It’s January 2021, and a happy new year to all! Considering the year we just had, it makes me wonder—are we even making resolutions this year?
I’ve started 2021 with a single thought: less is more.
Normally I’d start the year with a giant list of goals, planning to make my year amazing by accomplishing a million things.
But if my years of writing have taught me anything, it’s that one rarely finds success by continually chasing after something new—more often than not, what we needed was something we already had… we just didn’t realise it at the time.
New Year, New Me | How 2020 Made Me a New Kind of Creator
2020 shaped me into a different kind of creator. I was always convinced that I had to come out with the newest and freshest material for the ten years I created till now, constantly looking for ways to pull new stories out from my soul despite the thousands I’d already shared.
But let me tell you—that’s a fool’s errand.
Just as the vast majority of us don’t live lives with enough going on to post something profound on Instagram each day, we have a finite number of stories to tell with blogging.
That said, it’s how we tell those stories that makes all the difference.
2020 taught me a lot. It taught me that there are still facets of parenting I’ve yet to explore, especially when a pandemic throws everything I thought I knew out the window. It taught me that there’s room for my Blackness in the work I do and that discussing race is far from a weakness—as one of the few Black fathers in the blogosphere, it’s very much a strength. 2020 reshaped what I want to do with my content, no longer satisfied to have good numbers to show for my work. I wanted to have content that actually meant something, work that stayed relevant no matter if one read it days, months, or even years after I wrote it.
The problem was that I was perfecting my craft in a vacuum—I wasn’t putting my content together in a way that anyone would ever see it.
How the World Sees You Isn’t Always How You See YOURSELF.
What helped me realise I was falling short of my potential was the “SEO Like a CEO” talk at Dad 2.0 Digital, which had me dive into my Google Search Console and see what my site was actually ranking for. And the results surprised me—here I was, thinking that the world was gradually getting to know me as a stand-up Black dad in Toronto doing his best to tell his stories so other dads could benefit from them.
But no—I was ranking for Candy Crush. Whippet Sticks. My interview with Yannick Bigourdan and my praise for Emma Stone’s “All I Do Is Win” lip-synch. I was losing the things that make me who I am in the mix, with 99% of my pages unseen by anyone every single day. It became obvious that for all the time I’d spent trying to stay on top of my game, there’s no way you’re going to make it there and last if the ground’s constantly crumbling beneath you.
And so I got to work, improving hundreds of pages with the help of tools like Moz, Alexa and SEMrush to show me where my site was falling flat. I updated titles. I added meta descriptions. Over weeks, I fleshed ideas out, cleaned up old links and optimized every last image my website had to offer.
And it did wonders. My daily Google traffic went up by 900%. I rose by two million places in my Ahrefs and Alexa scores, and I was ranking for more search terms than ever. And all of that was the result of a month of work.
Imagine what I could do in a year?
Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad 2021 | Stronger Than Ever.
Now—I’m not done creating new content. After all, my family keeps getting older and I keep discovering new things about us every day. But there’s still so much potential in all the content I’ve already created—I’d be foolish to ignore it. So 2021 will see all that energy and effort I’ve been sending out without any direction for the last ten years start coming together and concentrating its impact all in one place.
The older I get, the less time and energy I have to spare on my personal pursuits, yet the more time and energy they take as they mature and my standard as a creator increases. You can only work so hard—we’re all given the same twenty-four hours each day. You eventually reach a point where you have to work a whole lot smarter or find yourself left in the dust when you’ve put in too much of yourself for too little of a return.
So Long, 2020. You Won’t Be Missed.
2020 wasn’t an easy year by any stretch of the imagination—juggling being a full-time dad and bureaucrat and facing years of repressed feelings about my Blackness in the wake of George Floyd’s murder hit the top of my list—but for me, at least, the change of pace helped me to reflect and figure out what I should really do with my time.
I look forward to a year that lets me continue simplifying my life by finding a place for everything in it. It means a lot of experimentation. A lot of planning. A lot of relying on others rather than trying to do it all myself.
It won’t be so flashy a year—we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, after all—but here’s hoping it’s setting the stage for an excellent future ahead!
I hope your 2021’s off to a great start!
Until the next,