Quarterly Progress Report – Q1 2015

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This is my first attempt at what may turn into a regular series: a quarterly progress report.

Why quarterly? Because months are too short.

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: website traffic, podcast downloads, and email subscribers. The latter is the most important.

Twitter followers and Facebook likes are great, but these are the numbers I pay attention to.

Traffic Growth

Side Hustle Nation earned a little over 1000 visits a day during the first quarter of 2015. Traffic was pretty consistent throughout the quarter, but was nearly 4x higher than it was during the same time period last year.

Q1 2015 traffic

Podcast Growth

The Side Hustle Show continues to be an excellent growth engine, averaging nearly 1300 downloads per day in Q1. For comparison, I was only seeing 170 downloads per day this time period last year.

Unlike the website traffic, the show is seeing a slow and steady upward climb so far this year. The weekly spikes are generally on Thursdays when new episodes are released.

podcast growth Q1 2015 noted

The show also passed a quarter million lifetime downloads, which is a pretty awesome milestone! That’s a lot of hustle in a lot of earbuds!

Email Growth

I added around 30 net new subscribers each day in the first quarter. Unfortunately I can’t get the AWeber data to compare to the prior year, but suffice to say it’s accelerated quite a bit from 2014.

email list growth Q1 2015

What’s the secret sauce? Last year I had one lead magnet. Now I have 38.

What I Shipped

I worked on several projects during the first part of the year. Here they are, in no particular order.

15 Podcast Episodes

The most popular ones were:

13 Blog Posts

Last year I was very diligent about tracking my writing, in terms of how many words a day I was creating. I’m bummed because I’ve been seriously slacking on that front so far this year — not so much in the writing itself, but in the tracking of it.

Of those 13 posts, 3 were guest spots. Guest posts can be great, but they still take a lot of time to edit and format.

In terms of traffic, these were the most popular:

I also wrote at least 12 posts for other sites too, so I guess I should include those as well!

New Podcast Cover Art

With the new year, I wanted to change up the cover art for the show. I took a survey and this new look was the winner.

sidehustleshow new and old

A Facebook Group

Also based on the survey feedback, I created the SH Nation Facebook group. We just passed 500 members and I’ve been really impressed to watch the conversations, connections, and support going on in there.

If you’re not already in, why not join us?

I was hesitant to start the group because I was worried about moderating spam or it taking up too much time, but so far it’s been a great addition!

A Public Coaching Experiment

Follow along with Kathryn and Wellington on their side hustle quests this year. They’re looking to earn $1500-2500 a month, starting from scratch.

A New Fiverr Gig

Last year I talked about my results as a Fiverr seller, and how I wanted to grow the business. So far, the opposite has happened.

I’ve had my main gigs paused because I’ve been traveling a bit and focusing on other projects, but may resume them shortly.

The one gig I added was an in-depth report and action guide on SEO ranking factors. (Purposely not linking it here.) It took a while to research, write, and edit, and it’s been a dud so far.

I have a few more gig ideas I’d like to test out, because I still feel like there’s a great opportunity on the site. In fact, with their custom quote feature, you can now sell services up to $10,000.

Two New Books

The Side Hustle Path cover_200After my chat with Nick Stephenson on how to grow your subscriber base from Amazon, like guest-posting on steroids, I wanted to give it a shot.

I compiled 20 different podcast extended show notes files, cleaned them up, added some introductory and transition material, and turned those into the first two books in The Side Hustle Path series.

The first book is permanently free (in the Amazon US store), which took some back-and-forth with Kindle’s customer support, and offers Volume 2 for free with an email opt-in.

I also uploaded Volume 2 to Amazon and priced it at $2.99. Interestingly enough, it has made a few dozen sales far.

As far as building the email list, it’s generated about 150 new subscribers so far.

Not amazing, but not bad either. If it continues to produce those results, that’s an incremental 1800 subscribers a year, which would be awesome.

Plus, every 3 months or so I should be able to create another book in the series and continue to build out my Amazon author portfolio.

A Website For My Freelance Editing Business

Although I’ve been doing non-fiction editing as a side hustle for a while now, I formalized the business by creating a dedicated website for it.

business book editing

I was excited with how quickly I put the site up because I normally spend WAY too long looking for themes and tweaking with settings, so I wrote a case study on it here.

Side Hustle Merch

This is the biggest flop of the year so far. I spent a TON of time trying to figure out how to create and upload my designs and set up an online t-shirt store through Spreadshirt.

I embedded it on the Side Hustle Nation site under the Merch tab above, and my thought was the creations would also be discoverable by people searching for hustle-related swag on Google as well.

So far there have been a grand total of 0 sales. Good to know!

What I Read

During the quarter I read a few Kindle books from friends, but 3 other titles stand out:

Even though I have a lot going on, I really liked Essentialism and The ONE Thing and recorded my thoughts on the two books in a podcast episode.

The Alchemist was recommended by a friend of mine (thanks Austin!), and it’s a quick parable about staying true to your goals and achieving your Personal Legend. I think you’ll like it.

After hearing Hal Elrod on a couple different podcasts, I’d like to check out The Miracle Morning and see what it’s all about. Have you read it and/or created a “morning ritual” for yourself?

Any other good reads lately I should check out?

Some Fun Biz / Lifestyle Stuff That Happened This Quarter

  • I got the video from my TEDx talk.
  • I played digital nomad in Seattle.
  • I presented at Jim Kukral’s Author Marketing Live.
  • I went to Hawaii with mom and dad and Bryn.
  • I got invited to Phoenix for an Infusionsoft conference as a member of the “press.”
  • The Side Hustle Show was nominated Best Business Podcast in the 10th annual Podcast Awards.
  • We booked tickets to Istanbul and Venice for the fall (thanks Bruce!).
  • I recorded an interview for Entrepreneur on Fire, due out next month.
  • I was invited to speak at the Financial Blogger’s Conference (FinCon) in Charlotte in September.

3 Dumb Ways I Lost Money

The first quarter of the year wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns though, and I lost money in stupid ways on 3 different occasions.

First, in Hawaii I lost my rented snorkel mask right off my forehead when I got smacked in the face with a wave. Then, borrowing Bryn’s to look for it the rough surf, the exact same thing happened.

Something about fool me once…

So I had to buy Snorkel Bob a couple new masks.

Next, I was excited to make an eBay sale for the dual purpose of decluttering and making a little extra money. Unfortunately, I did a crappy job of packaging the item and the buyer said it arrived broken, so I had to refund to the purchase.

And finally, I bought a $150 Costco Cash Card so I’d be able to go and buy gas and groceries, but I somehow lost it after the first use. I’m holding out hope it’s still around here somewhere but it’s been more than a month since I last saw it. :(

Goal Tracking

At the beginning of the year I set goals following a 10/100/1000/10,000 pattern:

  • 10,000 active subscribers
  • 1000 “true fans”
  • 100 customers
  • 10 clients

And in the original post I described how I was going to define and measure those.


Earning 30 net new subscribers a day, I’m about double the pace I need to be at to reach this goal. Feeling good about this one.


This one is harder to measure, but I believe experiments like my personal email outreach to people who fill out my welcome survey and the SH Nation Facebook group are having a positive impact on this.

I was about to pull the trigger and buy some cool software called RelateIQ to help me track “fans” directly from my inbox, but my sales rep must have left the company right as I was pulling out my credit card.

My “I’m ready to buy” email never saw a response and I didn’t press the issue.


I said a customer was anyone who spends $50 or more with me, and I’m around 40 so far this year, though for full-disclosure I’m “rounding up” for several people who booked a $49 strategy session. :)


I defined a client as someone spending $1000 or more with me. I’m sitting at 2 so far, so I need to step up my game a little bit on this front.

What’s Next?

Keep on hustling, I think!

While this year is flying by, it’s been a ton of fun too. I’ve got some new projects cooking, and it’s just a matter of executing.

Be on the lookout for an updated version of the Work Smarter book, a breakdown on my Udemy course launch, public coaching updates, and some more surprises as well.

What are you working on this quarter? What did you think of this progress report?

9 thoughts on “Quarterly Progress Report – Q1 2015”

  1. While I haven’t read all the post yet what I saw really excited me. I have to say that I have a lot of respect for you NOT sharing your income. Not that I am not curious but I feel like it create unnatural connections and animosity from some people. I really enjoyed the break down of how well the businesses is doing as well as the key metrics you are following and even the post and podcast eps’s that did well. It could just be that I like the analytics but I really enjoyed reading that break down.

  2. Congrats nick – it looks like things are going pretty good for you this year.
    One question – how do you measure/track your pod cast analytics? I know you cant read the info from itunes, so is that just from stitcher or are you adding in people who listen on the site?

  3. Great post! Going down the merch path is a hard one. Very little money waits for you at the other end. Your growth is great and I hope it continues for you. Have you checked out both the Pat Flynn and Lee Dumas podcasts on Amazon releases? They pair with writers who have hacked the release system to maximize their Amazon rankings and stay more to the top of the list. I’d suggest a listen if you are going to keep on Amazon publishing!

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