Quarterly Progress Report – Q1 2016

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For the past year, I’ve been doing these quarterly progress reports.

Why go through this exercise?

It’s time to evaluate what happened over the last 3 months, to see if you achieved your goals, and to ask if you’re happier or otherwise better off than you were when you started.

So am I?

Where my last report featured an enthusiastic “yes!”, this time I’m not so sure. Business-wise, the Side Hustle Nation audience has grown, but other projects have taken a back-seat.

I feel like I’ve been in “maintenance mode” for most of the year.

And while happiness is hard to measure, I have to admit it’s gone down since last year. To be sure, there are moments of elation but on average, I’m feeling more stressed, anxious, and tired. Is this the price of parenthood? More on that below.

But why “progress”? Because that’s what it’s all about.

To me, progress means forward motion, or actively taking the steps to improve each day. It’s one thing we can control.

Progress is universal; everyone can make progress toward their goals in some meaningful way, however small the steps may seem.

As you’ll see, it’s a cumulative, iterative process we can work on week in and week out.

Growth of the Nation

There are 3 main metrics I track:

  1. website traffic
  2. podcast downloads
  3. email subscribers

The latter is the most important.

Twitter followers and Facebook likes are great, but these are the numbers I pay the most attention to. And like the great Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed.”

Blog traffic growth:

Side Hustle Nation earned around 2600 visits a day during the first quarter of 2016. Traffic was pretty consistent throughout the quarter, but was 2.5x what it was during the same time period last year.

q1 2016 traffic

The one big spike in the middle was when an old post on The Bucket of Crabs theory was linked to from Reddit.

(It actually had nothing — as far as I can tell — to do with the podcast I did w/ Brian Swichkow on driving viral Reddit traffic, though it happened right around the same time.)

Traffic is up significantly even from last quarter, which I can partially attribute to increased exposure in Google and the previously untapped traffic source of Pinterest.

Also, the Google Gods have been smiling on Side Hustle Nation lately. This chart shows the last 6 months of organic search traffic, with a noticeable spike right around the first of the year.

organic traffic spike

It could be related to “side hustle” New Year’s Resolutions, but I think there might actually be another cause. My theory is the sudden spike in search traffic may have something to do with the 500+ irrelevant archive posts I deleted in Q4 as the first phase of my content audit process.

The rest of the traffic growth I have to attribute to the cumulative effect of creating more content, building more links and press features, and creating more relationships.

Podcast download growth:

The Side Hustle Show averaged 2300 downloads per day during Q1. For the sake of comparison, Q1 2015 was around 1300 a day, and Q1 2014 was around 170 per day. Onward and upward!

podcast growth q1 2016

It was a great quarter for The Side Hustle Show, with each month setting new records in terms of overall downloads.

In March, the show also passed a cool milestone: 1 million lifetime downloads!

side hustle show million downloads

New episodes are reaching 10,000 people. It’s all pretty exciting for a dude with a $50 mic in his living room.

Email list growth:

This is probably the most important metric of all, and it’s looking pretty solid. I added 49 net new subscribers per day in Q1. This is up about 50% from the same time period last year.

email list growth q1 2016

This quarter there weren’t any “abnormal” list growth hacks like my experiment with NoiseTrade. Most of this growth is that compound effect of a growing body of work and consistently creating content upgrades for the podcast.

I’ve lost count, but probably have close to 100 lead magnets on the site now (managed by LeadPages). If you want more people to come to your house, one way to do it is to build more roads to your house.

Goal Tracking

I actually didn’t set any concrete goals for the quarter or the year. Shame on me!?

Instead, I decided my “theme” for the quarter was going to be to make the most of the content I’d already created.

  • I wanted to build out my Amazon author profile by adding paperback editions and audiobooks for the titles that didn’t have them.
  • I wanted to re-tool and re-launch my 30 Day Plan, Launch, and Hustle Challenge Group. (Want in next time? Join the wait list here.)
  • I wanted to complete my content audit process, consolidating old posts and removing outdated or irrelevant content. (A process I started after FinCon last fall.)
  • I wanted to find places to republish some of my best work.
  • I wanted to find a new theme for Side Hustle Nation (redesign the site).

So what happened?

Almost none of that.

  • I added paperback editions for the first 2 volumes of The Side Hustle Path series, but zero audiobooks.
  • I didn’t touch Plan, Launch, and Hustle.
  • I did do another round of my content audit, deleting perhaps another 50 posts and cleaning up categories and tags.
  • I did zero republishing research or outreach.
  • The same ‘ol WordPress theme and site design chugs along.

What I Shipped

15 Podcast Episodes

The most popular ones were:

14 Blog Posts

The most popular ones were:

Of those 14 posts, 6 were guest spots and 1 was a sponsored post. Guest posts can be great, but they still take a lot of time to edit and format.

2 CreateSpace Editions

I added paperback editions for Volumes 1 and 2 of The Side Hustle Path.

The 2016 Member Survey

The survey generated more than 500 responses with some very interesting results.

See what I mean? Maintenance stuff with not a lot of energy toward new projects.

Some Fun Biz / Lifestyle Stuff That Happened This Quarter

There’s a new tiny human living with us, and he’s understandably been occupying a lot of our time.

not mad max

Bryn and I thought we could beat the odds that your happiness decreases after procreation, but learning to live as a family of 3 comes with some growing pains. Being honest about it is hopefully the first step in adjusting to our new reality and returning to 2015-levels of life-enjoyment!

We are working on simplifying and consolidating our finances. That means closing and merging accounts, reviewing our investment allocations, and eyeing early retirement targets.

Though what would I do in retirement? Probably pretty much what I’m doing now.

I landed my first “official” podcast sponsorTeachable.com.

I’m practicing saying “no” to things I shouldn’t prioritize. This quarter that meant turning down a number of freelance gigs, some poorly pitched interview requests, and even some press and travel opportunities.

That also has meant ignoring the “shiny objects” of SnapChat and Instagram, and trying to get better about “just in time learning.”

I’ve created an email label called “Pitches” — cold emails I don’t feel any obligation to reply to.

Keeping my inbox clean feels good and gives me a sense of accomplishment, but I have to constantly remind myself that the majority of messages in there are not my ONE thing right now.

The Side Hustle Show was featured in Better Homes and Gardens. Random!

featured in better homes and gardens

I earned 100,000 Southwest points. I’m closing in on Companion Pass status and hope to have lots of free travel in my future!

I was interviewed by Matthew Lesko, the “crazy question mark suit” guy. 

YouTube video

I began outsourcing some of The Side Hustle Show editing. I was spending a lot of time cleaning up each episode to try and deliver a great and “tight” listening experience, and had a really hard time letting go of this task. The show is my baby and has become my “art” over the last couple years!

It’s such a subjective task to delegate, and such an important part of the Side Hustle Nation brand, it’s taken some back and forth to get it right. Will a 3rd party editor know what to cut and what to keep?

What do you think of the last 10 episodes?

Bryn and I got to hang a little with Mike Riscica in San Francisco. Mike has been a great advocate for Side Hustle Nation and had been a part of the Inner Circle mastermind for the last 2 years but we’d never met in person!

hanging with mike

What I Read

Ha! Reading?

I’ve got a couple books lined up on my Kindle ready to go, including Pat Flynn’s Will it Fly and Jared and Kimanzi’s Stop Chasing Influencers, but haven’t cracked open either yet.

Your Turn

How was your quarter? What did you get done?

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

32 thoughts on “Quarterly Progress Report – Q1 2016”

  1. Nicely done, Nick. And congratulations on your family’s new addition! :) I worked on a few big projects and had one of my strongest quarters yet, but I’m not going to add any new clients for a few months. I’m dedicated maintaining a better side hustle / life balance!

  2. congrats on your new addition! I’ve been a dedicated listener of your podcast for a while, I listen to it on long runs marathon training – or on lonnng, (normally dull) walks into town. I always learn something new!

  3. Nick, Your podcasts are required listening, and I sincerely appreciate the downloadable show notes, too. As a father, I can say that the first year is a moment-to-moment experience, and I’m frankly impressed by all you still do (even in “maintenance mode”). All the best!

  4. Congrats! Life will never be the same now that you’ve got a kiddo :) I used to sleep like a rock, but after my 2nd, I haven’t slept thru the nite in forever. Hope it’s better for you. And in a couple of years, all those things you used to think were just for dull families will suddenly become exciting again because you’ll get to see it from his perspective and watch him light up :D. Maybe you’ll even have him on the podcast. But for sure, you’ve seen how important the ‘one thing’ is. All that spare time you had is gone!
    Also, love the peek into your quarter. Love that it’s real and realistic. There’s a lot of ‘income reports’ out there that make it feel like “I don’t have the energy, creativity or magic required, so, forget it”. So glad that there is real life out there – not that I don’t wish $20M or whatever your way. :) I’ve personally taken a pause and me, my wife & kids are traveling in a RV for a year. Trying to clean the slate and the mind more than the bank account, but it’s a lot of fun doing something we’ve dreamed about now rather than keep dreaming about it…

  5. Hey Nick. You do a really great job. And you’re in a really hot space. I recommend you all over the place. What about getting more help? I get the sense you’ve got a ton on your plate. Maybe it’s keeping you from focusing on higher impact opportunities? I have a partner – and despite what they say about partners – it’s been a fantastic way to get leverage. Thanks for the great content and inspiration.

  6. Great post. You set a good example by conducting and publishing this analysis, even when it shows you didn’t achieve everything on your list. I’m a new subscriber and haven’t had time to review everything on your site, but I really enjoy what I’ve read and heard so far! Thank you!

  7. Thanks for the update, Nick. A lot going on in your life and as always, a lot of valuable things you shared. But here’s something a lot of readers may skip over:

    Though what would I do in retirement? Probably pretty much what I’m doing now.

    That’s one of your most valuable thoughts to date. You’ve really designed the rest of your life, the way you want it, for the rest of your life. This makes you one of the smartest men I know.

    There’s no need to slog through life doing what you can’t stand doing until some magic day in the future when you can “retire” and then have nothing meaningful to do.

    You’re already into doing what you want to do (and if you don’t like certain aspects, you can change as you go) and all you have to do is keep hustling (and enjoying).

    I’m not hustling hard enough (or smart enough) myself, but other than that, I’m on the same path. I’m “officially” retired, but I’m never going to retire from what I’m doing now. There’s so much more purpose in life when you, well, have a purpose ;-)

    Hustle on my friend.

  8. I’ve always enjoyed your podcast, but the last 10 episodes or so have really left a mark. Truth be told, I’ve found myself telling coworkers and friends about your podcasts lately – more than Mr. Flynn’s! Keep it up, and thanks.

    Seriously contemplating the rural land flipping idea…

  9. Shame on me, but I don’t have the excuse of family “addition”.
    Apart from the usual stuff – 90k words written and 100+ Quora posts- I haven’t done much more. A few guest posts, several blog posts and some work on my next book.
    I met in person my accountability partner and it was a blast!

  10. Congratulations Daddy. LOL.
    I love this site. Great podcast and great blog. Always reading and listening. Nice work. I think maybe it’s time for you to delegate, maybe get a VA. Think about it. Sooner or later you will need to do it considering all of the work and time you put into this great site.

    All the best.

  11. The Companion Pass is awesome! You’re so close!

    Great job on the growth of the site and podcast. I’m always sending people your way when they’re asking me how to make money online.

  12. Congrats on the baby and all you have accomplished. And thank you for sharing. I wanted to tell you how I found you because it was around the first of the year when you had some growth which I think is interesting. I was doing a search for the new podcast put out by Gretchen Rubin at that time called Side Hustle School with Chris G and yours came up as well. I decided to listen to your podcast too and have been a fan ever since as I am attempting to put together my own side hustle. Thanks again for the wealth of info!


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