My 2022 annual online business review

My 2022 annual online business review

Starting last year, I made a goal to write an annual summary of my online business(es). The fact that I’ve done it two years in a row now is nothing short of a miracle considering how short my attention span is.

Anyway, writing all of this out helps me to get a zoomed-out / bigger picture view of how I’m progressing as a full time content creator juggling multiple brands. It’s nerdy, but fun.

My current brands

In total, I have 8 websites. 5 of those have associated YouTube channels. 1 of them has 2 separate e-commerce stores. I do most everything myself (very little outsourcing).

Despite how batshit crazy that sounds, I spent roughly 95% of my time working on only 3 of those brands in 2022. The breakdown looks something like this:

  • SANspotter (blog and YouTube channel): 65%
  • DriveAndReview (blog and YouTube channel): 10%
  • Norebbo (blog, YouTube channel, and e-commerce stores): 20%
  • Everything else: 5%

1. SANspotter

This is my largest brand. It consists of a blog and YouTube channel, and in 2022, I spent more time writing than I did making videos. I created all content myself (no outsourcing).

This brand generated 80% of my income in 2022 – nearly all of it from display ads. I absolutely detest display ads (they make my content look horrible), but I kinda need the money so nothing will change. For now anyway.

sanspotter homepage 2022

Website traffic increased 169% in 2022 compared to 2021. I’d like to think it was because Google appreciated the fact that I spent a lot of time updating (and deleting) old out-of-date content, but who really knows?

sanspotter website traffic 2022

As it was in 2021, I wrote approximately 1 new post a week. In total, I added 67 new posts in 2022.

YouTube views increased by 11%. I published 14 new videos in 2021, which was down from 19 in 2021 (I’m starting to get burned out creating content for this channel). YouTube ad revenue was 42% higher than 2021.

sanspotter YouTube analytics 2022

2. Norebbo

This is my second largest brand. It exists only to satisfy my creative itch, and I really wish I had more time to devote to it than I did in 2022. Other projects got in the way, and I had to neglect it a bit. This isn’t surprising considering how many other things I’ve got going on at the moment.

norebbo homepage 2022

2022 was a “cleanup” year for the website. I spent a majority of my time updating old posts to make them more useful / relevant. This included creating lots of new illustrations. And because I do all of this work myself, it’s a slow process.

In 2022, website traffic increased 13% over 2021. I published 11 new posts, re-wrote 8 posts, and created 11 new illustrations.

norebbo website traffic 2022

YouTube views were about the same as they were in 2021. I’m really happy about this – mostly because I just didn’t have any time to devote to creating new videos. I only made 4 videos in 2022 (I made 9 in 2021). I need to do better in 2023.

norebbo YouTube analytics 2022

Earnings generated from the Norebbo brand were up 20% from 2021. I know that I could do even better than that if I can find a way to allocate more time to this brand in 2023, so I need to come up with a plan…

3. DriveAndReview

This brand also exists as a creative outlet for me, but I have big plans for it in 2023 (and beyond). I’m more into cars than I am airplanes, so I need to make this more of a priority going forward. The problem is having the courage to spend less time on other things (like SANspotter).

Just like SANpostter, DriveAndReview consists of a blog and an associated YouTube channel.

driveandreview homepage 2022

The good news is that I was able to get this website on a premium ad network in 2022, so it’s finally cash-flow positive! I published 37 new articles this year (about 75% of it was outsourced), and website traffic was up 70% from 2021.

driveandreview website traffic 2022

The YouTube channel seemed to hold up well in 2022 despite only publishing 3 new videos. Traffic and earnings remained similar to 2021.

driveandreview YouTube analytics 2022

The 2 best things that happened in 2022

There was a lot that went right in 2022. Not only did I have record website and video traffic, I shattered my income record as well.

1. I made more money than I did working at my old corporate job

As 2022 went on, things just seemed to click for me. I finally reached the point where I was consistently bringing in more money every month than I made at my old corporate gig. I was scared to death when I quit my job back in 2018 – I had no idea if I would ever be able to make a living with online content creation. I did it!

traderscooter monthly earnings 2015-2022

Now I’m scared to death that I won’t be able to maintain it lol…

2. I got a lot more organized

2022 was a year of organization for me. I spent more time re-writing old out-of-date blog posts and doing general website cleanup than I did creating new content. Not only did it feel good, it helped my sites to rank better on Google as well.

Being more focused and less scatterbrained is an easy way to build authority (and trust) in a niche.

The 3 worst things that happened in 2022

Despite how nice of a year it was for me financially, it didn’t come easy. It was a really hard year – both physically and emotionally.

1. Our cat died

On May 16th, our 9 near old cat (Francis) died of cancer. She was diagnosed with gastric lymphoma in early April, and lost the fight just 6 weeks later. I’m not afraid to admit that it was the hardest damn thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life.

Francis the cat

She was my best friend. We did everything together. Losing her so suddenly was terrible, and it was really hard to produce content of any kind for 6 weeks after her death. It still hurts beyond words.

2. I neglected my own health

Even though I ate well and exercised nearly every day of 2022, my body started showing signs that it couldn’t keep up with my “hustle” lifestyle any longer. I’m 48 years old, but I’ve been working as hard I did in my 20’s. Long hours, high intensity…it’s the way I’ve always done it.

traderscooter selfie
I’m literally killing myself working so hard. Which is ironic considering that I’m financially independent with no clients or deadlines. I need to chill.

3. I gave up on social media

I’ve always struggled with social media. The truth is that I’m not really that social, and it’s always been hard for me to stay active in online communities. I basically threw in the towel in July.

I also had feelings of “imposter syndrome” this year, and I can’t count the number of times I started composing a post on Twitter or Instagram only to delete it at the last moment because I didn’t think it provided anything of value.

Disappearing from social media for the entire half of 2022 probably wasn’t a good idea.

How well did I execute on my plan for 2022?

As you read at the end of my 2021 annual business review, my primary goal was to diversify away from display ad income. More specifically, I wanted to double down on affiliate income to the point where I was making $1000/mo from that alone.

I basically failed. Sure, it was a really good year from a financial point of view, but what happened was that my ad revenue grew (by a **** ton) and my affiliate income dropped:

  • Affiliate income decreased 4.6% compared to 2021
  • Ad revenue increased 143.9% compared to 2021

Oops.

What’s the plan for 2023?

Because I failed so miserably in my attempt to diversify away from display ad income in 2022, I really mean it for 2023.

My goal is maintain the ad revenue I already have coming in (because it’s a nice chunk of money that I’d hate to lose), and spend a majority of my time working on building up income from affiliate marketing and digital product sales.

How I plan to break up my time:

  • As the year goes on, I plan to begin swapping my primary focus from my travel brand to my automotive brand. Basically, it’s a lot easier (and faster) for me to create automotive content. I’m also more into cars than I am travel, so it makes sense. I’ll never stop working on my travel brand though – it’s fun content to create.
  • Since the income generated by both my travel and automotive brands comes 100% from display ads, I need to limit my time spent on each. The goal is to maintain traffic and income levels – not increase.
  • Instead of grinding like a mofo to create more digital products for my Norebbo brand, I want to figure out how to market the products I already have. I have enough products to sell – I just need to learn how to market them better.
  • I also want to do a better job of documenting my online business journey via my TraderScooter brand. It’s just a personal goal of mine – I have no intention of turning it into an income-generating business (for now).
  • Most importantly, I’m going to turn down the intensity on everything. I’m too old to be participating in hustle culture anymore.

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