Well it’s been almost a year since I last posted what I’ve been up to, and what a year it’s been! I’ve been just as busy this year as last year, if not busier. A lot has changed since last year. We’ve had to shift a lot of priorities based on time and money, which I’ll discuss shortly. As well I’ll talk our current objectives for the upcoming year.
Lots has been happening with LandlordMax as you’ll soon see, so much so that I’ve had to allocate separate sections to it. Overall though we’ve really been growing at a good rate as you’ve probably already read from my recent post on our sales metrics. We’ve been working hard at it.
LandlordMax has also started to appear in several major newspapers, rather than just our market specific niche publications such as Multi-Housing News. We recently appeared in the Ottawa Business Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Calgary Herald, and so on That’s been great, and it’s definitely helped to get our name out.
In addition to this we’ve really been growing internally here at LandlordMax (beyond what I’ll cover in the individual sections). We’ve now automated a lot more of the shipping process (24% of our orders are shipped). We’ve enhanced our technical support offerings (we now have a discussion forum for example). We’ve also automated a lot more of internal development process. In this regard, our version control system has been enhanced, we’ve moved from CVS to Subversion. We’ve also improved our project management system. Not only that but we now use a higher-end wiki much more extensively than before for all our internal documentation. Basically a lot of behind the scenes enhancements.
LandlordMax Version 3.11f Released
For those of you who have been following this blog, you know we just recently released version 3.11f of LandlordMax. It involved a great deal of effort and it was a success, it went without a hitch. Not only did we resolve some issues, but we also completely overhauled the report printouts! That in itself was a large effort.
LandlordMax Website Re-design
Although a lot of effort has already gone into this project, it’s one that we’ve had to push back a few times. We’ve already designed the website, we’re actually well into the implementation phase, but it takes time. As well we need to be careful with our SEO (Search Engine Optimizations) because we’re ranked very highly on Google. The new design looks amazing and will really improve the site but I’ve had to make the hard decision of pushing it back. I’d post a screenshot but I don’t want to unveil it until it’s complete.
We’ve also started to created animated tutorials but unfortunately this is another effort that’s had to be pushed back. That being said, we are actively working on making one larger animated tutorial for the home page which will showcase LandlordMax. Our goal is to have this available and online sometime between now and next month.
LandlordMax Version 5.x
In my last update I mentioned how we were working hard on getting a version 4.x out, well it’s now version 5.x. Our version numbers are based on year dot month, so 5.x means it was released in our 5th year of business on the x’th month of the year (3.11 being 3rd year of business in November – the 11th month).
This major version upgrade has mainly been delayed because we went down some wrong paths, well maybe a better way to put it is paths that we couldn’t fully support with our resources. For example we attempted to include full QuickBooks integration but this was pushed back. As well we attempted to provide full support for check printing, but again the higher costs (time and money) have forced us to push this feature back to another version. We got pretty far, the issue is to properly and fully integrate these features takes a lot of effort. We could do a quick and dirty job, having them poorly integrated with many outstanding issues, but that’s not the way we operate (for example checks that can only be printed to very specific layouts). Therefore we’ve pushed these features off until we could completely and seamlessly integrate them
That being said, we’ve been working feverishly to get the latest version out. Some quick previews of what you can expect include a whole new workarea in LandlordMax called “Contacts”. This is a place to store additional contacts beyond your tenants, vendors, etc. As well we’re planning on adding the ability to send out emails directly within LandlordMax (where having additional contacts will be a big benefit), such as invoices, receipts, and even generated reports. Sending emails without spell checking wouldn’t be much fun, so you can expect to see this as well. We’re also adding support for “Accounts” in the accounting workarea. Although we won’t offer for bank reconciliation support with this version, we will be getting much closer (you can take that as a hint of another feature we want to eventually offer). There’s a lot more than this, but I hope these teasers give you an idea of some of the great new features you can expect to see in the next major version.
LandlordMax Mac Version
We wanted to offer a Mac release of version 3.11 of LandlordMax but this has been pushed back due to other higher priorities. We’d love to offer a Mac version, but the demand compared to some other items has forced me to make some tough decisions, this being another one of them.
LandlordMax Network Version
We’ve been talking about this for some time and our intentions are still very strong in this respect. Indeed a lot of effort has been going into this. At this stage we’ve definitely decided it will be based on the same programming language as the desktop version of LandlordMax so that we can share a lot of the same code base. We’re still ironing the details of how we’ll finalize the offering, whether it will be a client/server application or a browser based system. Both have their pluses and minuses. In either case, the work we’re doing now is going to be beneficial for whichever path we ultimately decide to take.
If I were to guess today on the outlook for a networked version, I’d wager it’s closer to 2009 than 2008. This is mainly because I’ve had to commit some of these resources to getting the latest version of LandlordMax, version 5.x, out sooner than later. We really strive to release a major new version of LandlordMax every year, at the longest every year and a half. For this release we’re already at the year and a half marker, so I really want to get it out as soon as possible. It’s understandable why it’s longer than usual, but we still need to get it done. I’m aiming for under two years, but that’s still to be determined. Which means another hard decision, diverting effort from this endeavor to the 5.x version. But don’t worry, it’s coming! That’s a certainty. It’s just the when that isn’t.
This blog is growing by leaps and bounds. Since last year the RSS feed count has pretty much gone up four times! The traffic numbers are higher than ever.
I’ve also been trying to post more frequently and regularly, which I’m sure has really helped. I’ve also past my 250th post milestone in February. In addition I’ve done many smaller enhancements with very good results (for example I include relevant pictures with each post whenever possible).
I did look at a blog re-design, but to be honest I’m pretty happy right now with the current look and feel. It’s simplistic. There’s quite a few things I would like to do, but they haven’t been enough of a priority for me to implement them. Maybe this year, we’ll see…
Interview the Pros (Book)
The full title being “Interview the Pros: What does it take to create a Successful Blog?“. Since last year I went ahead and interviewed 40 of the most prominent bloggers and compiled all the interviews in a book that will be traditionally published and available in stores such as Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, etc. You can find the complete list of everyone I interviewed for the book here. As you can see from the list, these are some very influential bloggers. Even though I’ve been blogging for over two years, I still learned a lot from them!
The book just recently came back from the initial editorial review and was very well received (this took about two months). The biggest change from the original version was the epilogue, which I completely rewrote. That’s been re-submitted and the book is going through one final edit. I expect this last edit to be done within 2-10 weeks (at least that’s what they’ve told me). But they did suggest it will probably be on the shorter side as I’ve requested the interviews be left intact for obvious reasons. Once that’s done it’s down to the final details, the book’s cover art and copy, and so on. Based on what I’ve seen, I suspect the book will be available in stores by late summer. I was initially hoping for spring/summer, so late summer is still inline and reasonable.
By the way, the other big concern they had with the book is that it contained too many interviews. In other words there was too much content. They tried to convince me that it should be published as two separate books, but I pushed for one. Therefore expect to get a lot of value from this one book, it was strongly suggested to be two separate books!
Generate Traffic to Your Website (ebook)
In addition to the above book I also wrote a 138 page ebook on how to generate traffic to your website which has been a great success. The ebook goes for $28.95 which is very affordable, and so far it has generated sales in the thousands of dollars. If you’re interested you can read the first 21 pages free here.
This ebook has appeared on many sites such as 47Hats.com, BloggingTips.com, etc. and has been positively received overall by the online community. There are a lot of very positive reviews about it online, two of which I haven’t even yet had the time to mention on this blog, or the sales page for that matter. This will soon change of course.
With all that, the biggest issue with this ebook is that the sales page needs a lot of work. I honestly put it together very quickly, and it’s obvious. Just as I was releasing it, I got my editorial review back for my book Interview the Pros, which took precedence over fully developing the sales page. And then came the final push to get LandlordMax version 3.11f out the door. And so on. Basically I haven’t had the time.
In any case, it could be converting much better. Therefore you can expect to see the sales page for the ebook to be updated very soon, especially since we’re suppose to be showcased on BitsDuJour.com early next month (May). I really want to have it updated before then.
This project has moved a lot since last year. The website is stable, and we did hire someone to populate the database with wedding dresses. Although it’s not publicly released, I figured it would be a lot easier to get commitment from wedding dress designers if they could see the website in action with a sample database. See what it would be like when it was fully populated.
To do this we hired someone to populate the database, and she did a great job. If you go to the website you’ll see we have over 500 dresses in the database right now. 500 dresses might not seem like a lot, but it is. Without getting into the specifics here, I can say the work is in the details.
However, the next stage of this enterprise is to contact the different wedding dress designers and work out arrangements with them to fully populate the database with complete data. This is where I’m lacking the resources to move ahead. I would prefer to do this myself, or hire a professional to help us contact the different designers. In either case, I just don’t have the time right now. Therefore this has been temporarily put on the back burner with the full expectations that I will return to it by winter.
The good news though is that the traffic to this website is growing exponentially, without any marketing! For some reason we’re being found on the search engines for all kinds of searches. Right now we’re looking at about a thousand unique visitors per month. Overall this is an almost non-existent website, but it’s amazing for a website that doesn’t have any links to it other than my mentioning it once or twice on this blog. No one else is linking to it. These are almost all due to search results. For example this month the search term to generate the most traffic is “castillion train dress”. I can just imagine what will happen once we really get the ball rolling with this project.
Last time I left off this website was stable and only needed the database to be populated. Unfortunately this is still the case. I just haven’t been able to allocated any time to it, including time to find someone to help me with this project. Therefore it’s currently been put on hold. The database has about 100 jars, but that’s insignificant, it’s just not enough to be of any real value right now. It needs at least 1,000 – 10,000 jars of the bigger open source project to get any real traction.
Yes, there’s still more! Like I said, I’ve been busy. But the rest isn’t as interesting as what I’ve already mentioned. For example we’ve bought a bunch of domains to monetize and/or re-direct to LandlordMax (for example PropertyManagementSoftwares.com), we’ve been enhancing on our affiliate program for LandlordMax, and so on.
Overall it’s been a busy year and next year is looking to be even busier! I can’t wait. And just like I said in last year’s post, this is why I love being an entrepreneur; you never know where next year will lead you.