What sucked in 2018 and how 2019 will be better

Yup, we’re half way through January and you’re just getting my 2018 recap post and my 2019 goals and such. What can I say, I took a few weeks off over the holiday’s to hang out with my family and you can all wait.

2018

With my mastermind groups we answer four questions every week.

  1. What went good?
  2. What was less than desirable?
  3. How are we going to fix that?
  4. Plans for next week

Let’s tackle my 2018 in the same fashion and my 2019 Q1 goals are the answer to the third and fourth question.

Good

2017 was a tough year. My income dropped a fair bit and I did a poor job of communicating that with my wife. I kept paying us the “regular” amount and quickly burned through the business savings then started eating into my tax savings. Yes this is as bad an idea as it sounds.

2018 started in the same state, until my wife and I had a good talk about money. The end result was that I started paying us less and we dealt with less money. I got my taxes back on track and while the hole still has a bit of filling in to finish in 2019, my stress level went way down.

Financially, I also adopted Profit First in my business and oh my goodness it is amazing. Profit First didn’t help me make any more money, but it did help me feel so much more comfortable in the money I was earning. I’ve had a few coaching clients adopt this, and a few self-employed friends and they all have had similar experiences. Even those that were having record years, felt so much more secure in their business finances.

If there is one thing you do to put your business on better financial footing in 2019, make it reading Profit First and then implementing it. Deal with the pain that you may have at the start because in a few months everything will feel so much better.

When talking about my 2018, my wife said she saw so much burnout in my work. I was going through the motions, but never on fire about work. Luckily I ended 2018 in a totally different position. I’m on fire about a few coding projects. I’m super excited about the content work I’m doing with many clients. I’m digging deep, like I did in my beginning code days, to video work and improving my skills weekly.

I can’t point to any one thing that changed how I felt at work, but I know talking about finances helped. So much stress was relieved by cutting out worry about money.

On the work side, I started doing content for:

  • Liquid Web
  • Godaddy
  • Asian Efficiency DOJO
  • The Sweet Setup

I added to this some content strategy and writing retainers for other clients in the WordPress space. This content has also meant that 2019 has someone feeding me coaching clients because they don’t have the bandwidth inside their massive member user base. It’s easy to blow these things out of proportion in your dreams as you think of “if only 10 people sign up…” but this does have a huge potential to make 2019 a record breaking year.

On my end I launched a bunch of things like:

The Art of Focus: Which continues to bring in revenue for all my books. It so nice to look at sales for December 25th and realize you made some money. Not a bunch of money, but some.

The Freelancer’s Guide to Getting Started: This is part of a longer strategy to launch a bunch of “Freelancer’s Guide” books and then bundle them into a box set. We should see The Freelancer’s Guide to Marketing coming in Q1 2019, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Analogue Productivity: Again, I scratched an itch I had and it turned into a book. This one was all about skipping the digital tools and focusing on a notebook as a way of focusing your work. The biggest thing I find with a notebook versus any digital task manager is that by default a notebook says no. If you don’t move a task forward, then it drops off your radar. A digital tool forces you to look at stuff and say no. You combat your dreams of being a person that would…whatever that task is you’re not doing.

Getting Unstuck: This is a short guide to making progress when you’re stuck in your work.

I also started taking YouTube seriously at the end of 2018 and boy it’s cost me money but I’ve had fun. I’ve tried to be cost effective with my purchases, and the biggest purchase was a new 1TB iPad Pro 12.9 that came just after Christmas. Outside of that, I bought a tripod and an ugly light from WalMart that had lots of bulbs in it.

I was lucky having a Canon 60D already and some lenses. I did purchase an 18-55mm lens to get a bit further away from myself during video but other than that my camera gear is the same stuff I’ve owned for years.

Yes, I could use better lights. Yup, my set could use some work. I’d love a Go Pro Hero 7 Black for doing some vlog work because I live in a rainy area. Yes my iPhone has a LifeProof case on it, but have you ever tried to operate a touch screen in the rain. The Go Pro has voice control, so I should be able to start recording even when the touch screen is non-functional. I could also risk my 60D and Rode Micro, but at this point that seems like too much of a risk for my budget.

Coaching wise, I got a bunch of it in. I helped people stop working 80 hours a week and raise their income. I helped people figure out that their budget numbers were more dream than reality so they started charging more. I helped people spend more time with their kids without distraction.

For the business, 2018 also marked the point where I went iPad first with my workflow. I build sites from my iPad. I edit video from it and I record and edit podcasts on it. I still have a MacBook Air around, but it mostly charges my devices and serves as a place to backup my videos through BackBlaze. I can see getting a base Mac Mini in 2019 to serve this function instead.

I also said goodbye to some content in 2018. I shut down my podcast of 230+ episodes because it had few subscribers. It wasn’t getting the traction it needed to justify the time. I plan to have something come back to replace it…but I’m unsure of the form yet.

On the family front, we moved and I got my own office again. I’m still organizing it, and thinking about changing a bunch of stuff around to make it more appealing for YouTube, but it’s been a few years since I had a dedicated office space and it’s nice to be able to leave my tripod up when I want.

Last year I did a bad job of taking time off over the holiday’s, but this year was better. Yup, I’m doing some writing now during ‘holiday’ time. My kids are doing crafts behind me and I’m helping them as the need it, not getting annoyed about the interruptions. Actually, I’d probably get more annoyed if I was reading The Dark Tower because it’s a great story I want to get into without interruptions.

Meh

I call the second thing meh because it’s not bad. When your kids get sick, it impacts work but it’s just life.

While my income came up, it’s not back to early 2017 levels. It’s still growing and I’ve got more plans for 2019 to help, but work still needs to happen. I’ll talk about those plans in my 2019 plan below.

I have already mentioned it, but I’m stopping The Smart Business Show. I kept it up out of momentum but one of my goals in 2019 is to actually measure the value of the different things I’m doing as it pertains to my business. Matt D’Avella had a great show recently talking about putting your 3-years in to something before you can decide if it’s successful. I think this is true, but if you don’t have intermediate goals to measure the success then it’s more likely you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Coaching brought in a more significant portion of my income in 2018 than it did in 2017, at the same time it wasn’t nearly what I had hoped. I’m not sure I’ve unlocked the right sales pitch and branding to hit a home run with coaching. 2019 will bring another branding adjustment, which we’ll get into.

2019

I don’t actually focus on goals for the whole year. Yes I set some income goals and time off goals, but I focus on the systems I need in place to make them happen. The thing about yearly goals, and keeping your focus there, is that it’s easy to keep pushing off to tomorrow because you figure that you’ll do double the income next month. Yes I wrote about this in The Art of Focus if you want to dig way deeper into goals.

I have three areas of focus for Q1:

  1. 1000 Subscribers on YouTube
  2. 50 Patreon supporters
  3. Launch The Freelancer’s Guide to Marketing

1000 Subscribers on YouTube & Patreon

Parts of this work will be the same. For both YouTube and Patreon I’ll need to tighten up my content and my video production pipeline. I did a number of days of vlogging over the Christmas season. This resulted in a great family snow video and a few more upcoming videos on pizza and meal prep. I’ve already had comments saying that the videos are great, and some internal emails and Slack messages to the same effect.

For Patreon there are 2 levels of patronage.

  1. $5/month which gets you warm hugs, a secret something in the mail and access to my weekly process and goal videos where I’ll be recapping my progress on the goals you see here.
  2. $15/month gets you the videos above plus monthly AMA style live videos with me. You’ll get discounts on the books I write and courses I do throughout the year.

Now some of you may be wondering why Patreon and not just a membership on my site? I’m getting less and less interested in running my own eCommerce site. Once a quarter I have to fiddle with something and that takes time out of creating content for you. I’d rather create content instead of fiddle with sites.

Launch The Freelancer’s Guide to Marketing

My other big goal is to launch The Freelancer’s Guide to Marketing. I actually already have much of the content here in the form of Finding and Marketing to Your Niche, but it needs a revision with all the stuff I’ve learned in the last few years.

That means I’ll be starting with a bunch of reading in Q1 on my short list of marketing books I think will help me think fully about the topic. Then I’ll need to get a draft out of the book, do covers, pre-orders…The goal is to have it launched before Q1 ends.

If you want to follow along and get beta copies of the book then Patreon is the place to do that.

What about you?

My final question is…what about you? How did your 2018 go? Were you happy with it? Did you hit all the goals you had on your list? Did you improve your processes to help you achieve goals?

I’d love to hear from you either in the comments, or better yet, write something on your site and then let me know about it so I can point others towards your goals.

2 thoughts on “What sucked in 2018 and how 2019 will be better

    1. Yes 2018 was a big financial gain again as we moved towards stability. I do need more space in 2019 though. I hate feeling rushed so that’s one of the focuses for the year on my end.

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