Looking back, looking forward

Better late than never, a quick look back at 2009 and a ramble in to some of my goals for the year ahead. (apologies for those who expected a short post!).
I rarely make resolutions or goals, but this year have taken a moment to reflect and map out some simple aims for the year ahead.

Looking back –

‘Business’ wise, my work (Popokatea) has grown and evolved. Taking the opportunity of giving up my other role back in July 2008 to focus on what I love and to do it full-time has really been an exciting adventure. Even with the current climate I have been really lucky that I have been booked up non-stop for projects since starting out. I thank all of the wonderful people from a wide range of sectors – including third sector, public sector and the increasing projects with small enterprise and business sector and partnerships too that I have had the opportunity to work with.

The end of 2009 ended on a bump rather than a high. I ended up in hospital ill. But it did give me the opportunity to take a step back not only take stock of the last year, but also to map out what I hope for in the coming year ahead…

Looking forward –

  • Attend more events. I did manage to get to FOWD which was great, but didn’t get to NTEN which was one that I really, really wanted to go to.  This year I have already bought my ticket for the NTEN conference taking place in Spring in Atlanta and now plotting on a fundraising plan to help get across the pond to attend. (Look out for a future blog post on this coming soon!).  I also need to get out more and network again. I’ve had my head down working solidly (see Life/Balance below!) especially during the last quarter of the year and not made it out to meet up with others doing what I do.
  • Nurture and Grow. Since becoming ‘free range’ I mainly work on my own covering all areas of project which has its own ups and down sides. I hope this year to work more collaboratively with the pulling in of other freelancers on some of the larger projects planned. I’ve been incredibly lucky and all my work has been from word of mouth rather than having to market myself so far.I’ve been too busy to focus on my working environment too, which is becoming more important to me. I hope to work with others locally to create a co-working space nearby or to hire space in a shared office. Saying that though, working from a home office offers many benefits.  Longer term, the advice I’ve received from others is to turn Popokatea into a company and employ people and so on. Why part of that doesn’t appeal is that I’ve been there and done that in the past, and although it’s great and challenging it’s not what I want from my working and vision.
    I warm to the idea of forming/being part of a creative agency co-op with likeminded people working together on the key areas which I work in – Web design and development, user experience, strategic planning, learning and mentoring, online communications / marketing, identity and branding and so on. I plan to take time out to focus on that one soon. And with it, still keeping a core focus on developing primarily for the third and public sectors and areas that support social change and participation.

    Oh yes, and finally finish the v3 design of my main site and to get the new content up. One day (!).

  • Speak Less, Enable More. I get asked to speak at a wide range of events, which although flattering, it really isn’t what I do. I say yes only to a few that have the right reason or aim that fits in with my own work.Last years goodies that I presented at included a joint session at The Circuit Riders Conference in London working and presenting with the wonderful and vibrant Marc Osten from Summit Collaborative and also a session at the LVSC’s Cascade Network Learning Event in developing online communications for frontline organisations.  People often ask me to talk about ‘social media’ in general, which although have written about it in the past here on this blog here, it isn’t my main focus.  My areas which I love working with is more to do with offline and online communications (of which social media does play a big part), participation and inclusion, online communities, knowledge and information management, web accessibility and user experience, and brand and voice.  I really enjoy the workshop environment over that of a large conference and have a wealth of experience leading learning for small and medium groups and hands on one-to-one mentoring in digital media and plan to develop more learning opportunities in the coming year in addition to the current ones I already deliver.
  • Say No more than Yes. Most projects have been awesome, in fact really awesome; but there have been a couple that raised alarm bells or have caused disappointment due to planning and continuity on the clients side. Potential clients who ‘want it done quickly’ (e.g.- the caller “we’re looking for a total site redesign, and need it done and live in under two weeks with a host of new features adding too…”) or those who are un-secure with their own funding, management or contracting arrangements are more likely to get a ‘no’ from me to work with them.  The more projects I do and manage, I’ve begun to learn the ones that are unlikely to benefit either myself or the client from working together.
  • The Blog. Okay, my neglected blog. I spent many moments last year wondering whether to get rid of it or to keep it. I haven’t spent the time it deserves to keep it nurtured. I’ve never been a prolific blogger, but when I blog, I really enjoy it, and always enjoy the conversations that take place. I’ve set up a Posterous blog for more personal notes and rambles and aim to keep this one for more of my work/what I do related posts.When pondering on whether to delete this blog last year, I did take a look at past posts and also Feedburner reports that there are 644 subscribers, and it has a regular steady flow of ‘traffic’ so, I presume there is a value to the outside world in keeping it going.  With the rise in nonprofits using social media since I started the blog nearly three years ago; and more people out there conversing via blogs and other communities about non-profits use of technology, I feel that I don’t need to have that area as a core focus for this blog as much as before.   I’ll still add posts of great articles out there and so on, but most likely my posts will be a blend of what I’m doing and learning – code examples, how-to’s, feedback from events, and the journeys of some of the open projects that I work with.
    You are my readers though – and if there are any areas that you’d like me to be writing about – please do share them in the comments!

    Those of you not using a feedreader, will have noticed the blog has undergone a facelift, and yes, a rather minimal one at that too. I’ve got rid of all clutter, and also had fun using HTML5 to create it with.
    It’s not finished (yup, no doubt you’ll spot some bugs!) and the static pages need content updating too to reflect where I am now, but that’s another one for my growing ‘Things To Get Done’ list! (by the way, all you iPhone and iPod Touch users have a neat pretty looking custom interface to access this blog, and I’ll get around to you other mobile users soon, I promise!)

  • Pro-Bono working. I have worked with a number of small non-profits in various areas (circuit riding) with their web work, design, campaigns and general tech support for a number of years pro-bono. Often it’s these small and often rural groups (not just local, or even based in the UK) who I’ve built wonderful long term relationships with are the ones I get a huge satisfaction from working with. I don’t intend to stop doing it, but cannot take on many new ones. It’s not fair to them if I end up not being able to help when needed due to capacity or other commitments.
    Money from my work isn’t everything; helping an org to meet it’s mission and vision and to provide a listening ear and enable them to make informed decisions about their ways forward with technology still and always will be a part of who I am and what I do.
  • Work/life Balance. As well as being a serial information addict, I work too much. Having a home office (mentioned above!) has its good and bad points. The bad bit is having my office/studio space always next to me; and I have a need to regain balance of the home/work juggle act that is life. It’ll help with creativity too (see below!)
  • Creativity – keep learning new things. Django has been calling me to come play for a long time. In addition, I didn’t do enough illustration and plain ole simple doodles and sketches last year. I miss time to experiment and learn.
  • Housekeeping. Digital Housekeeping is needed! I have profiles everywhere, and many of the online places I’m listed in I don’t frequent due to ‘doing it’ rather than talking about ‘doing it’ that much even though often have an interest in the area. If I’m not participating or find a value for it, I don’t really need to be there, I can listen to the conversations taking place with my feedreader and the twitter chatter if relevant.
  • Have fun and keep smiling. This one is probably the most important and essential one of all!

So what are your goals for the year ahead? Do share them in the comments below.
Finally, also just want to say, a big thank you all my readers, followers and friends new and old, both online and face to face, for all of your support, encouragement, and participation not only in 2009 but in this year too!

Filed under Personal.