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My 2018 Year In Review

A lot has happened since I last made an update on the blog. Despite being so behind on my income updates I’ve decided to catch up for now with more of a traditional update and the income reports will come in another post.

I want to get better about updating this blog so I can continue to stay transparent about what I’m doing online.

Because I’m an honest guy, I want to first off admit that the last few months have not been the greatest for me.

Generally I feel like I’m being pulled in multiple different directions and if you read my story you will realize how difficult it’s been for me to simply FOCUS and put all of my energy into one thing.

This still is an issue for me, many times earlier this year I wrote in this blog and made the decision that my #1 focus would be creating and selling online courses.

In this post I wanted to provide some insight on how this year has went for me (it’s nearly the end of December now at the time of writing this)

This is more or less a continuation of my post about my 1 year reflecting on self employment. 

Before I talk about anything that so much “went wrong” in my business I want to discuss a huge positive thing that happened for me.

The biggest and best is that I married my wonderful girlfriend Brenda whom I’ve been with now for over 4 years. We decided to do this on a whim and announce it to my family over Thanksgiving with the plan of later doing a big celebration.

This was really exciting for us and a big step for me in my life, growing up I had a lot of challenges when it came to the dating world.

I actually had so many failed relationships and tons of dates that went nowhere, it reminds me so much of entrepreneurship. It took me over 10+ years of dating and bad experiences to finally meet someone I can enjoy the rest of my life with.

Similar to me also going through lots and up’s and down’s trying to figure this “online thing” out till I felt comfortable enough to not need to work a day job.

Here’s What I’ve Been Working On

Online Courses

So for a while last year I continued down the same path I had been of creating more and more courses, these would either be products I launched on Skillshare or Udemy and some of which I’d do as traditional “Internet marketing” launches on WarriorPlus and Jvzoo with partners.

All of these do ultimately make me income but I was stressed out, the idea of doing a launch or creating a course only to do it once and walk away from it forever after seemed somewhat idiotic to me. I also saw a high number of people taking my programs who simply didn’t take action.

With all that being said I put a ton of time and energy into focusing on one single course.

I decided to take my most successful course all about launching and growing an SEO consulting business and put my everything into that.

I had already been working really hard on it last year and had a huge win last October promoting it over a webinar.

The problem was getting the audience was from a one time launch I’d done with Paul James. I couldn’t really figure out how to automate this and consistently get sales. 

After going through several high end courses all about “selling online courses” I decided to hire a mentor to help me.

I felt that I needed someone to push me along and keep me accountable.

I ended up hiring someone by the name of Sergio Estevez for $3k.

Sergio had helped me quite a bit for free initially without asking for anything in return, this was a big deciding factor in trusting him to be the right guy to work with.

Over the next 4-5 months I did everything he told me to and as of the past month I finally finished my sales funnel and started running Facebook ads.

The things I learned about building sales funnels, Facebook ads and everything related to selling courses has been pretty exciting, I’ve learned a TON.

Some days I’d spend entire days testing my funnel, writing emails, building automation’s, doing research, building ads and much more.

It’s a beast of a process with many “moving parts“.

I’ve successfully made some sales with my ads but ultimately had to spend over $1000 just to get there, in a lot of ways I’m also using this as a means to collect data and learn what works and what does not.

At the same time it’s quite scary, some ads turn to total shit and in other cases I’ve had ads generating leads for under $3 each. I’ve had to spend so much time on building this system combined with tools like Clickfunnels and Active Campaign every month to keep things moving along.

In reality I’m likely somewhere north of $5k just to “learn” how to properly build and run this sales funnel for myself.

2. My Evolutly Partnership

Earlier this year I launched a tool called Evolutly with Paul James, we had some initial great success but he decided not to continue working on this software with me to bring in new sales (He wanted to focus elsewhere, mostly on YouTube and doing webinars for his own info products).

I had mentioned in a past update about having Gabriel come in as a partner with me on this which more or less ended in total disaster.

Gabriel pushed the idea of “re-building” the entire software from scratch which I’d spent months on. At the time I agreed and thought this made sense but I later ended up realizing this was just one big huge waste of time. 

We already had paying customers, and a working software.

Here I was starting over from scratch trying to help this new developer Gabriel brought in just understand what the software even did. 

It was basically a repeat of what I just spent months working on with the original developer.

Gabriel decided I wasn’t treating the partnership like a business, and well to be frank I wasn’t. 

I couldn’t get excited about trying to do everything over again just for a “visual” upgrade.

So Gabriel decided to split, he asked me to pay him $1500 for what he had put into development for a non-working “shell” of a re-build.

It made zero sense for me to pay for it so he took it upon himself to rip off my idea, copy my sales page for Evolutly and launch his own tool (all while breaching a signed contract that stated he could not create a competing product for up to 5 years if he left the partnership for any reason)

There was no attempt on his end to really come to any resolution before taking the drastic decision to just up and leave.

I’d been down this path before with a past partner so I wasn’t too shocked, it’s just another lesson learned in that I need to be very careful about who I decide to work with in the future.

3. Afffluent – Affiliate Marketing Software For SaaS Companies

While trying to bring in a new partner on Evolutly I had been speaking with Jerry Tian of a company called Content DJ. I more or less wanted to bring him on board to help me with Evolutly but we both ultimately decided the project management space was already super crowded.

He was right, I felt trying to go out and market Evolutly to agencies 1 by 1 would have taken forever to grow. So I decided to leave it as is, if support requests came through Paul and I we would handle them but ultimately we decided to leave it as is.

Jerry had the idea of building an affiliate software we decided to name Afffluent.

The idea was to build a simple affiliate marketing platform designed for companies that use the payment solution Stripe.

So we ended up getting going on this all the while I was still investing tons of my time and energy into selling my course.

There were many weeks where I’d do hardly anything on Afffluent and it just felt difficult to get it going.

Jerry ended up bringing in 2 additional partners, and we have continued to plug away adding new features, talking to software companies and getting as much feedback as possible.

The entire process has been pretty draining, both taking up tons of time and ultimately not bringing in any reward as of yet.

I more or less did the same thing with Evolutly but absolutely knew for a fact that it would generate income as there was a need based on Paul’s feedback from his own audience.

With this, we have a lot of vendors telling us they love it but no one is really signing up and doing anything with it.

It’s overall felt like pulling teeth and I’m still questioning if it’s going to make it or not.

Even more so it’s taken me away from putting more energy into my course progress which isn’t good.

The reason I’ve stuck with it is there is that huge potential for it to be a very real startup, with employees and long term growth if we can get it going.

There are lots of competitors and this has made it difficult to break into the space.

I’m not sure where this will be a few months from now, but I’m likely going to give it a fair shot up through the early portion of the year and see where it goes.

4. Clients

Of all things that generate revenue for me, having SEO or marketing clients has been a good consistent way to keep income coming in.

Currently I’m only working with a couple of clients and there is little overhead given that I outsource 100% of the work. Sometimes little things come up that take up my time but this has been a great way to keep things rolling for me.

The thing I get up in arms about is I know I could scale this but in the long term I constantly tell myself this isn’t what I want to be doing.

Brenda constantly tells me to get more clients, that extra 2-3k a month is a nice supplemental income to everything else I’m already doing, I just struggle with the idea of working on this AND doing Afffluent plus course promotion all at the same time.

It’s just too much!

The important thing at the end of the day I have to keep telling myself is “Is what you are working on actually making you money?” and as of lately I’ve been very much questioning that over and over.

Needless to say I’ve got a lot of thinking to do for 2018 and what it is I plan to work on. I just wanted to give some insight into what I’ve been doing the past few months for those that do read my blog.

I intended for this to be an income update but as I started writing I decided to change my mind and do that in another post which I will likely do in January.

John Shea
 

I'm John, I'm brutally honest, I have no shame and speak my mind without hesitation. I'm an entrepreneur here to speak the truth about internet marketing.

  • I’m glad I took a couple minutes to skim your story. I tried MLM, would never do that again, and consulted for a couple years, after getting out of international business development for Japanese manufacturers.
    I’m pretty blunt, too, and share plenty of what’s working for me so, I think we’ll be able to talk easily enough. In essense, I hope you continue to prosper with the courses but also, I hope that you someday return to building SaaS products. This is where I am, and for the last six and a half years, finally have a job I love. I mean, look at me now – reading and writing on your year in review, just two days before Christmas!