What a fantastic year it’s been. A lot of people are saying 2016 sucked, and I guess with all the tragedies and craziness that has happened, it has, but for business, it’s been great!
Here’s my year in review of 2016 and what to look out for in 2017!
Sure Fire Web Services
This is my main brand, and it’s been kicking ass! There have been a lot of ups and downs, but money was made, work has been done, and the direction is clear.
Early in the year, I started pushing more white label work. I could have definitely pushed harder, but this was a new realm for me, so I wanted to test the waters.
Right off the bat, I landed a pretty large contract. I say contract loosely because my biggest mistake for a project of this size was not having one in place. However, this ended up working to my benefit.
This was a $20k project. I had to get other developers and designers in to help me out, and what initially started as a pretty smooth process, quickly turned horribly wrong.
The main issue was communication and expectation. Personally, I think I was a little blinded by the amount of money that it didn’t dawn on me how much work was actually involved. And believe it or not, even though it was $20k, it was undersold.
I think I was taken advantage of and set up to fail, but every side has their view, so who knows what the client was thinking.
Long story short, we did one project out of the 10 we were assigned with no direction at all, then 4 pages of changes were sent over, I had to go on vacation, a friend of mine took over for the week, then when I came back, they had every excuse under the sun of why we did a horrible job and apparently “I don’t know how to use WordPress”.
I laughed it off, but the underlining lesson here was:
- Get a contract in place – I was stupid for not having one, I knew better, don’t know why I didn’t.
- Define all work that needs to be done
- Define payment terms
- Set expectations
This was a quickly learned lesson, and even though the projects were delivered and the payments received, the relationship was soiled. I’m the one that ended it.
Mainly because I didn’t want to work with someone who had a complete lack of respect for the work that was being done while at the same time didn’t understand what was being done.
You know when someone is super friendly on the phone, but when they email, all of a sudden their get super tough, but won’t actually talk to you. Yeah, that.
Anyway, that was the start of 2016! Three months in, we ended it, and I moved on!
Things kept flowing, and we kept doing more and more work which was incredible! Some months were a little slow, but by the time June came around, I was giving myself a nice little side salary.
Side salary because I STILL WORK FULL TIME AT MY DAY JOB!
That may come as a surprise to many, but I’m pretty sure I mastered the art of generating income with minimal time each day.
Now I’ve mentioned a few times in some posts and podcasts that I used to drive myself crazy working til 1 – 2 in the morning. Well, after the first year I did that, I told myself, not doing it anymore. And I haven’t since, yet, this has been my most profitable year.
Here’s my typical day and what I’ve been doing.
I wake up, do the norm, shower, brush, etc. I have two kids now, so my wife and I get them ready. My youngest goes to pre-k. I leave around 8 am to bring him to school, and then I go to work.
I come back at around 5:30pm. I hang out with the fam, and around [7:30] – 8 my kids go to sleep. That’s when I usually start work. But my kids are young, and I get exhausted around 10pm. So I’m usually out by then. Or sometimes I stay up, just to clear my head.
At my day job, usually during my lunch, I’ll take a call, or write a post or something similar. Sometimes I’ll come in a little early just to get something done.
That’s really the extent. I hired a full-time developer to help me work on projects. This allowed me to focus more on marketing, experimenting, etc. I also hired a contract designer that does an amazing job on design. I’m seriously lucky to have found such talented individuals as they make my life, so much easier.
So having the ability to focus on the things that I love and know I’m good at, really opened up a lot of doors for me this year and I’ll continue to push them for 2017.
I still develop a little bit, and design here and there, but my main thing is consulting and management. I love looking over projects, making sure things run smooth, making sure they follow a particular methodology that I abide by. Also, keeping my clients happy is an absolute must!
The little things
Even though I had some pretty big projects, that wasn’t the bulk of my income. In my experience, large projects are few and far in between. I mean, if I gave it 100% I could find more and more projects to do like that, but they also eat up A LOT of time. So my focus was really on the little things.
That included hosting, maintenance, and small jobs. I invested a lot into my servers where I host most of my clients. I got new security apps, backup services, anti-malware services, speed optimization plugins, the works. I make sure every single site I host, is very well taken care of.
The small jobs and maintenance were incredible. I raised my rates, and my minimum is $150. I managed to position myself in an area where I’m incredibly good at figuring things out that other people can’t. Maybe it’s my creative side, I have no idea, but I just find ways to get things to work.
I’ve had a bunch of small jobs where I just helped people figure things out. It’s a win-win on both ends. I save them hours or even days of beating their head against the wall, and I get paid to do something that takes me a few hours. I LOVE figuring things out. Sometimes I do it for free too, which I’m going to be doing more of in 2017.
Oh, and I almost forgot! Course Sales! My Build Sites Faster course did exceptionally well this year! I made almost $10k on that course alone. It was pretty epic, so in 2017, I’ll be adding a few more courses to my arsenal.
The bad stuff
Not everything was all peaches and cream, though. I had a few downs in 2016. At the beginning of the year, the soured relationship for a potentially huge client. That sucked even though it was never going to work out.
I lost one of my most awesome clients. Nothing to do with me, she just got sucked into the web wormhole with some service that would do a bunch of things for $200 bucks a month. We had a discussion, and it totally sucked, but that’s the route she wanted so, there wasn’t much I could do.
I launched a few sites and a podcast that I just didn’t have the time to maintain or keep up with. Developer to Millionaire was and is freakin’ awesome, but between the other projects that I was too involved in, I had to pump the breaks. Sure Fire Designs launched earlier this year too, but it was another undertaking that I just didn’t have time to manage.
I came to the realization that even though I technically want to do everything, I have to focus and stay on the path of only one thing. Otherwise, I get too distracted, and I just can’t keep up.
I have a bunch of things I want to start, but I don’t want to start them, and then just leave them hanging, so it all has to happen in time and with a strategy in place for growth.
The Changes and What’s in Store for 2017
I’ve got some big plans for 2017! It’s going the be the year of scheduling for me. I’m going to be planning a work schedule because there’s a lot that needs to get done and I honestly need the time to plan it out and get it done.
So here’s what’s in store:
- Podcast Revival! Developer To Millionaire is coming back. I have a bunch of recordings that I just didn’t release, so I’m going to do a series of “Before they were stars” HAHA. Not the actual title, but you get the point. I have Dan Norris, the Beaver Guys, etc., all from a year ago, chatting it up!
- HustleFree.net – This is the podcast from Kim Doyal and me! We’re playing with a lot of ideas and gearing up for a new season.
- Courses/Membership – I have three more courses planned, including CSS From Scratch, Development WorkFlows, and Business Insights. Also a whole lot of downloads like PSD Design Files, themes I never released, modules for Views, modules for BB and much more.
- White Label Contracts – Since this is the core of my business, I’m going to be pushing for more bulk sales in web design and development.
- LeadSurveys.io – Another project that I’m involved in with Kim Doyal and Gordan. It’s going to be epic.
Expect a lot more content and emails coming from me as well. One series that I’m super excited about is my GettingTo30k journey.
It’s about the first year I was in business and my goal to reach 30k. It’s exactly what I did, step by step, the ups, and downs, everything documented. It’ll run for about five months, and I’m super excited about it! 😀 The first post will be the first week of January, so definitely keep an eye out for it.
Who To Keep An Eye On For 2017
Here’s my list:
- Kim Doyal – As popular as Kim is, her podcast is getting bigger and bigger, and she has some amazing things planned for 2017. Stick with her. She’s a rock star.
- Lee Jackson – My UK man crush, haha. Lee is a gentle soul but hilarious and fun. He runs the WPInnovator podcast and Facebook group and is incredibly smart and full of insight. Lee is someone to look out for in 2017.
- Puneet Sahalot – I’ve known Puneet since the Genesis days, and he’s an early adopter of Beaver Builder launching the PowerPack add-ons. Modules for Beaver Builder that give your site that extra edge. Puneet and his team are super talented, and they have a lot in store for 2017! I’m excited to see what they release.
- Adrian Valenz – I’ve worked with Adrian in the past, and he’s super talented. He’s taking his knowledge past WordPress and experiment with all types of different languages and created themes in the process. He’s someone to keep an eye out for.
- The Beaver Builder Guys – Justin, Robby, and Billy. If you haven’t tried Beaver Builder yet, OMG, get on that train already! They’re releasing a new product in 2017 as well as BB 2.0! So much to look out for and I wish these guys nothing but success in 2017. The new product they’re releasing will be a game changer!
There are a lot of other people that I’m personally keeping an eye on and would like to see what they do in 2017, no names yet but I’m rooting for them!
Are you doing something awesome next year? Share your plans, dreams, and trends in the comments!