This is my first ever annual review. And above is a cartoonized photograph of me holding a corndog.

Why?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I honestly have no idea.

But try not to let the weenies distract you! Let’s go ahead and dive right into my inaugural “Year in Review”. 

Officially starting now, I will write an annual review to reflect back on the previous year and take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of my business and life.

Here’s why:

  • To acknowledge my accomplishments for the year. Making note of the ‘wins’ for the year helps build confidence and momentum to carry over into next year.
  • To review all the goals that I didn’t accomplish and any failures along the way. This helps me make sure I don’t make the same mistakes again. It also helps me look at what I need to work on more in the coming year.

So here we go!

First and foremost, this year was a HUGE success for me because…

I quit my job! 🎉

If this were the only thing I accomplished all year, I would still consider it to have been a major victory.

I actually did it.

I took the plunge and quit my job as a Respiratory Therapist.

Once an employee. Now a full-time entrepreneur. Able to work from anywhere in the world with a internet connection.

I told my former boss to shove it!

Ok, not actually. 

But I did politely hand in my notice and left the corporate world for good. All thanks to the multiple streams of income that I’ve been building over the past few years.

Once I started consistently earning more income online than I was making from my job, it was time to hang it up. This gave me the confidence (and financial stability) to quit my job altogether and work for myself full-time. 

This has been my ultimate goal all along ever since I became interested in building an online business.

But never in a million years did I think I would accomplish it so soon in 2018. Thankfully, though, I was able to do so much faster than I had hoped. 

And here we are. There’s no turning back now.

I accomplished my #1 goal and I’m super-grateful and thankful to be in the position that I’m in.

A Look Back at My Goals for 2018:

Here are the yearly goals I set for myself at the end of 2017/beginning of 2018.

First, I will share the ones I accomplished throughout the year. ✅

1. Launch and sell an online course.

This was my primary focus at the beginning of 2018 and is what I spent most of my time on until March when I launched and sold my first ever online course.

I purchased a mic, editing software, and basically taught myself how to create and edit videos from start to finish.

My first few videos were terrible — I mean, super cringe-worthy! I had to go back and re-recorded them by the time I got to the end of the course. This is part of the reason it took so long but it’s just part of the learning process.

Launching this one single course was a huge step for my business in regards to monthly income, as you can see from this screenshot of my Gumroad account.

Screenshot of all digital product sales on my main website from January 1 – July 1, 2018.

There was a huge spike in sales during my 4-day course launch. Then sales dropped down to a baseline level that is much higher than previously when I only offered ebooks and PDFs.

It has continued to gradually increased throughout the year as my traffic has increased as well.

All of this to say — I’m super-happy to have finally launched a course. Doing so has helped my business grow in a big way.

2. Earn $4,000 per month in recurring online revenue.

I’m not really one to talk about how much money I make. It’s douchey and I don’t like doing it. But this was the goal I set, so I have to include it here.

In January, I earned roughly $3,000 through online income streams. So looking back, I clearly set this goal entirely too low being already 75% of the way there. 

But in March (the same month that I launched my course), I hit the 4k net profit mark and haven’t earned less in a single month since.

3. Grow my Amazon Associates revenue to $500 per month.

I’m super-stoked about this one.

In January, I was roughly making only about $100 per month through my Amazon affiliate links across all of my sites. 

Over recent months, that number has grown to > $1,000.

My main focus isn’t generating revenue through affiliate marketing. It’s through selling my own digital products. This is just icing on the cake that I can enjoy each month.

4. Build out at least one new niche website.

I’m including this as an accomplishment although I consider it to be a semi-failure as well.

I launched two new websites this year. You’re reading one of them now — BrantReader.com. The other, I plan to share more about at a later date.

I say it was a success because I fully built out the site with 10 pages and 23 articles published. The design looks amazing and I even created a lead magnet and have started collecting email addresses.

At the same time, it’s a failure because I have neglected the site for about 8 months now.

Why?

Well, to be honest, I have been too busy focusing on what is working — and that is my main website — the one that generates over 80% of my income.

It’s definitely the right move to make and provides a much greater return on my time invested.

I am happy with the new niche site though and hope to spend more time on it soon (maybe in 2019). But for the foreseeable future, I will continue to focus on growing my main website.

5. Publish 100 articles across all of my sites.

Oh, the beauty of outsourcing.

Thanks to the help of my team of writers, I was able to smash this goal by publishing > 250 posts across all of my sites, including BrantReader.com, my main site, and the new niche site I mentioned above.

I will say this. Not every piece of content is brand new, though.

For nearly half the year, I’ve been in the middle of a content audit, that I learned how to do from Matt Giovanisci in his SEO for Bloggers course.

Basically, I’ve been going through each and every article on my website. If it was crappy content with no traffic — I deleted that bad boy.

If it was crappy content but getting decent traffic — I rewrote it into something valuable. And for all the articles that were on similar topics — I combined them into one massive article and turned it into a more indepth guide. 

By doing this, I have already more than doubled my traffic.

At the time of this writing, I am more than 75% done with the content audit. Finishing this will be my primary focus at the start of 2019.

6. Publish 10 new YouTube videos.

I blew this one out of the water. And I’m still laughing about how small this goal was.

At the beginning of the year, I didn’t have a YouTube channel. I didn’t even know how to create or edit videos.

Now — I have a growing channel with > 1500 subscribers and 59 videos published.

My goal was to publish 10 videos… And now I have 59 published. 😂

I started the channel in March and have been (slowly but surely) gaining subscribers.

The screenshot shows my YouTube subscribers from March – December 2018.

By the way, this YouTube channel is not my personal channel. I’m not that interesting. It’s for my main niche website.

And no, I’m not even physically in any of the videos. Only my voice. I use Screenflow and Powerpoint to record my screen on video, and this microphone to record the audio while I do a voiceover.

YouTube has been huge for my business so far. Even though I don’t have a ton of subscribers yet. And no, I’m not talking about making money from the YouTube Ads.

I’m talking about generating leads and building trust with my audience.

In almost every video I’ve published, I give a call-to-action to use a link in the video description to get a copy of my free eBook. People get the free book and in exchange, I get their email address.

Then they receive a pre-written email automation sequence that builds even more trust. Then, eventually, they will purchase my books and courses.

I plan to focus and grow more on YouTube in 2019.

7. Meditate more days than not.

I’ve always been in the camp that meditation and mindfulness were supernatural, woo-woo practices that only hippies participated in.

Then I actually tried it back in 2017 and have stuck with it ever since.

Yeah, yeah — I know — it is a little weird. But science (and all-that) proves just how beneficial it is. I can honestly say that is has had a positive impact on my life by lowering stress and enhancing my focus and self-awareness.

I mean, if so many uber-successful people are regularly practicing meditation, there has to be be something to it, right?

My goal was to simply meditate for 10 minutes more days than not.

And I completed that easily.

I use an iPhone app called Headspace that makes it easy with guided meditations. According to my analytics within the app, I completed a total of 230 sessions and a total time of 36 hours meditated.

So basically that means that I meditated 230 out of 365 days.

There’s definitely room for improvement, but I’m happy that to have met this goal. Hopefully I can increase my duration and number of sessions in 2019.

Now let’s look at the goals that didn’t go so well for me in 2018. ⛔️ 

8. Read 20 pages per day, more days than not.

In previous years, I absolutely smashed this goal. But in 2018 — I finally reached the point to where it was best for me to stop learning as much and start taking action.

So in a way, I am happy to not have accomplished this goal.

I will say this — I did read almost every single day, though. It was mostly in the 10-15 pages-per-day range — just not 20 pages.

In total, I read 19 books this year.

Here they are (affiliate links):

I also listened to 3 new audiobooks via the Audible app. Here they are:

If you’re interested in all the books I’ve read so far, you can check out my Reading List. I give short a 1-2 sentence review of each book as well.

Sure, I’m disappointed that I didn’t read quite as much this year. But it was a sacrifice that I needed to make in order to get more stuff done.

9. Publish 10 new books for sale on the Amazon Kindle platform.

I published nine Kindle books this year.

This was one off my goal of ten so, unfortunately, I must consider it to be a failure.

Nonetheless, I’m happy with publishing nine new books. That brings my total up to 14 books published on the Kindle platform.

Now I need to publish the paperback and audiobook versions as well, which is something I plan to do in 2019.

I know Kindle publishing has become saturated in recent years. But luckily for me, I’m one of the only players in my niche, which is why I plan to keep adding new books.

This is one of my income streams that I consider to be fully passive once the books are published. The best part is, the books I create are mostly just regurgitated content that comes directly from the articles on my website.

So it doesn’t take much of my time to create a new book. I can hire a virtual assistant to do most of the work for me. Not to mention, each book contains a call-to-action that leads people back to my website.

I hope to grow this business model even further in 2019.

I learned all about Kindle Publishing by going through the K Money Mastery Course. It’s beginner-friendly and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to get started publishing books on Amazon. It’s one of the easiest methods to get started making money online.

What Went Wrong in 2018?

I’ve had no shame in admitting that I had a great year in 2018. But it definitely wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Here are a few of the bad things that happened in 2018.

I got banned from selling on Amazon.

A huge mistake that I made (and still make) is ‘shiny object syndrome’. Meaning that I tend to want to jump on each and every new opportunity that presents itself rather than focusing on what’s already working.

I definitely did this when it comes to Amazon FBA. I was wanting to build yet another income stream so I took a (crappy) course about selling on Amazon. After completing the course, I was ready to make all the monies. 

Amazon had other plans.

Long story short. I was purchasing new, clearance items from stores like Walmart and Target that I could ship directly to an Amazon warehouse. Literally any item that would turn a profit.

When the items sell, Amazon fulfills the order and ships the product directly to the customer. This term is referred to as retail arbitrage.

Well apparently Amazon is no longer allowing sellers to take part in this business model. Because after making a few sales, they removed my seller privileges until I could provide a receipt from the manufacturer proving that I had permission to sell the products I was selling. See photo:

This is a snippet from the email they sent letting me know that seller privileges have been removed.

Obviously I couldn’t provide what they wanted, therefore I got banned 4 lyfe. ✌🏼

No, I wasn’t selling fakes or knockoffs. It was actual stuff from places likes Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Target. 

The whole process was a bunch of busch-league. I was pissed whenever it happened, but I’m glad they banned me so I don’t waste any more of my time on this stupid business model.

I had to fire an actual human.

One of the best things that happened in 2018 is that I finally starting outsourcing to virtual assistants. 

The sucky part is, I had to let the first full-time VA that I hired go. She was a very hard worker from the Philippines but unfortunately just wasn’t a good fit for my business. 

It was hard for me to do it. I don’t like letting people down. But at the end of the day, it was something that had to be done.

Now I currently work with 2 part-time virtual assistants. One helps with many different mundane tasks like email support and scheduling social media posts in Buffer. The other VA edits my YouTube videos.

I had hosting issues that caused my main site to crash a few times throughout the year.

At the time of this writing, I’m still using a shared hosting plan through GoDaddy.

I know, I know — amateur move.

It was a pain in the butt each and every time my site would crash. I would waste an entire day trying to fix the issue myself and then I’d end up having to hire a developer to do it for me. 

I’m tired of dealing with this crap.

One of the first things I’m going to accomplish in 2019 is switching over to a better, faster host. 

I failed at dropshipping on eBay.

This is yet another example of my inability to resist the shiny object.

I’ve been selling on eBay since I was in highschool but I’d never tried dropshipping.

Basically, all it is — you find items from Walmart.com and Amazon and list them for sale on eBay at a higher price. Once the item sells, you order the product using the customer’s address and have the product shipped directly to them. You never see or touch any of the products and you never have to worry about carrying any inventory. All you do is earn profits on each sale.

Sounds great, right?

It could work. The problem for me was that the margins are so small. In order to earn decent money from this business model, you will need to list thousands of these items.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

At the peak of this illustrious endeavor, I had nearly 200 of these dropshipping-specific items listed in my eBay store. I was making a few sales here and there, but it was just too time-consuming to fulfill the orders.

So I gave it up and deleted all the items from my store. I hardly made enough to recuperate the $200 (?) I spent on the crappy course that taught me how to do it.

Big failure. Lesson learned. 

My Travel Experiences in 2018

Traveling — seeing the world — has become one of the things I value most in life. Why is traveling so important to me?

Because your perspective will always be limited to what you know if you do not ever get outside of that. Seeing new places and meeting new people helps you expand and grow as a human being.

In 2018, I was able to check a few new awesome places and cities off of my Life List, which is a page on this website that I use to track some of my most important goals.

Here are the new places I visited in 2018:

This was our ‘big’ trip of the year. We did the whole all-inclusive resort thing with all the bells and whistles. The best part of the trip was when we took a catamaran out to see the island of Saona off the coast of Punta Cana. You can watch a silly video I put together from our trip here.

We did a long weekend trip here and Miami for no other reason than to check out the cities for the first time. My favorite part was the Gondola tour we took through the canals of the city.

#3 – Miami, FL

After a night in Fort Lauderdale, we stayed two more nights in Miami at the Loews Hotel in South Beach. I made another silly video from this trip that you can watch here if you’re interested.

#4 – Dallas, TX

My wife had a conference for her optometry school, so we decided to make a small trip out of it since neither of us had been to Texas before. We stayed in a dope AirBnB near downtown in the Deep Ellum district.

One of the goals on my Life List is to see Ole Miss (my alma mater and also, unfortunately, my favorite team) play in every SEC football stadium. I finally was able to check Death Valley off of my list, even though the outcome was not pretty for my beloved Rebels.

I’d actually been to Little Rock before, but I’m including this here because I checked another SEC stadium off of my list when Ole Miss beat the Razorbacks on a cold, rainy day.

My family rented a beach house the week of Thanksgiving. It’s always good to get together and spend time with family.

Overall, I wish I could have traveled more. But I am happy about the new places I was able to visit for the first time.

I anticipate traveling more in 2019 and will be kicking things off by going back to Miami in February for the 10x Growth Conference. Then two weeks later, I’ll be in Nashville for Funnel Hacking Live. See you there?

Other Accomplishments in 2018:

In addition to the goals that are listed above, I had some more accomplishments as well. I am going to list them here:

1. I started keeping a daily business journal. The Day One app makes this super easy. I simply take 5 minutes every night to record everything I accomplished that day. Having this journal was clutch when it came time for me to craft this annual review.

2. I completed (8) online courses. They each covered a variety of different topics including SEO, Facebook Ads, YouTube, Asana, FBA, Kindle Publishing, and Dropshipping.

3. I scaled up my eBay store to over 500 items for sale at one time. I now have only around 350 items listed at this time and I plan to scale this back to < 100 next year.

4. I published my first ever paperback books on Kindle and my first ever audiobooks on ACX. Now I just need to repeat this process for the rest on my Kindle eBooks.

5. I implemented some advanced marketing techniques. Basically what I mean is that I added tripwire offers and upsells to my sales funnel. Just making a few simple tweaks (that only took a few hours) helped boost my business and income to another level.

6. I hired my first ever full-time virtual assistant. I’ve since had to let her go, unfortunately. But now I currently have two part-time VA’s, along with a team of writers.

7. I started intermittent fasting. For me, this is just a fancy way of saying that I don’t eat breakfast. Before, I’d drink a protein smoothie every morning but noticed it was making me feel sleepy and groggy. Now I only have coffee for breakfast and I always feel great and ready to tackle the day. 

8. I grew my Instagram account to 10,000 followers. I now have the super-fancy ‘swipe up’ feature. I just reached the 10,000 mark as of December 28, 2018. I haven’t had time to test to see if this feature actually helps. We shall see.

9. I started experimenting with different nootropics. If you’re not familiar — basically they are vitamins for your brain that help improve cognitive function. I can tell a huge difference and this is something I plan to continue using going forward.

10. I finally switched over from Mailchimp to ConvertKit. This is a move I should have made a very long ago. If you’re still on Mailchimp, switch over immediately and thank me later. Seriously. ConvertKit is so much better and it’s really not even close. Go switch — right now. 

11. I launched a successful Shopify store. The store did roughly $1,500 in sales in the first month without running any Facebook or Instagram ads. It just so happens to be in the same niche as my primary website, so I can leverage the audience that I’ve already built. I will continue to build out this store even further in 2019.

12. I completed a 30-day video challenge. During the challenge, I uploaded a new video to YouTube every single day for 30 days straight. I just finished up this challenge before Christmas and it was exhausting. It would have been much worse without the help of my virtual assistant. I write the video script and record the audio. Then I send the audio file to my VA — he then edits it into a video. Did I mention that I love outsourcing?

13. I accomplished a few fitness goals this year. I increased my bench press to 345 lbs, my squats to 405 lbs, and my deadlift to 405 lbs as well. My body weight was 155 lbs at the time that these lifts were performed.

My Goals for 2019:

Now that I’ve shared my accomplishments and failures from 2018, without further ado, let’s take a look at my goals for the coming year.

1. Launch and sell 3 new online courses.

2. Earn $10,000 per month (profit) in recurring revenue.

3. Acquire a rental property.

4. Grow my Amazon Associates income to $2,000 per month.

5. Publish 200 articles across all of my sites.

6. Publish 75 new YouTube videos.

7. Meditate more days than not for at least 20 minutes.

8. Read (or listen to) at least 35 new books.

9. Publish 10 new Kindle books on Amazon, including the paperback and audio versions as well.

10. Travel to a new country.

11. Travel to at least 4 new cities.

12. Take at least 4 new online courses.

13. Spend less time on eBay so that I can focus more of my time on higher ROI activities.

14. Launch another successful Shopify store.

15. Bench press 350 lbs.

16. Move my main website over to a better hosting provider.

17. Attend 3 business/marketing conferences.

18. Publish 1 new article per month on this website.

After accomplishing most of my goals in 2018, I came to the conclusion that my goals were way too small. I simply just wasn’t thinking big enough.

This is why I set much loftier goals for 2019. I’ll definitely have to push harder in order to reach some of them. But I’m excited for the challenge and look forward to seeing what the new year will bring.

Final Thoughts

I’m pretty sure no one will read this. My wife, my mom, and maybe a few of my closest friends.

But to be honest, I didn’t write this annual review for anyone else. I wrote it for myself. Because I’m sure, at some point in the future, I will look back at this and be glad that I did.

And if you are a random human being reading this right now — I just want to say thank you!

Hopefully something I’ve said here will inspire you to improve your life or business in some way, shape, or form.

All-in-all, 2018 was far better than I could have ever hoped for. I grew mentally, physically, and spiritually. And my business grew to the point that I no longer have work for anyone but myself.

What more could I have possibly asked for?

If you want to follow along with my journey, definitely join my email list. No spam. Just helpful information every once in a while.

And if you follow me on Instagram, I’ll buy you a free corndog.

Thanks again for reading. Let’s go do bigger and better things in 2019.

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