Going Solo 23. Action Plan Key Initiatives

I wrote last week about my review process and how it related to Nero’s Notes.

I’m working on identifying the key initiatives that we will implement this year to improve performance.

Top 3

1. Newsletter. In 2019, we sent far fewer e-mails to customers. To me, they felt toxic. Facebook and Google were being creepy, the GDPR had come in and Mailchimp and Shopify had fallen out. I think that it’s time to reinstate some communication. The exact nature of it, I’m not sure yet, but the focus will be on delivering value to subscribers without harvesting data.
2. Prioritise Content. Nero’s Notes is, at its core, about using and enjoying analogue tools. We curate analogue experiences. Amanda, Scrib and I write not just about new products, but about why and how we use them. I am keen to bring this more to the fore.
3. Affiliates. We have had some success with Affiliate marketing in 2019. I would like to build on that. Logistics are challenging, in terms of getting the right levels of stock in at the right time.

That’s it. Those are the three key initiatives.

Of course, there are all the usual challenges of running a business. Supply chain, cost control, pricing and margin and so on. We hope to get better at all of those too.


As indicated last week, the objective is to nudge the company into being cash generative this year. This will influence how I implement the three initiatives.

For example, the newsletter. One possibility is to outsource the production. There are people out there who specialise in newsletters and product promotions. I suspect they are pretty good at it too. However, there’s a cost. A cost that will slow return on investment. I also believe that part of our success is our tone, which is genuine and personal. Inevitably, that risks being diluted if someone else starts communicating on our behalf.

The same is true of content. It is tempting to identify a third party to implement a new theme on the Shopify platform and change how the site looks and behaves. Experience tells me that the cost of this would be significant and a certainty, where the return would be a variable and speculative. It turns out, that designing a web store with many products and variants is difficult.

I will focus on coordinating content and social media, making it easier for people to discover the excellent pieces that Amanda and Scrib contribute.

Affiliates should be simple. Plenty of people write nice things about us already. This is a way to measure that and reward the writer.


Next week – how I estimate the impact of the actions on the business, and decide how much investment I will make in each.

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Going Solo 22. Nero’s Notes Review

Nero’s Notes Review

Neros Notes is a trading style of Loggedoff Ltd. The company began trading in February 2017. To date, I have taken no salary and the company has lost money each year. Ballpark figures, the company lost 40k in Year one, 11k in Year 2 and looks like maybe a 5k loss in the year to end in January 2020.

Not exactly Apple or Amazon, is it?

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Living the Dream – 72. Plotting and Planning

Autumn is for plotting and planning. Ideally, the New Year is when new chapters begin, and to make that happen, I need to get going in November.


This is the perfect time to lock myself into the office/cave. The days are getting shorter, the evenings cooler, it’s the perfect time to bury myself in my notebooks. Except, Cyprus weather hasn’t read the script. Having had a try at autumnal, the days have decided to revert to summer. There’s not a cloud in the sky, the temperatures are soaring and the beaches are busy again. This is a problem that I am delighted to have, particularly after the trials of last winter.


In terms of plotting and planning, I look at several areas. The consulting business, the notebook business, the podcast, this site, the home and myself.


Without getting formal, I put aside time to review the year in each area. What went well, what didn’t. I identify objectives for the next year. Once we get to that funny week between Christmas and New Year, I document all this, but for the moment, I just make notes.


During 2019, I have posted three times a week on the site. Each post being 300-700 words. So, one or two thousand words a week. Work on the novel has been sporadic, to say the least. Hmmm…that needs looking at.

As it happens, my Wednesday posts have just reached the end of a series, “Going Solo”. I’m fairly certain that I am not going to leap straight into another series there – hell, perhaps I could edit 500 words of the novel instead? Now, there’s a revolutionary concept.

The Friday posts, of which this is one, will continue, but perhaps with a wider scope. On Monday’s, I post for Members, and I will continue to do that, perhaps tightening the focus there, moving back towards the novel.


I love this planning and plotting process. I do have to be careful though, as I have a tendency to forget things. Like the fact that I am married. I recently produced myself a week schedule, that managed to incorporate everything that I wanted to get done on an ongoing basis. It was a seven day schedule, including evenings. I think Mags and I got to spend a couple of waking hours a week together, during a quiz. Whoops.

The schedule

How will my schedule settle? Too early to say. That’s why I start the process in November. One thing for sure, I need to put aside time for writing. If I don’t, then not enough gets written.

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Going Solo 17. Review

Review is important. Writing this series of posts has acted as a review process for me. I believe in experimentation, I believe in taking risks, in trying new things. However, there is only so much time in a day, capacity in a brain.


– Time is precious
– Are you making progress?
– Are you meeting your objectives?

These are questions that you should be asking regularly. I find monthly too constrictive and perform informal reviews each quarter. However, the real review period for me is annual.

What measures you use are up to you. You might want to go all Marie Kondo:

“Does this project bring me joy?”
You might be entirely more prosaic:
“Does this project make me money?”

Which questions you ask will depend on where you are in life. If your side projects live along side a jobby-job that pays your bills, then I imagine the “Joy” question is more important. If you hope to make a side-project your main source of income, then the money question is clearly the one that interests you the most.

My situation

So – where am I?

First – an example of a cut. I explored the possibility of becoming a “You Tuber”. We have a channel called pocketnotebooks, where I hoped to post reviews of notebooks and insights into the business. I conducted a review, and decided that video did not bring me joy and was unlikely to provide revenue. So, I stopped.

What’s left?

Sean – I NEED to publish. A monkey to get off my back.
SL.com – Joy, and I hope, the future.
1857 – Joy
Lime – Income
Loggedoff – This project is under pressure. I have poured in time and money over 3 years. I love the analogue and I love the customers – but this one is certainly on probation.


I have surprised myself by typing the above. Much of my own perception of my identity is tied up in Nero’s Notes and I am shocked to read that my subconscious is exhibiting such a ruthless streak.

Loggedoff gets reviewed around January – and I am interested to see where I go with that.

This raises an interesting point on reviews. Write them down. If you are anything like me, you may surprise yourself.

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Living the Dream – 47. Hotting up

Hotting Up

Cyprus is hotting up. Overnight, summer arrived. In true British style, we had been lamenting how unsettled the weather was and how temperatures were below average. Then, boom. Temperatures leapt from low twenties (70f) centigrade to low thirties (90f). The dog appeared shocked initially, but has quickly dropped into a new routine. It’s taking us longer to adapt.

The upside is that the change in the weather has forced me to deliberately consider my daily routine.


#livingthedream is intended to chart our efforts to design a new life for ourselves, and we’ve been here nearly eight months now, so this is as good a time as any to look at how we’re doing.

I rise early, usually around 6.30am. I don’t use an alarm, nor have I made a conscious decision to rise at a particular time. It just happens. Once up, Spice, is up and wants out for her morning patrol. I’ll play with her, trying to activate her appetite by throwing a ball. (She has taken to not eating in the morning.)

Margaret and I will have an espresso or two for breakfast in the early sun, and I’ll write a gratitude note in my bullet journal. Then I’ll go swim for half an hour. By 8 / 8.30 I’m heading downstairs to the office as the day is hotting up.

Through till lunch, I am writing, or working on one of my businesses, usually with podcasts in the background. My tiny contribution to running the house is to hang out the laundry whenever the machine beeps insistently at me from the room next to the office. How things get into the machine is a mystery, similar to how the house is always full of food. I’ve asked Margaret, how all these things happen, but she just rolls her eyes…

Lunch is around 1, and we eat together, up on the terrace. Afterwards, I’ve taken to spending some more time in the pool and then having a nap. Traditionally, Cyprus shuts down through the heat of the afternoon, and I’m all for it.

Some time around four, the day restarts. I refresh myself with a shower and will either get back into work, or read a book.


Dinner is getting lighter and lighter, and later and later. In the winter we ate around 6, but now don’t feel much like food until 8 or so.

Evenings are delightful at the mountain hideaway. It’s quiet and there is often a breeze. A chilled glass of wine with some olives on the terrace is the perfect evening as far as I’m concerned.

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Christmas Time

Merry Christmas!

I’m looking forward to some tasty food, some classy grape based beverages and the company of friends and family – including the little fellow above, Nero the dog.

The world’s media and thousands of talented bloggers will produce long, detailed and weighty reviews of 2016. I daresay there will be much talk of war, terrorism, politics and death. It really has been quite some year.

Nero’s year has been altogether simpler.

Food has been plentiful. Walks too. He has been particularly pleased with the variety of armchairs, couches and beds provided for his comfort. Most satisfactory.

Every time Margaret and I return, Nero jumps up and down at the back door, waiting to hear the key in the lock. When he does, he speeds across the room to his toys, selecting one as a welcome home present. Whether we have been gone five minutes or a few hours, his enthusiasm is entire and unlimited.

He loves curling up on a couch in front of the fire, even more if he can share the couch with us.

Each morning, I awake to Nero tip-tapping across the wooden floor in the bedroom. In between long yoga-like stretches, he has taken to ‘huffing’, ensuring that I’m awake.

Together we head out in the early light for a walk around the village. We take the same route each morning, yet every day is a brand new adventure, full of exciting scents, animals to chase and people to deafen with barks.

We make the world very complicated.

Be more Nero.

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Wrong Kind of Clouds – A Review



In Amanda Fleet’s debut thriller, The Wrong Kind of Clouds, Patrick Forrester is in trouble. Deep trouble. Someone wants him dead. In fact, lots of people want him dead, but one of them has taken him hostage. As he’s being bundled away, he manages to call his ex-lover, Summer Morris, and begs her for help…

Summer Morris, an award-winning photographer with synaesthesia, hasn’t spoken to Patrick for months. With good reason. In fact, she would have been happy never to hear from him again. But, he begged her for help, so she’s trying to help. Along with an off-duty police officer, Detective Sergeant LB Stewart, she gets swept into Patrick’s world of lies and deceit, in a desperate race against time to find him alive.

Trying to unpick the knot of Patrick’s life takes them from an affair that could help bring down a government, to the dust and heat of Malawi, and a whole heap of trouble in between. If only they knew who wanted him dead, they might find him alive. The trouble is, almost everyone wants Patrick dead.


Amanda is my writing buddy. We met through a twitter chat. (#writingchat – Every Wednesday night at 20.00 UK time.) Mostly, Amanda sends me really helpful links and does her level best to get me actually doing something, and I send her internet links of cats doing funny things. So, yes, I may be slightly biased. However, that said, I am not known for my tact or diplomacy.


The Wrong Kind of Clouds is a crime novel that rattles along at a great pace. Despite trying to put it down, I read it in a day, which is pretty much the greatest compliment that I can pay a thriller.

The characters have depth and are interesting – in fact, I hope to hear more of Summer and LB in the future.

The Police Detective became my new hero when he said,
“Yes. I really hate bad cooking. I would rather go hungry than eat something out of a packet.”

How can you not like a half-French detective, living in Edinburgh?

It’s a cracking book that I enjoyed from start to finish, never quite sure how of how it would finish. Buy it from troubadour.co.uk as a paperback or if you prefer ebooks, then it’s available towards the end of the month.

Grab yourself a copy. You won’t regret it.

And remember, you heard it here first.