2014: a year of making stuff
Before making my goals for 2015, I wanted to review 2014. Sometimes we lose sight of what we’ve accomplished the previous year. Here’s the framework I’m using to review myself personally – you can get the worksheet here.
What did I make in 2014?
If you’re like me, you get energy from creating something, and having people connect with what you’ve made.
What counts as “making” something? Here are some things I shipped in 2014:
- 68 email newsletters
- 26 blog posts on my personal site
- 21 podcast episodes
- 12 local meetups
- 7 videos
- 4 new products (The Club, Audience, Words, Levels)
- 3 webinars
- 1 new coworking office
A lot of those things seemed small when I was making them (like writing an individual blog post), but over a year those little things can add up to larger body of work.
What were my biggest hits of 2014?
My friend Hiten Shah says: “Before you make plans, take a look at what’s already working.” Looking at what worked for you in 2014 is a great way to think about what you should do in the next 12 months.
Top blog posts
This blog was viewed about 300,000 times in 2014. My top posts of the year were:
- We are not normal people (January 2014) – 45,103 views
- Where do you find the time for side projects? (January 2014) – 32,903 views
- A simple way to validate your startup idea (February 2014) – 19,794 views
- The 2013 revenue stats I didn’t want to share (January 2014) – 10,656 views
- Landing page teardown: Serial podcast (November 2014) – 9,138 views
You can already see a pattern here: most of my “hits” came early on in the year, in January and February.
A notable mention is the post I wrote for Sprintly in November called Your Developers Aren’t Slow, which was viewed 126,850 times.
Here are the most shared posts from my website from 2014.
Here are my top products, ordered by revenue:
- Product People Club
- Build Your Audience
- Amplification + Hacker News Handbook
- Levels Landing Page
- Words Theme
In total, I made around $40k in side-projects this year. A few notes on this:
- The Build Your Audience course had a great launch (5 figures), but I stopped promoting it once I realized how expensive the course platform fees were (almost 15% of sales!). One of my goals for 2015 is to get it switched to a different platform.
- I was hoping to 4x my revenue from side-projects this year. Instead, I did 2x what I did last year. I talk about this more on this episode of Jacked Up.
- Brennan Dunn recommended I test my product ideas by doing a workshop first. That’s what I did for Build Your Audience, and it really worked. It helps validate that people will pay for your idea.
- Move to Canada! At the end of the year the Canadian dollar slipped to $0.86 USD. This should boost my revenues quite a bit going into 2015, as most of my sales come from the US.
- Yup, I’m still consulting full-time. Why? I’m planning on writing a post on this soon.
My goal for 2015? Double side-income again to $80k.
The number of people subscribed to my newsletter grew 184% this year (from 1786 to 5076).
I also switched to Nathan Barry’s Convert Kit for email.
Other significant events
After 6 years, I left my Product Manager job at Industry Mailout, and became a full-time contractor at Quick Left. I’ve been working with them on product marketing for Sprintly since August, and it’s been a blast.
I love meeting new people, and exploring new places, but travel itself (planes, trains and automobiles) always feels like a huge drain. I’m generally happy to stay home around Vernon, BC.
That being said, I had some great trips this year:
– January: My buddy Chase Reeves pulled me into doing a panel with him at NMX this year. I also got to hang out with other great folks: Caleb Wojcik, Mike Vardy, Michael Schecter, Nathan Barry, Omar & Nichole, and so many more. Here’s some photos.
– April: Visited Edmonton, and it snowed!
– May: Visited Portland with my wife. This is when I first talked with Joe Stump about working with Sprintly.
– August: Had my first trip to San Francisco with my Sprintly co-conspirator, Justin Abrahms. Met up with many internet friends: Hiten Shah, Brennan Dunn, Corbett Barr, Andrew Culver, Ryan Delk, Jessica Jalsevac, Chikodi and Austin Gunter.
– September: Went to XOXO Festival in Portland. Amazing.
– October: Back to Portland for the Quick Left office grand opening.
Planning for the new year
I have a few themes I’m going to focus on this year:
- Increase quality: This means better audio production on my new podcast, nicer video for my courses, and working with an editor when I write.
- Partnerships: I’ve been pushing myself to collaborate with others more often, and I’m finding that when I do, we create better stuff, more quickly than I would on my own.
What I’d like to launch
Here are the projects I’d like to launch:
- A new podcast: in January 2015, I’ll be launching the first season of my new podcast, Build & Launch, where I’ll launch a small product every week.
- New members for Product People Club: we haven’t invited any new members to Product People Club in ages (despite there being nearly 1,000 people on the waiting list). I’m hoping to onboard at least 10-20 new members in 2015.
- Re-launch Build Your Audience course: as mentioned, I’d like to get this course off it’s current platform, and onto something I can control. I also have lots of new material I’d like to add.
- New version of Amplification: I’d like to re-write my ebook, Amplification, and focus on how product companies can use content marketing to drive more sales.
- Marketing email course: I’m working on a new email course called 12 months of marketing, where I’ll outline a new tactic each month.
- Partnerships: I’m working with a few partners right now on launching a new SaaS tool, a new Gumroad plugin, and a few other projects. Stay tuned!
2015 planning worksheet
That’s enough about me. How was your 2014? What are your plans for 2015? Sign-up for my newsletter below, and I’ll send a Year in Review worksheet you can use to do your own review.
Notes from Justin Jackson
Startup stories, lessons, and tips.
Sent on Saturday mornings.
(Read it while you drink your coffee)