2013 was a weird year for me. It was a good year overall – I’m not complaining, LOL. But a lot happened – both personally and professionally for me. If you read me straight up for the wham bam thank you ma’am info, you probably won’t be interested in this post. If you read Sugarrae, in part, to keep up with me as well, then read on.

On a personal level

At the beginning of 2013, I was still getting used to the loss of my son CJ. For 15 years he had been one of the primary driving forces behind everything I did. Suddenly having such a large force in my life removed left me in a state that I can only describe as “what now?”.

It took a while to understand that his passing was merely a new chapter in his being a driving force in my life. He’s still a big part of what drives me – sharing his life, sharing his impact and increasing the success he spurred me into achieving. In 2013, I began speaking about what I’d learned from him to help continue his ripple effect.

This year was the first time I’d ever spoken publicly about CJ (as in speaking on a stage about him) – and I was honored to give that first speech to a group of foster kids who had beat the odds and graduated high school. Having been in the foster care system myself, it was an awesome experience to tell them they were one step ahead of me with those diplomas (I have my GED), that nothing in their lives was predetermined and to hopefully instill in them that where they end up in life is their choice.

This also led to me keynoting Affiliate Summit East on the topic and being interviewed on the Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields (part one | part 2). I am very thankful to know that CJ continues to inspire the world around him despite not being with us anymore.

In June of 2013, my husband and I found out that my youngest son (who had just turned 2 at the time) has Autism. It was definitely unexpected and caused some changes in my life (including some that threw a wrench into some of my plans business wise). But he’s a happy kid, super smart, therapy is going well and he can thank his big brother for teaching me to not dwell on the negatives in that situation and instead focus on what can be done moving forward.

On the continuing road of taking my life back, I’ve continued to make changes – both business and personal – to get me to the core of where I want to be. Patience is not one of my virtues, but I’ve accepted the fact that some changes require a series of small steps that take time to execute (whether I like it or not, LOL). But I’m closer to my end goals now than I’ve ever been and they become closer to reality every day.

Sugarrae

This was a year of consolidation for Sugarrae, Inc. What most probably didn’t notice in 2013 was that my publishing company, MFE Interactive, ceased to exist.

My partner in MFE had long ago (and very successfully) moved out of the Internet world. My passion for the niches MFE was in was gone. My goals had changed, my partner’s goals had changed. We’d both been more than compensated for the time we’d put into it. I floated the idea to him of us selling off our sites in late 2012. In 2013, we slowly sold all of MFE’s properties to multiple buyers and after selling the last site we officially shut the company down.

Truth be told, I wanted some new niches to play in affiliate wise – new mountains to climb from the bottom up – and Google had raised the bar regarding what it takes to continue to successfully rank affiliate sites. Consolidation was needed to do things right and that consolidation didn’t stop with closing down MFE.

I sat down and realistically looked at how many projects I could simultaneously juggle taking my time spent on PushFire into account. I hire out a lot of tasks relating to my affiliate sites, but the strategy is solely on me (as are some other tasks I’m too much of a control freak to give up, LOL).

I decided that number was between 3 and 4. I then went through the painstaking task of deciding what sites would get the axe and what sites wouldn’t – knowing that 1 of those 3 or 4 would be a brand new venture I was beginning to work on.

It was way more difficult to do than it sounds. I didn’t realize how attached I was to some of them, LOL – or maybe more so the milestones or memories they represented to me. I sold some. I shut down some. Others I decided to simply leave earning, but with no further attention or care given to them from this point forward.

SITE 1 – 3

As I mentioned above, I was already in the middle of creating a new site I was (and still am) really excited about – so that automatically made the list. The second site to make the cut was a site I’ve owned for years which is centered around a topic I know well, that I still find interesting, is a good earner and has a lot of untapped potential (because I haven’t been able to really focus on it in years). I decided to leave a slot open in case an idea hits me that I feel compelled to go after – mainly because I know it will happen haha. ;-)

SITE 4

Oddly enough, to the outside world, it likely appears Sugarrae has always been a top priority site for me. The “brand” is, for sure. But in reality, “the site” was always at the lower end of my todo list (as evidenced by the frequency of my blogging over the years, LOL). But it was a clear choice in regards to “making the cut” and making it onto the new consolidated priority list (though it likely still won’t be at the top of that consolidated list).

But what you will see (and soon) is a brand new design here at Sugarrae (which will finally make it mobile responsive as well). You’ll also see some structure and focus changes as well (you’ll have to wait and see!). You may even see a mini eBook or two (key word there being “may” LOL). And if you’re not on my mailing list, you may wanna consider subscribing. :-)

PushFire

I announced the launch of PushFire in May of 2012. I realized last week that aside from announcing the company and explaining why we got rid of the PushFire blog, I’ve yet to really update you guys on it.

The company has exceeded my expectations – on both a success level (revenue is up year over year and trending to do the same in 2014) and a personal fulfillment level. I get to satisfy my “oh look, a squirrel!” need to always be working on new things even though Google has made the need to consolidate the number of personal sites I own necessary.

While my business partner in PushFire (Sean Dolan) is also my husband, I’d want him to be my business partner even if we weren’t married. His skill set is the perfect match to (and opposite of) mine.

NEW DIGS

In October of this year, PushFire moved into new (and larger and more gorgeous) office space in an area as close to a “downtown” as it gets here in Katy, Texas. ;-)

New PushFire offices

Our online home – the PushFire website – is about to begin the process of being redesigned as well – complete with expanded service (and knowledge) offerings. We’ll have the new site launched sometime before our second birthday this May.

EVOLVING ROLES

As I’m typing this, my longest running employee (it’ll be seven years in April), Joe, is in the process of moving to Texas to manage some aspects of PushFire (he and his wife packed up their moving truck yesterday). This allows (and means) some changes for my and Sean’s roles at PushFire as well.

As of January 1st, 2014, Sean’s title will change to President & COO at PushFire. With Joe taking over some internal management aspects, this frees Sean up to do what he does best – lead PPC strategy, oversee business operations and handle the more formal and “corporate” business aspects of running PushFire that I formerly handled (that Sean is frankly now the better person – both personality wise and skill set wise – to be handling).

I will remain PushFire’s CEO, but Sean’s new role will allow me to focus on what I do best – leading the company’s vision, SEO strategies and overall business strategy, growth and business development. In short, I’ll be spending my time more focused on my strengths in running the company.

I’m super excited with PushFire’s plans and direction for the new year (and we’ll be getting more social!). January will be a month filled with transition, but the end result will be worth it.

All in all, it’s been a hell of a year on multiple levels. Bring on 2014.