s the thing, there a huge barrier to most people to link a blog post from “Married Man Sex Life” on a place like Facebook. Yet that exact same post from “AtholKay.com” might have been linked.
Plus I’ve now had hundreds of people say they want to share the Primer, but can’t because of the language. That’s tons of lost business and people who could have been helped, who aren’t.
Jennifer finishing up her old job
I’m not sure I can ever really explain what it’s like to write something on your blog, and have someone start mailing it anonymously to your wife’s employer. We were fortunate enough to be in a place to be able to pull Jennifer from her job, and she has never given me a hard time about it. But the fact that sometimes, people really are out to get you, kills any sense of enjoyment or creativity and both are factors in writing well.
The up side to that though is Jennifer is home now. We get to see each other all through the day. Despite the doomsayers, it’s gone pretty well. She’s fallen into a mix of SAHM and my assistant. She’s enjoyed a year of reduced duties compared to her frenzy of full-time work, and she looks happier and more relaxed than I can remember her being for a while.
But for a long time us getting to hang out and be together was the goal driving the bus on a lot of motivation to work. Goal reached. Now what? Beats me, wanna go to lunch again? Zzzzzzz….
Our two girls are happier too and the travel bug trio have been more places this year than ever before.
So anyway… where from here?
2015 is going to be a long branding and rebranding project.
(1) MMSL will continue to exist on what is planned as a permanent basis. I’m not pulling posts et al. It’s too time consuming to change it, and people can just dredge it all up with the wayback machine anyway. I’m not planning to add lots and lots of new posts though. 1300 posts is already a colossal blog.
(2) The nexus of all my future work will start happening on atholkay.com. As of right now it’s currently in a maintenance mode as I finalize the layout and seed it with some content. MMSL will fairly closely match atholkay.com for its template and probably this weekend I’ll switch that over as well.
(3) If I’m identifying with a particular topic, it’s “marriage”. There are a number of sub-topics within that though, so atholkay.com is intended to be the nexus of “marriage everything” and each sub-topic gets its own little website focusing nothing but that sub-topic and linking back to atholkay.com.
(4) That allows MMSL to start defaulting back to nothing more than the question of “how does a married guy get laid more with his wife”, and over the years atholkay.com gets to expand into anything and everything else marriage related. Thus MMSL defaulting back to focusing on men, doesn’t simply dump the women off at the side of the road and wish them the best of luck.
(5) Defined content chunks. I’m moving toward a model where every content chunk needs its own small website and advertising, with some basic good but free information, followed by more advanced but paid information, in every format and delivery system I can reasonably produce, namely webinars, audio and books as a starting point.
(6) Point 5 is of course an information marketing model, but I don’t see myself doing the greedy evil of “it’s a $197 value, but if you buy in the next 24 hours, it’s just $79!!!” thing. There’s enough need out there that I think I’ll do vastly better long term with reasonable prices and having it be sharable. I have more than enough potential content chunks to create for years to come.
(7) The vast bulk of my efforts for 2015 will be in “finishing” MMSL as close as I imagine it can be finished right now. This will be a five part series aimed directly at the guy who *just* got the wakeup call that his wife is horribly unattracted to him and a step by step plan to turn that around. In terms of balance, think about two parts Primer, one part MAP Book, two parts unpublished + more recent posting, and all vastly more focused on simple, clear action steps. Webinars are the easiest to produce so we’re starting there, books et al starting the second half of the year.
(8) 2016 and beyond. The next thing I want to do is a series aimed directly at couples, though the college age guys / dating / spouse selection thing is high on the list too.
The big topic that I am drooling messily to get to do, is an integration of Enneagram personality typing into the MAP, but that’s going to need a serious cash on hand / Kickstarter approach to do what I what it to.
(9) Coaching is pretty close to where I want it now. I’m seeing ways to better target it to the clients I feel I best work with though.
(10) Jennifer and myself. We have 2.5 years before youngest goes off to college. Our goal is to work like crazy and then move to a warmer climate city as we both hate the snow with a passion. Then we get to do more traveling for fun and doing live events. She’s really put in serious effort supporting me this last five years and I think she deserves success too.
And as always, I am very grateful that so many people have read and supported me over the years. It’s been a long road and Jennifer and I would have failed several times over were it not for people reading and supporting us.