Hey, did you know it’s 2015 already? Yup, been that way for a few weeks even. Today I invite you to look back at my 2014 with me. Tomorrow we’ll look forward on my 2015.
You can read my big 2013 recap post here.
I’ve got to be honest — I wasn’t going to write this at first. I just didn’t personally feel the need, but a number of my readers asked about it, so I now sit down and write.
My 2014 Goals
Let’s start by recapping my 2014 goals then we can look at how my goals survived contact with the enemy.
- Invoice $175,000
- Salary $70,000 – $80,000
- 25% product income
- $4800/month by June (as my personal salary)
- Create 4 courses and 1 paid plugin
- Don’t get sucked into work on Friday
- Generate enough work to need a full-time contractor
- Have a proper 6 months’ salary in the bank ($30,000)
- Speak at 3 WordCamps and 1 international event
- 2 other conferences – BeachPress and…something business
- Send out notes to my ‘good’ clients (thank you cards)
So how many of those did I actually accomplish?
Well, I pay myself more than $4800/month and I reached that goal before June. Remember, if you’re thinking about salary comparison, I pay myself after taxes, so that’s my take-home number.
I didn’t get pulled into work on Fridays at all that I can remember. I did go to the coffee shop and work on my own stuff at times because that’s what I wanted to do. While I used to say that my Friday was a day to bike ride, it’s really turned into a day where I recharge and do something ‘relaxing’. Sometimes that’s a 20K run in the mountains with the dog, other times it’s sitting at Starbucks with a coffee, catching up on my RSS feed, or writing.
I did establish the habit of sending out notes to my good clients — a habit that continues. These notes are not just for starting or finishing projects, but can be for anything that warrants recognition or a nice gesture.
So that’s it out of the big list; that’s all I accomplished. By many measures, the year was a failure since I didn’t accomplish even half my goals.
Why even start goals if you’re not going to finish them, right?
Time off and money
One of the big reasons I didn’t reach my $175,000 billing target for the year is that I took a total of 16 weeks off, without making any real change in how I do business to make up for the time off and potential reduced income.
I began the year by taking off most of the month of January. I invoiced maybe $3,000 in the entire month of January 2014. Then I was ‘off’ 3 weeks in the summer to teach at a local college (yes it was paid, but a week of teaching equaled 2 days of my normal income), and after that I went to BeachPress for a week.
Then I road my bike from Oregon to home.
I wrapped up 2014 on December 15th and didn’t resume work until January 5, 2015.
Even with the breaks, I still invoiced right around $100,000 and increased how much I take home. So, I worked much less and brought home more.
I’d call that a victory, and one that I need to build on for 2015. A victory because of the time off I was able to take, and something to work on because I want to be able to invoice more — but we’ll talk about that tomorrow.
One of my goals was 25% product income for 2014 but that didn’t happen. I ended up with around 10% in products for the year, split among my WooCommerce plugin, the book I sell on this site, and a book I sold on WP Theme Tutorial (which I don’t sell anymore).
I tried to increase my product sales by launching a course called Hope is Not a Strategy but no one bought it. Again, we could say that was a failure, but I saw it as a learning experience.
I launched a fairly high-priced course without properly laying the groundwork for it with my readers. I had launched 1 small product in August 2013, and then late in 2014 I tried to launch a pricey course, like some internet marketer.
I do plan to offer the course again at the end of 2015, with a revamped material list and better communication with my potential customers (which of course is you reading this).
One goal I didn’t meet was to launch 4 courses. I started one but never completed it. I still have the material and will likely use it as a marketing piece on my business site later in the year.
With the lack of increased sales I simply didn’t need a full-time contractor. Now, near the end of 2014 I did hire 2 contractors for a number of weeks to work on specific projects, and it looks like I may be keeping at least one of them around in 2015.
We’ll see how that one pans out.
I also have an editor on this site and I’ve had an assistant/bookkeeper for a year now.
The big thing I need to do first is build a proper marketing funnel for SFNdesign so I can generate more leads. I’m pretty picky about the work I want to take, so I need a steady flow of leads to secure the clients I want.
To that end, I’m blogging about ecommerce and membership sites more on SFNdesign and I’m targeting the questions my clients have. I’m not focusing on developers at all; in fact, I’ve decided to simply stop writing for WP Theme Tutorial and focus my writing time on the SFNdesign site.
I’m not removing the content from WP Theme Tutorial; I’m just not putting any effort into it anymore. I did remove the products that were for sale so I don’t have to worry about keeping those updated.
Really what happened
The big question is: What happened with all my goals? Why didn’t I accomplish them?
I believe it all comes down to review and planning.
I put the goals out there in 2014, but then I only sort of maybe looked at them a few times, but I didn’t consistently evaluate my progress against the goals I stated.
I didn’t build a good month-by-month plan to really accomplish them. That’s changed for 2015. I have monthly business development goals for the first quarter and a few things penciled in for later in the year.
I even bought a 6-foot calendar to have better monthly mapping. When I get this calendar in a week or two, it will go above my desk so I can look at it every day.
I’ve also started a monthly mastermind group with a friend, the main purpose being to regularly step back and evaluate our monthly goals.
It’s way too easy for all of us to get caught up in the ‘fires’ that blaze around us and fail to give attention to the big picture.
That’s it for my 2014 recap. Tomorrow I’ll share my 2015 goals, and you should see a quarterly update post on my big goals as well.
If you don’t, you should bug me.