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Beyond the numbers: Feedback from a friend

August 20, 2012

newsletters 2011 and 2012

My newsletters, from August 2011, left, and August 2012

I preach numbers, but sometimes, I lose my way. But lunch with a friend last week helped me see beyond my myopia.

Jen Barnett and I have long traded advice and cheered each other on in career and in life. I’m grateful for her words of wisdom as we left the restaurant.

As a fellow small business owner, she knows the challenges of seeing the big picture. But she looks as each day’s progress as adding value to her company.

And then she turned it on me. “Look at how much you’ve built over the last few years.

“Go look at a newsletter from a year ago and see how much you’ve improved.”

I didn’t have to look. Her kind sentiment alone made my day.

I have been lost in the weeds. I can quote the open and click rates on my recent newsletters, or analyze my recent speaking performance, but a friendly personal assessment can mean as much or more.

When Jen, a newsletter artiste, says I’ve improved at it, that means something to me. It is high praise indeed.

Your communication channels could use a spot check. Examine your newsletters from a year ago. Or your blog posts. Or your videos. Look for growth and polish, style and substance. Each time we do something, we almost always get a little better at it.

But we forget, because we are in the middle of it. We are lost without a guide, a friendly voice.

And when assessing how you’re doing, consider going beyond the numbers. Ask your friend or your spouse or your readers. Listen carefully to their feedback, and incorporate what you can.

Numbers are important. As are kind words. Both can help you assess real progress over time.

Judge for yourself: Click each thumbnail to see the newsletter in full. Let me know in the comment what you like or dislike about each version.

Newsletter - Aug. 8, 2011 Newsletter - Aug. 13, 2012
Aug. 8, 2011 Aug. 13, 2012

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 20, 2012 9:05 am

    Great encouragement on a Monday morning!

  2. August 20, 2012 10:42 am

    I think you said it best: a friend’s positive feedback means more than he or she’d ever know (yes I’m looking at you!). I’ve enjoyed your newsletters and while I think the improvement is there, you wouldn’t have gotten here without being ‘there’ first. I just wrote a post on my own writing improvement. I look back quite often on my older writing, and while I know I’ve made strides, I still cherish those old posts because they lead me to where I am now. Seeing the change is humbling.

    • Martha Jane Patton permalink
      August 20, 2012 11:24 am

      I’m a new subscriber, but even at that, I can see a marked improvement over the past year in your newsletters. The green background on this year’s newsletter is prettier, and the cover image (arm with tattoo) is a complete draw. I aspire to join the list of influential social media people, and your tips are helpful on that journey.

      • August 20, 2012 8:40 pm

        Thanks, Martha Jane! I think influence is overrated. Helpful and nice are in terribly short supply.

    • August 20, 2012 8:39 pm

      Thanks, Sandra! Good observation.

  3. August 26, 2012 11:32 am

    I like what I see Wade. The recent newsletter seems easier on the eyes and informative. Links to recent Tweets of interest, etc. are especially nice. I agree with Martha Jane about the arm tattoo as well. A nice visual draw. I’ve re-subscribed, by the way. I seem to have a lot more time on my hands lately.


  1. The 2012 index to posts « Birmingham Blogging Academy

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