In my personal review of what 2018 meant to me, I concluded with a look forward to what I wanted to accomplish in 2019:
“Mostly, I want to continue and maintain the good habits I established in 2018.
More business growth, more creative marketing, better quality writing and YouTube videos, and continue learning Spanish. Obviously there are more specific goals that are stepping stones to these big-picture ones, but you get the idea.
And because travel is one of my great passions, I will be doing a lot more of that this year.
Where to? Who knows. I tend to do a lot of last minute trips based on where the crazy good flight deals will take me. But I would love to finally make my way to Asia this year.”
In what seemed like a mere blink of an eye, 2019 is just about to end. And it’s time to reflect on what the swan song of the 2010’s meant to me.
And review how many of these goals I actually accomplished.
AND… hold myself accountable to the ones I failed to.
Spoiler alert: I definitely missed the boat on a few of these…
But, before we get into all the ways your ol’ pal Patrick was a failure this year, let’s take a look at the positives.
My web design business continued its hockey stick growth ????
My web design business has grown every year since I first started it back in 2013.
While 2018 was certainly a banner year, and the highest Year-Over-Year growth I’d ever had , 2019 somehow managed to be even bigger.
The reason? Well, there’s never really just one to single out.
Building any business takes a consistent and persistent effort. An effort that you will slowly start to reap the rewards from via “The Snowball Effect“.
When building a snowman, you start with nothing but a handful of snowflakes in your hands. You gently pack them tight, then begin to roll your tiny snowball through the snow on the ground.
Over time, as you consistently roll this ball around your backyard, your snowball grows by picking up the snowflakes on the ground.
Before you know it, your tiny snowball has ballooned into a massive snow boulder. It’s now ready to serve as a solid foundation for your snowman. ⛄
(if you live in a warm place and have never experienced the simultaneously depressing reality and childlike wonder of snow, don’t try this with sand… you’re gonna have a bad time)
This is exactly what it’s like to to grow a web design business.
My business’ “snowball effect” was things like:
- the huge library of content I’ve built up over the years
- more word-of-mouth referrals from a growing list of clients
- more cash revenue to reinvest back into the business
Bit by bit, snowflake by snowflake, I’ve been able to grow this business into the end goal I envisioned from the start of this journey. A truly location-independent business that gives me the freedom to spend my time however I choose.
And, I gotta say, it feels pretty stinkin’ good. ????
If you’re struggling to stay motivated, meditate on what snowflakes you’ve been adding to your business lately.
You’ll notice that in the graph above, the massive growth my business has experienced has all come in the past two years. All of the previous years were very gradual, even slight, increases.
Be consistent, persistent and patient. It’ll come. ❄
I expanded the scope of my business by offering new services
As a web designer, there are many other services you could be offering your clients besides building websites.
For example, SEO services. Or blog writing services.
Or how about a bit of both?
I’ve spent the past 5 years blogging.
It has made me a better writer, reader, researcher, thinker, SEO…er, and has awakened a creative spirit that lay dormant inside of me for far too long.
But, above all else, it has given me the best case study I could have asked for.
Getting a beautiful website made isn’t likely going to be enough to acquire customers with that website. More work is needed.
To get your website to rank on page 1 of Google, Google wants you to be producing consistent, high quality content.
I know how to do that because that’s exactly how I acquire customers with my own website.
Now that I’ve proven I know how to improve a website’s Google rankings by writing high quality blog content, I can turn around and offer that service to others.
And that’s exactly what I started doing in 2019.
It has honestly transformed my business. And it has the highest growth potential of any product or service I offer. By far.
I started a podcast (that some people actually listen to)
This was definitely the biggest surprise of 2019 for me.
After years of making fun of “everyone and their mother” for starting their own podcasts, I came around to the idea myself, detailing the 5 main reasons I decided to give it a try.
#1 being the obvious potential SEO benefits.
As it would turn out, the podcast actually picked up steam pretty quickly.
As of this writing, my Launchers podcast has been played over 7,000 times, spread out over 40+ episodes.
The most popular episode, How to Start a Web Design Business in 24 Hours, is about to reach 1,000 plays alone!
Not too shabby for a nobody doofus in a very competitive niche, right?
I believe making the choice to go with Anchor (what I considered to be the next YouTube but for podcasting) made a big difference in the amount of exposure my new podcast received.
Anchor ended up getting bought by Spotify, the biggest music streamer on the planet.
And it just so happens that 35% of all of my listeners come from Spotify now.
I mean, it makes sense right? You’re naturally gonna promote your own users before anyone else.
I don’t have any evidence to back this up, mind you. Just a theory.
The early episodes are not pretty at all. The audio quality is average at best and my voiceovers are just… dull.
But this is where persistent and consistent once again comes into play.
If I had obsessed about perfection before giving it a try, I never would have started the podcast. My fear of making mistakes or sounding dumb would have paralyzed me from ever taking the leap. (and trust me, I had those fears)
Whatever it is you’re thinking about starting, there’s no better way to get better at than starting it.
I built upon the solid foundation of good habits I started in 2018
In 2018, I developed healthier habits. Many of which I never pictured myself doing.
I got into reading, something I’ve never enjoyed.
I started running. Regularly! Like, 3-5 times a week.
I meditated daily. But not the Eastern philosophical, transcendental type that everyone seems to be getting into. I was actively meditating. Thinking about all of the things I have to be grateful for.
And I ate better than I ever have. My diet vastly improved.
I’m happy to say that, even while going through some difficult trials, I was able to (mostly) continue building these good habits.
Which leads me into the things that didn’t go so well for me in 2019.
My YouTube channel hit a few potholes (and nearly careened into a ditch)
I gotta be honest, I’m starting to lose steam with my YouTube channel.
While my subscriber base continues to grow, and currently sits at just over 2,500 at the time of this writing, it seems like most of these subscribers are not active viewers.
When I publish a new video, I only receive about 100-150 initial views. That is, views within the first 24 hours. After that, it’s a slow trickle of views that seem to come in when people find my videos via search.
I’m not a YouTube expert, but 150 viewers out of 2,500 subscribers doesn’t look great to me. ????
On top of this, my overall Views and Watch Time, two metrics YouTube considers to be very important, has only marginally increased over the past year. 1% and 14%, respectively.
And after publishing 30 videos this year, that is especially demoralizing. It feels like the channel is losing momentum overall.
And the worst part is, I have no idea why.
Some videos get serious traction, with over 60% retention rate, while others flounder and can barely manage 30%.
And, to me, the style and flow are nearly identical. I can’t find any obvious issues to point to. Or observations that make it clear what my viewers are enjoying most.
And when I watch other channels in my niche continue to grow around me, it tends to bum me out a bit.
That being said, the channel continues to bring me clients. Many from videos that are 2+ years old. So there’s still definite value there.
But I’m starting to wonder if it’s worth producing another 30+ videos for 2020…
What do you think? If you’ve seen any of my YouTube videos, let me know what I’m missing. Or where I can improve. My channel can be found here: RapidWebLaunch on YouTube
I didn’t travel… Like, at ALL.
“And because travel is one of my great passions, I will be doing a lot more of that this year.”
After the epic travel year that was 2018, where I moved to another continent for the first time in my life, I made the bold claim that I would continue this travel streak in 2019.
I did not.
I have gone on at least 1 major trip every year for the past decade. 2019 is the first one in recent memory where that didn’t happen.
Why? I’m not quite sure.
I can make a bunch of excuses and say my circumstances simply didn’t lineup the way I wanted them to but, that’s taking the easy way out. And I don’t think it’s true.
I think it was a combination of desired stability and analysis paralysis.
After the adventure of 2018, I think I needed to regroup and work on myself for awhile. Prepare myself for whatever comes next.
And because my business is now fully location-independent, I quite literally have the entire world to choose from. Too many options leads to overthinking.
In fact, everyone I mention this to has the exact same response: “If you can go anywhere, what are you still doing in Toronto??”
But when I ask them where they would go if they could live anywhere in the world, they’re often surprised by how long it takes them to come up with an answer.
It’s not an easy question.
But I do intend on answering it this coming year.
I let some good habits slide more than I should have
I managed to keep up my reading and running to a satisfactory level (at least until winter rudely punched me in the face), but my Spanish studies have definitely faltered.
When you’re not immersed in a foreign language, and you don’t have the opportunity to practice it daily with the people around you, you start to lose motivation pretty quickly.
I’m not giving up on it. I know I need to do better. I just need to prioritize better.
I also didn’t write as much as I should have. My business really picked up this year, demanding more of my time in the process.
And with no foreseeable slowdown coming anytime soon, I’m going to have to realign my focus for 2020 if I want to ensure I don’t lose my writing habit altogether.
With the Canadian winter now in full swing, my running habit is dying fast. Running along the lake at -10 is not quite as enjoyable as +15, it would seem…
Any other runners out there that could give me some tips?? Or should I just suck it up and do it anyway? (if you’re gonna tell me to suck it up and do it, just make sure you’re not from California or something, OK? ????)
What’s next for 2020?
Here are some goals I have for 2020 (in no particular order):
- Grow my business’ revenue to 6 figures
- Run a minimum of 3 times a week for the entire year, regardless of weather
- Visit another country for a minimum of 3 months
- Write 1 blog post every week (lol k)
- As always, never lose sight of what’s most important to me (my volunteer work, family, friends, time, etc)
I think that should suffice for a year, right?
I summarized 2018 with this quote:
“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” – Benjamin Disraeli (former British Prime Minister)
With 2019, I think this one accurately conveys how I feel:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle
My 2019 was defined by persistent and consistent action. Maintaining good habits that I had established by taking action in 2018. Not obsessing over perfection and fearing rejection.
Not everything was a success. Nor should it be. But I did my best to build upon the tiny progress I made every day.
Bit by bit, snowflake by snowflake.