2015 Year in Review
Looking back at 2015 gives me a lot of reasons to celebrate.
It was also very trying year though too. It started with my wife Jen's third round of surgery to remove cancer from her tongue. The success of that and no further appearances has helped fuel Jen's recovery back to almost full strength again.
Her health challenges have pushed me to work harder, think bigger, make more, and take plenty of time to enjoy life, friends, and family along the way.
But before I look back on the rest of 2015, it helps to look back even further, going five years back to when I start doing work online. Each year while I do my annual reviews I read through my previous ones and I say to my former self, "Oh how little you know."
- In 2011, I started blogging, quit my day job, got married, and traveled for three months straight.
- In 2012, I co-launched Fizzle.co, started my first podcast, shot my first real video of myself, and started a mastermind group with Barrett Brooks & Nathan Barry (that's still going strong).
- In 2013, I lived in Italy for 6 weeks with my wife Jen, helped grow Fizzle to over 1,100 members, started doing video client work, Jen was diagnosed with cancer, and we got a puppy.
- In 2014, Jen's cancer returned, I left my job at Fizzle to go solo, and earned a living on my own for the first time ever.
Only in looking back can you accurately assess what you're capable of going forward.
So now, let's look at 2015, the busiest and best year of my life.
What Went Well?
My three main business goals for this year (that I honestly didn't really look back at) were:
- Turn pro on consistently releasing free content (podcasts, videos, email courses, and guides) to serve and grow our community.
- Create products, workshops, and advanced training to impact people deeper and grow my business.
- Run my company like a CEO or CFO would by using an accountant each month, doing financial forecasting, profit and loss reporting, etc.
I would say I got marginally better at each of those. I did release more free content, email courses, and paid courses. And I also made more of an effort to put on the CFO hat and dig through Quickbooks/Quicken, stay on top of invoicing, and study accounting reports I created. I still need to find an entrepreneurial focused accountant though.
Here is what else went well this year.
1. Survived and thrived during the first full year running my own business and made more money than I've ever made before. I also hired Tim to work with me full-time.
2. Got a lot of client work. Partially through pitching people and partially through people finding me. We travelled extensively for video shoots too. Spain, France, Andorra, Ghana, Nashville, Austin (twice), San Francisco, Phoenix, and more.
3. Made substantial video equipment investments. Thankfully I reigned it back after a certain point, but gear purchases are an endless cycle and at certain points need to be put on hold. The main purchases were a Canon C100 Mark II, Sony RX-100 Mark IV, and GoPro Hero 4 Black. The rest were less sexy things like travel bags, battery packs, cables, and lighting modifiers.
6. Stretched my video skills. We live-streamed an all day event with five cameras, documented a trip with Pat Flynn and Pencils of Promise to Ghana, made a couple Vlogs, got better at color grading, tinkered with motion graphics, etc.
7. Brands are more willing to work with DIY Video Guy. Based on the reach of my past gear videos and reviews I'm getting more interest from companies wanting to partner on videos and projects. More to come on this next year.
8. Took an entire month off in the fall. I traveled through Ireland, Scotland, and England with my wife for four straight weeks and didn't "work". We also took shorter trips to Kauai, Portland, and Cabo.
What Didn't Go Well?
1. Only released two paid courses and two free email courses. I wanted to release way more of these, but I basically need to put client work on hold while we plan, shoot, edit, and launch these. And we always seem to prioritize a paying client over internal projects. Now, that isn't necessarily a bad thing per say, but that leads to not releasing content or courses as often as I'd like to.
2. Didn't seek out bigger brands or video projects. I have ideas and plans for specific companies I want to work with but I don't know who to start with contacting, how much I should have prepared for potential meetings, and what work I could point to that would convince them that we could deliver on our promises.
3. Worked in a bubble. I didn't seek out many partnerships online or ask to work with a lot of companies I want to be working with. To grow we need to do more outbound sales and marketing towards the clients, peers, and outlets we want to work with.
4. I didn't rebrand/redesign DIYVideoGuy.com. I've wanted to do proper branding for DVG all year and then re-design this site, but never made it the priority. I also didn't rename Caleb Wojcik Films, as I haven't landed on a name that I really like for the video production studio arm, but I feel like personally branding a "studio" could limit the potential growth of the company.
5. I've struggled with the best format and angle for the audio podcast. I knew doing an audio podcast about video would be a challenge, I just don't think I've landed on the best use of the medium for helping my audience.
6. Personal photos and videos never get edited. When I am working for a client or making something for DVG, the task goes in Asana with a date attached to it and photos or videos get edited and shipped. This isn't the case for what I've documented on our personal trips (unless I take them on my phone and they just go on Instagram).
7. Spent way too much money inside the business. Not counting payroll, I spent way too much on travel for conferences, equipment, services, and more. I want to spend less this next year.
8. Quality hindered quantity. I worried too much about the production quality of a video or audio episode which is why I didn't put out something every single week like I wanted to. I plan to push myself to make less polished, but still valuable content when I am travelling.
Stats & Metrics
It is really easy to just step on the hamster wheel of putting out podcast episodes and YouTube videos and to forget all the ones you made in the past that people are still absorbing and never analyze the stats behind your audience growth or what they're consuming the most. I'm going to take a minute to do just that.
34 New Podcasts (Episodes 21 through 54)
- 58,400 plays/downloads in 2015
30 New Videos (Episodes 1 through 30)
- 50,122 video podcast downloads
- 3,277 YouTube subscribers (Gained 2,794 in 2015 // 6.7x)
- 304,189 views on YouTube
- 225,838 from 2014 videos [74%]
- 83,940 from 2015 videos [26%]
YouTube is where my target audience lives and I know I'm hindering potential growth there by doing two things. First, time and energy spent on the 50+ audio podcasts we've made could have been put into that many or more YouTube videos. Second, by hosting the video show also on iTunes, those 50,000+ downloads could have turned into YouTube views (maybe) which would help the videos rank higher, etc.
One of my main goals is to continue to grow my YouTube subscribers at the same rate of 6.7x next year, which means hitting 22,000 subscribers by 2017. Totally doable. Subscribe and help me out here. :)
But, I like having an audio podcast and I also know people that have found out about me through the iTunes video podcast. So I'm not making a major decision one way or the other right now.
Traffic & Subscribers
- 152,446 Unique site visitors
- 264,842 Total Pageviews
- 3,234 Total Email subscribers
As for the website and email list stats, most of the traffic comes from search and lands on old posts that aren't even related to video. And my email list has continually grown slow and steady over the past few years. I plan to keep releasing more free and paid courses to grow it even further in 2016.
Revenue, Expenses, & Net Profit
I used to share my net worth each month when I blogged about personal finance and the transparency of other entrepreneurs who share numbers has helped push me to earn more and do more, so here are the finances for Caleb Wojcik Films & DIY Video Guy in 2015.
(Note: These are not my final calculations for the year, as I did them on Dec. 30th, but they are 95% of the way done.)
- Amazon = $4,103.03
Production & Consulting Work
- 12 Main Clients
- Billable Work Paid = $129,920.52
- Consulting, Speaking, & Coaching = $6,996.63
Total Revenue for 2015 = $169,478.78 ($14.1K/mo)
Total Expenses for 2015 = ($58,071.78) ($4.8k/mo)
Net Profit for 2015 = $111,407 ($9.3k/mo)
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't both excited and disappointed by the financial numbers above. On one hand, this is the most money I've ever made. I've never had a six figure income before, let alone had a full-time employee whose financial well-being I'm responsible for.
When I left Fizzle in October 2014 I was scared about whether I could really run my own business. I talked with multiple entrepreneur friends for advice on how to get money in the door quickly and build a profitable lifestyle business. To them I am grateful, as they either encouraged me by being excited and optimistic for me or challenged whether I should save up some money first (which in turn motivated me even more to prove I could do it without savings).
That being said, after a couple good months of client work in 2014 I looked at 2015 with two financial goals. I wanted to do $250,000 in revenue and as a stretch goal, $250,000 in net profit.
Halfway through the year we were on track to hit the former, but the client projects we'd been paid for had to be completed the next couple months, we took on some smaller projects, and I spent almost two months completely offline in the second half of the year. Honestly, I enjoyed both facets of the year. The hustle and the coasting. I just need to find a way to keep doing both while still growing the business financially, our skills artistically, and number of people in the company.
How about next year we double what we did this year?
What Am I Working Toward?
1. Rituals and habits. I've failed to build the habit of writing, exercising, and learning, which means I haven't created a consistent ritual for the building blocks of a productive business and healthy life. I instead fall into working long sporadic hours, consuming too much noise as "homework", and only getting in walks with Pippa instead of lifting weights, surfing, or something else physical.
2. Less "half assed" work days. When we have a shoot scheduled, a product launch upcoming, or a due date for a client, we (Tim and I) hustle. We work hard and focus. When we don't have those kinds of deadlines we work at a slower, less productive speed. Now, I know there are different seasons and speeds to "work", but I'd like to either work hard or play hard (which means not working at all). I'd like to treat our internal work like a client is paying us to do it.
3. More outbound sales. For the production arm of my video business there are specific companies I want to partner with and types of projects I want to work on. The only way for that to happen (other than sitting back and wishing for those opportunities) is to seek out the right people and share my ideas and vision for working together. If I don't do that this year I'll be writing this exact thing out during my next annual review.
4. A bigger team and physical workspace. If I want to do "bigger" videos and films, I need to work with more people. I was able to hire some contractors for specific client projects this year, but I'd like to do that more next year, have more people on my team part or full-time, and pay who I work with better. I'd also like to move my office and studio to a separate location from my home.
There is more to my annual review process than what I've shared here. More personal things, specific habits I'd like to implement or break, and more. I encourage you to do an annual review at least privately too. Here are a few resources for doing your own annual reviews.
And finally, the world lost a great man in Scott Dinsmore this year. I had the pleasure of working with Scott over the past year and saw first hand how much he strove for perfection in encouraging others to do work that matters. We miss you Scott. The world is better off because of you.