2017 Year In Review
2017 is coming to a close and it was a busy year here at www.SwimmingPoolSteve.com. More than anything else 2017 was about content creation with the addition of over 60 new pool and spa articles written by yours truly. With an average length of around 3000 words (the longest over 10,000 words), this puts my 2017 efforts right around 200,000 words. For you non-writers out there, as a frame of reference, 100,000 is the standard amount for a full length novel...so in 2017 I wrote and published the equivalent of two full length novels about swimming pools and spas on my blog. To keep up with my articles the best place to check is my swimming pool blog page which lists in chronological order the new articles as they become available.
In total now my website contains somewhere around 600,000 words of content and over 150 pool and spa articles. Despite some appreciable losses for organic search engine positioning for certain keywords, the viewership and traffic to my website and YouTube channel are both up significantly from 2016. It took three years for the Swimming Pool Steve YouTube Channel to reach 1,000,000 views and yet in 2017 alone my channel received 985,000 views...almost a million views in this calendar year alone. What makes this so special is that I have not released a single video through my YouTube channel in the past eight months! The static content that I have already created (about 350 videos) is now growing organically on its own. I can only imagine how well the channel would have done if I was able to output regular content like I had planned for 2017.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
I need to address a few things for my readers. If you are here reading this 2017 review article then you must be somewhat of a regular follower of my blog - so first of all, thank you. In 2017 I had intended to create a lot of new video content for my YouTube channel as well as develop a series of more in depth podcast episodes. Unfortunately life had other plans for me. I would not prefer to use this very public medium to discuss my medical challenges, however I would be remiss to neglect to mention to my regular readers about the challenges that I am currently dealing with.
Sufficed to say that 2017 saw an escalation of some ongoing medical issues that I have been dealing with, as well as the addition of some new issues. The details are not important so much as the understanding that I am not operating at 100% these days...but perhaps that is for the best. If I were operating at 100% then I would be out there building swimming pools, and not writing about them, and you would probably have never heard of me - and around 1,250,000 people or so this year would have had to find answers to their pool and spa questions somewhere else.
There are some things in life that you simply have no control over. The best defense against bad things happening to you is to simply improve the things that you do have control over. One of my favorite ideologies in life is that you can not control everything...but you can always control how you choose to act or react to any situation. 2017 was a challenging year for me...but I feel like I really stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and made improvements in the areas which I have control over.
Quit Smoking - In August of this year I finally quit smoking and I feel great about it. I have tried to quit before, even with some measure of success, but it has never stuck. This time I did something totally different. I just completely and totally decided I am not going to smoke any more. I kept a pack of cigarettes and a lighter with me for the first two months...I could have had one at any point I wanted to. I just didn't want to. Other times I have tried to quit I would struggle when I was around other smokers or when I had access to cigarettes. Not this time. I kept them right there with me the whole time as a reminder that the only thing between myself and them is the will to simply not be that person any longer. Granted I am extra motivated by external medical factors to improve my health, but I still feel that I have finally broken through to the other side of this addiction. Not working on pools any longer helped also...I have a very strong emotional connection between working on pools and smoking from a lifelong association of the two. Only five months into quitting and I can feel a huge difference in my lungs. If you are a smoker and are trying to quit, or would like to quit, I can attest to it being worth it even if you are a "die hard" smoker like I was. Feel free at any point to hit me up on social media and ask me if I am still "a quitter" - I would be happy to be accountable to these words here and my loyal readers.
Eating Healthy - Another of my lifelong bad habits is poor nutrition and eating habits in general. More times than not I would avoid food all day while working, and since I worked long hours this would make for extended periods in between meals, and then I would eat like a conquistador directly before falling asleep. What could go wrong with that plan? No food for 19 hours and then a 15,000 calorie meal consisting mostly of sugar and fat and then immediately going to sleep...not such a good plan I guess but that is just how it used to work out. I have since taken control of this bad habit and in 2017 I changed to a high protein, high fiber diet with mostly nuts, fruits, vegetables and lean meats. I was gluten free for a few months but am eating gluten again for the time being so that I can have my inflammatory response to it tested. In general I would estimate that my diet is a million percent better than it used to be. Perhaps a million is not a high enough number...
Regular Exercise - When I worked as a concrete pool builder putting in 60 to 100 hours per week there was absolutely nothing left in the tank at the end of the day for exercise. In fact the goal usually was to find a way to simply deal with the physical damage I was taking from the work I was doing. Now that I work from my computer at home it is more important than ever to get regular exercise. Unfortunately walking is about the only exercise that I am able to endure and even that I have been unable to do more times than I can remember this year...plus it is hard to walk in Ontario in the winter! I spoke with a number of doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors etc. this year about how to get more miles out of my body. Unfortunately I have some pretty far-gone problems with my back and the consensus was that I really should not do any strenuous physical activity. My response to this suggestion? Rekindle a passion from my youth and start training jiu jitsu again. Wait, what? For the uninitiated jiu jitsu is incredibly hard on the body and requires extreme levels of fitness and flexibility...none of which I have. I just don't have enough passion to lift weights all day long...and I am not looking for an incremental improvement in my physical condition so much as I am in that "miracle recovery" kind of mindset. If you do not know me personally then this will probably seem strange to you, but those who know me are all nodding their heads while reading this thinking that it all sounds about right for me. Go big or go home right? As soon as I was told that there was absolutely no way I would ever be able to do jiu jitsu again by a doctor I started training. The progress so far is slow and painful and there are days where I have my doubts about whether I actually will ever be physically capable of doing this...but then there are days where I feel like I am getting stronger and more flexible than when I started. I am only rolling at about 10% strength right now, and pretty much everything is cautious and deliberate and there are a host of positions my body will simply not allow yet, but that is still better than nothing and I am happy to have it.
Goals For Swimming Pool Steve in 2018
My personal quests aside, the Swimming Pool Steve blog is going to continue to grow in 2018...with a few changes. This entire blog is a work in progress for me and I have a lot of great plans that all seem to take longer than I would hope to make them happen. Such is life. If the current growth trends for SwimmingPoolSteve.com continues then 2018 should be a huge year for me. I will continue to make changes and improvements to my website, content, products and services this year. In particular, 2017 was a huge year for my Ask Steve service. In particular quite a few people building their own swimming pools paid for my consulting service which ended up taking a lot more time than I was anticipating. I will certainly be raising the prices for these services in 2018 to accommodate for how popular this offering was in 2017. Most of my clients advised me at the end of their projects that I was the single most valuable thing they paid for as part of the pool installation, and that I was massively undervaluing my service. I tend to agree.
Content Cycle - The first change that I am going to implement is that I am going to reduce the five new articles that I am releasing every month down to four new articles. I now have so much content on this site that I need to devote more time to the upkeep of the existing pages. Looking for broken links, updating pages when technical information changes or new products come / go all takes quite a bit of time on a website this large. I am a one lizard-person operation and so I end up wearing quite a few hats around here.
Videos, Videos & Videos - There is a theme for 2018 that I am trying to push. Can you guess what it is? That's right...video content. Just the other day I posted a comment to a video on Reddit (the front page of the internet) which led to one of my pool equipment inspection videos being viewed by 15,000 people in a few hours time. I received a lot of feedback from people watching these videos about how much they enjoyed them and why did I stop putting out videos eight months ago. It was very encouraging to hear back from so many people and creating videos was the main thing in 2017 that I was not able to do. 2018 is for sure going to see a lot more video content on my YouTube channel and being integrated into my existing pool and spa articles.
Strategic Partnerships - In 2018 I hope to be able to partner with a few advertisers who want to be featured as sponsors of this website. I was able to secure a referral agreement with www.PoolSuppliesCanada.ca for Canadians looking to purchase pool products online. This worked out well for me since PSC is, by far, the best place to order pool products online in Canada...even better than Amazon. In the USA Amazon.com still reigns supreme. Readers of my website purchased over $500,000 of swimming pool equipment from Amazon this year - within 24 hours of reading my articles! I can only imagine how many readers took longer than 24 hours to make a purchasing decision but were still influenced by what I had to say. Hopefully one or more of the big name equipment manufacturers will see that there is a lot of opportunity to reach pool owners (and other pool professionals) through this website. Here are some quick 2017 sales figures that you might find interesting, and remember these are only verified sales that occurred with 24 hours, directly as a result of my pool equipment technical articles:
Pentair SuperFlo Pumps:      81 units
Pentair IntelliFlo Pumps:      46 units
Cordless Pool Vacuums:       121 units
Hayward Tristar VS Pumps:  31 units
Hayward MaxFlo VS Pumps: 33 units
Hayward EcoStar Pumps:     13 units
Hayward Super Pump VS:    12 units
Electric Heat Pumps:            29 units
Gas & Propane Heaters:       31 units
Salt Chlorinators:                 55 units
These sales do not include Canadian or International orders, only orders inside of the USA, and orders completed within 24 hours of reading one of my articles. It is worth noting as well that these numbers are despite my website losing organic search engine positioning for both pool pumps as well as pool heaters this year. It is clear that this website is one of the very best resources online for pool and spa owners to learn about their equipment options and educate themselves in order to make an informed purchase decision for their pool. If I am able to produce the video content as planned for 2018 this will result in a marked increase in traffic to my website, and ultimately sales of pool equipment. If you are an equipment manufacturer and you would like to discuss how you can become involved in this website please contact Steve to see how your products can be featured in the upcoming year.
Thank you to all of my readers - I appreciate you reading my pool and spa blog and sharing it with your family, friends and co-workers. 2018 promises to be a great year for new content development, especially videos, so please stay tuned for more pool and spa advice moving forward in the next calendar year.
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