Scale Down in Order to Scale Up: 2020 Enterprise Efficiency and Private Assessment

I just lately reported on my earnings and progress for Personal The Yard.

Nonetheless, that area of interest website is de facto not a really massive a part of my enterprise when it comes to each money and time.

Because of this, I believed it might be good to do one thing I haven’t accomplished in a number of years:  Mirror on my complete enterprise for 2020 and share my imaginative and prescient going ahead.

Right this moment I’ll be sharing the progress I’ve made in my complete enterprise; together with and

On this report you’ll discover:

  • the significance of balancing expectations vs actuality
  • a private recap of 2020
  • the books I learn final yr
  • All the companies I’m concerned with
  • Hyperlink Whisper Progress
  • Area of interest Pursuits Progress and Imaginative and prescient
  • Targets for 2021

Expectations vs. Actuality

Tempering expectations is typically a troublesome idea to grapple with as a enterprise proprietor.  Originally of the yr you set targets, however you then mirror on these targets a yr later and half of them could not even matter at that time.

Certain, 2020 was a yr that nobody anticipated.  I didn’t count on my children to nonetheless be doing “digital studying” at house for ever and ever.  I didn’t count on half of the world to start out working from house in 2020.

However such is actuality.

Nonetheless, I wish to dive deeper than the plain pandemic that impacted everybody.  This is only one instance of a “Black Swan” occasion that nobody may predict.

Some of these occasions to a smaller diploma occur each single yr that change the trajectory of your small business. 

For instance, I had a objective in the beginning of 2020 to create a brand new software program software.  Nonetheless, as my enterprise progressed that turned out to be a very dangerous thought and I’m glad I didn’t fulfill that objective.

Doing so would have taken my focus away from present initiatives which have tons of potential.

So, I’ll merely say that I’m a BIG believer in settings targets primarily based on the expectations that you just presently have.  Nonetheless, typically actuality units in, and the very best plan of action is to desert your unique objective and to pursue one thing fully completely different.

This may occasionally come within the type of a greater enterprise alternative, a greater work-life stability alternative, or one thing else fully unexpected.

For instance, I had a objective in 2020 to run my quickest marathon ever and qualify for the Boston Marathon.  I had a objective of three:05 (my earlier finest is 3:09:40 run on the finish of 2019).

I used to be in the very best form of my life and I used to be scheduled to run a marathon on April 4th.  Nicely, that marathon (together with all others) received shut down 2 weeks earlier than it was scheduled to occur.  Many many months of laborious coaching had been for not.

What on the earth simply occurred?!

Right here’s an image taken a pair weeks earlier than I knew my marathon was going to be canceled. I had simply gone working on a comparatively cloud-free day after which out of nowhere, about Three miles into my run it began pouring rain after which hailing.  

I simply took the image to kinda say, “What on the earth occurred!?”

Generally issues look nice, then it begins hailing on you and you might be Three miles from house with no cellphone, and the one manner house is on a dust path.  We’ve all been there, proper? 🙂

Private Happenings in 2020

General, 2020 was truly a improbable yr each personally and professionally.  I wished to mirror a bit on the optimistic and maybe get a bit extra private than I’ve in a very long time.

My spouse goes to hate that I’m sharing photos of her and our youngsters.  However she by no means reads this weblog, so she’s going to by no means know! (<—- True assertion, by the best way).

As I began to have a look at a number of pictures, I believed I’d share a number of highlights.

  • In January of 2020 my household made a visit to Arizona to go to my mother and father.  My son and I, together with a few my brothers and their children, hiked to the highest of Flat Iron (Superstition Mountains). Sure, my son is taller than me.
My son and I on the high of Flat Iron in Arizona
  • I began doing extra Youtube movies and thought I ought to take odd thumbnail photos of myself.  By the top of the yr, I’ve killed off that concept.  However this can be a shot of me a bit extra reflective on what the long run will deliver.  
Seeking to the long run
  • With children being quarantined and unable to go to high school in individual, we determined as a household to try to get out each day and go mountain climbing.  My spouse and I beloved it…and somedays our youngsters loved it too.  Beneath is McBee mountain path.

  • Right here we’re close to the highest of Sweet Mountain. We ended up discovering tons of native trails that we didn’t learn about.  A few of them we are going to go to once more, and a few we will certainly by no means go to once more.

  • We additionally made a visit to Falls Creek Falls close to Portland, OR


  • My brother and I took most of our youngsters + an additional nephew on an epic backpacking journey to Swamp Lake close to Mt. Rainier.  Don’t let the identify idiot you, this was a fully beautiful wilderness.  This hike pushed our youngsters to their limits as we did roughly 12 miles in lower than 24 hours.


  • Right here’s a number of extra photos from the epic in a single day backpacking journey to Swamp Lake and Cougar Lake.
Very secluded lake: Cougar Lake

  • My youngest son graduated from Kindergarten.  As a result of no massive commencement ceremonies had been allowed, the instructor had small teams of her college students go to her home and stroll throughout her porch one after the other to get their “commencement certificates”.  All the children had been excited.  However not my son…after all.  He out of the blue received chilly ft and didn’t wish to stroll throughout that porch.  I got here as much as try to save the day to stroll throughout with him.  This image captures that second.  Spoiler alert, he didn’t ever make it throughout the porch.  However they let him graduate anyway :). 
Making an attempt to graduate from Kindergarten
  • I voted.  And carved pumpkins on the identical evening.

  • I ate a dozen donuts in a day.  That is one thing I’ve accomplished every year for a number of years.  The “dozen donut problem” is difficult to elucidate the origins and why I nonetheless do it.  However the thought is to “reset” if you find yourself feeling depressing and out of form.  Eat 12 donuts in 12 hours. Hit all-time low. Really feel motivated to get in form and by no means really feel like that once more.  (PS – My spouse hates it each time I do it, however at this level, it has kinda grow to be a Spencer factor, so I hold doing it).
Excited for the Dozen Donut Problem

(I made it simpler on myself this yr and went with Krispy Kreme, that are solely about half the scale of a traditional donut that I normally do).

  • Lastly, my spouse created a Zombie manufacturing of types for her mom. (Her mother LOVES zombies).  So, I received forged as an harmless bystander that received attacked by my zombie kids.  I do know, it’s laborious to elucidate and I don’t absolutely perceive it both.  When your spouse desires you to get attacked by zombies and put on a wig you do it!!
My kids are zombies!

General, 2020 was fairly epic on a private degree with my household.  We explored a ton of recent locations and even managed a few different holidays that I didn’t point out right here.

Household is at all times my #1 precedence and enterprise is additional down the listing. 

However since this can be a enterprise weblog, I’ll transfer on from this transient private replace.  Thanks for indulging me by studying thus far.

Books Learn in 2020

I get pleasure from studying and was capable of make it by way of a number of books.  I did a poor job of documenting all of the books I learn, however right here’s a probable incomplete listing of the books I learn in 2020.  I’ve merely bolded those that I loved probably the most.

  • The Experience of a Lifetime: Classes Realized from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Firm – Bob Iger
  • Earlier than the Daybreak: Recovering the Misplaced Historical past of Our Ancestors – Wade Nicholas
  • Sam Walton: Made In America – Sam Walton
  • The Boys within the Boat: 9 Individuals and Their Epic Quest for Gold on the 1936 Berlin Olympics – Daniel James Brown (Acquired bored and didn’t end)
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Much less – Greg McKeown
  • 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Earlier than Columbus – Charles Mann
  • Lake of the Ozarks: My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America – Invoice Geist (Acquired bored and didn’t end studying)
  • The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Household Behind the Jewellery Empire (Acquired bored didn’t end studying)
  • Name Me Ted – Ted Turner
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel – Heather Morris
  • Tiny Scorching Canine: A Memoir in Small Bites – Mary Giuliani
  • A Crack in Creation: Gene Enhancing and the Unthinkable Energy to Management Evolution – Jennifer Doudna
  • Traction: Get a Grip on Your Enterprise – Gino Wickman
  • Human Suitable: Synthetic Intelligence and the Drawback of Management – Stuart Russel
  • Life 3.0: Being Human within the Age of Synthetic Intelligence – Max Tegmark

Right here’s a number of books I’ve already bought which can be on my “To-read” listing:

  • The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry – Bryan Sykes (I’m presently studying this and having fun with it).
  • Friday Night time Lights, 25th Anniversary Version: A City, a Crew, and a Dream – HG Bissinger (I completed a part of this already, however will decide it again up quickly).
  • The Heat of Different Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Nice Migration – Isabel Wilkerson
  • The Higher Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined – Steven Pinker
  • 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created – Charles Mann
  • Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Start of the FBI – David Grann

I’m pretty sure I learn a pair extra final yr, however that is most of them.  In case you have good e book suggestions, let me know!

Enterprise Portfolio Overview

One of many themes that I began to use on the finish of 2020 and hope to use much more in 2021 is to scale down with the intention to scale up.

What I imply by that is that I have to scale down the variety of initiatives I’m engaged on with the intention to have the time and focus essential to scale up the most important initiatives with probably the most potential.

So, as I share my total portfolio, I’ll additionally merely share whether or not it’s a undertaking I’m planning to exit in 2021 or a undertaking I plan to scale up.

  • I plan to proceed specializing in and rising this enterprise.
  • After launching in mid-2019, this enterprise has grown a lot larger than I initially anticipated.  I nonetheless see TONS of development potential, so I plan to maintain focusing right here.
  • I simply printed an annual evaluate right here.  I plan to place little or no of my very own time right here.  I may undoubtedly see myself promoting this website within the subsequent 12 months, however who is aware of.
  • Different area of interest websites.  I’ve a number of different area of interest websites that I’m nonetheless engaged on.  I’d actually wish to promote all of those websites in 2021 with the intention to unlock “thoughts” area and somewhat little bit of time.
  • The SaaS enterprise is one which underperformed primarily based on my expectations. I’d wish to promote this enterprise within the subsequent 12 months.  Contact me if all in favour of shopping for.
  • – It is a enterprise the place I’m a minority companion.  I put little or no of my very own time into the enterprise.  I plan to stay round as a result of I consider there’s development potential and its solely a really minor time dedication.
  • – I’m additionally a really minority companion right here.  I don’t put any actual time into this enterprise both.  We’ll see what occurs with this one over the following 12 months.

As you possibly can see, I’ve 7 complete companies that get a few of my time, even when it’s a little or no period of time.

I’d like to solely have 2 companies to deal with, however I’m undecided I can scale down that far in 2021.

Along with maybe promoting a few of my websites or exiting different companies, I’ve a objective set in stone that I’ll NOT begin any NEW web sites or companies in 2021.

I wish to scale up what I have already got.

The two companies that I shall be specializing in for 2021 is and  And the good half is that each of those companies are very interconnected.  So, my time spent on both one is de facto spent serving to each.

Hyperlink Whisper Progress

Once I initially created Hyperlink Whisper, I used to be planning to create Three or four completely different little WordPress plugins that might add as much as a pleasant little software program portfolio.

Nonetheless, once I launched Hyperlink Whisper nearly 18 months in the past, the demand was MUCH bigger than I anticipated.  I received’t go into the numbers that I used to be anticipating; nevertheless, I’ll simply say this was one other time the place expectations didn’t meet actuality…in a great way.

On account of what I’ve seen over the past 18 months of working the enterprise, I plan to focus closely on rising the Hyperlink Whisper enterprise and received’t be pursuing another software program instruments at the moment.

I truthfully by no means thought I’d have one other software as profitable as Lengthy Tail Professional (which I exited 5 years in the past).  Hyperlink Whisper remains to be not as massive as Lengthy Tail Professional, however once I examine the trajectory of Hyperlink Whisper to Lengthy Tail Professional after the primary 18 months, Hyperlink Whisper is certainly forward.

Product Hunt

In Might of this yr, I used to be capable of do a promotion on Product Hunt.  Hyperlink Whisper ended up being the #1 product of the day and received listed within the Product Hunt e mail.

This led to some good publicity and fairly a number of gross sales.

New Options

Through the yr, we launched so many new options that I received’t listing all of them.  I now have a devoted full-time developer engaged on the undertaking, so we’re making a lot of updates on a regular basis.

Just lately we launched:

  • Skill so as to add your personal goal key phrases to get higher hyperlink strategies.  This contains integrating with Yoast web optimization or Rank Math to drag in any goal key phrases you’ve already added.
  • Skill to attach with Google Search Console.  This lets you see the goal key phrases you might be already rating for, so Hyperlink Whisper can counsel higher inner hyperlinks.  Google Search Console additionally gives search knowledge that’s available so that you can view instantly within the plugin.
  • Supported extra languages and extra themes/wordpress editors.
  • Added extra filters, search features, and extra to make it sooner and simpler to search out and add inner hyperlinks primarily based in your private standards.

Coming quickly, we shall be including the power to interlink a number of websites that you just personal.  When you personal each website A and B, you’ll quickly have the ability to see hyperlink strategies between these websites should you so select.

Hyperlink Whisper Efficiency

I’m somewhat hesitant to share the precise income of Hyperlink Whisper.  Nonetheless, here’s a graph beneath of the month-to-month income because the product was launched 18 months in the past.  

I do know the graph doesn’t give a ton of knowledge.  Nonetheless, once I examine the identical month of 2019 vs. 2020, it’s fairly straightforward to see the superior development.  Many of the spikes that you just see are once I did some form of promotion.

For instance, the massive spike in July 2019 is once I launched the software to my e mail listing.  Then Nov. and Dec. of each years are Black Friday and Cyber Monday spikes.  And Might 2020 was my Product Hunt launch.

I’m excited to see the place this enterprise goes.

Area of interest Pursuits Progress and Imaginative and prescient

I plan to place a number of my time into rising Area of interest Pursuits each as a group and as an revenue stream.

I’ll be trustworthy that 2020 was a VERY tough yr for visitors to Area of interest Pursuits.  The location received hit laborious with the Might Google replace.  Area of interest Pursuits has prevented each single different replace Google has ever thrown out since 2010.

I’ve by no means accomplished any “hyperlink constructing”, so I’ve by no means frightened about adverse impacts from Google.  Nonetheless, for no matter purpose, Google determined to put down the hammer.

Right here’s what the carnage regarded like:

That’s not the form of graph you wish to see.  Early within the yr I had misplaced the rankings of a few my massive key phrases, however this solely impacted a few articles. 

Nonetheless, in Might the drop was actually throughout the complete website after the core replace.

I want I may say I knew the rationale my website received hit with the replace, however I don’t know for positive.  Nonetheless, throughout the second half of the yr, I spent a number of time auditing and cleansing up Area of interest Pursuits in hopes that Google would as soon as once more smile on my website.

The work seems to have paid off when the December core replace got here out.

Right here’s the remainder of what 2020 regarded like in Google Search Console (and starting of 2021):

As you possibly can see with the crimson line I added, my Natural visitors is VERY near getting proper again to the place it was earlier than the Might replace.  And the pattern that I’m seeing with elevated visitors proper now leads me to consider that in one other month or two I may undoubtedly exceed the place I as soon as was in the beginning of 2020.

Right here’s a number of issues I did that I consider helped me “recuperate” from the Google core replace in Might.  (I additionally deep down consider that Google made a mistake penalizing my website, and perhaps they had been simply “fixing” that mistake in December):

  • I’ve TONS of outdated, private, or in any other case non-keyword targeted content material that was getting no visitors.  I eliminated roughly 250 articles that had been principally by no means concentrating on a key phrase or had been in any other case not price repurposing.  This took many many hours of my very own time.
  • I’ve spent a number of time optimizing the inner hyperlinks with Hyperlink Whisper.  In lots of circumstances this concerned truly eradicating hyperlinks.  For instance, I may need anchor textual content of “Amazon Affiliate Web site” resulting in article A after which the identical anchor textual content “Amazon affiliate web site” resulting in article B in one other location.  I consider this actually confuses Google and each article A and B find yourself performing poorly.  Thankfully, Hyperlink Whisper made it a lot sooner and simpler to audit and replace all my inner hyperlinks.
  • I did an entire technical Audit utilizing each Google Search Console and Ahrefs to repair errors on my website.  This was additionally a time-consuming undertaking.
  • I’ve additionally been updating my top-performing content material and utilizing Market Muse to do these updates.  I’ve seen will increase in rank and visitors in virtually each single one of many articles that I replace.  That is an ongoing process that may probably go all all through 2021 and maybe eternally.  I presently have 2 authors helping with these updates.

Area of interest Pursuits Site visitors and Monetization

Once I have a look at the whole visitors (not simply search visitors) for Area of interest Pursuits 12 months Over 12 months, I can see that visitors was solely down 10.66%.  Now, I hate a decline of any variety, however with all that went on with the Might core replace, and so on, I’ll reside with it.

Nonetheless, regardless of a 10% decline in visitors to Area of interest Pursuits, the precise revenue INCREASED by 97.85%. That’s proper I virtually doubled the revenue of Area of interest Pursuits in 2020 in comparison with 2019.

How did I practically double the revenue with declining visitors?

  • Nicely, a part of it was undoubtedly optimizing posts for monetization.  Some articles weren’t monetized very effectively previously and so I fastened that. 
  • One other half was that I had began producing extra “cash” sort articles in 2019 that began performing higher in early 2020. 
  • Maybe the most important contribution to elevated income in 2020 was because of using my e mail listing higher. I developed a greater system for writing content material, discovering gives, and monetizing my e mail listing.

When you’ve an e mail listing that you just’ve constructed over 10 years that you just haven’t absolutely monetized, there’s a number of “meat” on the bone so to talk.

Now, I’ve been very cautious about making an attempt to not simply ship out supply after supply with none actual content material.  I now have gotten right into a rhythm of making an attempt to supply Three or four tales, articles, interviews, or different nice items of content material in my emails.  Then I’ve one “By the best way, this service is x% off in the present day” sort of supply.  

Because of this, the suggestions I’ve gotten is that individuals are nonetheless excited to open my emails and skim as a result of they get these motivational or strategic tales that I share or the entrepreneurial interviews that I do.  They usually don’t thoughts seeing a small paragraph that may point out a particular supply that I make an affiliate fee on.

Now, if all I used to be doing was making the particular gives 100% of my emails, this may backfire fairly shortly. 

You need to hold sending nice content material that your e mail subscribers wish to learn after which they don’t thoughts a brief “industrial break” midway by way of.

This course of has been working so effectively that I’ve employed a full-time COO to assist me develop the enterprise facet of Area of interest Pursuits.  Eric Burns began in late September and has been an ideal addition to my group.

Area of interest Pursuits Revenue

I received’t be sharing the precise income numbers, as I’d wish to proceed to maintain that non-public, however is an effective enterprise.

As you possibly can see from the graph above, the revenue has been steadily rising over the past couple of years.

I observe the “passive revenue” and the “lively revenue” on the location.  The passive revenue is solely the articles which can be rating in Google and make gross sales with out my involvement.  Principally, all the pieces taking place instantly on

The opposite revenue is issues that occur off Area of interest Pursuits, like e mail promotions or different one-time funds that I would get, like podcast sponsorships, and so on.

As you possibly can see, 2 years in the past, I principally had no sponsorships or “lively” revenue taking place with my e mail listing, and so on (a minimum of not very continuously).  Now you possibly can see that this has grow to be an even bigger a part of my enterprise and I consider there’s tons of development potential right here.

I’m placing increasingly effort into rising my e mail listing and I virtually deal with my e mail listing like its personal enterprise separate from the passive revenue that’s taking place on  They undoubtedly feed off one another, however they should be operated in another way.

Hyperlink Whisper vs.

Once more, I’ve edited out the precise revenue numbers, however I believed it might be attention-grabbing to match the month over month income of Area of interest Pursuits vs. Hyperlink Whisper.

As you possibly can see my 18 month outdated enterprise of Hyperlink Whisper is already performing on the similar degree of my 10-year-old enterprise,

Hyperlink Whisper truly edged out Area of interest Pursuits total for the complete yr for income.  Nonetheless, the bills are undoubtedly greater for Hyperlink Whisper with a full-time developer, paid advert campaigns, and help employees.

(It’s nonetheless very worthwhile although).

Targets for 2021

General, I’m proud of the efficiency of each companies throughout 2020, however I’ve targets to make them even higher.

I at all times set targets in each my private and enterprise life. Right here’s my enterprise targets for 2021:

  • Replace and Optimize 125 posts on
  • Develop Area of interest Pursuits visitors to 10,000 periods a day (300,000 periods a month)
  • Write 1500 phrases per weekday (5 occasions every week)
  • Develop Area of interest Pursuits income by 50%
  • Develop Hyperlink Whisper income by 50%
  • Learn 2 books per thirty days
  • Don’t begin any new enterprise ventures in 2021

I received’t bore you with all the private and household targets that I’ve for the yr, however simply know that I’ve these as effectively.

I’m off to an ideal begin with my writing 1500 phrases a day objective!  I feel having this devoted “deep work” time goes to hone my expertise as a blogger and I’m discovering it fairly fulfilling.  Right here’s a fast have a look at my each day objective tracker for writing (home-made spreadsheet):

General, I hope you’ve gotten some worth out of studying my 2020 yr in evaluate put up.  I consider that 2021 goes to be a improbable yr for on-line entrepreneurs basically and I stay up for sharing my progress alongside the best way.

When you’d like to remain knowledgeable with what I’m as much as, what’s taking place on Area of interest Pursuits, and another enterprise methods that I’ve to share, I like to recommend that you just be a part of my e mail publication proper right here.

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