For many folks, this year was one of the most chaotic, heart-breaking, and challenging on record. Although the bright spots were few and far between, even in darkness, there is light. So before I hit the gas and speed towards 2021, I thought it wise to reflect on the past 12 months to get a better sense of where I’m headed.

To that end, I’ve chosen four topics to explore more deeply: professional community, personal highlights, financial highlights, and a sneak peek at some of my plans for the coming year.

1. Professional community

This year I made an effort to focus on present-term thinking in the hopes of building future success. I began to establish the foundation upon which I can build sustainable growth, and with this mentality, honed in on a few key areas:

  • Growing my newsletter audience
  • Writing articles to attract more like-minded creatives
  • Track the progression of my site
  • Establish a more visible presence on Twitter

Building 1:1 relationships through my newsletter

A highlight of 2020 has been the growth of my newsletter and the blossoming community around it. I’ve formed some great relationships and heard from more creative entrepreneurs this year than ever before. I hope this trend continues in 2021 and beyond. Here are a few stats to add context to my year in email:

Subscribers
  • As of this writing, I’ve grown my community 136% this year — from 72 to 170 creatives
  • Of the 98 people who have joined in 2020, 72% have a 4-star engagement rating (out of 5) or higher each week
Total emails sent
  • 23 weekly emails (Friday Finds)
  • 36 total emails sent
Average open rate
  • 46% open rate, 19% click-through rate

Sharing my experience

I made it a point to create more content in 2020. Compared to previous efforts this year was a success, but it’s nowhere near where I want to be. Here’s the breakdown:

Content
  • 15 new posts, including this one (+180% increase YoY)
  • 8 articles (+100% increase YoY)
  • 6 link posts (+500% increase YoY)
Most popular articles

On a related note, I also added comments to my blog to encourage more conversation and engagement.

Google Analytics

Tracking growth

With an increase in the amount of content produced, I’ve seen modest YoY traffic growth on my site. Although page views are down a bit, users, sessions, and organic traffic have all seen nice increases. Here are a few more top-level stats:

Audience Overview
  • Users: 4,117 (+17.19% YoY)
  • New users: 4,101 (+18.52% YoY)
  • Sessions: 5,217 (+9.88% YoY)
  • Sessions Per User: 1.27 (-6.24% YoY)
  • Pageviews: 9,517 (-12.07% YoY)
  • Pages Per Session: 1.82 (-19.97% YoY)
  • Avg. Session Duration: 01:20 (-32.71% YoY)
  • Bounce Rate: 67.30% (+7.77% YoY)
Channels
  • Referrals: 43.8% of total traffic (-9.62% YoY)
  • Direct: 30.7% of total traffic (+52.16% YoY)
  • Organic: 14.2% of total traffic (+117.50% YoY)
  • Other: 11.3% (-5.2% YoY)
Viewports
  • Desktop: 83.4% of total traffic (-5.4% YoY)
  • Mobile: 15.7% of total traffic (+5.5% YoY)
  • Tablet: 0.9% of total traffic (-0.1% YoY)

Becoming more active on Twitter

Something unexpected happened in 2020 — a rekindled interest in Twitter. I cleaned up my follow list and meticulously curated my feed. In doing so, Twitter became the go-to place for inspiration, ideas, news, and conversation.

Although I hope these look different soon, here are some top-line stats from the past 28 days:

  • 1,646 followers (no significant change since November)
  • 24 tweets (+166.7% MoM)
  • 19,000 impressions (+8657.3% MoM)
  • 1,206 profile visits (+477% MoM)

2. Personal highlights

Mybite

From 45royale to Mybite

2020 marked the first full year of being completely removed from the company I founded, 45royale. I wrote down some thoughts in my announcement post, but I’ll likely write a proper post-mortem in a few months. For now, here are a few key takeaways from the past year at Mybite:

  • It’s refreshing to see how a fast-moving startup in the CPG/DTC space operates and reacts to change/adversity.
  • My small team is nimble and can produce at a high level under constraints.
  • I’ve been able to hone my marketing skills (what I got my degree for, actually) and get more into the consumer mindset.
  • I still get to code, design, and have nearly as much autonomy as I had in my own business.
Meditation

Mental health

For many years meditation was a steady part of my morning routine. But with the stress of shutting down my company and starting a new job, it fell by the wayside. Which is ironic because if there was ever a time to rely on meditation for stress relief, it would have been then. But this year, I’m back to at least 10-15 minutes every morning.

I used to be a Headspace guy, but I’ve recently switched to Calm. I got a year free trial through my AMEX card, and I think they have me hooked. In 2020 I logged a total of 2,832 minutes of meditation time for an average of 12 minutes per day or 47.2 hours for the year.

Apple Activity

Physical activity

I’ve been using the Apple Watch to monitor my physical activity for years. It has, without a doubt, been the most single most positive influence on my exercise routine.

Here are the daily activity goals I have set on my watch:

  • Move: 700 calories
  • Exercise: 30 minutes
  • Stand: Once every 12 hours

As of this writing, I’ve closed my rings 193 times out of 305 eligible days (I give my body a break on the weekends). That means I’ve hit my mark ~63% of the year.

Along with intermittent fasting, this activity schedule has helped me lose weight and keep it off for several years now.

3. Financial highlights

Wealthfront

Goodbye financial planners, hello Wealthfront

For most of my adult life, I’ve used financial planners to help me manage and allocate my savings. But this year I hit my breaking point with fees, bad interfaces (finance can have terrible UX), and the inability to move money around efficiently. So I did what I should have done years ago and opened a Wealthfront account.

So far the experience has been great. Wealthfront has best-in-class robo-advising, built-in diversified allocations, tax-loss harvesting, and a slew of other industry-leading features.

They also give you the ability to see all of your accounts in one place to get a better net-worth snapshot. This is useful for planning big things like paying off debt or envisioning how much you’ll need at retirement. 10/10 would recommend.

Bitcoin

The monumental rise of Bitcoin

I’ve been aware of Bitcoin for longer than most — since 2012, actually. But the barrier to entry was too nerdy back then and I didn’t act on it.

That changed in 2017 when more tools were available and I was finally able to buy into Bitcoin. I’ve been HODLing ever since while learning as much as I can about this amazing store of value.

After the crash in March of 2020, I decided to increase my position and set up a recurring buy every Saturday. Since then, it’s been amazing to watch Bitcoin’s exponential growth. I suspect we’ll see its value continue to hockey stick in 2021.

If you’ve been thinking about getting in on the action, the easiest place to start is Coinbase. After you get more familiar with the crypto space, you may decide to manage your own wallet. But for those just starting out, Coinbase is a great place to learn the ins and outs of buying BTC and other currencies.

4. Looking ahead to 2021

I’ve been thinking a lot about the coming year and what success looks like for me. I’ll gather my thoughts in the next few days and publish a more thorough article, but here’s a sneak peek:

  • Refresh my website to solely focus on the needs of creative entrepreneurs
  • Build products to help creative business owners be more productive and efficient
  • Grow my newsletter audience to 300 subscribers
  • Start a DTC brand and launch a Shopify store
  • Expand upon the momentum I’ve seen with midmod.co
  • Write more, share more, add more value

So that’s a wrap on 2020! I hope this gives you a look behind the scenes at the year that was. Feel free to leave a comment below — I’m happy to expand on anything that needs more clarity. Here’s to a healthy, safe, and prosperous 2021!