A Brief Update and Direction for the Future 2016

Hi, and thank you for being a reader of KeyToKorean.com. Let me start off by saying we do appreciate all the support you've shown over the past few years as this site has grown from about 40 to 40,000+ monthly readers. Let me give you:
  1. a brief overview of the history of this site as well as
  2. our current status and
  3. what we are looking at for our direction in the future

 

A Brief History of KeyToKorean

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2010 - Grad School

  • 2010, April - I entered grad school for Media Design and began work on rebranding Korean tourism

2011 - New baby

  • 2011, January - our son Isaac was born (and my wife stopped working to care for him)
  • 2011, April - I finished my Master's Degree in Media Design from Full Sail University
  • 2011, October - as a single income family with a newborn + large student loan debt, life was becoming difficult (we both picked up some English tutoring to help)

2012 - Single-income family

  • 2012, July - my parents helped us pay for a trip back to the US as a family of 3. While there, I read through a few Dave Ramsey books and started thinking
  • 2012, August - we brainstormed the idea to let my wife begin tutoring in Korean when we returned to Korea as a way to help bring in some much needed income
  • 2012, September - launched KeyToKorean.com as a support resource for her offline classes

2013 - Increase (family & blog traffic)

  • 2013, February - frustrated with a lack of offline students, I began blogging DAILY on KeyToKorean.com to build traffic and interest in Korean and hopefully draw in more students. We kept up the pace well for a while
  • 2013, November - our daughter Jenna was born

2014 - WordPress Programming

  • 2014, July - I was added to the Korea.net Worldwide Korea bloggers team to help produce content on that blog as well. Additionally, working a tough English summer camp, and preparing for TOPIK drew my attention from KeyToKorean and I blogged less
  • 2014, September - I began posting Grammar Points to KeyToKorean as often as I could.
    • My university also transferred my contractual department from Liberal Arts to Fashion and assigned me a NEW class called "Global Fashion Business" with NO syllabus, NO book, NO guidance, and NO previous renditions of this class EVER having been taught before (it's like assigning a penguin to Flight Commander - pretty much exactly the OPPOSITE of what he's capable of).
  • 2014, October - Determined to not DIE in Fashion, I started to focus on what I'm good at and studied in school - Computer Programming and Design. I released my first WordPress plugin on WordPress.org. KeyToKorean got placed on the back burner.

2015 - Too many balls in the air

  • 2015, January - I completely redesigned and recoded KeyToKorean from the ground up (and wrote very few blog articles). I also started a WordPress Meetup in Jeonju to help teach others about WordPress website building. My wife also decided to go back to grad school to major in "Teaching Korean to Foreigners."
  • 2015, March - a presentation I gave at my second job (teaching Computer Programming at an International High School, where I've worked since 2013) started the ball rolling to introduce AP Computer Science as a class option the following semester
  • 2015, July - I missed registration for the TOPIK, so decided to do it in October.
  • 2015, September - I picked up an extra class (AP Computer Science) at the High School (now 75% full-time), so KeyToKorean got put on the back burner again
  • 2015, October - I started a MAJOR rewrite of my first WordPress plugin as well as 2-3 other large coding projects
  • 2015, November - I was again selected as a Korea.net Honorary Reporter for 2016
That brings us up to our current status.
 

KeyToKorean Today

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1. The Website

  • Currently, the design is a bit busy and crowded
  • Resources are not well organized or easy to find
  • Blog writing has fallen away
  • Readership is surprisingly up - the highest it's ever been
  • We made about $140 from KeyToKorean PDFs so far this year - about enough to cover our website hosting fees

2. Aaron (Website Manager)

  • Working Full-time teaching English at Jeonju University
  • Working nearly full-time teaching Computer Programming at GPA High School
  • Working on personal and client projects in design and programming (freelance)
  • Working on some major WordPress updates to my previous plugins and themes
  • Hoping to get out of teaching English as much as possible (it pays the bills)

3. Sarah (Offline Teacher)

  • Currently wrapping up Semester 2 of 4 in her Master's Program to "Teach Korean"
  • Currently teaching 3 regular students in town on her non-schoolwork days
  • Considering what to write about for her Master's Thesis (I'm pushing for online Korean education - do you have any suggestions?)

4. Other Things

  • We are still staring down the barrel of my 4th (final) student loan (but paying off 3 of 4 in 3 years isn't bad)
  • My son Isaac is in a (pricey for us) private kindergarten, mostly because it is close to our house and the public schools nearby were absolutely full
  • Jenna just turned 2 last week

 

The Future of KeyToKorean

01.13.visioneering-bg Where are we going with all this?

Goals:

  1. Korean fluency
  2. Comprehensive list of Grammar rules
  3. To become a Korean-learning Resources HUB
  4. Increase community involvement
  5. REGULAR KeyToKorean updates

Steps:

  1. REDUCE external commitments (stop teaching English if possible)
  2. REDUCE website clutter and chaos (clean, simple redesign)
  3. Commit to regular KeyToKorean updates - let's say 1-3 times per week (not daily - but higher quality)
  4. Release 1 (or more) video courses
  5. INCREASE amount (and quality) of Korean learning resources
  6. Open up the website for much more community participation and involvement

NEW Initiatives:

The following is a list of things I've wanted to try out for over a year but haven't really felt ready for. (No, I still don't feel quite ready for them, but I guess at some point you have to just "jump" and quit considering it.)
  1. KeyToKorean Memberships: would include
    1. WRITE access to Forums (reading will always be free)
    2. Private Facebook group and/or private KeyToKorean social network on this site
    3. Access to ALL PDFs available in the Gumroad Store for the duration of membership
  2. KeyToKorean Pro: would additionally include
    1. Your own PERSONAL blog address at [you].keytokorean.com
    2. No ads
This functionality is not available, but I hope to do some work on it all over the holidays and hopefully get something new going on early next year. Anyway, regardless of what happens with the Memberships, I want to continue updating this site with more Grammar Points as well as start working on some new Topics for learning Korean. Rest assured, this site will not die until at least I've achieved Korean fluency - even if it takes a long, long time.

12 comments

  1. Thank you so much for all your work. What you have built here has been a huge help for me and reading your journey helps motivate me to continue my studies and helping those around me. My focus is on the KIIP program which is it’s own beast. I recommend this site to everyone who is truly interested in understanding Korean from the bottom up. Good luck with the improvements and getting the workload under control. My life is far less busy and I can’t manage to keep my bogs updated weekly let alone daily.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. Glad to know that this site is helping and motivating so many people. That is our original motivation and purpose. I hope we can continue to provide excellent content and motivation to continue studying in 2016!~ Thanks for being a reader!

  2. Thank you. This made me to feel that I need to start reading this website more often. I occasionally find this site from google and always read something. Especially I see all those grammar rules very helpful. I’m upper beginner-low intermediate. So there is plenty of things to learn already.

  3. Have checked this website in the past a few times but finally got a little more connected after reading this blog post 🙂 (as part of my procrastinating having to work on a design project). This post has definitely reached me. Will come here more often … you’re also motivating me a little to continue working on my Korean 🙂 Btw. what do you mean by community involvement? Do you mean discussions or some help with the blog itself ?

    1. Yes, for the “Community Involvement” I’m looking for, I’m hoping to open up some forums on this site as well as enable some kind of social network that should be connected to the forums. I may also enable something to allow people to start their own Key To Korean blogs for personal use – but that’s farther down the pipeline.

      One BIG thing I’ve noticed over the years is that MANY people have the same questions (and often ask them the same way on the same, or multiple, posts). I’ve found myself answering the same questions numerous times, and so want to provide a way to collect “all the answers” in a single location (forums). Additionally, there are MANY people out there who are far smarter than me in many ways, so I’d like to give them a place to share their own knowledge more openly and in a way that will be better for SEO (search engine optimization) so that people who Google Search for those questions can easily find them on the forums.

      That being said, it’s a pretty major endeavor (especially if I do it all myself), so I may be putting out a request later for help as well. Stay tuned. I’m currently doing a FULL 2015 Review of the site and our priorities in order to better set the direction for the future. Thanks again for your readership!~

  4. I just found this website, and I like it so much (though I find it a bit complicated but it is okey 😀 ) After reading the content of this page I respect you Sir for this effort. This is a wonderful work. I’m from Algeria and it is impossible for me to pay for ebooks since we don’t have payement cards. I’m very thankful. The journey you’ve made so far is amazing. Good luck in your future projects.

    1. Thanks a lot! I appreciate your reading of our website~ I’m actually looking over our 2015 now and planning how to make 2016 much better (it includes cleaning up and simplifying the website – especially making it more mobile friendly). Stay tuned as I work out the kinks through early next year. I plan to post a “Year in Review 2015” soon with more clues about our direction for 2016. Thanks again!

  5. The difficulties of starting a small business like this is maintaining it throughout the difficult financial periods. But I tell you what, this website is superior to the other common korean studies (for native english speakers) websites. Therefore, keep putting in your hard work and I am confident that you will receive long term financial rewards.

    Unfortunately, I am not yet a rich and influential businessman, but rest assured that I have your organization on my radar and hope to collaborate a few years down the line. Until then, best of luck and I wish you and your family health and happiness.

  6. Absolutely love your website and the work you’ve put into really resulted in an amazing project! Thank you so very much for it! However, as it’s already mid-2016, I was wondering, how you’ve been doing and what the current plan for the site is…super duper excited for more vocab pages to come for intermediate Korean 🙂
    All the best to you and your little family and for all your endeavours!

    1. Currently working 2 jobs and trying to study for a PHP Certification exam in the summer. So, will wait for late June at least before taking this project on again. But thanks for the feedback!~

  7. Writing a useful, sincere blog like this might seem like a thankless task – there are so many language bloggers promoting gimmicks and posting clickbait fluff about how “everything you know about language X is wrong”, and they get many more views and more media exposure because people love simplistic solutions to everything, but serious language learners will continue to appreciate the solid gold you post on Key To Korean. Fighting 🙂

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