My daughter woke me up at 2:18 this morning. It is now 5:35. For the past 3 hours, I have been sitting in my office, looking out the window at this beautiful snow covered mountain.
I’m thinking of this past year. I’m thinking of the lessons learned, the mistakes made, and the experiences I’ve had.
I hope you’ll join me in this moment of self reflection.
I’m a Girl Dad
When our son was born, Jules and I had decided that we weren’t going to have any more kids. The pregnancy for Julian was extremely difficult for my wife. It was terrible and neither of us wanted to do that again.
Our plan was to adopt a second kid, because both Jules and I have siblings that we are very close to and we wanted to make sure Julian had a sibling.
In January, Jules and I rented an Airbnb in Miami beach for the month. On the drive down, Jules looks in the mirror and says “Tim, have you noticed how clear my skin looks?”
I had noticed, but neither of us said anything about it. When we got to the hotel room in Georgia, Jules ran out to grab a pregnancy test, and that’s when we learned that we were having another baby. It was quite the surprise.
Now, we have a daughter, and she’s perfect.
It’s still shocking to me to realize that I have a family. I was never the type of person who grew up with dreams of being a family man. I always felt like being a father was something that responsible men did, and I never felt like I had my life put together well enough to be responsible for a family.
Meeting my wife is the best thing that ever happened to me, and it’s our partnership that gave me the confidence and the fortitude to build a family.
My daughter is 4 months old and she is starting to smile at me when I look down at her. There are moments in the mornings when Julian is running in circles around the house and screaming. His hair is a mess and he usually has a matchbox car in each hand, holding them over his head while he runs and screams.
Then I look over at Willow. Her face is so soft and delicate. Her eyes are bright blue and she gives me a sly and unassuming smirk. It’s an indescribable feeling. I feel so lucky.
The other day, Jules said “she’s going to be a daddy’s girl.”
I think she is right.
My Biggest Wins in Business
I haven’t had one big win this year. Rather, I’ve had lots of small wins that added up to a huge improvements and massive revenue growth. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll break them down by company.
Stodzy Internet Marketing
This was the best year my company ever had. We spent a lot of time this year on developing “systems and processes.”
Managing employees all over the world is a totally different experience than running a company out of an office. The learning curve was steeper than I anticipated, but we doubled down on ourselves and figured out how to work with maximum efficiency through different time zones and departments.
Our revenue grew by 30% and our margins remained at 40%. Most importantly, we built the foundation of the best team I’ve had in 10 years. I can’t believe how rock solid my team is.
Stodzy remains the best in the business. Our client retention is higher than it’s ever been, and out of the 5 clients we lost this year, 3 of them came from us ending the relationship because they didn’t pay us or they were too difficult to work with.
We generate the best results for our clients out of any competitor and our results have been consistent over time.
I’m incredibly proud of this team and this company.
P.S. – Are you interested in learning more about behavioral healthcare marketing? Join the Stodzy newsletter and follow along the indsutry trends and company announcements.
When I was in Miami, David and I began working on a plan to completely rebuild Sober Nation. It’s been a scary process, because the site is already so successful. As such, why would we change something that’s working? Eventually, we came to the conclusion that if we didn’t try to level up, we would regret it.
Sober Nation is a beautiful business. We had a stellar year.
We’ve spent the entire year rebuilding the website.
The new site goes live the first week of January. You can click here to see the staging site.
As of right now, there is no revenue to speak of, but we 3X’d our downloads and more importantly, Ethan and I are on the cusp of breaking through to becoming a top tier podcast.
It’s been an amazing outlet of creativity, fun, excitement, and self expression.
I appreciate the podcast because it’s another reminder and re-enforcement of the simple truth that consistency over long periods of the time is only strategy that actually works.
This is my biggest win of the year for two reasons.
First off, because I’ve always wanted to build a “personal brand”, but have been too scared to do so. I’ve tried to do it before, but felt insecure and would overcompensate by creating content that was inauthentic, cocky, and lame.
Second, the numbers and the raw growth has been amazing.
TimStodz is the first project I’ve ever worked on alone. It’s the first time I had no crutch to fall back on and no partner that was good at the things I’m not good at.
I feel so proud of it.
My Biggest Business
I don’t use the word failure in business, because failure isn’t an accurate representation of what’s happening.
I prefer to use the word challenges, because it’s through challenges that you learn.
In this section I will highlight my two biggest challenges this year and in addition, I will highlight the lessons I learned.
This is hard to talk about, because I feel really stupid about the entire issue. Here’s what happened.
When I bought my equity Copyblogger, I knew I was going to monetize in two ways.
The agency side of the business has been great. Jonny is the man and we quickly grew to $1M a year in revenue.
The second way I planned monetize was to create a membership site. It’s something I always wanted to do and so I created The Copyblogger Academy.
From the very beginning, nothing went right.
I launched the first version of The Academy in 2019. The launch went well and we generated great sales. I was building a great content library full of high level education to help aspiring entrepreneurs, but I made one crucial mistake.
My mistake was not in the product I was creating, but in my lack of research and experience to create the functionality for a great user experience.
The first version of the Academy was built on MemberPress, but I quickly realized the community element for MemberPress was terrible. Everything had to be sent through email and there wasn’t a place for the community to network, learn from each other, and chat.
For version 2, I built the community on Mighty Networks. The user experience for Mighty was good, but the payment gateways built into the program are awful and this created a lot of problems for people.
Finally, I found Circle, which is the best platform to build a membership site on.
After two years of trial and error, I finally learned enough to create the absolute best user experience possible. We relaunched version 3 of the Academy in November, and I couldn’t be happier.
The reason it was such a huge mistake
When you switch platforms, it’s not like you can take all of your members and simply move them over from one platform to the next. The payment information is encrypted and the data remains in the previous platform. For example, everyone that bought a membership on the Mighty Networks platform is still billed through that platform. The credit card data is encrypted, so I can’t simply enter the new payments onto a new platform.
Every time I change platforms, I have to explain to the members that the new platform is where all the action will be but their credit card will still be charged on the previous platform. Therefore, if they want to cancel they need to cancel through the platform that is billing them, or else they will still get charged.
Can you see all the possibilities for error?
Explaining these changes over and over again to members was humiliating and I probably cost myself $100,000 a year in revenue from all the lost subscribers.
I hurt the brand and I frustrated some people.
If I could do it all over again, I would have listened to Brian when he warned me not to use Mighty Networks. I also would have gone slower and not been in such a rush to launch a product.
Ultimately, the challenges I’ve gone through have brought me here, which is the best place the company has ever been in. We have a stellar product and The Academy did a little more than $25,000 in revenue this month.
Things are coming together.
With that said, I look back at this experience and cringe. I feel like I let people down and like I frustrated customers who took a shot on me. It’s not something I take lightly and I lost sleep over it.
There’s nothing I can do about it other than to keep moving forward.
My Role as the CEO of Stodzy
Remember earlier when I said that Stodzy had it’s best year ever?
That’s true, and a lot of our success was in our commitment to do the boring menial tasks of developing our internal systems and processes that allow us to execute at a high level.
It was worth it, but it came at a cost.
The cost was that by the end of the year, the culture in our company had really suffered. We had become so systematic that the personality of our company was loosing it’s shine.
Fortunately, our team knew what we were in for. We made it perfectly clear at the beginning of the year what our intentions were as a company. If you remember, I ruptured my eardrum when I was in Miami, and that experience forced us to take a step back and create systems that decentralized our decision making.
We did what we had to do, and the end result is a much more organized and well functioning remote team.
My mistake was letting it go on for too long.
Our processes and procedures have been ironed out since September. But rebuilding Copyblogger Academy took my focus away from what’s most important. No matter what, supporting my team is my most important responsibility as the CEO, and I failed to do that.
In 2023, you are going to see Stodzy EXPLODE with personality. We are going to be promoting ourselves and living fully within our company culture and our ethics.
I can’t wait.
Other Lessons Learned
Other than business and family, I discovered many other life lessons this year. Let’s list them out.
1. Don’t take yourself so seriously
It sounds trivial, but when I started creating these ridiculous featured images for my articles, everything changed. The images are fun and create pattern interrupt and they are completely ridiculous.
The images were an exercise for me to stop taking myself so seriously. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t need to have everything planned out perfectly.
Sometimes, the answer is simply to do things and let the chips fall where they may.
2. Muay Thai is a game changer
I’ve been an athlete my entire life, but it wasn’t until I started training Muay Thai that I discovered how disconnected I am with other parts of my body.
I’ve learned how to rotate my hips, how to strengthen my hip flexors, how to use my core properly, and how to fight.
I wrestled in high school and before I got sober, I loved fighting. But those were street fights and Muay Thai is different. It is the art of movement in it’s highest form. I absolutely love it. I am so grateful to have discovered it.
3. Consistency still wins
This year, I was talking to my father. I was on my way to Muay Thai practice and he asked me …
“how many weeks in a row have you attended Muay Thai class?”
I told him that I haven’t missed a single class.
He replied and said “that’s you Tim, you are Mr. Consistency.”
I’ve thought about it every day since and it’s one of the highest compliments I’ve ever been given. Especially because my Dad didn’t even mean it as a compliment, but rather an observation about my personality.
It’s the best thing I have going for me. I hope I never lose it.
4. The world won’t end if I step away
I’ve mentioned it many times over the last year, but that trip to Miami and the experience with my ruptured eardrum had a huge impact on me. Ever since then, I went all in on removing myself as much as I could from the day to day process.
However, when I finally achieved that objective, I felt an enormous wave of discomfort.
What do I do with myself when people don’t need me?
These last few months have taught me how to trust the process, trust my team, trust in the outcome, and to control my anxiety so I don’t force myself into situations I don’t need to be in.
5. Twitter is powerful
This year, I fully committed to growing my following on Twitter. I wish I did it sooner.
I’ve gained almost 20,000 followers this year and by next year I plan to be at 100,000.
6. Sales is still where I thrive
I wouldn’t call this a lesson learned, but rather a verification of what I already believed to be true.
Being good at sales is the most valuable skill I have. Any time I step away from my responsibility of generating sales, we all suffer. There are days where I am feeling down and doubtful about my companies and where I get scared of the uncertainty of the future. But anytime that happens, I am quickly comforted by the knowledge that no matter what, I will always be able to sell myself and the skillset I bring to the marketplace.
My family and I will be okay, no matter what happens.
The Gift of 2022
I write because it helps me learn about myself.
Through my writing, I’ve discovered so many insecurities that I still have. My success has yet to wipe away the doubts and fears that rattle in my mind each day. I don’t think I will ever feel good enough.
But … this year, despite all the voices in my head, I proved to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to.
I’m a father of two, I’m a great husband, and I’m doing work I love every day with people I respect and who I admire.
This is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in my own skin. I’ve developed this new contentment simply by doing hard things.
2022 was a great year.
2023 is gonna be a rager!!!