2019 Year In Review – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I have not written on this blog for most of 2019. I thought what better time to post an update on what I’ve been up to.

I’m a very transparent person and I’ll start off by saying this year hasn’t been the best for business or my personal life. I definitely slacked off a lot and didn’t work as hard as I did in 2017 and 2018.

I’ll start off with the positive things that happened in 2019 and also discuss some of the not so good things. 

What went well in 2019 for business?

Marketing Online Courses

I focused a lot of my time on optimizing my existing marketing systems for my online course business. I took a shorter 3 week email marketing funnel and turned it into a 100 day+ email marketing funnel.

The idea here was that if I paid $5 for a lead from a Facebook ad, my chances of making a return on my investment would be doubled if not tripled by promoting a few different online courses or affiliate offers.

I’m currently spending $100/day on ads and testing this, but from my testing in 2017-2018 I was breaking even on all of my ad investment.

I finally reached over 5000 email subscribers and it’s growing even faster now that I have ads running daily.

I’m still mainly focused on promoting my flagship course – The SEO Consulting Blueprint which focuses on landing digital marketing clients and offering SEO services to help businesses rank on the top of Google. 

Client Wins

I have continued to work with multiple clients offering SEO (Search Engine Optimization) over the past few years and I’m still doing this now.

I will say I’m not as excited about it as I once was many years ago. I’ve actually been turning down a lot of work that’s been coming my way because I haven’t been as interested in doing client work these days.

I currently have multiple clients spending anywhere from $500/month up to $4000/month. I have partners helping me fulfill a lot of the work while I take a percentage and don’t need to dedicate as much time to working with these clients.

In a lot of ways it’s nice to have passive income coming through but it’s never been a big “long term” vision for me to get tons of clients and turn it into a big business. 

Regardless it’s making me quite a bit of income given the time commitment. Because of how I built this side of my business, I actually make the most income doing this with the least time commitment. 

My YouTube Channel & Other Stuff

I really tried to put many other projects on the back burner this year. I decided to follow a strategy for focus this past year and determine how to best use my time.

I drew a circle on a whiteboard and wrote out all the things I was doing and basically made a pie around each item. The more “stuff” I had the worse off I knew I was going to be.

If I’m working on 10 different things, that means 10% effort on each thing. With less to focus on, the more progress I can make and the better results I’ll get. 

Ultimately my “pie” became just 2 items which was to focus on my YouTube channel and spend more time selling my online courses. 

At one point in 2018 I got pretty burned out doing YouTube because I was doing everything myself, from the video creation, to the editing, the thumbnails, I was doing all of it. 

This past year I hired a VA to help me with video editing, and thumbnail creation. This allowed me to focus my time on creating more content while myself saving a lot of time.

I managed to get my channel to 2.83k subscribers (almost 3k!) I also had some videos seemingly do really well. Oddly enough these were a bit more random videos such as this Peloton review video I did, this had nothing to do with marketing or making an income online but it completely blew up. 

In fact this video did so well I got over $1400 in Peloton clothing credits for referring people to purchase the bike and I’ve been earning $500-750/month just from ad revenue on that single video. Pretty nuts, right?

As of the last month or 2 I’ve lost some motivation with YouTube as it’s just been feeling like a drag. There are a lot of people now in the “make money online” space who have flooded the market with this style of video around the whole “Make $x a day with blah” and it’s becoming quite a bit saturated from what I can tell. 

I don’t want to make scummy looking videos but at the same time I need to be willing to accept what is actually working right now for people. 

Mentorship

This year I spent over $13,000 on mentorship. Mainly around how to sell more of my digital courses in the most effective way possible. 

It’s been interesting because everyone seemingly has “the way” to do it, yet you’ve got a lot of people in this space all doing it quite differently.

I’ve been a huge fan of the strategies taught by Andre Chaperon around using a multi-page pre-sell site. He calls this a Sphere Of Influence strategy which is basically creating content that resonates with your target audience, builds trust and provides value before say asking for an email address like most marketers do. 

I built my own SOI site here for my SEO Consulting Blueprint course but didn’t see much success running ads to it, ultimately the ad costs were insane high and I didn’t put much effort into paid advertising for it.

I may come back to this at some point but I haven’t put a ton of time and energy into figuring out how to execute on it. 

I hired 2 mentors, one of which was more 1 on 1 and the other being group based. The main avenue of selling between these folks has either been to sell your product and service via webinar or to do a phone consultation and sell a high ticket service.

I have had a fair amount of success from 2016 and beyond doing webinars with Paul James so I knew this worked, but it’s not easy getting a webinar to convert.

I put some time and energy into a new webinar template for an existing product that was doing quite well but couldn’t seem to get any sales at a premium price point. 

Using the ‘phone’ sales funnel I was actually able to get 3 sales with minimal effort for $2k a pop. This has been interesting but at the same made me question is doing 1 on 1 calls really what I want to be spending my time doing. 

I’ve been a bit in circles around some of this stuff because I do honestly feel that people need 1 on 1 guidance in most cases to see true success. 

Truth is most people who just “buy courses” are not disciplined enough to stick it through and see success. 

I’m still somewhat figuring this stuff out and where I’m going to focus my energy in 2020 here, but either way “selling online courses” will be part it. 

New co-working space

This past year a good friend of mine decided to open up a new co-working space called Wired Tech Lounge.

I spent a good amount of time helping him to setup the space between building desks, shopping for furniture, doing some marketing and overall just providing support where needed with the space.

This took up a good amount of time but now has given me a place to work out of in terms of being self-employed.

You can see a tour video I did of the space here which came out awesome. 

What went wrong in 2019 in business? 

Probably the biggest things that didn’t go well for me was just an overall lack of motivation at times.

I had various clients come and go which made it difficult to decide if I should get more.

Often times I’d spend a ton of time creating a YouTube video only to see it get 30-50 views which could be quite depressing. 

I didn’t create anything new in terms of products or services which has typically been something I’ve done a lot of over the past several years. 

Really the biggest thing was spending a significant amount of money on mentorship thinking it was going to be an answer to my problems, when in reality I believe I had about 90% of the information I already needed.

I just had a lazy mindset through out many times of the year part of which will play more into what went wrong in my personal life in 2019. 

What went well in 2019 in my personal life?

The coolest thing of all this year is that I found out I’m going to be a dad!

My wife Brendalyn and I will be expecting a little girl named Malia due in April 2020. 

This is both really exciting and scary for me, I’m typically pretty awkward around children and mostly have no clue how to interact with them but everyone keeps saying it will be different with my own kid. 

We’ve been working hard to prepare our home for our little girl so our guest bedroom had to become what will be her new room.

With that came some major home renovations. While we do live in a small 1000 sq ft condo, we had tons of opportunity to improve our living space.

The first thing I did this past year was tear out our old tile kitchen and replace it with a nice high quality vinyl tile. This was a ton of work and took the better part of 2+ weeks to do between tearing out the old tile and having contractors in and out to install the new floor. The project as a whole ran me well over $5000 to do. 

In June/July we decided it was also time to renovate the bathroom which came with it’s own fair share of challenges. Somehow Home Depot sold me the wrong bath tub for example (it was a right hand drain instead of a left hand).

All in all we ended up basically gutting the entire bathroom down to the studs and re-doing about 1/2 the drywall, new toilet, new floor, new backsplash, vanity, mirror, storage and a glass shower door.

I even had an electrician wire new circuits for wiring up the hot tub portion of this tub alongside a heater. I figured if I was going to have all this work done, why not go the extra mile right? 

This project ran me around $6500-7000 between parts and labor, this also took up 3+ weeks to get done and there is still some minor trim I need to paint. 

Due to the baby coming and my wife having her gaming PC setup in our hallway for the past year we decided to utilize the basement as a new living space / office area for her. 

Initially this wasn’t something I was going to do, but a close friend of mine offered to help for a reasonable price. Of course this didn’t turn out quite as planned and all in all ran me well over $7000+ for the entire project which is now finally being completed just this week (I ran all the baseboard last night).

The painter who did our basement I also hired to paint our kitchen cabinets white which came out absolutely awesome.

All in all I spent well over $20k just this past year on home improvements alone. 

I’m excited about having this stuff “done” as it’s been a huge burden on time and money but I believe well worth it in the long run. 

What went wrong in 2019 in my personal life?

Overall as noted above, I think this year I was quite honestly a bit lazy about business stuff and this also affected my personal life.

I stopped working out as much as I had been previous years, waking up most days around 9:30am-10am which is a poor use of my time in the day when I could have been going to bed earlier as opposed to playing video games. 

I used to be a lot more serious about health and fitness and that’s been the opposite for me the past few years which has led to things like back pain, not thinking as clearly and just overall feeling lazy all the time. 

Going into 2020 I want to actually put a lot more time into the structure of my days, protecting my time and being very strict about how I use my own time.

The home renovations really took a toll on me as it was hard to be productive with contractors constantly here, things being a mess or just having my head wrapped around these projects for the house as opposed to my business or my own health. 

Now that these projects are finally completed I can finally “rest”.

Unfortunately these past few years my father has been declining in health and is showing signs of Alzheimer’s which has been sad to watch.

I’m now looking at options on how I can make the living experience for my family the best it can be as my folks get older. While I wish I could say the “projects” are over it looks like I’ll be helping my parents move and sell their home at some point in 2020 with the way this disease has been affecting my dad. 

I’m taking everything one step at a time and it’s just about getting the right help so life can be as comfortable as possible.

Overall I’m feeling confident about 2020 if I can really buckle down and focus on my business.  

John Shea
 

I'm John, I'm just an honest entrepreneur here to speak the truth about internet marketing.