2014 was another record year for the businesses I’m involved in which I’ll get to later in this post, but by far the most exciting part of the year came early on Jan 5th, 2014 when my wife gave birth to our twin daughters Hope and Everly. I’d like to start this year end review with personal wins and then go into the business side.
Personal Wins In 2014:
My wife and I struggled for years trying to get pregnant (something that a surprising number of other couples face as well).
Ultimately the long journey eventually lead to to two different doctors and several rounds of in vitro fertilization. We finally found success with Pacific Northwest Fertility and I’m very thankful that something – anything – finally worked.
Most couples that struggle with infertility do so in silence, so I wanted to briefly touch on that and if you’re reading this and are going through the same struggle please do reach out to friends and family. It will help.
Now that we have twin newborns how do I work from home?
I’ve worked from home ever since I got fired from my job over 5 years ago, so going into 2014 with the extra responsibility of helping to care for two newborns was a big challenge. We intentionally purchased a home well below our means back in late 2012, but it’s easy to see how an office far away from the rest of the house is something I’d like if I want to continue working from home. I did come up with a solution though.
Here’s how I did it…
Noise Isolating Headphones:Yes. That simple.
There is a big difference between noise cancelling headphones where they can filter out the same continual noise that comes when you’re sitting on an airplane vs crying babies which varies in frequency and intensity (won’t be blocked out).
Noise isolating headphones help to physically block out other sounds which makes them perfect for blocking out crying babies. When combined with the finest Ronald Jenkees, Blackmill, Lindsey Sterling, Ratatat and other beat focused music Pandora has to offer I was far less distracted than when I wasn’t using headphones.
I bought these V-MODA headphones for under $150
My long term plan is to create true separation between work and personal life
I’d like to be able to walk out of my office and into the house where I physically can’t work. When we move to our next house, I’m going to build an external office like this:
Ever since I saw one of these I’ve been obsessed with them. I may not be able to wait until we move to buy an office like this, so if we find one that is portable I may buy early. Suggestions for a Washington resident? Plenty of fantastic ideas here by the way.
Personal Investing Wins And Plans:
I’m going to stick with WealthFront for my retirement account and will bring my 2014 SEP IRA contributions up to the max of $52,000 for the year (this value is capped based on a percentage of your income).
I’ve also enjoyed using�Personal Capital to monitor the growth of my investments. Awesome free tool that’s very similar to Mint.
In 2015 or 2016 I’d like to buy my first real estate investment, but instead of starting off with a rental house I’d like to go straight for an apartment complex. Call me crazy, but in part because my wife is a very large Dave Ramsey fan (he advocates against borrowing money), I’ll most likely need to buy all or at the very least most of the apartment in cash.
Target purchase price would be under $1MM. Before making a purchase like this I’m going to have to significantly increase my commercial real estate knowledge. I’ve learned a lot listening to the Bigger Pockets podcast from my friends Josh and Brandon, but I need to connect with some larger real estate investors (perhaps via trading my online knowledge for their real estate knowledge).
Anyone out there? Let me know.
You may ask why bother with real estate if you’re doing well online? Easy. Diversification.
Amazon Business Wrap Up
I started one new business of selling physical products on Amazon in mid 2014 and besides the $1K blog case study, it’s the only business I share my income results from (the others I have partners involved or just simply don’t feel comfortable sharing). It’s been going very well so far and I expect this business to be a large driver of new revenue in 2015.
I’ll publish my December income report later, but here are my total sales for the five months of sales in 2014 from just one product:
I’m launching more products in January or February at the latest (I’ve already done the down payment on the inventory).
2015 Amazon Business Goal
My goal is $100,000 per month revenue with at least 40% profit margins. I’m confident that I’ll have at least one $100,000 month in 2015 and continual growth throughout the 2015 year. December 2014 was $20,000 which puts me 20% of the way there with only one product.
What do you think will happen when I have a dozen, two dozen or more products? I’m excited to find out.
Amazon Mastermind Wrap Up
We had 47 members join our mastermind group in early 2014 and 119 join our mastermind group in late 2014. A lot of our members are selling on Amazon, but I don’t have concrete numbers on precisely how many there are because unless someone specifically takes a screenshot and posts it in our group we won’t know if they’re selling.
For example, last week a member of our private mastermind group posted his stats in December (they are not typical) and while I knew he was selling on Amazon I had no idea just how fantastically well he was doing because this was literally the first report he posted despite joining the group at the same time I started earlier in 2014.
Boo yah. Amazon has huge potential. ASM is referencing the Amazing Selling Machine course that he, and I and Brian have all learned from.
Relevant podcast episode here and here.
I’m looking forward to seeing Martin again at our live event in February (one of the bonuses we do for our mastermind is a one day live event for just our group which takes place the day before the ASM live event).
It’s very personally rewarding to have played a hand in helping other entrepreneurs start and grow their Amazon businesses in 2014. I’m looking forward to doing this again in 2015.
If you’re interested in joining our mastermind you can join the wait list here
2015 Amazon Mastermind Goal
The goal is 400 new members for the year.
That number is actually a bit low, but that’s because we will most likely cap our mastermind group unless I can bring on another Amazon coach or two because it’s a massively significant time investment to run the group, answer private messages and questions in our Facebook group, run our bonus webinars, create our exclusive software tools, book a venue and organize an entire event etc.
Amazon Software Business
The Amazon software business right now consists of only one primary product – AmaSuite Apps (which is actually a set of four software programs for Mac / Windows) all designed to help you identify products worth selling on Amazon, generate keywords for your listings, ad campaigns and get your first reviews. The software can also help Amazon affiliates as well.
The software has been around since March 2012 and our 4th version is the best yet. We offered early release access to people on our email lists in December 2014, but it’s not currently for sale to the public. It will be available by February 2015 at the latest.
2015 will be the best year yet for AmaSuite and I plan on launching other Amazon software tools that help sellers as well. One tool is already in the works.
2015 AmaSuite Goal
I won’t be sharing a revenue number goal publicly, but am tracking this internally (I have another business partner in this project)
WordPress Software Business
The WordPress software business was the one area that we didn’t do as well as I had hoped to, but we are hiring more developers in 2015 to help ramp up our production. We will be releasing more WordPress plugins that help you generate more revenue from your website (e.g. EasyAzon), drive more traffic and generate more leads in 2015.
Most likely we’re going to focus in on more narrow areas in WordPress to simply be the best in those areas sort of like how we’ve already done with EasyAzon. I’m 100% confident we have the best WordPress Amazon plugin on the market.
2015 WordPress Goal
I won’t be sharing a revenue number goal publicly, but am tracking this internally (I have another business partner in this project)
$1K Blog Case Study
We stopped posting regular case study updates in part because of how busy we were with the other businesses, but this case study has quietly become a success as well.
The original premise was to show how to build a blog that generates at least $1,000+ per month in profit by following the simple formula of putting information out into the market in a way that differentiates yourself from the competition.
In the online survey space, no one was writing about the survey companies from the perspective of which ones actually paid you and were worth trying. All of the other sites were just giving the best reviews to the companies that offered the highest affiliate payouts.
By focusing on what actually works in this space, the site has grown pretty well and in December 2014 it reached $1,424.75 in earnings.
Are taking online surveys the best way to make money online?
No of course not.
But there are people interested in this information so providing a resource that is better than what is currently on the market (as in truthfully showing which companies are actually worth signing up for instead of which ones pay the best commission) was an obvious differentiating point.
It took a bit longer than I anticipated to reach the goal, but the site should continue to grow. We’ll discuss this formula in more detail in a future blog post and most likely a free course updated for 2015 on how you can follow the same steps.
2015 $1K Blog Goal
I’d like SurveyChris to hit consistent $4,000 per month income in 2015.
Business Wins In 2014
I mentioned this in the beginning, but the various businesses I’m involved in either as the sole owner or as a partner have collectively provided another record breaking year (5 in a row now). I remain ever the optimist – you have to be when you’re an entrepreneur – and I’m counting on 2015 being considerably larger.
There are a few other activities that generate revenue that I haven’t discussed (e.g. Kindle, buying and selling websites etc but I don’t have specific goals for those in 2015).
I spoke at an event in October 2014 and that was a lot of fun, but besides our own event in February I’m not sure if I’ll be speaking at any other conferences in 2015. It’s a ton of work to create and prepare a speech. I will likely focus my efforts on growing businesses, but I do enjoy making in person connections.
How I split up my already thin time: “Know Your Rate”
2014 was the Know Your Rate year for me (how much my time is worth). I quickly discovered that with my extra time spent helping out with twin daughters I was years overdue on hiring my first “real employee” – Casey. I prefer to call him an apprentice. His directive is simple:
Help us generate more revenue
He is able to do a lot of the tasks I had to manage before and free up my time to work on the activities that are the most important. I know Casey will eventually want to do his own business, but I would like him to stay with us so we’ll see how that goes in 2015.
How to “Know Your Rate”
This is a simple exercise.
Take your total pay and divide it by 2,080 if you work a 40 hour work week:
$1,000,000 earnings / 2080 hours = $480.77 per hour.
$500,000 earnings / 2080 hours = $240.38 per hour
$100,000 earnings / 2080 hours = $48.07 per hour
$50,000 earnings / 2080 hours = $24.04 per hour
Any activity that generates your business more money than your rate is what you should focus as much of your time on. Any activity that generates you less money than your rate is what you should try to pass off to others.
It really is that simple.
I know exactly what my time is worth and as we head into 2015 I’m still doing some activities that are below my rate, so I will most likely be hiring a few more full time apprentices before the end of the year to free up more time.
Overall 2014 Assessment
The year was a massive success. To go from no kids for years to starting right off with twins was quite an adjustment for a work from home entrepreneur, but to be able to do that and still grow the businesses over last year was fantastic.
I believe 2015 will continue the trend and ultimately I’d like to write more blog posts and publish more solo podcast episodes. The amount that I write on my blog pales in comparison to all of what goes on behind the scenes to grow these businesses.
Let me know what you think of my wrap up and goals for 2015.
Check it out … Thanks.
You certainly seem to have had a fabulous year and all the best to you with your twins – what a wonderful blessing for you (I guess you have some private labelled noise isolating headphones now!).
I signed up for Amasuite 4 and slowly trying to get my head around it all.
All the best for the future.
(p.s. was your photo taken at Alki beach by any chance?)
Hey Lloyd, thanks for the comment and appreciate you buying AmaSuite 4. I can’t remember which area in West Seattle but it wasn’t Alki where the photo was taken – but West Seattle near a park hah.
I’ve been following you for a month now, and really appreciate your tips and inspiration. Congratulations on the twins. I just had my second girl. Being a dad is awesome.
I can totally identify with your wanting that outdoor office. I’m not working from home yet, but I when I am, I plan on building something similar in my back yard.
Hey Adam, thanks glad you found me 🙂
Congrats on the second girl. Yah I’ve been thinking about getting some type of a sweet outdoor office so we’ll see. I need to look into permits etc to see what I’d need to do to make it official and if a portable option would work.
Congrats on the twins, my sister in law in in the same process as I write this, so hopefully it will be her year to have children this year, fingers crossed.
Also, well done on the earnings in Amazon, it’s something I’ve been interested in for a while, you have reignited the flame.
All the best,
Thanks Aden! Yes I hope for success with your sister in law.
Best of luck in 2015 – do it
I am really excited to learn how to make money with websites. Knowledge is truly power.
Congratulations on the twins, and I wish you the best for the new year. I am new to all this, I’m hoping for a breakthrough on my first website. I am reading a lot of your posts these days. I learn a great deal. Thanks!
Chris, congrats on the twins! My wife and I also went through in vitro and are blessed with a beautiful daughter. Thanks for sharing. I love the outdoor office concept. Never heard of that. Fred.
Awesome Fred! Yah I was a little obsessed with it about a year ago but decided to most likely hold off on the office until we move to our next place and can do something more permanent.
Congratulations Chris. I ask me self what would it take for me to unlock my own potential and leave the corparate world. Your hustle always amazes me and maybe I need to stop reading and get to work. Thank you for sharing. God Bless
Awesome Reginald – do it hah. Yes reading will only get you so far before you just gotta try something.
Your post here, and your whole journey, is so inspiring! Congratulations for all your success. I’ve been following you since the early days and can see how hard you’ve been working and how productive and creative you are, and you deserve all your success. Thanks for sharing all that you do. I wish you continued success for all the years to come!
Thanks Rich I really appreciate the kind words. Onwards and upwards! 🙂
Congratulations on becoming a Dad. As a dad of four I do know how delighted it can be.
Thanks for all the invaluable information you have share with us in 2014.
I started your free 10 day training course on August 28th 2014. After completing the course and implementing your suggestions. My Amazon sales move from 2 sales from the date the site was launch on April 5th 2014 to 38 sales after completing your course.
Product Link Conversion 7.14%
Product Link Clicks 84
Items Ordered Through Product Links 6
All Other Items Ordered 32
Total Items Ordered 38
Clicks & Conversion Summary
August 1, 2014 to January 2, 2015
Product Link Clicks 84
Other Clicks 919
TOTAL CONVERSION 3.79%
I have also purchase the Amazon Software.
My Goal is to become a member of Amazon Mastermind.
Very nice and inspiring email chris. Happy New Year!
Thank you for the inspiration and congratulations on the twins! I’m also a Ramsey fan, so I understand your family strategy. live like no one else now, so you can live like no one else later right! I listen to your podcast and several others in the entrepreneur space because I drive a lot for my day job. One thing that’s hard to relate to is so many people talking about how they make a majority of their income off of selling to other work-from-home wannabes like me. My website makes anywhere from $600 – $1700 off of Amazon, Adsense and I JUST remembered to fold in YouTube earnings so hopefully the bottom end income will get up around $1K/mo 2015. Question is… do you/can you give a sort of weekly checklist of TO-DO items for most site builders focused on Amazon affiliate earnings? I’m overwhelmed with creating content for Facebook,G+, YT and of course my site. I’ve been mulling around developing myself a checklist so I don’t get so overwhelmed but thought I’d throw it out there as a content idea for someone that’s done this a lot longer than I have.
Yah I make money from the mastermind group we run for instance (I get worked pretty hard by the group members during the process), but ultimately I don’t do anything like this that I’m not personally doing as well. So I run this Amazon mastermind group and I am also trying to grow my Amazon business. I wouldn’t be doing the group if I didn’t have an Amazon business for instance.
I don’t really have a checklist in mind for to do items, but my strategy is pretty simple:
Am I providing value in a way that differentiates my website from the others?
Would users be missing out if my website ceased to exist?
If you can strongly answer Yes to both of those questions you’re on the right path. I’m a firm believer in the cream rising to the top over the long term.
makes sense. There are so many “get started easily today” books available for building websites, but a distinct lack of the “okay you’re making $1K so here’s what to focus on now” category. I guess it’s lather, rinse, repeat and hope your cream rises to the top. I hate hope as a strategy. I like hard data. So onward and upward to creating a checklist for myself so I don’t forget to attend to all of the details. I appreciate your time.
Good points. Ultimately I’ve said it before but in my opinion for 2015 you have to be creating something where the people that read and use your site would be sad it was gone. You’ve really gotta solve a problem that people care about and do it in a way that differentiates yourself from the competition.
Checklists are hard sometimes because winning with a website isn’t always a step by step scientific process. In many ways there are several paths to success. When I look back on the sites that have done the best though they were all the sites that were doing something different in a way that mattered to the audience though.
It sounds like you and I are in very similar positions – established and ready to grow, but not sure which direction to move next. Most of my income currently is from affiliate sales of physical products for a few specific brands, and also through eBay (also mainly for a few brands that I direct link to). However, based on the traffic I get each month, I feel like I have a lot of unrealized potential.
If you are interested in chatting about it at all, I’d be happy to do so. In that case, please let me know the best way to get in touch. Or email me directly at p b u s h x 2 @ yahoo.com, whichever you prefer.
Best of luck,
Of the 47 who joined in early 2014 and the 119 who joined in late 2014, what percentage of them are now making $5k a month net profit on Amazon consistently? What percentage of them have at least broken even on the cost of the course? What other stats do you have on your members’ performance?
That’s the exact problem I outlined in my blog post. Martin for example I knew had a product up on Amazon but I didn’t know he did $240k+ in sales in 30 days until he made a post in our group. There’s no requirement of our group that people must post their income results (some prefer to be less public) and I certainly don’t have access to their Seller Central accounts in any way. Likewise, we do everything possible to encourage and steer people in the right direction but if they choose not to take action even we can’t force people to build this business. So there are some people that have gone slower and of course some people that haven’t done much.
I’d love to say something like XX% of all people succeed at $X,XXX level, but that’s just not feasible or possible for me to know or claim. Ultimately everyone that joins has a full 30 days to decide if they want to stick around or get a refund and within the first 30 days we have don’t have too many people take us up on that offer. It’s very easy to see pretty quickly that our mastermind is real. We have people that are selling that we’ve helped out (sure they’re still doing the work) but that’s why I think our numbers have grown and will continue to grow.
I was intimidated by the cost of the course before I signed up. I probably sent Chris a dozen emails with questions before I signed up. I’m glad I did though. I just started selling and it’s going well so far, but there’s no guarantee that I’m going to recoup the cost of the course. I’m confident I will with the assistance from Chris and the many others in the group that are willing to share their knowledge, but even if I don’t I still think it was worth the risk. What other opportunity can you start a business for the cost of that course + inventory? If you do succeed, the returns can be huge!
That’s not why I signed up though. I was just looking to offset my current income with 1k-2k each month. I think that is very doable as long as I continue to take action.
Awesome thanks Zach!
Hi Chris, thanks to being in your list, I purchased Amasuite. Love the power of the top100 tool. From it, I’ve selected the niches in Amazon where I know I will compete well. I do though need to acquire knowledge in Internet marketing for list building, audience building, and link trafficking to Amazon.
With the help of your Amazon tutorial in the membership area, I’ve contacted private label businesses. I found one that at least via their website is ideal candidate for trying out a supplier relationship. All premature, as our start up call us scheduled this coming week.
Very shortly I will be able to benefit from your Mastermind group, and have signed up already. Happy new year! Juan
Hey Juan – awesome I’m glad you’re taking action and that our software has helped you do it 😀
Hi again Chris,
A good read, thanks for sharing your year in one overview, looks like it has been busy but rewarding!
It’s fun that your wife is a fan of Dave Ramsey, my wife and I will be debt free in about a month, and we can then turn our income to wealth building and giving, which will be a blessing as we had our daughter four months ago! (Just need to make more income now.)
I did a quick look, it looks like you can get a mortgage for buying an apartment complex, and listening to Mr. Ramsey recently, he often suggests getting a 15 year fixed rate mortgage if you are buying a home, (he would rather people pay cash, but a home is huge) but I don’t know if he would suggest that for an apartment complex… Maybe call in to the show and ask? 🙂
Again, thank you for your inspiration, your work, and your encouragements!
Yah I’m sure he would say that you gotta pay in cash. That’s what he said he did after the real estate slump – bought a lot of deals in cash. We shall see, I still need more capital before I can do a deal. We should pay our house off soon and since we’ve made a lot of improvements it’s worth maybe $210k maybe $220k now, but my wife wants to move to Seattle again so we’ll see hah.
great congrats for your children!!!
It is the best result you can never achieve in life
Hi Chris – thanks for sharing your 2014 wrap up and a glimpse about how 2015 should shake out. As one of the senior citizens among your group I am delighted and impressed to see your track record of setting goals, measuring results and investigating new ways to improve your lifestyle. All of those plans and eventual accomplishments take an abundance of energy. Thanks for having the courage to share your personal story and encouraging us to jump in, get our feet wet and follow along.
Thanks Bob! See you in February will be fun to meet up again.
just wanted to say congrats on an awesome 2014 and best wishes for 2015. I’ve been following your blog and back to your podcast days, starting with MMOTI, but was always pretty passive in my listening & reading. Just had to comment on this post though since there are couple of points that really interest me.
1. My wife and I are also looking to buy a small apartment building – our first investment property as well – probably already in Q1 or early Q2 this year. I’d be interested in hearing about your learning curve.
2. I am a father of four, and totally relate to your quest for a quiet place to get work done. A couple of tips, one practical and the other maybe not so much:
a) I use noise-isolating earbuds also (over-the ear headphones made my ears too hot). Additionally, when it’s really loud or I really need to focus, I sometimes run a fan either just inside or just outside my office door, which helps further block out kid sounds with white noise. And I have been using “focus at will” for my background music while working. I love the results.
b) I am also fascinated with the idea of a backyard “shed-quarters” for my office. Realistically, I don’t spend enough time in the office yet to justify something like that, but it would be sweet. I have found Michael Pollan’s book “A Place of My Own” to be a fun read, and you might refine your idea of an ideal backyard office if you read/skim through it.
Thanks for sharing your journey with us.
Thanks hah, yah I’ve had my blog for quite some time. 2015 I’d like to really grow the traffic for it as well.
1. You’re ahead of me so I’ll have to hear from you how it goes.
2. a – Yah good point we use the fan outside their room for white noise but hadn’t thought about using one in my own room. Fortunately it’s not making me too hot to wear them.
2. b – I will be doing some research in Seattle area companies to see if there are any places that do it and additionally if in King County there are permits required or perhaps if under a certain limit it’s not needed etc. Still very early planning stages on that.
Thanks for commenting,
Well written and well done Chris.
Congrats on the kids, that title was click bait for me as we just had our 3rd son. It really turns the world upside down.
One of my 2016 resolutions is to go to a Sounders game in Seattle. You down?
Cheers – TJ
Hah one of my other goals is underway – better titles for my blog posts. Yes I go to almost every game, we’ve had season tickets since the beginning. I will meet up for beers before hand if you’re interested 😀
Hi Chris !
Thank you for sharing this great post. Happy New Year 2015, I wish all the best in new year with new hopes.
So sorry about your fertility issues. What a lesson in patience!
So happy about your twins! What a lesson in love!
Thanks Opal, by far the best thing that happened in 2015. 🙂
Hey Chris – great article. I’m expecting twin girls in April/May so I’ll be in the same boat as you in that respect! Great tip on the noise cancelling headphones and thanks for all the inspiration for the FBA work. I’ve go the AMA suite also and I’m looking to really make that work in 2015.
Hey Chris, great post. I just found myself perusing your blog after a long time off. Congratulations on your two daughters. That’s awesome that you two persisting paid off.
The whole headphones thing … I use some motorcycle riding in-ear headphones that block out all baby noise. My wife scares the crap out of me by tapping my shoulder (after calling my name for 5 minutes. I love it.)
And YES about the exterior office. That is definitely on my goals list now. I’ve also been driving places and setting up in the passenger seat (no steering wheel interference) at a place with a good view. Only good for days when you don’t need internet of course…
Have a good one.