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I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: 2016 was an AWESOME year…mostly because I’m a Cowboys fan.
But now that Heath and I have both taken a few days to compile our own year end review for 2016, I can say it’s really been a huge year for us. Back in 2015, Heath spent a good portion of the year working full-time hours with one of our clients and I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out Hourly America.
In 2016, we learned a lot about how to scale and maximize our time, including learning how to find more clients, work less hours, and learn when it’s best to contract out to protect our time (and sanity!). For real biggest takeaway of the year: When in doubt, hire someone who knows what they are doing. 100% worth the investment, every freaking time.
Overall 2016 was awesome for a lot of reasons:
Major Highlights of 2016:
- Edited and premiered Hourly America (HUGE shout out to our editor Tate Hipps, for making our film a reality)
- Launched RV Entrepreneur Podcast (surpassed 100,000 downloads in less than a year)
- Heath wrote The RV Entrepreneur Book
- Increased our monthly passive income from $0 in January to $2600 in December…I think in the biz that’s called a 2,600% increase?
- Grew our overall income by 44%
- We rented out our RV three times in 2016 to help subsidize the monthly payments (A huge risk that has so far totally paid off!)
- Combined our websites to create HeathandAlyssa.com (almost reached 100K views in our first combined quarter)
- Started Facebook community with 3000+ members
- Heath launched CampgroundBooking.com with two co-founders and they are currently working with beta customers
- Visited Banff, Canada (I will rave about Banff for the rest of my life. It. Is. Everything.)
- Vacationed with Heath’s family twice (Park City, Utah and Glacier National Park)
- Vacationed with my family in Banff NP
- My sister got married AND pregnant so we gained a brother and a new nephew next month (shout out to Heath for not knocking me up on 2016)
- Heath eats almost 100% gluten free in the house, with the exception of flour tortillas
- My goal was to read one book a month in 2016 (read 10 total in 2015) and I ended up reading 24!
Things That Went Well in 2016
We premiered Hourly America.
Eek, eek, eek! This one was such a long time coming. I tried in 2015 to edit our documentary myself, but it was just too much for me. I had no clue what I was doing and I felt like I was wasting a lot of valuable hours on a passion project when I needed to be working and making money. In 2016, we crowdfunded the project, hired an editor to work his magic, and spent all of January and February completely devoted to finishing the film. Then, our friend Chris asked us to premier our film at World Domination Summit (squeal!). If you’ve never heard of it, World Domination Summit is an awesome conference in Portland for creative professionals.
We had nearly 300 people pack out the theater for our premiere and it was so unbelievably incredible. People laughed, gave us a standing ovation, and lots of hugs and encouragement and accolades for the film. It is one of my favorite memories of 2016 and I am so proud of us for finally pushing our film out there![If you’ve never heard of our documentary, in 2014 we visited all 50 states on our honeymoon and my crazy husband worked an hourly job in each state we visited. You can watch the film here.]
We increased our income by 44%.
We took the idea of diversifying our income super seriously in 2016. We took on clients, freelance side gigs, sponsorships, guest blog opportunities, rentals, speaking gigs, and so on and so forth. Plus, we launched two products and hustled on increasing our affiliate income. We tried a lot of new things and took some rather big risks—like renting out our RV not once, but three times.
Overall, it really paid off. We learned a ton, increased our skill set, and loved working with all of our clients. Mostly, I think we learned how to not be afraid to try new things, even if they are risky.
We launched The RV Entrepreneur Podcast, started a Facebook community, and announced The RV Entrepreneur Summit.
Heath is the dreamer in our marriage and in 2016 he really executed on the things he talked about wanting to do in 2015. He started his podcast, which is picking up a ton of steam and consistently one of the top ranked Travel podcasts in iTunes. He then added on our Facebook community so we could stay better connected to cool people like you, and pushed me to plan our first ever summit so we can meet people in real life (side note: You can sign up to attend The RV Entrepreneur Summit here).
We are still loving the RV life and being immersed in the community. Now that our business is all tied up in the RVing world, I don’t see us stopping this lifestyle for a while.
Things That Didn’t Go Well in 2016
We barely put any money toward debt.
When I made my goals last year, I was feeling really ambitious. We paid off nearly $14K of student debt in 2015 by cutting back on expenses and travel. But despite making more money in 2016, our expenses skyrocketed with our RV payment + crazy travel plans + two big weddings. We ended up paying exactly $0 toward the principal balance on our loans and only contributing to the interest.
In 2017, my biggest goal is to finally nip this student debt in the bud. I hate, hate, hate having it loom over us and once it’s finally gone, I think we’ll both loosen up a little and start dreaming about bigger things (like RVing New Zealand).
We are still learning how to balance work and travel.
Ah, the elusive work-life balance. I think this is something most people, RVers especially, struggle with constantly.
I lean more toward traveling and exploring more, Heath leans more toward working 24/7. This is one of the bigger pain points in our marriage. To help us combat this in 2017, we are planning on finally starting a vlog to document our adventures on the road. Heath has decided that since we need to do fun things for the vlog, going out to hike, explore, etc will now be “work” so he won’t feel guilty about taking time away from his laptop. Which personally, I think is slightly ridiculous, but whatever works for him and gets us out exploring! Seeing new places and meeting new people is one of the highlights of RVing and we really struggle with doing it enough. Here’s to more fun in 2017!
It took us too much time to launch HeathandAlyssa.com.
We decided to combine our websites back in March…we launched our combined site in OCTOBER.
Yep. Six months of inaction for basically no reason. Once we found someone to help us with the tech side, it took roughly three days. Six months of putting it off for only a couple days of work! Huge lesson learned here: learning how to do something yourself is not always worth it. Sometimes it costs way more time and frustration than it’s worth. Just ask for help and save yourself the frustration.
(Heath also recently started to hire out for podcast editing and it has been HUGE for him. The extra expense is 100% worth it and now Heath can devote more time to Campground Booking).
Overall, I think 2016 has been crazy, overwhelming, and fulfilling. We made a LOT happen in a short time frame and most nights we ended up binging The Flash on Netflix trying to unwind from work. Our travel plans changed at least a hundred times, we dealt with waaaay too many mechanical issues, and we missed out on a couple opportunities that we were really looking forward to (like our plans to visit Colorado this fall). But mostly when I look back on the year, I feel like we stop talking about doing big things and actually did them. And that feeling is pretty dang cool.
All in all, 2016 was awesome, and we’re coming for you, 2017.
How was your year?! Drop a comment below and share your year end review with us 🙂