Happy New Year! (Help Wanted?)
Wow, it’s been a crazy year! As with most years, I generally use the holidays to take stock of what the previous year or years have brought and make plans for the upcoming year.
I have mentioned the changes that the tornado and pandemic shutdowns brought, so I’m not going to rehash that… This time I have been thinking more about the past 10+ years and how much things have changed since I started putting things online.
At the end of 2011 I started this blog and posted regularly for a few years. It was my only real outlet for content until my books started getting published. Industrial Automation Hands-On came out in 2013 and was published in Portuguese two years later.
Since then I have published three more books and created the Automation Academy and IO Central, created company pages on Facebook and Linked In, plus a Facebook interest group for the Academy. I also have a personal Linked In profile which is probably where I do most of my business networking.
Then there is my YouTube channel, which is mostly maintained for posting my biweekly webinars for the Academy.
Does all of that sound like a full-time job to keep up? Well, there’s the problem. As you can see from this blog, I have only posted 7 times since my last New Year’s post. I used to post at least once a week. And several of last year’s posts were guest posts. Of course most of my content now goes into the Academy.
I also spent two weeks (10 days) every month working for Automation NTH, 1 week (average) a month on the road teaching for Automation Training, and the rest of the time doing independent jobs in training and system integration. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to do the online stuff.
So I am (once again) considering how to get some help on the content and marketing side. I made a deal with my wife when I restarted my company that I wouldn’t try and grow the company like we did in the 90s and early 2000s, so I am not really interested in directly hiring a full-time employee. For one thing I am not at my office very much.
I have contracted people for specific jobs before and I don’t think that the efforts paid for the results. In 2016 I hired someone part time to convert the Primer blog posts into text files for my book, and in 2020 did the same to convert posts into Academy material. In both cases, because the people didn’t know my field well I spent a lot of time both explaining stuff and editing their work. And because I don’t have much in the way of marketing skills, paying for the online content isn’t justified.
In the Fall of 2020 I paid a marketing company to promote my Linked In business site. While they did double the traffic, it doesn’t translate into business.
So here are the statistics:
Total actual revenue from the Academy is around $3,000 a year.
There are intangibles associated with all of this, I am fairly well known in the industrial automation industry, sell $4-5000 in books a year, and sometimes land either training or integration jobs from these activities; but I spend hundreds of hours either making content for the academy or writing, and in no way would this support hiring an employee.
That being said, the Automation Academy has the potential to do very well if advertised and managed properly, so I am back to exploring options for administrative and marketing assistance, either on a contract or partnership basis. If I contract an employee, they would need to be local to Nashville, we would need to occasionally meet face to face.