A Look Back at 2017

I feel like 2017 was flown by in an instant. It doesn’t seem like much time has passed since I sat down to write about 2016’s year in review. The funny part is while I feel as though it’s been an uneventful year, it was anything but quiet. I look back at the activity list of 2017 and I realize, a lot did happen. I was just too mixed up in the craziness to recall any of it.

I like busy. I’m not one to sit all day and watch TV or spend time curled up with a good book. And honestly, I haven’t been for a very long time.

Instead of maintaining a low key lifestyle, I like to keep myself and my mind occupied. When I actually take the time to reflect on 2017, I see this year kept me and my mind active and it is a great illustration of my need for speed.

Sadly, this comes at a price.

Because of this craziness, I’ve fallen way behind on blogging. This makes me incredibly sad because writing is therapeutic for me. Before I beat myself up for this or allow you to look down on me, let me explain why I’ve been so bad at maintaining Web Savvy Marketing’s blog this year. Quite honestly, I haven’t had any available time to do so. I’ve either been working on client SEO projects, teaching people about SEO on webinars, or launching new events.


Here’s a Recap of What Happened in 2017

Traveled to 9 live events:

  • SEO Bootcamp Dallas
  • DFW SEM Association Meeting
  • PressNomics
  • WordCamp Miami
  • The Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Oklahoma
  • SEO Bootcamp OKC
  • WordCamp Kent
  • WordCamp Minnesota
  • WordCamp Ann Arbor

Provided online community with 12 months of free webinars:

  • Select Getting Personal With Google Search Console
  • Digging Deep into Competitive Research
  • A Practical Guide to Keyword Research
  • Building a Website Architecture That’s SEO Friendly
  • A How-to Guide for On-Page SEO
  • Blogging Your Way to Great SEO
  • Understanding the Knowledge Graph and Featured Snippets
  • The Ins and Outs of YouTube SEO
  • Why Everyone Should be an Expert in 301 Redirects
  • Select Taking the Scary Out of Schema
  • Linking Strategies: The Who, What, and Why
  • Twelve Days of Google Analytics

Provided the online community with 2 premium training events:

  • Select SEO Summit
  • Website Audit Workshop

Other notable activities included:

  • Launched a number of custom designed websites for clients
  • Worked directly with lots of SEO consulting clients
  • Released three new SEO courses:
    • SEO Competitor Analysis
    • Understanding the Knowledge Graph
    • SEO Project Management and Sales
  • Released two premium online training events:
    • SEO Mastermind for Users
    • SEO Mastermind for Freelancers and Agencies
  • Launched a private Facebook group for SEO

Yep, that was a lot of activity, and when I look back at that list, I’m rather surprised it all happened. I don’t know how I executed it without losing a little bit of my sanity.

But guess what? I enjoyed the craziness of it all. I enjoyed teaching people and helping them learn SEO. And most important is the fact that my students and clients had positive results!

The Cult Japanese Notebook That I Fell For


I’ve used this now for almost a 3 years, and continue to deeply love it. I just pre-ordered one for 2018 for my self and 2 for my business partners as a gift.

Long time abo, decades before I found the Hobonichi Techo, I took great pride in having an incredibly neat planner.

I dutifully kept track of my life in various Day Runners, Filofaxes, and Moleskines throughout college and my 20s, until I got an SmartPhone and started inputting dinners, weddings, and doctors’ appointments in that, while keeping my daily to-do lists in a reporter’s notebook, or one of the many free clothbound monogrammed notebooks my colleagues in the fashion department got as gifts during the holidays and would very kindly discard in our office’s free bin.

It wasn’t until I read Leah Bhabha’s ode to her Smythson planner that I realized after years of mooching off my co-workers and writing in notebooks emblazoned with gold initials that were not mine, it was time to buy my own. And that having an actual planner with the days of the week on it would be helpful (I’ve never been able to get my iCal in order.) I loved the look of Leah’s Smythson, but didn’t have it in me to fork over $200 for it. On the lookout for other planners that fit my budget and aesthetic standards, I stumbled into the strange world of people who are ravenously obsessed with their Hobonichi Techo notebooks, and was convinced that I had to try one for myself.

The Hobonichi Techo in all its minimalist glory

The Hobonichi Techo notebook was born in 2000 from the mind of Shigesato Itoi, a Japanese renaissance man who got his start as a sort of Milton Glaser–esque branding/logo guy, and went on to become a talk-show host, editor-in-chief of the website Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun, as well as the voice of Mei and Satsuki’s dad in Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro. The notebooks became somewhat of a phenomenon, selling millions of copies in Japan, and in 2012, Itoi teamed up with Sonya Park, of the Japanese brand ARTS&SCIENCE, to create an English edition. Since then, these perfect little planners have gone on to inspire Tumblr pages, Reddit threads, and over half a million Instagram posts. After using mine for the past month, I can see why.



First off, my notebook inexplicably came with a piece of plastic toast, which I very much appreciated, as well as this extra-fine ballpoint pen.

Each day gets its own page.


But as for the planner itself, here’s why it’s great. The leather-bound book is hefty and feels like I’m actually holding something substantial (unlike a Moleskine), while still being incredibly compact: It’s little bit taller than  iPhone 6, and about the width of a Kit Kat. (Sometimes, if I have a meeting, I’ll tuck my phone inside it so as not to seem rude.) Each day has its own page, with a little knife and fork for dinner plans at the bottom, plus a fun Japanese quote. (Last week, there was a poetic bit from a mushroom photographer about the art of observing mushrooms in the wild: “The unique lighting and atmosphere of the forest are very important when observing mushrooms in the wild. If you pick them and take them home, they lose their appeal under the artificial indoor lighting.”)

Some words of wisdom from Itoi himself.

The exquisite Tomoe River paper is sturdy, yet after a day’s worth of scribbling, each page becomes crinkled in the most satisfying way. (Apparently, after weeks of use, the notebook starts to expand in order to accommodate the crinkle effect.) A few weeks in, and I can leave it open on my desk without having to use a paperweight. (On the first few days, I used the plastic toast to keep it flat, which was delightful.) The graph paper suggests order without being confining (I always write beyond the lines), and for those who are more artistic than me, the pages are meant to be scribbled and doodled upon; a lot of people paint intricate watercolors on its high-quality pages. All in all: My days are frazzled and life is crazy, but the fact that I can fit everything into this stout and elegant little notebook makes me feel that much saner. And the plastic piece of toast gets me every time.

Full year with the Hobonichi Techo – My thoughts


The Hobonichi Techo has been the one stationery constant in my life this year. I use it every day to record things that have happened, places I have visited and big occasions that I want to remember. I am now 11.5 months in and I have only missed a handful of days. This post is a round-up of the good and the bad of the Techo and my plans for next year.



The one aspect of the Hobonichi Techo that I love is that I have a complete view of my year. Last year I used a number of Field Notes memo books to journal in and they worked well serving their purpose at the time. However if I want to go back over last year I have to go through several books. This isn’t a major inconvenience, however its not a simple and straightforward as it is with the Techo. The Hobonichi Techo keeps everything in one place. I can scan through my year, or spend time reading each entry.


The tomoe river paper gives the Hobonichi Techo an edge over all other planners. For fountain pen users this paper is incredible. It handles ink so well and also means the planner remains fairly compact. The paper is so thin It gives the planner is sleek profile.

There are a lot of pages in there for the thickness of the book. But as you use the planner over the course of the year the ink changes the make up of the tomoe river paper. You get this gorgeous rippling effect on the paper and the planner expands just slightly accommodating the ink on the page.

I have noticed now writing in December, 11.5 months in, the planner has expanded over the course of the year to the point that maximising the space on the left page is becoming a bit of a challenge.

(P.S. After I finished writing this post, I dropped my Hobonichi in a puddle of water. As a result, it tripled in size)



The A6 size of the Hobonichi Techo makes this planner portable. Throughout the year I used my Hobo with a cover. Even with cover the size has remained small and I have found this useful when travelling. I throw this in a suitcase, carry bag or handbag and I’m good to go. Portability is a big selling point and keeping things simple with the Hobo earns this planner points over alternatives.

However the reverse view is that sometimes I run out of room. There are instances when I feel that a bit of extra space would be valuable, hence my initial interest in the Cousin. Due to lack of space I have added the Midori MD A5 Notebook as an additional journal for those times when I need some more room to reflect. As a result I have sort of doubled up as this year as gone on with two journals.



Month view of my Techo

The Techo is undeniably versatile and can be used in whatever way you please. I have seen usage examples where people use the Techo as a planner, others to draw and doodle. Next year I may try and incorporate some of these ideas into my journalling. But in essence the Techo can be used in a variety of ways.

There are a mammoth amount of resources online about the Hobonichi Techo where you could spend hours getting lost in the ways people use their planners. The links below are some of my personal favourite sites and users.

Pepper and Twine

Hobonichi Usage examples



I have already bought the 2017 Hobonichi Techo so I am committed for another year. My initial plan was to buy directly from Hobonichi in Japan and try out the larger cousin, but I found Pocket Notebooks had the A6 english Hobonichi for a steal price so I had to take advantage.

I will ponder how I use the Techo in 2016 perhaps trying to add sketches and lettering, or perhaps using this as a planner. I definitely want to incorporate more photos into the planner. I think in years to come photos alongside my thoughts on the day will be a really nice way to reflect on how I spent the year. I will ponder this for a while and see if I can gleam any inspiration from users online.