2015 Annual Review: A Year of Growth

Last year I published my first annual review, and I enjoyed the experience because it allowed me to actively reflect on the health of my business, what I’m thankful for, where I’ve succeeded, where I’ve fallen short, and how I plan to move forward in the coming year. The purpose of publishing this annual review is primarily for my own sake, but it provides the added benefit of being transparent with my students & readers, and perhaps it will inspire somebody to reflect on their own year.

As I look back on 2015, I realize the theme was “growth”. My online course earnings, Udemy students, YouTube subscribers, Code College sign ups and email list more than doubled in size (in some cases increased six-fold). Even my family grew by adding another little human!

Throughout the year I experienced some major wins in addition to a few enlightening mistakes & failures. I want to expand on these things in detail below, so let’s jump in.

Business Highlights

Overall Business Growth

This was my first full year as an incorporated business, and while that doesn’t sound overly special, it was challenging for me to adjust to a new way of running certain aspects of my business. I had created an efficient system as a sole-proprietor, so changing my workflow, adding a new way of bookkeeping, and paying a salary to Laura and I took a few weeks to get used to. Incorporating was one of the best business decisions I have made because not only does it feel more professional, it protects me and my family from certain liabilities and it saves us an incredible amount of money in taxes (more on that later).


Udemy Growth

Udemy has been very good to me since I launched my first course back in 2013. It has dramatically changed my life, helped me grow a massive audience, and opened my eyes to new and fruitful online business ventures.

2015 Udemy Revenue Chart
My Udemy students & earnings both grew 2x in 2015
  • 120,000 students (2x more than last year)
  • Course earnings have doubled
  • Launched 4 new courses…

Course #1: Bootstrap to WordPress

  • Launched February 2015
  • 11,383 students enrolled
  • 674 ratings (average 4.8 stars)

Course #2: Ultimate Web Designer & Developer Course

This is my most comprehensive web design & development course to date. It’s been received incredibly well on the Udemy platform, it competes as one of the best web development courses on Udemy, and is my top earning course yet.

Udemy Top Web Development Courses
That’s me, featured in the top web development courses!
  • Launched August 2015
  • 7,131 students enrolled
  • 126 ratings (average 4.9 stars)

Course #3: Ultimate WordPress Plugin Course

Early in the year, I coached a good friend of mine, Joel Funk, on how to create his first online course. I taught him insider tips for skipping the “awkward phase” new course creators typically experience. Since launch, the course has been warmly received in the WordPress developer community on Udemy and it now generates a decent monthly revenue.

  • 1,652 students enrolled
  • 22 ratings (average 4.7 stars)

Course #4: Bootstrap 4 Quick Start

Udemy T-Shirt
Sometimes Udemy sends me #swag

I spent a solid two weeks in December learning Bootstrap 4, planning a curriculum, filming & editing lectures, and launching this course on YouTube, Udemy and Code College. Bootstrap is an insanely popular front-end development framework, and I’ve attracted a lot of attention teaching Bootstrap tutorials on YouTube, so I wanted to keep the material relevant and deliver a high quality course for free.

Students are loving it so far!


Code College Growth

I decided to focus a lot more of my time & energy to Code College in 2015, and that effort has clearly paid off.

Code College Revenue Chart
Code College Revenue 2015
  • Added 8 courses to the library
  • 2,871 total students (2.5x increase from previous year)
  • 31 paid subscribers (6x increase from previous year)

Blog & Email List Growth

ConvertKit Subscriber Chart
Compare my ConvertKit subscribers with my Code College revenue above — interesting similarities.

YouTube Growth

My YouTube channel has been steadily growing for a couple years now, and the traffic I receive on my free coding tutorials is where I get most of my new blog subscribers.

YouTube Subscriber Growth Brad Hussey
# of subscribers in 2014: 6,250. # of subscribers in 2015: 13,800!

At the beginning of 2015 I attempted to publish a weekly episode of the 1-Minute Freelancer Show, but it never truly took off. Instead I relied on creating a high value free email course, called Cultivate a Successful Freelance Career.

  • 13,800 subscribers (2.2x increase from previous year)
  • 591,470 total views (1.9x increase from previous year)

Freelance Business Growth

This was an interesting year in freelancing for me. I have identified as a freelancer ever since I started working for myself in 2012, and my freelancing income has grown steadily each year since then. However, I spent most of my time in 2015 focusing on developing other parts of my business (online courses & blog) and therefore my freelancing assumed a secondary position.

Another interesting thing is that, in the past, freelancing income has typically accounted for a significant portion of my income (40% in 2014), but in 2015 freelancing only accounted for 16% of my total income! I actually earned about the same amount of freelancing income in 2015 as I did in 2014, but the difference is that everything else grew around it.

What did improve in my freelancing business was that I secured a handful of high budget projects & clients, whereas in 2014 I took on nearly everything that came my way. Basically that means I worked more efficiently, with less stress in 2015 to earn the same amount. This efficiency allowed me to free up time to focus on growing the other parts of my business.

In 2016, I will use the same model of securing high budget projects, but I would like to increase the number of them in order to see some growth in my freelance business.

Business Mistakes & Lessons Learned

Incorporated too late

Technically this is a 2014 failure, however, the mistake wasn’t truly felt until tax time in 2015. I incorporated my business in October 2014, but that means the majority of my 2014 income was counted as personal income and because of that we owed the tax man a good chunk of change.

Let’s just say I won’t be making that mistake again. I try to look on the bright side in this case, because tax can be a good thing and I guess I just decided to contribute more to the Canadian economy that year.

Freelancing experienced minimal growth

My freelancing business did not experience any significant growth in 2015, I would like to achieve more growth in the freelancing department, so in 2016 I will be launching a new portfolio site, improving my client on-boarding process (already started), and making a stronger effort to secure high value leads.

Inefficiency in my workday

When I look back on 2015, I can see certain patterns of inefficiency that prevented my workday from being as productive as possible. Mid-December Laura and I began to notice my lack of focus, so we decided to experiment with a new schedule. Now I start at 6:30am sharp and work straight through until 1:30pm. So far it’s been working quite well, and I’ve been able to get a ton of uninterrupted work done in that time. So I will continue with this schedule until it needs to be re-jigged and hopefully I will see an increase in productivity.

Personal Highlights & Notable Events

Surfing in San Diego
Mission Beach, San Diego, California

We started off 2015 with a bang! On New Year’s Eve in 2014 we attended a family member’s wedding, and it was a ton of fun. There’s nothing quite like an awesome wedding with great people, delicious food, and best of all, a huge dance party.

Travelled to San Diego, California

In April, Laura and I were able to leave Ayla for the first time ever so we could go on a small vacation to sunny San Diego. We had a great time and I was even able to sneak in a surf session 😉

A Big Year for Ayla

Ayla
The day Ayla was discharged from the hospital

Ayla is so much fun. She is a vivacious and passionate little human. She turned 2 in 2015!

One of the most significant and all-consuming events that happened with Ayla in 2015 was that she underwent a corrective heart procedure where a device was permanently implanted in her heart in order to close a hole that the doctors discovered when she turned 1.

The build up to the surgery was more stressful than I can explain (adding to the stress was that Laura was 8.5 months pregnant at the time.) Ayla was a warrior and she recovered quickly and we are forever indebted to the skilled doctors who helped heal her heart.

We’re very relieved to have that experience behind us, and that Ayla is healthy, strong, and has nothing holding her back!

ilikai
Left: Ilikai at 1 week. Right: Ilikai at 4 months.

Baby Hussey #2

My Christmas gift in 2014 was Laura telling me she was pregnant! We were both so happy and excited to grow our little brood. In August, our little boy named Ilikai was born and we love him so much and the new dynamic he has brought to our family.

Laura — my life partner, my wife

The Husseys
These people are my world

This woman is my everything. She has always been so trusting and supportive of me and my crazy ideas. I know this blog seems like the Brad Hussey show, but the reality is I do everything for her and our children. The success of my business is because of her.

She is behind every single one of my business decisions, reads & edits my blog posts, strategizes with me, and graciously gives me awesome ideas. She pushes me to be a great entrepreneur and inspires me to be an even better person, husband, and father.

And she’s cute.

A Couple Other Notable Events

Bought a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine

Rancilio Silvia espresso machine
The Rancilio Silvia makes some delicious espresso

I enjoy the process of making quality coffee more than I actually enjoy coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good latté, but I adore the ritual of firing up an espresso machine, grinding fresh beans, and pulling a perfect espresso shot.

I decided to upgrade my old espresso machine to the Rancilio Silvia, and I love it.

My vegetable garden thrived!

In 2015 I was able to grow carrots, beets, swiss chard, snap peas, tomatoes, basil and dill!

Bought a brand new minivan

Family Van
The Hussey Van

I have always loved minivans — the space, the practicality and that it is unassuming yet it’s got some swagger (one of my readers called it the “Swagga Wagon” — I couldn’t agree more).

2015 Outlandish Goals: How did I do?

In my 2014 annual review, I came up with a list of outlandish goals I wanted to achieve in 2015. Here’s how I did:

  • 2x total revenue (achieved)
  • 10,000 email subscribers (achieved)
  • 15,000 YouTube subscribers (close – 13,800)
  • 50 paid Code College subscribers (not quite – 31)
  • Travel somewhere hot (achieved – San Diego)
  • Attend a conference (not this time)
  • Meet Pat Flynn (not this time)

2016 Outlandish Goals

I like to set far reaching goals because they challenge me to be creative, force me to take risks, and inspire me to achieve greatness. I do have other goals I haven’t listed here, but here are some of the primary goals I’d like to achieve in 2016:

  • Increase annual revenue at least 30%
  • 30,000 email subscribers
  • 25,000 YouTube subscribers
  • 100 paid Code College subscribers
  • Attend a conference
  • Meet Pat Flynn
  • Get featured on SmartPassiveIncome.com
  • Get featured on EntrepreneurOnFire.com
  • Get featured on VideoFruit.com

Wrap up & What’s next for 2016

I have some very big plans for 2016, and I’ve already been strategizing so I can start the year on the right note. Here are a few things you can expect from me in 2016:

A new blog experience. It’s already been re-designed, developed, and is currently being quality tested before being launched in the wild.

A freelancing course. I have many technical courses out there, teaching everything from visual design to programming, but so many of my students want to put those skills to use and actually start a freelancing career with them. I’m confident this is going to be a massively valuable program for that audience, and I’ve already been hard at work, quietly building the course until I’m ready to beta launch it. If you’re interested in joining the beta launch list, sign up here.

Enter your name & email below to get on the waiting list for Freelancing Freedom. You’ll be the very first to know about launch and you’ll have an opportunity to sign up for early access.

More, smaller Udemy courses.  I’d like to create a handful of smaller courses on specific topics and skills this year.

More free YouTube content. I plan on creating more free coding tutorials for YouTube, and perhaps I’ll revamp the 1-Minute Freelancer Show, call it the 5-Minute Freelancer or something, film a bunch of episodes answering common freelancing questions and publish them on a schedule.

Improved email courses. Currently I have a few email courses, with my main email course being Cultivate a Successful Freelance Career. I plan on re-writing, and re-organizing these courses to deliver even more value based on the individual skill set of each subscriber.

Improvements in current course lineup. I’m always working on improving older courses, and this year I’ll make an effort to keep things fresh in what’s already working.

If you’ve read this far, I appreciate you taking time out of your day for me. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the primary reason I write these reviews are for my own purposes, but I publish them publicly so that my readers & students can learn more about me and my business. Perhaps it will inspire you to make write your own annual review, make a big change, start something new, or grow your own business in 2016.

Do you have any outlandish goals or big plans this year? Don’t be afraid to share some of your goals in the comment section, I would love to hear from you!

Cheers & here’s to an awesome 2016!

Brad

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  • Tarek

    Great work Brad … Keep up and keep inspiring the emerging freelancers elsewhere in the world.

  • Mario

    Brad,

    Thank you for all this valuable experiences you share!

    I’m still a full time employee, but making some money online and freelance jobs.

    My anual income is about to surpass the level in which I’m going to get taxed a lot more, so making additional money to my full time job is going to trigger that.

    Even though I’m still a full time employee, would you still recommend to get incorporated to avoid the increment on the tax rate?

    • Thanks for reading, Mario! It really depends on the Country & location you live in that will determine if it’s a good idea to incorporate. I know that I waited too long to incorporate and could have saved myself thousands of dollars had I incorporated earlier.

  • Mohammed

    good i like i

  • Isabella Chen

    Thanks for sharing your annual review. I love how down to earth your posts are, and how they have applicable lessons for just about. Have you already written a post about how you shifted your work schedule? How in the world do you start at 6:30, especially with two small children? Doesn’t everyone have a natural bio-rhythm? How did you manage to re-calibrate?

    • Thanks for reading, Isabella! Our kids get up crazy early, and I would be awake at 5:30am but wouldn’t start working until 9am or 10am. I’m the most productive in the morning, so we decided I could just start as soon as I wake up!

  • Muhammadjavohir

    That was a good read, Brad 🙂

    Coming to my outlandish goals:
    1. Learn Android programming and make at least 2 mobile apps.
    2. Polish my Javascript, learn JS frameworks (Angular, NodeJS, maybe ReactJS) and make at least one single page application.
    3. Learn Python and Django and make a social website for my university.
    4. Learn German and be fluent in it.
    5. Present my startup idea to businessmen in a StartupMix meeting in Tashkent.
    6. Start my startup 😀
    7. Learn Photoshop (at laast, I really need it but can’t sit down and focus to learn).
    8. Maybe, to win fellowship in TechChange company (Yaaay).

    I only could come up with these. I don’t know whether I will be able to achieve them. But thanks to your blogpost I made a list of them. What do you think? 0_o

    • Those are great outlandish goals! Onward and upward 🙂

      • Muhammadjavohir

        Hopefully, I will let you know when any of them are achieved. And greetings to your family. Ilikai looks exactly like you. Same beautiful blue eyes (Y) May he be a great man 🙂

  • Chris Holmes

    This is awesome. I read your site more than anything and your courses (Will be getting into some this year as a new year goal) are something that are fun and easy to follow. I have been doing (freelancing) this very very small and I am hoping to flourish my freelance career this year. I did have one question. I am also looking into getting my business registered would it be better to go the INC. as I see you have or maybe more LLC? I see you started a sole and I as of yet have any business registration under my belt. Cheers to you and your family through the 2016 year.

  • Brendan Parsons

    Thanks so much for sharing. Encouraging, thought provoking and challenging. I appreciate how you included your family in the mix as a Father of 2 myself. I would like to see a blog or two about juggling work and family life in the future, an idea for you perhaps? 😉 All the best with 2016 mate!

    • Thanks for reading, Brendan! Yes, that’s a great idea. Cheers!

  • David Dunnington

    Happy new year Brad. I’m currently going though your Ultimate Web Designer and Developer Course on Udemy absolutely loving the content just wish I had more free time to get through it quicker. So good to see all your success all the best for 2016. ????

    • Glad to have you on board in the course! Enjoy 🙂

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Join my free 7 day freelancing course!

START A FREELANCING BUSINESS. GET MORE CLIENTS. BUILD A LIFE ON YOUR OWN TERMS.

  • Daily actionable lessons
  • Define your freelance niche
  • How to start from scratch
  • How to charge higer rates
  • Where to find your first 3 paying clients
  • Tools & resources for freelancers
Want more freelance clients? Enter your name & email below to get started.
I respect your privacy. No spam. No fluff. Just quality content. Unsubscribe anytime.
By providing your email you consent to receive messages and newsletters from Brad Hussey containing news, updates and promotions. You also understand you may also receive messages from Brad containing information on third parties and you can withdraw your consent at any time. Please contact Brad for more details or use the "Unsubscribe" link found within each email message.