How to grow your traffic by 29% next month

My fellow content marketers will likely disagree with what I’m about to type, and it may very well be contrary to what you’ve heard, but…

Content marketing is not necessarily a long-term strategy, in the sense that you can see results in a obscenely short amount of time.

I know this for a fact, because I’ve done it multiple times.

Last year, I ranked a brand new piece of content for the keyword “Excel shortcuts,” which gets 8,100 monthly searches, just one day after publishing it.

The result? Site traffic increased the following month by a whopping 29 percent.


The startup I did this for had a domain authority (DA) of 25 at the time and is far from a brand-name “unicorn.”

That wasn’t a fluke either. Before that, I spearheaded a blog for SitePoint, increasing its traffic from nothing to 100,000 weekly uniques in three months through, again, content marketing.

Most startups struggle with content marketing and give up before they ever succeed at it, but I’m here to tell you, it works — it works like a freakin’ charm — when you do it right.

In this post, you’ll learn my step-by-step process for substantially increasing site traffic with content marketing.

Before we begin, please note content marketing is not a growth hack, in that it costs money. Content marketers who get results don’t come cheap, and they usually require a small budget for additional resources as well.

Now that we got that out of the way, moving forward!

Step 1: Identify an epic idea.

Your idea is the foundation of your content marketing campaign, so, like any good foundation, it must be solid to grow.

This is where a lot of people go wrong. They don’t spend enough time coming up with a good idea. Or they don’t know their audience well enough to know the difference between what their audience thinks is epic and what they — as the company founder — think is epic.

All I’m saying is spend some time, regardless of how well you think you know your audience/industry, confirming that this is in fact an epic idea.

The Anatomy of a Good Idea

A good idea is: popular, relevant to your business, easy to promote and better than everything else out there on the topic. Let me elaborate with my “Excel shortcuts” example.

Popular Topic

The startup I did this for is a small online course provider. Its best-selling courses, by far, are its Microsoft Excel courses, so we knew anything around Excel would likely do well.

I confirmed this notion with Moz’s Keyword Explorer tool, which reported that “Excel shortcuts” was searched for 8,100 times per month.

Competitors were also having success with this keyword, so I knew there was opportunity there (Thanks again to Moz).

Strategically Relevant

Not only did we choose this topic because it was popular, but also because it was strategically relevant to the business.

Its Excel courses are created by top Excel “gurus,” and they had a lot of success on Groupon and other daily deal sites, so if they had a reputation, it was surely for Excel.

Additionally, the startup wanted to sell more Excel courses, so it was an easy way to get highly targeted visitors, some of whom converted to customers.

Easy to Distribute

If I don’t think a piece of content is going to be easy to promote then I nix the idea.

You can’t, I repeat, CAN’T force people to digest your content. In fact, I just read a quote by Jerry Seinfeld that speaks to this perfectly:

“There is no such thing as an attention span. There is only the quality of what you are viewing.”

How to Know if Content will be Easy to Promote

Check Quora.

Quora is a phenomenal way to identify desire and promote your content once it’s ready.

Look for questions that your piece of content could answer on Quora.


Have many people have asked about it? How recently? How many people are following the question?

Not only was there a lot of questions about “Excel shortcuts,” but they also had a healthy following.

Visit Reddit.

I won’t lie… Reddit scares me. It’s so volatile and extremely unreliable.

With that being said, I have had some success on Reddit, especially when it came to this “Excel shortcuts” piece.

Before we created the content, I checked out the Excel subreddit. As it turns out, the subreddit was poppin’. Look at these numbers…

This looked like a perfect place to drop a link to the “Excel shortcuts” piece when it was ready, and as it turns out, it was! (I’ll explain how I did that later.)

Ask: What blogs or publications would syndicate this?

To get syndicated on [Insert publication] means to get a post on your site re-published on another site with a link back to your site in order to reach a larger audience.

For example, the Excel piece was syndicated on Business Insider and Lifehacker Australia.

In a perfect world, you’ll have a healthy mix of mainstream and niche blogs/publications on your outreach list.

From my research, I knew that places like Lifehacker and Business Insider LOVE the topic of Excel, and they also LOVE to syndicate really good content, so I figured I had a good chance of getting a “yes.”

I was pretty certain Lifehacker and Business Insider would be a good fit, but I confirmed my suspicions by visiting both sites and searching for “Excel.” You can see what I paid attention to in the below screenshots.

As you can see, I reviewed three things:

  1. The number of articles published on the topic. If they don’t publish on this topic often, it probably isn’t a good fit.
  2. The most recent date of content published on the topic. If they haven’t blogged about it since 2013, then they’re likely not a good fit.
  3. How popular the related content was. Some sites have a view counter, like Business Insider. Others have a like button. And you can always see the number of comments. Beware: Some sites inflate these numbers, so use good judgement.

You’ll also want to find the publication’s guest post/syndication policy.

I had been syndicated on Business Insider before so I knew Business Insider had a contributor program. Usually, you can find this out by googling some sort of the following:

  • Your Keyword “contribute to our site”
  • Your Keyword “guest column”
  • Your Keyword “submit content”
  • Your Keyword “submit your content”

I also found this comprehensive list of sites that accept contributions.

Pay attention, and actually read the guidelines because your content must adhere to its editorial standards.

For example, while HubSpot writes about Excel content, its guest blog policy states that it won’t syndicate content.

While I know HubSpot makes exceptions to this rule for really big influencers, I didn’t think they’d make an exception for us and did not try to get our piece published here.

Above and beyond better

If there is a really phenomenal piece of content already out there on the topic, meaning its: comprehensive, well-written, visually appealing and there’s really not much you can do to improve it, don’t create it.

When I have a new idea, I conduct extensive research on the topic. I Google about nine different versions of the query. I look on page two, three… and click on just about every result.

I look at every link because, usually, pieces of content do some things well and other things poorly.

For example, one layout might be horrible to look at but have great content. Another piece of content might be poorly written, but looks beautiful.

Here are a few things to pay attention to when researching:

  • The structure/flow of the content. Is the information presented in the most digestible order for readers?
  • The quality of writing. Could you present something clearer or more compelling?
  • The way it looks. Could you make your content look better than the content you find?
  • The information presented. Is the information accurate, backed by reputable  resources and relevant at this point in time? What’s missing or could be expanded upon?


By the end of step one, you should have a pitch document, which is a simple document that scopes out the content project and answers all the pertinent questions, including:

  • Working title
  • Content type/structure
  • Brief overview
  • Brief, bullet-point outline of what to cover
  • Best examples

Step 2: Bring idea to life.

Consider all of the things you have to do in order to bring this piece to life, and type it out.

For example, with the Excel piece, based on the pitch example above, I had to do the following before I could share this piece of content.

  • Research: Gather all the Excel shortcuts for Mac and PC while also collecting all of the other information I outlined.
  • Write: Write the introduction and conclusion.
  • Test: Fact check the shortcuts.
  • Edit: Clean up copy, if needed. Plagiarism check.
  • Format: Format/layout onsite content.
  • Design: Design infographic and cheatsheet.  
  • Optimize: Make sure content is optimized for search engines.

Think about all the steps ahead of time so you know what resources you need from the onset. This way your production workflow is more efficient and your project is more likely to launch on time… or even early.

For this project, I acted more like a project manager than a “writer” or “content creator” because I was juggling a ton of projects at the time and had a budget to outsource.

Before I elaborate on how I outsourced/managed this project, I have a quick note: If this was a text-heavy piece, I would’ve done things differently. I’m much pickier when it comes to outsourcing text-heavy pieces because it must be truly amazing to hold readers’ attention, and most “writers” can’t deliver.

A Content Production Workflow Example


Our paid marketing intern conducted the research for this piece. He gathered all of the shortcuts, along with all the information I asked for, into an organized spreadsheet so it could be fact-checked quickly.

When you hire a VA or a paid intern, it helps if you’re very specific when you ask for what you need. I’m not saying micromanage. I’m just saying, be detailed in describing what you’re looking for. Don’t tell them how to accomplish it though, unless you’re training them.

Also, be sure to assign a deadline and hold the person to this deadline. Negotiate a stipulation for late content so they know you’re serious about it being delivered on-time.

A highly diligent, organized college student is perfect to complete a research task like this.

They’re affordable, hardworking and easy to communicate with.

Side How-To

How to Find Legit, Affordable College Students

I’ve tested a lot of ways to find affordable freelance students, but these are the student recruiting tactics that worked best for me.

Recruit journalism students.

Not only are journalism students trained to investigate (which means they’re killer researchers), but they’re also taught how to write well.

Most importantly though, they subscribe to an official Code of Ethics as a journalist.

Where do you find journalism students?

  • College publications. Look for a list of college publications, and visit their websites. Email the editor, and ask them to forward your gig description to their contributor list. They usually will.
  • Professors. Google for a list of the top journalism schools. Visit their sites, and find the right person to email on the faculty or directory page. Here’s Stanfords.
  • College job boards. Some colleges have job boards, where you can post jobs for free, like Columbia.
  • Other college blogs. Check out The Muses writers, who are sometimes students, and reach out. Also, scour college publications, like Her Campus and New York Times’ college student column, and reach out to a few of the writers you like.


The introduction and conclusion only needed to be a few sentences each, so I wrote those myself.


Once the research is done and the spreadsheet delivered, we moved onto testing every single shortcut in the spreadsheet.

One person with a Mac and another person with a PC (and up-to-date versions of Excel) verified each of these shortcuts before moving forward.

It’s always good to get a second pair of eyes on content before it goes out, but don’t be excessive. You know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen, right?

This step also includes a plagiarism check. I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker tool.


As soon as the shortcuts were verified and the descriptions approved, I outsourced the infographic and cheatsheet to a designer on UpWork.

I found a great, affordable designer, who I loved working with and continued to work with for a long time after, on UpWork.

How to Find Good Designers on UpWork

Invite freelancers.

After you post your exciting job description to UpWork, make sure you “Invite” freelancers to apply. This makes a big difference in the quality and quantity of proposals you receive.

Use the filter feature to find exactly who you’re looking for…

I decided who to invite based on:

  • Portfolio of work
  • Rate
  • Amount earned on the platform
  • Job success rate

As you can see above, Viktor had earned a lot on UpWork and had a 100 percent success rate. That’s really good, so I hired him.

Look for affordable high-potentials.

I didn’t love everything in Viktor’s portfolio, but having worked as a freelancer on UpWork before, I knew a lot of clients have poor taste and ask for tacky things a lot.

I felt like this was the case with Viktor, and it was. His work continued to evolve the more we worked together.

Try to see the potential in people.

Provide a clear scope of work (SOW).

I gave Viktor the organized spreadsheet and provided examples of infographics I liked via a Pinterest board link.

Don’t do what’s convenient for you and send a million messages. Create a G-Doc that’s simple, to-the-point and includes links to styles you like. Make your freelancer’s life easy, and they’ll love you (i.e. move mountains for you).

Don’t nickel and dime them.

Viktor quoted me $175 for the infographic and cheatsheet.

In all our time working together, I’m proud to say, I never tried to bring his already super-low rates down more because his work was definitely worth the $175.

Format and Upload

Ideally, you should think of the microsite design earlier than now. Most of the steps overlap, so it’s bit difficult to order the steps perfectly.

How will your microsite look? How will your blog post be laid out?

This usually requires: dev, design and marketing, depending on how your team is organized, the size of the company and what type of content management system (CMS) you have.

In my example, the dev team coded the microsite because we have a custom CMS, and I don’t code.

I think marketing should’ve own design for this though since the visual layout is so vital to the success of a piece of content and whether or not it is optimized for conversions.

Once the formatting is determined, it’s time to upload your content to the CMS.


Last but not least, optimize your content by adding a:

  • Meta title
  • Meta description
  • Slug
  • Focus keyword

Resources for writing good titles:

In a perfect world, you’d have a plugin that allows you to A/B test titles.

Step 3: Distribute content.

Once your microsite is optimized and tested, it’s time to start promoting it!

A Distribution Strategy Example

This is the order in which I distributed the Excel piece.

Share on Social

According to KISSmetrics, a piece of content should produce 20+ snippets that you can share on social media throughout the next few weeks and even months.

Snippets can be anything from pull quotes to facts or tips extracted from the content.

I usually open a blank G-Doc and brain dump a bunch of social media posts based on which platform I’m sharing it on. For the Excel post, we focused on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Next, I create six image variations (which were optimized for each platform) so each post has a different (perfectly sized) image, and it doesn’t look like we’re promoting the same exact piece of content every time.

Finally, I used a scheduling tool, like Buffer or CoSchedule, to drip out the link over the next few weeks and months.

After I shared organically, I created a Facebook Ad campaign, using AdEspresso, which automatically optimizes your Facebook ads and tests different variations.

While I don’t have the specific ads we ran for the Excel content piece, I can tell you we tested 36 ad sets, ran it for 10 days and paid $223.25. The result? Sixty-eight leads, which cost $3.28 per lead.

Facebook was also our No. 1 referrer that month, which had never happened in the history of the company.

Submit to Reddit

This is where things really started to pick up for us.

I submitted our content to the bustling Excel subreddit, and it was quite popular, which gave me some leverage when I decided to email Business Insider.

By leverage, I mean that I had cold, hard proof that this would be a popular piece to syndicate to their enormous audience.

Reddit is a fickle beast though. Here’s how I approached it.

If you’re familiar with Reddit, you know that it’s wildly frowned upon to submit your own links or links you’re affiliated with.

With that in mind, I read the entire left sidebar on the subreddit.

Once I read every single link in the sidebar to learn the rules, etiquette, etc, I personally messaged the moderators of the subreddit, telling them about the piece of content we worked really hard on and how it would be invaluable to their audience.

I shared a link to the content piece so they could verify the quality of the content. Turns out, they liked it and said I could share it as long as I put “Advertisement” in my title.

The post did really well. It received 254 upvotes and 35 comments.

Email Business Insider

It was time to try to get this syndicated on Business Insider.

At 1:13 p.m., I sent the email below to the general contributors’ email:

By 1:17 p.m., I received this email.

Our content blew up on Business Insider:

This syndication opened the doors to also getting syndicated on Lifehacker Australia and Business Insider Australia, which sent a healthy dose of traffic as well.

Cross Post

Something else I always do, just because it takes so little time and because it helps sometimes, is submit links to social bookmarking sites and syndicate it on places like Medium and Quora.

The social bookmarking sites I usually submit to include:

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Flipboard

There are Many Other Ways to Distribute Your Content

Every piece of content should have its own unique distribution strategy, which may or may not look similar to what I outlined above, so don’t blindly follow my tactics.

Utilize the ones that will work for your audience.

That is how you increase site traffic by 29% in 1 month.

So that’s everything — the step-by-step process we used to increase site traffic by 29 percent in one month.

It took a lot of hard work from multiple people to make this thing the success it was. And while I was confident this piece would do well, I *never* guaranteed that to my client. At the end of the day, the most important pieces of the puzzle were in the hands of other people –people I didn’t even know — so I couldn’t promise anything.

Before we shut this party down, let me say: Content marketing may not be right for you — it’s totally possible. Content marketing isn’t a universal panacea.

If you’re unsure if it is or isn’t, there are a few questions you can ask yourself.

  • Do I have the budget to produce a phenomenal content marketing campaign?
  • Can I think of any good content ideas that my audience might enjoy?
  • Are people in my space (bloggers or competitors) already writing about this?
  • Is there a demand for content in my industry?

Answer those questions, and use good judgement. Once you do, you should know which path to choose.

How to Keep Track of Your Work Accomplishments

Modesty is a virtue that doesn’t pay the bills.

Since 2011, I have not so quietly boasted about my career-related accomplishments.

Over the past seven years, I’ve landed 15 job interviews in 30 minutes, gone from underemployed dropout waitress to the top 1% of millennials and even designed a website for Flo Rida.

To date, my writing has been published in places like: CNBC, Fortune, Business Insider, The Economist, TIME, and many others. And I’ve been featured in outlets like: Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Inc and The Boston Globeall of this despite not graduating from college or dropping out of an Ivy League school.

I am proud to say, since dropping out, I’ve consistently had a steady stream of work and have been able to dramatically increase my rates year over year (YoY), even in the middle of a terrible economic downturn.  

I do not say this to brag. I say this to prove to you that you can do the same exact things I do — regardless of your age or current situation — as long as you’re motivated, persistent and resilient.

I achieved all of the above by relentlessly focusing on three key things:

  1. Producing results.
  2. Documenting those results.
  3. And sharing those results (cough: achievements).

Focus on just those three things, and I promise you, you’ll always be employed and handsomely paid for your work.

Surprisingly, No. 1 is usually the easiest for people.

It’s No. 2 and No. 3 that people don’t do — either because they believe modesty is the best policy, don’t know they should and/or think they aren’t doing anything worthy of being documented and shared.

To these three excuses, I say:

  1. Modesty is a virtue that doesn’t pay the bills.
  2. Now, you know.
  3. You definitely are doing something worthy of being documented and shared.

Why track my achievements?

If you still don’t believe me, here are a few more reasons (in no particular order) why you should document and share your accomplishments.

1. To land a raise/promotion.

If you want a raise, you’re going to have to provide value AND present that value to your employer BEFORE you ask for a raise.

This is why so many people fail at negotiation. They approach it all wrong.

You know you deserve a promotion/raise because YOU know what you’re doing all the time, but your boss probably doesn’t. And never expect your boss to just reward you because you look like you’re working hard. Fat chance.

If you want a promotion/raise, you need to showcase your previous results to prove you deserve one. The best way to do this is to agree to a few key performance indicators (KPIs) with your boss.

This way, after 3-6 months of meeting and exceeding your KPIs, you can confidently walk into your boss’ office with LEVERAGE.

Your leverage is your previous, consistent results for the business (AKA your achievements).

2. To interview better.

When you don’t document your achievements on an ongoing basis, you’re very likely to forget the vital details that show how valuable you are.    

By doing this, you’ll be able to quickly impress recruiters and hiring managers with how much you’ve accomplished.

3. To write your resume fast.

Recently, I redid my resume, and it only took me one hour — maybe even less. That’s unheard of for me. When I created past resumes, it took forever.

So what did I do differently?

Well, the year prior, I decided to start tracking my achievements/results in a G-Doc and a Trello board.

I didn’t have to dream up bullet points because I had a long list of them right there in Trello and Google Drive. Easy breezy!

4. To combat a bad performance review.

Let’s say you receive an inaccurate performance review from your boss that makes you look bad.

Regardless of the reason, if you’ve been producing results for the business, and you’ve been documenting those results with screenshots, emails, feedback, etc., then the proof is in the pudding — you’re actually killing it — and you can easily prove this with your documents.

5. To prove your past experience.

Companies have no shame about firing you without two weeks notice (which is why I always wondered why employees are expected to give advance notice, but I digress).

And before you know it, everything you did in your previous role is obliterated. You lose access to company programs, software and equipment, and then you’re SOL.

The only way to get another job is to prove you’ve produced results at your last job(s). So unless you want to be unemployed for a while, document your freakin’ results on a consistent basis!

6. To stay motivated.

When I have a bad day, I take a look at my Trello board of accomplishments, and it makes me feel a lot better. Seeing my achievements and past results keeps me motivated when I’m down, and it can do the same for you.

It’s easy to forget the small (yet big) wins, when we’re caught up in the chaos, known as life, and so, we rarely take any time to celebrate them before we move onto the next challenge.

Celebrating your achievements helps you develop a more positive outlook on yourself and your life, increasing your self-confidence, which is quite important in the professional world.

7. To stay productive.

When you’re tracking what you’re doing daily/weekly, you’re forced to face the truth, which may just be that your productivity is tanking.

Obviously, you want to figure this out before your boss does, and a great way to do that is by documenting and reflecting on your day and/or week. What did you get done? What deadline(s) did you miss (or meet)?

What should I document?

Everything. Yes, everything.

Don’t be shy. You’ll be tracking this stuff privately so no need to hold back.

Also, you can always go through these with a fine-tooth comb (and a career coach) later. The more you have, the better, because while you might not consider something valuable, a recruiter might.

I learned this when I visited my college career center.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my resume wasn’t showcasing any of my valuable experience, and so, naturally, I wasn’t landing jobs. It wasn’t until a career coach (verbally) extracted my experience from me by asking damn good questions.

Consider the most commonly asked interview questions, and then reverse engineer accomplishments from them.

To get you started, here are a few suggestions of items to document.

Note: This list is far from definitive. Remember: Document everything.

  • KPIs: Track all of your KPIs with whatever analytics’ tool(s) you use. Take screenshots of charts and graphs to prove it. Record how long it took to reach/exceed goals, how you did it and other important details.
  • Mini testimonials: Collect (screenshot/copy) any and all good feedback from peers, superiors, clients and/or social media connections. You can use these as testimonials on your site and in interviews when someone asks you: What would previous bosses say is your greatest strength? Or other similar questions.
  • Difficult situations: A common interview question is: Tell me about a time you faced a challenging situation with a coworker and how you resolved the issue. So if/when you have a challenging coworker situation on your hands and resolve it amicably, document it. Detail how you reached the resolution.
  • Daily tasks: One way to quantify your resume is by stating the number of times you’ve done something in a given timeframe. This shows recruiters just how much work you can handle. So record all the tasks and projects you’ve completed/managed each day/week and how you managed to complete these things on time. No task is too small to document.
  • Awards: Anytime you receive even the smallest of awards, document it. Nominee? Document it. Employee of the month? Document it. Recognized by a club or volunteer project? Document it.
  • Outside activities: You can put stuff on your resume that doesn’t happen at work. Maybe you are the leader of an industry meetup group. Document everything you do for it.
  • Professional development: Complete an online course? Write it down. Read a book? Write it down. Join a professional club or online membership? Write it down. Learn how to use a new tool/software program? Write it down.

How do I start tracking my accomplishments?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed the first time you sit down to brainstorm and gather all of your past experience — especially if you’ve never done it before.

Things will get messy, but remember, this isn’t the final product. It’s just the very first step, which is always ugly at first.

There are a few different ways you could do this. There is no one best solution, so just do the one that feels right for you (of course, you could try each method as well).

1. Ask yourself questions.

I put this first because it might be the easiest way to recall your past accomplishments.

All you do is answer the list of questions below.

  • Who did I work for? (Freelance and full-time or part-time jobs)
  • What did I do for them?
  • What posts did I publish?
  • How many views, reads, shares, etc. did my posts get?
  • Where was I featured?
  • Where can I find “mini-testimonials?” Who have I impressed and why?
  • What courses did I take?
  • What books did I read?
  • What tools did I use?
  • What professional memberships/sites/groups do I use or am I a part of?
  • What new skills did I learn last year(s)? How did I learn them?
  • What challenges did you face this year at work? How did you overcome them?
  • What processes did you improve or make more efficient?
  • What did I do that was above and beyond my normal job duties?
  • How did I stand out among other employees?
  • Was I ever recognized by a supervisor for a job well done? When and why?
  • Did I win any awards or accolades?
  • What new processes did I implement to improve things?
  • What problems did I solve?
  • Did I ever consistently meet or exceed goals or quotas?
  • Did I save the company money?
  • What made me really great at my job?
  • Who did I meet / network with?
  • How was my performance measured, and did I reach/exceed any performance targets?
  • What did your boss say he/she wanted you to achieve when you were hired?
  • What do you feel you’ve accomplished, regardless of what your current boss or colleagues may think?
  • Have you done something that got better results than your employer had been getting before?
  • If asked what made or makes you really great at your job, what would you say?

2. Braindump.

When I did this for the first time, I had to go pretty far back in time because I waited so long to do it.

To refresh my memory, I opened a G-Doc and created 12 headings — one for each month of the year. Then I typed everything I could think of into that G-Doc — including even the bad things that happened that year.

If you want an idea of what this looks like, here you go:

You may be wondering if I remembered all this stuff from scratch.

I didn’t.

Fortunately, I work online so I could dig through my digital history to see what I’d been up to. It wasn’t the fastest process, but it worked for me.

I reviewed:

  • Social Media (To see what I posted about throughout the years. I usually post about my achievements on these networks.)
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
  • Google Drive
  • Emails: Look for any thank-you emails or emails detailing any projects or achievements.
  • Medium
  • Quora
  • Trello
  • Previous resumes and portfolios
  • Performance reviews
  • Productivity tools, like Timing

3. Ask your superiors, peers and mentors for feedback.

Ask your internship supervisor or boss to review your resume, if you have a good relationship. It can be eye-opening to hear/read what other people think your accomplishments are or what you did that was most valuable to them.

How do I track this on an ongoing basis?

This process is not a one-and-done type of thing.

It’s SO much easier, if you briefly write down what you did at the end of each day in your journaling/document app of choice.

I prefer Google Docs, and just organize it by folder. For example:


  • Jan 2017
    • Jan 1-7 2017

When big things happen — like getting an article published or exceeding my KPIs on a big project — I document this in a Trello board I call “My Life.” Here’s what it looks like:

Note: Here’s a Trello board template of “My Life” for you to make a copy of, if you like this format.

The nice thing about Trello is that you can take screenshots and download metrics reports, etc., and upload them to a card.

For example, whenever we did our monthly marketing report meeting, I would download the PDF file and upload it to my Trello board, titling it: “May Monthly Marketing Report.”

Remember, it’s important to have proof for this stuff because you’ll need it when you go to build your resume and portfolio.

Now, what do I do?

Reflect on your experiences.

Now, it’s time to reflect on your past experiences. I use labels in Trello to color code how I felt about each experience.

The labels I use are:

  • Identity Capital: This is stuff that is good for your resume and talking about in interviews. It’s your tangible experience.
  • Held Back: Were you held back at a job or two? How so?
  • Important: When important stuff happens.
  • Pivotal Person: Did you meet someone who was pivotal to your career?
  • Pivotal Moment: Did something atypical happen that changed your path for better or worse?
  • Pivotal Achievement: This is referring to a huge achievement that helped you leapfrog ahead in your career.

Using these labels helps me figure out what type of experiences I want to avoid in the future.

I’ll ask myself: Did I like doing what I had to do to get that achievement? If the answer is no, I remember to steer clear of similar situations in the future.

Try to connect the dots, and make sense of the big picture.

Look for strengths and weaknesses.

Notice what you love, what you hate and what you tolerate.

Pay attention to what you love and/or dislike about your superiors, coworkers and culture.

Look for patterns and trends.

Your career is constantly evolving, but it’s important to make sure it’s going in the direction you want. If it’s not, you know it’s time to do something about it.

Read these resources.

That’s the end of this post, but if you’ve been following along and completed this project, I recommend you keep going, and complete these articles’ exercises as well:

And here’s that Trello template again.