Year-end review: 2019
2019 has ended. Once again, I want to conduct my year-end review in public. This time, in a lot more depth and rawness compared to the previous years.
I’m going to split the review into four sections:
- Major learnings
I want to talk about six things in this section:
- Blog posts
- Money matters
- Email subscribers
I wrote one blog post a week for the entire year (except during launch periods).
I’m happy about this. I felt it was an impossible feat a few years back. But now, it’s becoming a norm. The amount of work I’m putting into the blog is a testament to my dedication to this field.
Here are my revenue figures:
- 2018: $93k
- 2019: $78k
This worry had a major influence on my panic issues. (More about panic later).
I noticed some students defaulted in their 12-month payments. I was upset about this for 2 months. But I decided to take it in my stride because it’s part and parcel of doing business.
Traffic to my blog doubled in 2019:
- November 2018: 59,847 users
- November 2019: 116,602 users
- Dec 2017 to Dec 2018: 543,951 - Dec 2018 to Dec 2019: 993,331
Almost a million people visited my website in 2019. I didn’t know so many people read my blog.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and learnings.
I’m humbled by how technology allowed us to gather in the online space.
And I’m surprised how hard work—one day at a time—can produce tremendous results in a couple of years. (I’ve been blogging since 2013).
Sometimes, like today, I unconsciously compare my results to other people who seem to be doing better. And I feel bad, weak, slow, and worthless—for a moment.
Then, I tell myself that every step is progress. I acknowledge the work I did. And I look forward to the work I’ll be doing.
Email subscribers didn’t do as well as traffic. It didn’t move much.
- January 2019: 19,000 subscribers
- January 2020: 22,491 subscribers
Worth noting: I deleted 6,000 cold subscribers from my list in July.
I hired Michiko back in 2018. In 2019, I added Max to my team
Michiko helps me with administrative things like:
- Dealing with refunds
- Dealing with defaulted payments
- Scheduling blog posts
I’m super thankful to Michiko and Max. They’ve been a tremendous help.
I started 2019 planning to make four things:
- An introductory guide for web development
- Some structured mini-courses
- Improving the functionality of this blog
Materials-wise, it’s the best value-for-money course out there on the internet because of the depth I cover. There are a lot of lessons, and the quality of each lesson is superb.
I want to talk about six more things in this section:
- Side projects
I got the keys to my new house in October!
I’m working on designing the interior of the house (with an interior designer) right now. I’m excited about finally creating a space for myself and my family.
The house comes with additional responsibilities though. I have to pay ~$2,000 each month for the housing loan. It’s quite a heavy expense.
I hope to clear my housing loan in five years if possible. But that means I need to make a lot more money compared to what I’m making.
My daughter is now a 1-year-old. She’s bubbly and cute.
I love her.
She sticks around me a lot, but this can be irritating because I can’t get work done.
I can’t say I’ve been an excellent Dad for the past year. I felt I haven’t been a good role model:
- I didn’t manage my own emotions and physical well being well enough
- I couldn’t enforce the boundaries I set (even on myself)
- Sometimes, I run away and hide from her 😢.
- When I have the space to be with her, I’m not mentally around 100% of the time.
I want to become a better parent in 2020.
I discovered I had huge panic issues in October. I didn’t know the panic existed previously because I learned to block it out when I was younger.
My panic hindered me quite a lot. For example, I get scared when I’m alone with my child. I’m afraid I’ll do something that’ll screw up her life for good.
My panic triggers include:
- Being afraid I’ll screw something up
- Being afraid I’m doing something wrong
- Being afraid I’m doing the wrong things
The next portion may sound weird and twisted.
I realised I used panic in lots of ways. Here are some examples:
- To prevent myself from hurting others
- To manipulate (soften) others when they’re angry with me
- To apologise
- To run away
- As a form of entertainment
I still don’t understand (5). It came up a week before I wrote this review, so I haven’t explored it yet. I also think I have more triggers, but I’m not aware of them yet.
I want to explore more about my panic, anxiety and, worry issues.
I learned more about Shamanism this year. The more I learn about the spiritual world, the more I’m convinced the spiritual world exists.
I began to feel fluctuations in energy. I can tell when something is good or bad. It’s interesting.
The spiritual world seems to be governed by a set of laws that most of us are not familiar with. I hope to explore in this aspect.
In the early part of the year, I spent about 50% of my working time writing sales emails for a company I knew.
I learned a lot from this experience.
- Writing is hard
- Writing for others is harder than writing for myself
- Writing doesn’t necessarily lead to sales. Sometimes it’s just an intermediate step
I don’t think I’ll ever write for others as a business. I’m not interested in it. I rather write courses for people like you.
I didn’t invest a single cent for the past six years, even though I studied Finance.
This is embarrassing.
I decided to try copy-trading on Etoro and investing in some ETFs. I’m not sure how it’ll turn out. I guess I’ll report back when 2021 comes along.
Random ramblings that fall into three categories:
- Theme and focus
- Production creation
Theme and focus
2019 was a year without a theme. It started pretty well, but chaos enveloped me soon after.
I also allowed panic to take over in November. (I stopped writing for an entire month). You didn’t notice this because Michiko helped me schedule the emails that were sent to you. If I did it myself… you probably wouldn’t have heard from me… I retreated into oblivion.
Now I understand that having a focus is important.
When I talk about focus, it’s not the Pomodoro-style kind of focus keeps you glued to your chair for 30-minutes. I’m talking about the bigger picture kind, like the direction and intention for the year.
I want to work on this focus in 2020.
Four factors that come into play when creating courses:
- Quality: The ease of understanding
- Quantity: The number of lessons
- Depth: Amount of details we go into
- Time: Time needed to create the materials
An increase in (1), (2), or (3) increases the amount of time you need to create the materials.
- Quality has to be high
- Depth needs to be high
- Time to create the materials go way up
I learned to be at peace with this creation process. I’m no longer worried about completing the product on time. It was never the goal. The goal was to complete the product with enough quality and depth.
People who don’t understand why I’m taking so long will be pissed at me. But people who do will appreciate the work I’m doing.
Communicating the degree of work I’m doing is hard. I need to become better at it. Saying I’m doing good work isn’t enough.
Trust and reputation
But the “promise” wasn’t set in stone. I made an estimate, but I never promised to deliver everything by the estimate. It’s an estimate for a reason.
But I was fucking worried. Why?
I was afraid of this: Breaking the promise means I’m not trustworthy. Eventually, it’ll snowball into a bad reputation. People will stop trusting me altogether, and I won’t be able to continue the work I do. I won’t be able to sell anything anymore. Boohoo.
I think I’ll say these few words for myself:
- Trust is precious.
- Trust is sacred.
- Being honest builds trust.
- Being accountable builds trust.
- Keep a promise once you made it.
- Once a promise is broken, the shattered trust is almost irreparable.
- If you break a promise, don’t make excuses. Take responsibility and make compensations or amendments.
- Continue to make promises. Continue to keep them. Especially towards yourself.
Here’s a list of specific things I want for 2020:
- Begin writing a tiny CSS course
- Continue with 1 blog post per week
- Earn $150k in revenue
- Become fitter physically
- Reimagined identity from a lazy good-for-nothing to something better
- Have more awareness
- Work on my panic issues
- Work on my expression, both verbally and written form.
- Work on the urge to control
- Work on wanting perfection
- Work on stubbornness
For knowledge and spirituality
- Read 10 books in 2019
- Learn more about the spiritual world.
For my family
For everyone else
- Be able to learn to code if they want to
- Have the courage to pursue their dreams
- Have the persistence to stay on the path they chose
- Evolution to become better versions of themselves
I always worked to get what I wanted for the year, but I never get it. Why? After reflecting, I realised my goals were always bigger than what I wanted. For example:
- I wanted $150k revenue, but I wrote $200k.
- I wanted to read 10 books, but I wrote 20.
I was indoctrinated with the idea of “thinking big” and “pursuing more”.
So 2020 will be different. It’ll be weird.
I’m ready to throw away everything I mentioned above. And I’m going to focus the year on three things:
Here are three things I want to work on for sure:
- Reducing exaggeration and wanting of more
- Learning to be kinder and gentler to myself and others
- Creating answers for myself, not others
I intend to dive deeper into my world. To get real answers and remove the superficial layers. I intend to embrace the truth of what I’ll find (and not hide or run like I always do).
Three statements that will help me through the year:
- Understanding is priority
- Epitome of discipline
- Never run, never give in, never give up
It was weird saying these things. I’m not sure if anything about 2020 makes sense at all.
Okay. I’m out.