Habits Over Motivation

Man Running Through Town

Thursday morning was cold. The weather was slightly foggy & overcast, and I foolishly only brought running shorts & a t-shirt. Despite the conditions I ran 3.2 miles and I had an 8:57 minute pace which is the best time I've had in over a year!

This past year I've been hot & cold with running. On average I ran twice a month. But there were months where I didn't run at all. And one month where I ran eight times. There was no consistency. And every time I started running after a break I had to start all over again. Running 12 minute miles which is pretty bad for me.

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For Better User Interviews Be An Outsider

Two Groups People Divided

Over the last few weeks I've been talking to WooCommerce store owners. I've been asking them questions about what they're struggling with, what they want to learn about, and where they want to go.

I've been asking these sorts of questions for the last couple of years. But recently I've heard different responses:

“There’s a perception in the community that Automattic is taking over all the things”

“I’ve been using [WooCommerce] since 2011. It was pretty crap back then.”

“The Woo people were the least interesting, most boring, most useless talks.”

I'm getting lots of positive feedback but I've seen an increase in negative feedback.

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Filter Google Analytics Crawler Spam

Multiple data filters

Crawler spam is what happens when a bot crawls through your site and leave fake data. They might leave a fake referral just to get you to check out the referring website.

Social Network Traffic Spikes

Wowzors I must be improving my writing. Look at these spikes on social media!

In fact I've had this exact thing happen. I was looking at my analytics and thought someone mentioned one of my articles on Reddit because over a few day period I got several hundred visits. I wasted my time digging through analytics to try to find the exact post.

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Filter Google Analytics Language Spam

Multiple data filters

If you've been digging through your analytics you may have noticed some unusual data. If I go to my reporting page and scroll down I'll see a list of languages used on my site. And some of them are definitely spam.

Google Analytics Language Spam

Google Analytics language spam

In fact over the last month I've had over 1,000 spam visits. Those visits are enough to skew my data tarnishing any decisions based off of that data. Ex.

Wow this post is doing great – we should write more like it!

With just a bit of filtering we can remove this language spam which will make it easier to navigate our reports and it will give us much better data.

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Create a Backup View in Google Analytics

Multiple data filters

Most site owners have one view for their site in Google Analytics. This is fine as long as you don't mess anything up. But if you accidentally filter some data out it's lost forever. There is no undo button. That's why whenever I work on anyone's analytics I always start by creating a backup view.

Creating this backup view only takes a few minutes and should you ever have to use that data it's right there at your fingertips. If you wait until after you make a mistake you will have already missed the chance to collect that data.

Create a Backup View

Google Analytics Master View

Master is my primary view in GA. Yours could be named anything.

From the home page click on your main view (mine is Master in the image above). And then click Admin.

You’ll see a page to administer your account property, and views.

Google Analytics Administration Page

Click Create new view

Click on your view and you’ll see a drop down. Click Create new view.

Type in the name. I recommend Unfiltered, set your timezone, and click Create View at the bottom of the page.

Google Analytics Create New Vew

Create a new view

And we're done. It took less than 10 clicks and we have a brand new view without any filters so it will collect everything.

Creating a Test View

If you plan on doing a lot of filtering with Google Analytics you might also want a test view. That way you can test things out for a few weeks to make sure those changes are working and then apply them to your master view.

We’re going to do the same thing as above except we’ll actually copy over a few settings from our master view.

If we go back to our Master view and then click Admin we’ll be taken to the Administration page.

Click on View Settings.

Google Analytics Administration Page Click View Settings

Click View Settings

And then click Copy view in the top right.

Google Analytics View Settings

The view settings page

Rename the view and click Copy view.

Google Analytics Copy View

Copy the view

Pros & Cons of Copying Views

So why do we copy for the test view and not the unfiltered view? Because when we copy a view if there are any existing filters they will be copied over. And we don't want that. We want it to be completely unfiltered.

Think of filters as a convenience. They prevent certain types of data from being added to Google Analytics which is very useful. But you can achieve the same thing with other tools like segments. It just takes a lot longer to apply the same rules to each of your segments rather than filtering the data as it comes in.

2016 Review – My First Year Going Solo

Map & Moleskine Notebook

Over the years I’ve sporadically written up some sort of year end review. Now that I work for myself I think it’s even more important. if I don't do it – no one will. So if I want my next year to be better I need to figure out what worked and what didn't.

Now I keep a ridiculous amount of data. I could share a lot of different numbers like how many movies I watched, how many vacation days I took, how many hours I slept, etc. but I’d like to focus on three core areas.


Let’s start with Money. I absolutely love e-commerce. Creating your own online property to control your financial future is incredibly powerful. Since starting out own my own this year I’ve focused on three areas:

Consulting – I’ve helped WordPress VIP agencies create proposals for big e-commerce sites. I love where this is going. WooCommerce needs a few more high profile sites to put in their showcase.

Product Marketing – I’ve helped Ninja Forms develop a marketing plan – primarily by doing user research to discover their strength’s & weaknesses.

Online Learning – I created a total of 5 courses for Lynda.com (4 this year: 1, 2, 3, & 4). It takes months to plan, a month to write the script, a week to record, and a month of post-processing just for one 2-3 hour course. And I love it. I love crystalizing my knowledge into a 2-3 hour structured course that includes a lot of technical information but also a lot of common sense e-commerce practices (that we as developers sometimes forget).


Since starting my own business in September I made a decent chunk of money. I was really hoping for more recurring revenue but I made some mistakes.

  • One time – $14,068.77
  • Recurring – $3,655.13

And affiliate commissions have been especially disappointing. I have over 65 articles talking about WooCommerce and many more that reference WooCommerce. And between these articles I've earned less than $500 in the last couple months.

Next Year

Next year I want to see my recurring revenue increase to $16,000. I’m continuing to work on courses for Lynda which are slow but reliable money makers. I’m also considering:

  • A virtual summit
  • A tool (micro site?) to help you pick an e-commerce platform
  • A book about e-commerce marketing

I’d like to see how my recurring revenue comes in for the next couple of months and if it’s on track then I’ll keep plugging away on courses. And if not I will look into some other options.

And for my affiliate commissions I'm wondering if it's worth putting in the time & attention. I don't love affiliate marketing. I'm selling my reputation. And it puts into question my recommendations.

It's too soon to call it yet. I've only been working on it 4 moths. I'll go through 2017 writing articles and see what a full year of affiliate marketing can do. One thing is I plan to do at the start of 2016 is cancel all small affiliate deals. It's not worth the overhead. That way I can focus more on other projects.

I'm actually enjoying the consulting. It's a nice break from courses and it keeps my e-commerce skills sharp. Helping a VIP company put together a proposal for e-commerce was intense. I was able to point out several potential problems & several opportunities for up-sells. I just don't want to rely on consulting.


I do a lot of things to feel creative. I paint Warhammer 40,000 miniatures, I go to improv workshops, and I read. I'm going to focus on reading. It's easy to quantify and it's I love how I feel after I complete a book.


Some raw numbers to start:

  • I read 27 books
  • that's 8,190 pages
  • and 12 of the 27 were fiction

The book that had the greatest impact on me was Originals. It changed the way I look at learning, group dynamics, risk, idea generation, side projects, and company culture. I spent over 8 hours taking notes for this book and it was totally worth it. I'm constantly quoting the book. And that's because I've improved how I take notes and thus my retention.

I also learned a lot from More Than Two which focused on how you can create healthy communication in your relationship. I started speaking more directly & plainly:

Hey Patrick where do you want to go to dinner?

I'm thinking Torchy's Tacos. Sound good?

There's still room for compromise but no question that I have a preference.

And my business wouldn’t be where it is without Profit First which teaches you the habit of profit. Most business owners hope for profit. I build it into my process.


I'm very happy with 27 books. My goal was 24 so I rocked that. I could increase the number but that's not the goal. The goal is to feel creative, learn, and enjoy the process.

Next year I'm going to set a goal of 24 books again and I'm going to use the recommendations of my peers to make sure I read the best books.

If you're on GoodReads you should add me.

Here are the books I want to read (in order):

  1. The Four Agreements – recommended by John Eckman's talk at WordCamp US
  2. Armada – I loved Ready Player One so I have a good feeling about this book.
  3. Big Magic – recommended by Sara Cannon's talk at WordCamp US.
  4. Scrappy Little Nobody
  5. Platform
  6. Ancillary Justice
  7. Feeling Good Together – recommended by Cory Miller's talk at WordCamp US.
  8. Confessions of an Economic Hitman
  9. Lock-in
  10. Linchpin – I love Seth Godin's writing. Normally it's very short and this book is relatively long. So I'm excited to give it a try.

You might notice that I try to alternate between non-fiction and fiction. I really like that balance. I can focus on learning and then read a biography which is interesting, or read about some space fort under attack. That balance works well for me.

I've planned out the first 10 books for 2017. Every one was recommended by a friend so I'm looking forward to reading each and every one.

I also plan to reread a few books. Probably More Than Two & Originals.


This year I was really excited to get into rock climbing. I went a handful of times with my friend Kelly & Emily. I got some gear but it was really hard to sync schedules. Especially since I'm traveling and so is Kelly. I decided I should do rock climbing when & where I can but I want to focus on a solo activity. I've been running for years so it makes to focus on that.


In 2016 I ran:

  • 26 runs
  • for a total of 109.5 miles
  • which took me 20 hours & 22 minutes
  • and burned 13,214 calories
  • The longest run was 13.1 miles (Horse & Dragon Half-Marathon)

That's a run every other week. And actually most of them were in May when I had a big running kick. Most months had 0, 1 or maybe 2 runs.


There is an obvious solution. Make running a habit.

I'm going to try to start running Wednesday mornings. I control my own schedule so I don't have to do any meetings Wednesday mornings and assuming the weather isn't horrible I'll be running.

There will be the occasional weather condition and then I plan to run later that week. That shouldn't be too big of a problem but I may occasionally have to run inside which I hate. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

For now I'm setting a goal of running 52 times in 2017.

Looking forward to 2017

I hope you've done / will do (it's never too late) your own review. It was pretty darn useful for me. I thought I went running ~50 times until I looked it up.

I have my reading game down. I've built a system that fosters tons of reading. Now I'm working on improving my network in GoodReads to read the best books.

I have some pretty firm goals around money & fitness. They're ambitious but not audacious. And I have a rough plan on how to get there.

Now it's time to execute.