2014 Takeaways and Celebrity Hacking in 2015

Written by Matt Wolfe
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2014 was an amazing year, both personally and professionally.

In 2014, my wife and I celebrated 5 years of marriage and my 2nd child, my son Hollis, was born. I spent time in Maui, Chicago, Baltimore, and Savannah Georgia. I moved out of my home office and into a suite in an office building down the street. I began to build the Growth Hut brand as well as the Beyond The Hype podcast. Learn To Blog grew into a powerhouse brand, doing over half a million dollars in sales. I helped build a community center in LA and helped raise over $7,500 for a charity called Nothing But Nets, that helps stop the spread of malaria in Africa.

My little man – Hollis Wolfe

A photo posted by Matt Wolfe (@mattrwolfe) on

Kona Longboard, Maui onion chips, and a sweet view. #ILML 🙂

A photo posted by Matt Wolfe (@mattrwolfe) on

Just knocked out a podcast episode with @joshsbartlett with my new gear. #podcasting #heilpr40

A photo posted by Matt Wolfe (@mattrwolfe) on

It’s been an amazing year for sure and today I’m spending a little time reflecting back on it as well as looking at the future and what my big plans for 2015 will be.

What worked well for me in 2014

1. Adding meditation into my daily routine…

In March of 2014, I read a book called “Super Rich” by Russell Simmons. You would think the book would be about business strategies and ideas to get rich… Really the book spends a lot of time focusing on the benefits of meditation, mindfulness, and creating value in the world. It quickly found its way into my top 10 favorite books list. My biggest takeaway from the book revolved around the benefits of meditation and how that single practice has been something that’s transformed Russell’s life.

Later in the year, I watched an episode of “The Random Show” with Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose… They discussed the benefits of meditation as well and recommended a mobile app called “HeadSpace“… I grabbed that app and have used that as part of my morning rituals.

Meditation has helped me stay calm in times where I would have traditionally found myself stressing out. Going in to a meditative state helps me clear my mind of all distractions and quiet the voice in my head for a short period of time. Coming out of a meditative state makes me feel happy. I feel a sense of clarity on what I should be focused on in that moment. Colors feel more vibrant and everything around me seems more… magical and fascinating.

After practicing meditation for the better part of the year, I found myself able to put myself in a calm relaxed state much more easily. Things that used to bother me just don’t anymore and I find that I’m just genuinely happy much more often.

2. Journaling…

I won’t go too deep on my experience with journaling because I also talked, in depth, about this in my “daily rituals” podcast episode. I will tell you that, in addition to meditation, journaling is a phenomenal way to further clear your head.

I journal in the evening, right before bed. It’s my way of getting whatever’s on my mind out of my mind right before sleep. If I want to rant about something that bugged me, I do it in my journal. When I want to show gratitude to something or someone, I put it in my journal. When I’ve got a big idea that I need to get out before I forget, I put it in my journal, and, when I want to remember the events of the day, I put them in my journal.

My journal is my second brain. It’s my way of reflecting on the large successes and failures of each day and it’s my way of remembering small nuances that may have happened weeks ago. It’s a backup device for my brain. It provides peace of mind, a second memory, an idea list, and all the rants that I’ve needed to get out of my system and didn’t want to take to bed with me.

My journal is a backup device for my brain. It provides peace of mind, a second memory, an idea list...… Click To Tweet

When I started, I did all of my journaling inside Evernote. Recently, based on advice from Michael Hyatt, I’ve moved my journal over to a tool called Day One Journal.

3. Simplification…

I’m someone that’s always said “yes” to everything and everyone. I jump at all opportunities and never like to tell people “no”. I end up with a lot on my plate and very little focus on any single thing.

Just last month, I read the book “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown about focusing on less (but more important) things. I absolutely LOVED this book. It’s probably a top 3 book for me. I can’t think of a single other book that has had more impact on me in recent years than this book. It definitely was my best book of 2014.

Reading this book led to a discussion with Josh Bartlett on Beyond The Hype about simplification. In this discussion, Josh and I talked about focus and balance on work vs. home…

Based on Essentialism and that conversation with Josh, I created a new daily strategy for simplification…

I focus on just 3 things per day. I still create a task list but I only put 3 things on that task list each day. This forces me to determine what the most essential, highest impact things I could be doing on any given day are. This also helps get past my workaholism. Once my 3 tasks are done, I’m done with my work day.

Create a task list with only 3 things on it each day. Force yourself to figure out only 3 essential tasks… Click To Tweet

Ideas and calls and things like that pop up throughout the day. Calls go to voicemail, explaining my pursuits and asking for either a detailed message or an email and ideas go to an ongoing Evernote list of ideas. Calls and ideas can then be prioritized into a future day as one of my 3 things…

This has been a game changer for me. In all honesty, I’ve only been practicing this for a couple weeks now but it’s made a world of difference. I’m home by a decent hour each day, there’s less procrastination, there’s less random things popping up during the day, and I’m just getting things done.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out this podcast episode and read Essentialism. They will alter your view on everything.

2014 Numbers

In 2015, I’m going to go back to full transparency with my business. I’m going to be doing income reports, traffic reports, and various other growth reports.

This blog is still very small. I’ve spent so much time building Learn To Blog that I haven’t put much time into my personal brand. That will change in 2015 because I’ve already mapped out a game plan for the year.

In order to put numbers into context in the coming months, I should give a few numbers to start with…

To start with, I won’t be sharing income numbers from Learn To Blog. I have partners in that business and, for their privacy, I won’t be sharing exact sales numbers just yet until I’ve had a chance to fully discuss and flesh out a game plan and agreement with them going forward. All numbers that I share will be from my personal efforts here on Growth Hut and outside of Learn To Blog…

December Income:

Grand Total: $2,021.31

As you can see, outside of Learn To Blog, I’m not “crushing it” with sales. Learn To Blog is my primary income source. It is what pays the bills for me. These other efforts are the results of experiments and little side projects.

The goal for 2015 is to ramp up much of these side projects and increase their revenue. I don’t want all my eggs in one basket for my income. I want to be diversified with my income sources.

Here’s my 2014 (non Learn To Blog) Income:

  • Growth Hut Insiders: $7,092.61 (Avg. $591 / month)
  • Book Sales: $7,389.85 (Avg. $615.82 / month)
  • Client Consulting Work: $5,946.00
  • Fiverr Gig Sales: $1,352.30 (Avg. $112.69 / month)
  • Udemy Course Sales: $433.32 (Avg. $36.11 / month)
  • Viral Bully Plugin: $161.44 (Avg. $13.45 / month)
  • Affiliate Promotions: $10,723.03 (Avg. $893.59 / month)
    • Easy Video Suite: $6,812.50 (Avg. $567.71 / month)
    • GetResponse: $2,313.55 (Avg. $192.80 /month)
    • Video Traffic Academy: $367.07
    • Aweber: $360.00
    • HostGator: $350
    • OptimizePress: $285.20
    • LeadPages: $174.30
    • Misc: $60.41

Grand Total For 2014: $33,098.65

The cool thing about that number is that it is about what I was making at the shutter company before I quit my job… So, in side projects alone, I made what I used to make in my day job.

You may also be thinking that you’ve seen me promote a lot more affiliate products than the ones mentioned… In most cases, when I promote affiliate products, I promote with Bradley through Learn To Blog… These are just things that I’ve promoted on the side through this blog and my various other personal blogs…

Here’s some other key metrics that I’d like to establish in this post so that you can track growth with me…

Twitter Followers: 2,970 (See “buying Twitter followers”)
Facebook Fans: 1,176
Google+ Followers: 3,396
LinkedIn Connection: 1,119

Growth Hut Visitors in December: 1,752 (Avg. 56.5 / day)

Screenshot 2015-01-02 15.25.20

Top 5 Traffic Sources For December:

1. Direct: 687
2. Google: 344 – My SEO strategy
3. Twitter: 249 – My Twitter Strategy
4. Facebook: 81
5. Learn To Blog: 20

Cool… So that should be a good reference point for metrics. I’ll be posting updates every single month in 2015 and this gives people a starting point. You can watch my growth and follow the experiments that I create to generate that growth…

Looking forward to 2015

I mentioned earlier that I’ve already begun to map out my strategy for 2015. This strategy includes continuing with my daily rituals of meditation, journaling, and 3 essential things per day. It will also include a massive branding campaign.

In episode 6 of Beyond The Hype, Josh and I discussed creating a massive brand and things people can do to make themselves look much bigger than they are. My goal for 2015 is to follow through with the processes and ideas that we discussed in that conversation.

I’m putting together a bit of a roadmap and calling the concept “Engineering Celebrity”. It will be the topic of a follow-up blog post as well as a massive theme in my next book.

The idea behind “Engineering Celebrity” is that you can sort of “hack” your way to brand authority through strategic spending and PR…

Engineering Celebrity: You can “hack” your way to brand authority through strategic spending and PR.… Click To Tweet

In 2015, I’m going to use myself as a guinea pig to test some ideas to grow a personal brand.

Engineering celebrity entails things like:

  • Getting in the press. Using tools like HARO and Press Releases to get featured in media.
  • Borrowing credibility. Interview thought leaders and niche celebrities to help elevate your own brand.
  • Being seen / heard everywhere. Accepting more interview requests, speaking requests, and guest blogging requests.
  • Transparency and sharing “wins”. Giving people inside looks in to your business and letting people know about your successes, results, and the fruits of your labor.
  • Growing as an author. Being published is huge for credibility. Having multiple books published is even better.
  • Looking professional. Always presenting in the best light. Nice clothes, freshly groomed, and polished presentations. A website that doesn’t look like a stock template. Professional photography to present your personal brand.
  • Focusing on social media. Potential followers use social media as a metric to measure success. Having a massive following on social media makes for huge credibility. Maintaining appearances across social media is important as well (ie. no drunken pictures or political / religious rants that may isolate your potential audience).

These and many more things were the topic of the discussion in this Beyond The Hype episode.

Here are my commitments for 2015:

  1. Publish another book
  2. Be featured in at least 5 “top tier” publications. I’m looking at things like Success Magazine, Inc, Forbes, Fast Company, etc…
  3. Minimum of 2 public speaking appearances
  4. Interviewing at least 12 business and marketing thought leaders
  5. Be interviewed on at least 12 other media outlets (podcasts / YouTube videos / etc)
  6. Create a monthly progress / income report
  7. Have at least 2 professional photo shoots done of me
  8. Grow The Growth Hut to 500+ daily visits (a little over 15,000 visits / month)
  9. Grow Twitter to following of 10,000+
  10. Grow Facebook Fan Page to following of 10,000+
  11. Do $1 million+ in sales of Learn To Blog
  12. Average $6,000 per month in non-LTB-income

Some of those goals are lofty and some may seem easy. For example, $6,000 per month in non-LTB-income may seem like a small number, considering my historical income reports… However, growing Learn To Blog and The Beyond The Hype podcast are going to be what consumes 75% or more of my time… I’m attempting to grow my side-income to $6,000 per month while basically working full-time on my main business and trying to simplify my daily tasks…

I’m sure I’m capable of blowing past that goal but, for now, I’m sticking with that number…

There you have it. There’s my reflections on 2014, the direction I’m heading in 2015, and my commitments for the coming year.

Keep an eye out for my monthly progress / income reports…

Now, let’s discuss…

How did you fare in 2014? What are your commitments for 2015? Please share in the comments…

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About the author

Matt Wolfe

Matt Wolfe is a father, a husband, an author, a speaker, a teacher and a bit of a hacker. He was one of the original founders of LearnToBlog.com and co-founded Beyond The Hype. Matt is an expert on paid traffic generation, email marketing and affiliate marketing. He's constantly developing new training courses and is currently in development of a new software platform, set to be released at the end of 2015.

  • i’m such a numbers girl so i love this article and your willingness to just put it all out there. i also like setting goals based on numbers, in fact that’s how i’ve been able to actually be semi-successful in what i do. i like measureable results because that gives me confidence and momentum to keep going. or when the results are poor, that’s valuable feedback that i need to shift course or improve upon myself or the system i have in place. love it! thanks matt!

    • Thanks for commenting! I moved away from these transparent blog posts over the years. I was caught up in a single business. I’m ready to put strategic focus on multiple businesses again and “fail quickly”… Blogging is a great way to track results and really feel accountable.

  • David Walker

    Matt, thank you for taking the time to start 2015 by sharing as you have
    with transparency and openness. My path for the journey through this
    new year should NOT mirror or parallel your own, but there are some great take aways and thought provokers that WILL serve as a source of inspiration and motivation as I identify, refine and implement my plans and goals for 2015!

    Now I’m off to review the Twitter case study and view your traffic video. Interestingly enough, they both dovetail nicely with my plans for the weekend!

    Have a blessed and prosperous new year!

    • Thanks David! I think there’s a few takeaways from this post that anyone can implement and test… Enjoy the Twitter case study!

  • Angela Johnson

    Even though you’ve been in this business a long time, you’re not making megabucks, which makes you real. You try all sorts of ventures and if something doesn’t work, you move on. I try lots of different avenues, too, but on a much smaller scale. This year I’m finally going to dump some of the smaller revenue producing sites I’ve been using and move on.

    • Thanks Angela. For the sake of full transparency, I don’t make a healthy living with Learn To Blog, which is not reported here… I am a tester and “hacker”… I like to play with new things and report my results. 🙂

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