With 2019 just starting up, I thought it’d be a good time to look back at 2018 and review how my year went, both personally and on this blog.
What follows is a post that covers four things: (1) a brief financial year in review; (2) a travel year in review; (3) a blog year in review; and (4) my upcoming blog goals for 2019. I hope you enjoy.
2018 (Brief) Financial Year In Review
Barring something unexpected happening in the future, 2018 will likely go down as one of the lower income earning years in my household. This was because of two reasons:
- I took a pay cut in 2017, so this past year was the first year I worked an entire year at my lower salary; and
- My wife graduated residency in May, then bought her practice in August, and it was unclear what sort of income she would generate with her own practice (so far, things have been going very well with her practice).
On an individual level, 2018 was my lowest earning income year since graduating from law school. In the interest of transparency, my W-2 income in 2018 was $57,000. Of that, I put $12,000 into my employer’s 403(b) plan – about 21% of my pre-tax income. I also put $5,500 into my Roth IRA, which is still with Betterment, although I keep meaning to move it over directly to Vanguard (my laziness is why I haven’t done this yet).
Side hustle income for the year came out to a little over $26,000, which means that my side hustle income was equal to 45% of the income I earned from my day job. That’s pretty incredible to me – and proof that anyone can increase their income substantially if they take a look at the options around them. My plan for this side hustle income is to put as much of it as I can into my Solo 401k, in effect, “maxing out” my 401k by creating my own 401k. At a minimum, I should be able to put away $6,000 in my Solo 401k once I do my taxes and figure out my deductions.
Other income I earned in 2018 included $3,262 of bank signup bonuses that I earned from 17 different banks. This is a post that I need to write about (and I promise it will be done soon – there’s just a ton of value in bank account bonuses that I think people should take advantage of). The $3,200 I made from bank bonuses wasn’t insignificant, as it represented 5% of my day job income in 2018. I also had income from 5% interest savings accounts and other high-yield savings accounts, but I haven’t actually gone and added all of that up yet.
Finally, while not exactly income, my wife and I did earn over 1 million points and miles by signing up for credit cards and collecting credit card signup bonuses. The value of these points and miles can vary depending on how you use them, but it’s not unreasonable to generally value points and miles at an average of about 1 cent per point. Using that 1 cent per point average, that means we generated $10,000 worth of points and miles that we’ll be able to use for travel.
2018 Travel Year In Review
2018 was actually a pretty big travel year for me and my wife. I began the year with a goal of trying to travel 12 times in 12 months, and since my wife and I earned the Southwest Companion Pass at the beginning of the year, we focused a lot on domestic trips (which was actually fine since we both didn’t have a lot of vacation time to use anyway).
Unfortunately, I came up just one trip short of my 12 trip goal, but I’m still pretty happy with my attempt to get out there and explore the world a bit.
Here’s a recap of all of the places we traveled to in 2018.
February 2018 – Arizona: We rented out our house on Airbnb for the Super Bowl, then went to Arizona for a weekend to do some hiking in Saguaro National Park. During that trip, temperatures in Arizona were 80 degrees, and back in Minnesota, it was 0 degrees. It was a nice change of pace, and I can see why so many retired people go south for the winter.
April 2018 – Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington DC: In April, my wife and I went to Atlanta for a weekend to visit my best friend. As a bonus, while we were in the south enjoying warm weather, Minneapolis had a crazy April snowstorm that dumped a foot of snow on the city.
Later in the month, my wife and I went to Chicago to celebrate our anniversary. Since we used points to pay for our hotel and plane tickets, we splurged and got Hamilton tickets to celebrate.
We ended April by flying out to DC to visit family. That was my first introduction to Bird and Lime scooters, and it’s where I became obsessed with them.
May 2018 – Las Vegas and Iceland: My buddy graduated from law school in mid-May, so I went to Las Vegas for a quick weekend to celebrate with him.
Over Memorial Day weekend, my wife and I did a quick 4-day trip to Iceland. If you’re looking for an international destination that you can do pretty quickly, Iceland actually works out well depending on where in the US you’re located. From Minnesota, it’s only a 5-hour trip, so it’s pretty quick to get there.
June 2018 – South Dakota: We flew to the Black Hills for a friend’s wedding, visited Mt. Rushmore, then hiked to the top of Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota. My wife and I have this plan of trying to hike as many state high points as we can, so this trip knocked another high point off the list. Coming here was also nice because it allowed me to live out my National Treasure 2 adventures.
July 2018 – Washington DC: In July, we flew back to DC for another wedding. Nothing crazy here, but it was fun to be back home again.
September 2018 – Colorado and Orlando: We started the beginning of the month by flying to Colorado for Labor Day weekend. The main point of this trip was to hike to the top of Mt. Elbert, the highest point in Colorado.
At the end of the month, I went to FinCon in Orlando – always one of the highlights of my year. I didn’t get to explore a ton since FinCon was at a resort, but it was fun to be able to hang out at a pool and relax.
December 2018 – Paris: We flew to Paris for the holidays to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins. I hadn’t been to France in over a decade, so it was nice to get there and see the city as an adult. Flights were paid for with points, and my cousin hooked us up by giving us his apartment to stay at while we were there.
2018 Blog Year In Review
I’ve actually never shared much information about the performance of this blog but figured it might be good to share some of that information so you can get a little peek at what’s happening behind the scenes here.
At the outset, 2018 was a terrific year for the blog. I definitely had issues with work-life balance, however, and due to laziness and other things, I only managed to publish 45 posts in 2018 (out of a total of 180-lifetime posts). I’m planning to work on this in the upcoming year because I’d much rather have closer to 100 posts a year, rather than 50 posts a year.
In terms of traffic, the blog received nearly 1 million page views in 2018, with over 300,000 page views in the last three months of the year alone. This is just so awesome to me and I’m seriously beyond grateful for everyone that takes the time out of their day to read this blog. The pace continues to stay strong as well, and I’m expecting to have well over 1 million page views in 2019. Thank you again to everyone that visits this blog!
Gross revenue for the blog increased by 10x compared to 2017. Because I wasn’t relying on this money, I ended up reinvesting basically all of it back into the blog. A lot of this income was reinvested into Facebook ads using the strategies I learned from Mike Yanda and Bobby Hoyt’s Facebook Ads for Bloggers course (this course is definitely worth the purchase for anyone who wants to understand how to market their blog better and drive more traffic to their blog with Facebook ads). I also utilized a lot of the techniques in Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course in order to help increase my gross revenue.
Blog Goals for 2019
The blog did very well in 2018 and I’m looking to continue that growth in 2019. Here are some of my primary blog goals in 2019:
Publish More Posts. Without a doubt, my biggest goal is to get more posts published and to do so on a more consistent basis. Anyone who blogs knows that consistency is key to blogging – you just have to keep pumping out content on a regular basis, because you never know when you’ll hit that turning point. I’m seriously in awe of guys like The Mastermind Within or Four Pillar Freedom, who consistently pump out 3 or 4 posts per week for years while also working full-time jobs. Big props to them (and to any others doing the same thing that I missed). I’d like to get back to what I did in 2017 and try to get at least 8 posts written per month or about 2 per week.
Create More Organized Stuff To Help People. Right now, I feel like I have a lot of information scattered around on this blog and in my head. With working full-time, plus doing all of these side hustles, it doesn’t leave me with much spare time to do anything beyond just writing blog posts. My hope is to get things more organized in 2019. I’d like to set up some sort of email course or an ebook type thing that lays things out in a more organized manner.
Update Old Posts. Since I’ve been blogging for over two years, I have at least a couple of posts out there that could use some updating. At some point, I’m going to go back over all of my posts and clean things up.
Quit My Job And Go All-In On The Blog. When I first started blogging, I thought it’d just be a fun thing I could do to share some of the weird things I was doing with the world. But, as I’ve started to get more involved in the world of online businesses, I cannot get it out of my head that I really think I could make a go of trying to do this blog full-time. This is a big goal of mine in 2019 – we’ll see what happens.
Thanks For Reading!
Again, thank you to each and every person that comes to this blog. However you find yourself here, I really appreciate it. Even if you disagree with what I write, that’s totally cool – my writing is obviously based on my perspective of the world, and it’s learning from each other that we make ourselves better.
If you have your own story to share, don’t be shy about starting a blog. We all have stories to share, and the internet is such a big place – you just never know when you might have an impact on someone.
That’s all I have for now. Have a great 2019 everyone!