I’ve been away from my desk for more than 2 weeks, and it feels great. You don’t know you need some rest until the day you decide to rest and switch off.
My 2021 was a roller-coaster. Amazing, tough, rewarding, sleepless, incredible. On a personal level, it’s been my best year ever. On a business level, it’s been my best year ever. Yep, not sure I can get any better than that.
This post will feature my first ever public “year in review”, hoping it can help you get the motivation you may need to move a step further, and myself to remember that hard work pays off and goal setting is key to succeed in life/business.
(Clearly, a “year in review” post should be followed up with a “new year’s goals” one, otherwise it’d be totally useless as opposed to being able to define where to go next. I’ve already shared my million-dollar to-do list a few weeks ago, in case you missed that.)
So, let’s get started. Here’s how 2021 went for myself and Business Bloomer.
2021 Year In Review: Personal
If you’re not interested in this kind of things and prefer to know how Business Bloomer and my other side projects went, skip to the 2021 Year In Review: Business.
Otherwise, this is what happened to me in 2021. I’ll try to be short but I won’t guarantee that, given that each week there were breaking news!
I turned 40
I won’t start with the first event of 2021 in chronological order because I want to give some context before that.
In May 2021 I celebrated my 40th birthday. I have mixed feelings about that. I try to enjoy life to the fullest, therefore my chronological age has no meaning to me. On the other hand, 40 is quite a scary age (thanks, society!) when you realize you’re at least 10 years late getting your life sorted out. But I tend not to think that way, and that’s good for me.
So, going back to the beginning of the year…
I became a dad
Well, actually it was December 30th, 2020, but we spent New Years in hospital and didn’t get back home until the 4th of January so that counts as 2021!
Little Lorenzo had to stay longer in the clinic on his own due to some medical check-up and we only managed to take him home the day after. That day without him was the longest day of my life (together with the night when Lorenzo was born) – I will remember that forever.
Anyway, building a family was one of my biggest goals since I spent 177 days solo traveling / digital nomading in South America back in 2016. I must say, despite I’m a very optimistic person, that 5 years ago I definitely didn’t think I was going to ever become a dad, so this is the biggest achievement of my life.
An incredible joy.
I got married
Which means I also managed to find the right person, at the right time, in the right place.
You know when you literally find the person who “completes you”, so that every weakness you have is matched by a strength on the other side?
Yes, ups and downs are normal, but when you respect each other there’s nothing that can stop the two of us. We’re really motivated, enjoy our son every day, and are looking forward to the next step…
I bought a house
To complete the amazing 2021, we even managed to buy our first house. We closed the deal in November and are currently working on the renovation project with a team of architects.
We hope to get started with renovation works in February 2022, with a possible move around September. With covid and other government stuff there are lots of delays in regard to renovations, so we’ll see when we actually get to finish up…
Good thing (and bad!) is that we paid in full, so there’s no mortgage we need to worry about. Hope to make some money this year so we can also afford a decent renovation and a new kitchen!
There are also bad things to report. Life of an entrepreneur is not always perfect.
One of them is friendships. I literally have no time to have breakfast in the morning or talk to my wife for longer than 5 minutes as Lorenzo is hungry or falling somewhere or in need of company.
I found out that being a new parent, who also works from home (see next section), is really tough. On the other end, being with my kid every day and not having to go to an office is wonderful. Lorenzo is really looked after by the two of us and we do the best we can.
Unfortunately, I really had no time (is that an excuse?) to foster friendships, maybe did 4 calls in one year, and could not spend quality time with people in person or over the phone. Sorry buddies!
This is something that really requires my attention for 2022. Together with…
…with my wife, of course.
Unfortunately as soon as Lorenzo took over our lives, we stopped going out and spending quality time together. Which is a bummer because a couple really needs that in order to function.
We’ve had – thankfully – help from my mother- and sister-in-law those times that we had stuff to do and could not take Lorenzo with us.
But other than architects, houses, offices and banks, we really didn’t go out on a date for the whole year. Going back, I would have definitely scheduled some short dates. This is a must for 2022 (and for our sanity).
I tend to play sports 3 or 4 times a week (tennis and soccer). Well, 2021 was a disaster, but it’s also understandable – Lorenzo really is a full time job, day and night, and scheduling matches or tournaments is basically impossible.
I’ve played soccer on Monday nights since September and that’s kept me alive in the last 4 months (despite very bad weather). Earlier, I played tennis during the summer for 8-10 times, which was super exciting after a full year off.
This is one of the things that keeps me awake at night and that I need to address asap. If I can’t get to tennis, I can always sign up for yoga classes. If I can’t play soccer due to bad weather I can always go for a run. I really should.
I must say if covid wasn’t around, I probably wouldn’t have traveled anyway as Lorenzo is too small. We struggle keeping him 10 minutes in the car seat, I don’t want to imagine what would happen during a 3 hours flight 😀
Jokes apart, travelling was not possible / too dangerous due to restrictions, so we spent the whole year here in Sicily. And now it seems things have gone bad again with Omicron, so I have no expectations for 2022.
We really want to re-celebrate our wedding in Rome in May 2022 with all the people who could not make it to Sicily last year, but we’ll see how things go first.
2021 Year In Review: Business
2021 was my worst year in regard to productivity. During my 6 months in South America I did better than that, LOL.
Unfortunately working from home with a small kid is not easy, besides my wife has suffered from a sore wrist since Lorenzo was born and I’ve had to help her a lot.
I took a month off at the beginning of the year (parental leave), did the same in July (wedding), managed to have a very productive August (part-time) and then 4 crazy sleepless months from September to December as I had to work when Lorenzo was asleep.
In 2021 I worked 992 hours in total versus 1400 hours in 2020, which is approx 80 hours/month (2021) vs 115 hrs/mo (2020). A huge drop.
I realized the most productive time of the day is… at night, when everybody is in bed. I hate working nights, but I have no choice. It’s almost 3am as I’m writing this review, but the alternative would be easy: no post whatsoever. So, I prefer getting 3-4 hours of productive work at night as opposed to having to start and stop every 5 minutes during the day.
Despite all this…
Gross Revenue +90%
I almost doubled my 2020 gross revenue. This is an incredible achievement. And for the first time ever, 1-to-1 WooCommerce client work went below 50% of my total income. Which is awesome, as I sell more products than services now, and I’m on track to fully productize Business Bloomer.
Other good ecommerce stats:
- Orders +21%
- Refunds -10%
- AOV +58%
- CR +100%
February was my best month ever, thanks to a 5 figure withdrawal from one of my affiliate accounts. Amazing to think that affiliate income financed part of my house purchase!
In regard to expenses, I paid approximately:
- $140/mo for Cloudways & SiteGround hosting for various sites (10 at least)
- $12/mo for various domains (10 at least)
- $30/mo for Metorik ecommerce analytics & email automation
- $30/mo for SendGrid email marketing, cancelled in October as I can send newsletters via Metorik now
- $15/mo for premium WP plugins
- $15/mo for private WP communities
- $1,100/mo for outsourcing (content for various sites, graphic design, social media, marketplace admin)
This expense of $1,300/mo is quite high now that I’ve calculated it. Thankfully, I WFH so I have no other cost. I’ll see if in 2022 I can cut some of the outsourcing and pay only for what I really need.
May sound like a huge decrease, but 2020 was a really special year for WooCommerce and ecommerce in general. Traffic spiked to all-time highs and won’t likely happen again.
So that -35% means “back to normal”, and it seems that all websites within the tech industry experienced that (prove me wrong!). Honestly, though, considering that revenue went up 90% I stopped worrying about Google and algorithm changes and focused on developing my business instead.
Overall, Business Bloomer was visited by 946,000+ users in 2021 (79,000/month on average), while in 2020 I was way over 120,000 users/mo. Pity, but I’m currently working on SEO and content so I hope to see that traffic getting back to at least 100k per month, which is a neat figure.
While I keep doing WooCommerce dev work with clients, I keep developing new products so that Business Bloomer can scale. My time is limited (more than ever), so I must focus on productizing my business.
- Affiliate income is the easiest one, given the level of traffic I get. I simply need to revise an old article or write a new one, put some relevant affiliate links, and earn a commission. I’m happy to say I reached a level where I could completely stop doing client work and exclusively rely on affiliate income (which is also evergreen, because once you write a tutorial it keeps earning over and over). I’ve invested in professional copywriting services since September (over 5k) so I hope that saves me time + gives me a return in the next few months thanks to affiliate links.
- Together with David Mainayar from PeachPay, also, I’ve started selling sponsorship slots on WooWeekly newsletter, which we send every Wednesday to 15,000+ free subscribers. I have to say I was shocked when I learned that we made 4k in 2021 out of the blue, and we plan to make much more in 2022!
- I totally failed at creating new WooCommerce online courses this year, even if I had the motivation to do it and the right ideas. Just no time for it with little Lorenzo around! That’s a shame because courses are scalable and easy to sell, so I hope to do better in 2022 as I’m stuck with 3 of them so far.
- I relaunched Bloomer Armada and turned it into a recurring subscription model, which was a great move. The fact I offer WooCommerce support via Slack was also a good idea, as it’s easier to manage than email and it builds a community, which is an objective for 2022 as well.
- In December, I also started selling my first mini-WooCommerce-plugins, called “Premium Snippets“. This is something only Business Bloomer does, so let’s see if someone else starts copying me (looking fw to that!). I’ve totalled €118 in sales without any sort of launch or publicity, so that’s a good enough sign there is a gap in the market. Expect more in 2022, with at least 12 new mini-plugins…
Overall, business was great, but I did the minimum I could do, which makes me think 2022 can be “the key year” to understand whether I can scale Business Bloomer the way I want or keep it small.
In 2021 I only spoke at WordCamp Italia (online , of course). In 2020 I spoke at WordCamp Italia and WCEU in a private online room. In 2019 at 4 in person events. In 2018 at 9 events. There is a trend there due to the pandemic but also to the little time I have now to do community work.
We’ll see how 2022 goes. Speaking of which, I’m applying to WCEU 2022 and hope to be selected this time.
2021 has been a key year for me, both personally and financially. If you’ve made it this far in the article, well done for reading, but most importantly…
I know 2021 has been tough for 99% of you. And because I’m in that lucky 1% who had a great year, I want to give back to those who needs some help.
It could be a gig, a 100% discount coupon, a referral, or whatever I can do to help you start 2022 in the best possible way. Interested? Get in touch via Twitter DM.
Happy new year!
p.s. You may find the following WordPress-related reviews interesting: