Always Learning

One of my themes for The Trip Clip is that kids are always learning, all the time, and there are learning opportunities in every activity we do with our kids. This fall I was reminded that as a business owner, I am always learning too. Sometimes we learn the most from our failures.

The graph above is a screenshot of The Trip Clip’s Pinterest engagement from July until today (the vast majority of my customers find my website through Pinterest). It’s pretty clear something went wrong for a couple of months. What’s shocking is that it took me over 2 months to recognize that it wasn’t a problem with my business direction, but that there was a technical problem with my website.

In retrospect it’s obvious that this was a technical problem. If I’d looked at this graph sooner, I would have immediately realized that no decline in my product quality or customer engagement would be that precipitous. But it actually never even occurred to me to look at this graph, or for a technical glitch. I was aware my sales were down, and spent a lot of time thinking about how to improve my products and about what I was doing wrong instead of using data that was readily available to help me see what was really going on.

What actually happened is that on Aug 10, I unknowingly uploaded a file (robots.txt) to my website that told all search engines to not ‘find’ my website. That meant Google, Bing, Pinterest, etc. didn’t ever show customers my website or my products when people searched for related keywords. My website was essentially hidden to all of them. On Oct 19 I finally looked at the reports I get from Google about my web traffic, saw the huge drop, and sure enough Google had a notice telling me that the site was blocked by robots.txt.

I learned a few lessons here. The first is that I should be paying attention to my metrics all the time. I have access to tons of good data, and I just failed seek it out for a very long time. It did occur to me that I should go look, but I was afraid to see just how bad it was. And that’s the second lesson – I let fear and imposter syndrome get the better of me. I was way too willing to believe that my products and ideas weren’t good, when I should have had more faith!

I need to post this graph someplace I’ll see it every single day as a reminder that I should have more confidence in The Trip Clip, and that I should monitor my tracking data regularly!

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