2022 was an equally challenging and rewarding year for me.
Let’s start with the challenges. My time at Shopify started really well and then took a turn. We realized the Pandemic boost was a credit on the future, not a blank check. It wouldn’t be right to write about the details publicly. But a series of unfortunate events led to the first layoff of my career in the middle of the year.
A core value of mine is learning. I value learning more than comfort and the most painful experiences are typically the most insightful ones. After a month of reflecting and evaluating offers, I decided to go independent as an advisor with a focus on strategic advisory for Private Equity, Venture Capital, and a few top-tier tech companies. I have been blessed to recoup my salary within one month. 3 months in, I’m booked out and work with awesome teams. This feels like the right call and is my first win for the year.
Being independent allows me to spend more time in my Zone of Genius, a concept by Gay Hendricks that describes work at which you’re world-class. Being in your Zone of Genius doesn’t feel like work. It’s flow. I’m still trying to better understand my Zones of Genius but can already say figuring out what you’re uniquely great at and making it available to those who need it is very fulfilling. Inhouse, I had to play many roles, some of which I wasn’t great at. As an advisor, I can outsource tasks like bookkeeping, taxes or admin work and fully concentrate on my strengths.
I still spend most of my time on SEO, but a larger part of my work has become product strategy, conversion rate optimization (CRO) and email marketing. They’re all related because for a while, SEO hasn’t been about getting traffic to your site but also about what happens next. In 2023, I’m seeking to branch out even more from SEO and into strategic Growth & Marketing where I benefit from my experience at Shopify and G2.
I already started to bring these topics into the Contrarian Marketing Podcast, Tech Bound and Growth Memo.
In 2022, I wrote 47 articles and increased traffic by +42.2% traffic Year over Year (+15.9% organic).
Top 10 articles by total traffic:
Half of the top articles are not from this year, but cover larger themes like AI Content, data stories, and principles.
One big win for me in 2022 is that I reached my goal of 8,000 subscribers one month early and completed the year at 8,150.
Most traffic comes from SEO and social platforms:
- 25% come from Google
- 20% direct
- 19% Linkedin
- 10% Twitter
- 25% other referrers
Next year, my goal is to bring Growth Memo to 10,000 subscribers! With the current growth rate, I should hit that goal in late 2023.
Tech Bound, my growth podcast, came a bit short this year. I got over 5,200 views and 46,500 impressions on Youtube but missed my goal of 3,000 subscribers because I didn’t publish frequently enough.
Tech Bound top 10 in 2022
The Contrarian Marketing Podcast
In late 2022, Eli and I had the idea to start a podcast that’s not focused on SEO but Marketing. Our mission is to share the full bandwidth of views on Marketing topics so listeners find new ideas and can make up their own minds. Out came the Contrarian Marketing Podcast.
After 4 episodes, we reached 2,000 total downloads, half from just the first episode. It’s a strong start, but I’m not counting my cards before episode 100. All good things take practice and patience.
In 2022 I met one of my big idols at Bits & Pretzels in Munich: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Part of my fascination with Arnold is his grit and ambition that led him to dominate 3 highly competitive fields: bodybuilding, movies, politics. Even at 75, he gave a killer speech and had everyone in the audience stand up and applaud.
I’ve been working out consistently for over 10 years now and still hit the gym 6 days a week. Working out has taught me so much: discipline, longterm thinking, challenging myself, patience and of course, how important working out is for my wellbeing and stress level. No matter what happens professionally, it seems less bad after a good workout.
Fitness and the values you can learn from it is also something I want to offer my daughter. This year, I got engaged and learned I’ll be a father in 2023. It’s a riveting milestone in my (our) life - maybe the biggest one ever - and the beginning of a new identity. I feel so much excitement and a little fear. My main fear is having less time and not being as productive anymore, and I judge myself for that. I keep reminding myself there is a gift for me here: practicing ruthless prioritization and more time resting and playing.
One thing I noticed is how programmed I have become to grind. When I don’t feel the heat, my initial reaction is that something must be wrong. One growth edge for me next year will be that things can go well without feeling stressed.
I’ve noticed many white collar workers being close to burnout from unrealistic expectations and high pressure. I expect a lot more inhouse folks to go full time freelance in the near future. And yet, I don’t think freelancing is better than inhouse work. It’s just a different game. I don’t rule out going back inhouse at some point in the future, but for now I bathe in foamy, freelance deep work.