2019 Reviewed

2020 is upon us, so I thought this would be a great time to reflect on what happened in the past year, where I went wrong, what I did right, and most importantly, what I learned & how to use the new knaaawledge in 2020 and beyond.


Business Stuff

2019 was mostly focused on diversification, building more projects in easier industries/niches. The downside is that the max potential earnings are definitely lower compared to my more competitive niches, but by creating a few of them (and got 4+ JVs on the go), I’m putting my eggs in a lot more baskets… it’s good for my mental sanity.

This focus on diversification meant that I didn’t grow nearly as much in $$$ as I could have (building newer projects tend to cost more money than growing existing ones).

Growth in 2019:

  • 25.56% increase in profit
  • 34.89% increase in revenue
  • 12 active projects, 7 are earning $$$

Whenever someone asks me how the year went, my answer is pretty much always “stable”. I love stable, stable is my new happy.

Stable means things are progressing nicely w/o any massive hurdles, enabling me to not only plan but also execute those plans the way they should be executed (very different compared to the chaos years of 2016-2018).


Personal Stuff

I finally learned how to invest profits outside of Google and digital marketing ventures, which is something I’ve been searching for since the start of 2018.

The shift in mindset that this brought was massive, I’m spending way less on shiny things, and cashing in more profits to invest (although I’m definitely still getting the Valve Index once it releases in Australia).

I’ve also had a decent travel year, crossing both Japan and Singapore off my bucket list. I’ll definitely be going back to both countries though, but this time with the kids, lots of things I know they’d love to see/experience.


6 Things I Learned in 2019

Savings vs Net Worth

Mentally, I stopped using the term “savings”, and just replaced it with “net worth”. It seems like a simple thing, but for me, it opened a whole new way of thinking about HOW to save and put $$$ at work outside of the usual digital marketing thingz.

Gamify Saving Money

I use IFTTT to connect to my bank account and have it transfer $xx from my everyday account to a savings account every time I check off something on my to-do app.

We also use a round-up feature that rounds up any purchase to the nearest $5 mark and puts the difference in a savings account (eg. an $11 purchase becomes $15, but $4 automatically gets transferred into savings)… it’s just awesome.

You can get very creative and it puts saving money on auto-pilot, and it’s fun. Highly recommended!

Snippets Still Rock

Featured snippets are still awesome, it almost feels like cheating. They’ve definitely changed a bit since BERT went live (and subsequent updates), changing how much “weight” different factors have when it comes to your pages’ potential of grabbing snippets… but it’s still pretty straightforward.

Trading Growth for Diversification Can Work

Already discussed this above.

Fluff content is useless, even if backlinked.

I sort of already knew this, but in the last year I doubled down on it by only creating content that has decent search volume attached to it, every content piece has its place in the puzzle now.

It means creating less content, but each piece has waaaaay more value (both in terms of traffic, and supporting commercial pieces).

Content audits actually work, yay.

Did a huuuuge purge of content on one of my sites (think it was over 60% cut), and nothing bad happened… in fact, that project is in the best shape it’s ever been. I followed Ahrefs’ content audit guide and it worked a treat!


2020 & Beyond

Putting aside all the ongoing protests against authoritarian governments in the past months, the fact that a decent patch of Australia is now a portal to hell, the whole Iran-US thing that’s about to blow up, and many many more realllllly shitty situations (*cough* Cambridge Analytica is now just called Emerdata and they’re continuing the work *cough cough*).

So putting aside all of that… I’ll be continuing sacrificing growth for diversification until I’m happy with the level of safety the whole system/structure provides.

I’ll try to post more stuff on the blog, with at least one more case study I’m planning.

I’m going to try to create a podcast as well, for the third time.

Re travel, I was happy with the amount of travel I did in 2019, so would like to match or exceed it in 2020. Partial plans already made are Sydney in Feb, Chiang Mai mid-year, NZ family snow holiday mid-year, Chiang Mai again in November. Might squeeze something else in there if I can.

I’ll also continue to invest as much possible outside of digital marketing projects, build up that “net worth” and make sure my kids will be super duper ok when they grow up.

And I’ll add a few more charities to my monthly subscriptions, giving back and all that good stuff.


To finish off this review, I’ll follow the crowd with the #decadechallenge, so here’s me almost a decade apart (2010 – 2019).


Have a great 2020 everyone!

Tom Profile Pic

Tom De Spiegelaere

I started as your average web designer, then found affiliate marketing as a biz model, and am now building my own assets on a full-time basis… I kinda like it :)

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