2018 was an interesting and very challenging year in many ways, so I thought it would be a good time to finally bring back the Annual Review post.
Yes, I actually used to write both Annual Reviews and epic quarterly business and lifestyle reviews before, but somehow I haven’t written a new one since my 2015 Annual Review.
This is about to change, since I really missed conducting a proper annual review and publishing it publicly on the blog each year (and I may even bring back the quarterly reviews as well moving forward). These were always some of my most popular and well received posts in the past.
A lot happened in 2018… both good and some not so good things, and I’ll try to be as transparent as I can in this post so you’ll get a full behind the scenes look.
Now that 2019 just kicked off, I wanted to take some time to write an awesome annual review post for 2018 and I will focus on a few simple, but very important questions:
- What went well in 2018?
- What did not go well in 2018?
- What are my top 10 lessons learned from 2018?
- What are my big plans for 2019?
So now, let’s look at 2018, the year I took a few steps back to make giant leaps forward.
Note: This in-depth annual review post is several thousand words long, so you can check the table of contents below to jump to the section you’d like to dive in to more.
Quick Recap Of Previous Years
In case you’re new to me, or need a little refresher, here’s a recap of previous years (2013-2018).
2013 – My First Year Online
- Launched NavidMoazzez.com in June 2013.
- Did my first online interview with Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com.
- Joined a few online programs to meet like-minded people.
- Formed solid relationships.
- Hired Gion-Per of Beecoding.com late 2013 to do my first custom design to get a more unique branding than the template I used previously. This was a lot more than I could afford, and I’m grateful he believed in me and gave me a solid chance.
- “Officially” dropped out of law school (big risk as my business wasn’t making much at that point).
- Total revenue in 2013 (June-December): $400 (more in expenses).
For those of you who don’t know this, 2013 was actually the worst year of my entire life but I managed to turn it into a year full of personal growth.
My younger brother suddenly passed away April 4th 2013, and my life has never been the same since then… it pushed me in more ways than I thought possible to do big things in this world.
You can read the full post and review here for 2013.
2014 – Hosted My First Summit, Quit My Job & Moved Abroad
- Started to get a few clients here and there, but I was still struggling for most of 2014 until I hosted my first summit.
- Read “The One Thing” by Gary Keller…. game-changer, and I started to focus on my ONE THING that would make the difference for me.
- Transition from just blogging & podcasting (which didn’t do much to grow my email list or business) to hosting my first virtual summit.
- Focused on creating The Branding Summit… which transformed my entire business and life for the better.
- Generated about 3,000 new email subscribers and $20K in profit from my first summit.
- Finally quit my job and moved abroad!
You can read the full 2014 Annual Review here.
2015 – Crushed It With Affiliate Promos, Traveled The World & Finally Launch Virtual Summit Mastery 1.0
- Launched VSM Pilot program (dozens of students at different price points – over $10K in sales).
- Crushed it with relevant affiliate promos ($100K+)
- Grew following with publicity (big publications like Business Insider (my story went viral) etc.)
- Lived and/or traveled to Mexico (Cabo San Lucas and Cancun), USA (Los Angeles, San Diego, and NYC) and Hong Kong.
- Settled in Cancun as my home base to create VSM 1.0.
- Finally launched Virtual Summit Mastery 1.0 (Brought in over $60K for its first launch)
- Total revenue: well over $200K
You can read the full 2015 Annual Review here.
2016 – Launched VSM 2.0, Hosted List Building School Summit and Tripled My Online Business From 2015
- Traveled to USA (NYC, Austin, San Diego etc. Lived in Barcelona and Cancun (moved into a dream penthouse right on the best beach).
- Launched VSM 2.0 with tons of new case studies.
- First real affiliate launch for VSM (almost $200K in revenue).
- Cash flow allowed for growth and a bit of team expansion.
- Launch List Building School summit (well over $160K in all-access pass sales, 6-figure profit from the summit).
- Backend VSM 2.0 promos after LBS (another $250K-300K the first 1-2 months after hosting the summit).
- Selected affiliate promotions for programs and resources I use and recommend to my audience.
- Revenue: over $600K (with a very healthy profit!)
The two biggest mistakes I made in 2016 was to hire an affiliate manager and an automation person on retainer… looking back, it was not a very smart decision to pay about $2,000 per month each on retainer.
My business did a lot better when I let both of them go, and I moved away from Infusionsoft and took care of the affiliate management myself in house. You don’t always have to hire expensive people to grow your business if you work smarter instead.
That said, I still brought in a very healthy profit in 2016, so it didn’t hurt my business that much… just sucks a bit to waste money like that.
2017 – The Year I Moved To London
- Hosted an exclusive mastermind in Cancun (and even rented a smaller Yacht for a day for some fun and masterminding!)
- Did two bigger launches for VSM 2.0 (one generating over $200K in just a week while I was attending a mastermind in Toronto with Stu McLaren)
- Started working on VSM 3.0 (but unfortunately didn’t finish it until later in 2018).
- Lived in Cancun, Malta and London.
- Went on my first “First Class” flight from Mexico City to Paris to Stockholm (I even got to sit in the pilot’s seat on Airbus 380, which was a cool experience).
- Went to NYC for networking and getting some camera equipment.
- Went to San Diego for Traffic & Conversion Summit to meet up with friends.
- Went to Colorado for Pete Vargas Reach Academy Live & recording professional VSM case studies with my videographer.
- Traveled all over Caribbean, Miami, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles and Toronto.
- Joined first elite mastermind (which was ok, but not worth the full investment of $40K I paid in my opinion… I met some great people though).
- Finished #6 for one of the most competitive affiliate launches of the year (and brought in multiple 5-figures in commissions from just a single affiliate promo).
- Took on a few high-end coaching clients.
- Set up a pro video / live streaming studio in my London apartment.
2017 was overall a great year, but I didn’t quite live up to 2016 in terms of growth and revenue… mostly because I traveled so much and I made some not so good decisions along the way that affected everything.
What Went Well In 2018?
Now that I’ve given you a quick recap of previous years, let’s start off this section with what went really well in 2018.
1. Virtual Summit Mastery 3.0
This was a big focus throughout most of 2018, and I’m very proud to say that Virtual Summit Mastery 3.0 finally is ready.
I launched a brand new LMS (learning management system) where we added all my programs and summits, including VSM 3.0, and the feedback has been amazing so far from our students.
Although I didn’t do a big launch for VSM 3.0 in 2018, I did launch the VSM Elite+ Coaching program, which is a more premium version of the regular VSM Elite program.
We brought in dozens of new students and I’ve really been enjoying helping them for the past few months.
We’re most likely not going to offer this for much longer, and only focus on the regular VSM 3.0 Elite Implementation Program.
Without much effort (or even an automated webinar in place at the time of writing this review), the current super simple “application funnel” still brings in multiple 5-figures each month organically (both from Google, my own email list and referrals).
2. New navidm.com website
I revamped my entire navidm.com website design and branding (the site you’re on right now) in 2018, and it was well worth it.
I’m very happy with the work my team put in and how it turned out… it became a way bigger project than I first had in mind, but at least we have a very solid base now and we won’t need to do a major overhaul for at least a couple of years.
I suggest taking a look around the site if you’re new here or if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet 🙂
3. Recorded professional Virtual Summit Mastery case studies
I’ve always been very big on featuring our successful students, and made it an even bigger focus during 2018 to up the quality of our case studies with in-person videos.
This started in Colorado Springs and Las Vegas towards the end of 2017 when I hired Gary Huff (who also works with Ryan Levesque) to do professional case studies for me.
I kept going with this, and hired him again to come out to San Diego during Traffic & Conversion Summit in February of 2018… and it’s safe to say that we got quite a lot done during that time (besides case studies with students, we also shot quite a lot of b-roll I can use for different things in my business).
Of course it’s not all the time I can meet in person with a student (and it’s quite costly to do that as you can imagine)… then I usually try to record it with the highest possible quality over vMix (the live streaming software I use to record). After the initial recording with a student is done, we can add b-roll and make it look a lot better.
Check out this playlist below featuring some of our successful Virtual Summit Mastery students.
4. Affiliate marketing
Most people may not know that I’ve been generating 6 figures in affiliate commissions consistently each year for the past couple of years.
Besides doing really well with virtual summits and product launches in the past, generating consistent affiliate income each and every month is really how I could afford to figure out where I really want to take my business and brand moving forward in 2018.
I basically don’t rely on my VSM program and summit revenue at all for my living and business expenses, which is a pretty good position to be in.
Over the years I’ve changed my approach a bit to affiliate marketing.
During 2014-2017, I promoted mostly online course launches like Ryan Levesque’s ASK Method Masterclass, Ramit Sethi’s Zero to Launch, and Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year program.
And I did extremely well doing it, making multiple 6-figures in commissions from just a few promos.
I will keep doing that from time to time for programs I really believe in. That said, I’m not a super big fan of a one-time affiliate launch where you make a bunch of money during just that one promotion (you kind of “burn” your email list a little bit too, especially if you go all in for a launch like that).
If these programs had awesome evergreen funnels, then it would make a lot more sense for me to promote all the time (as I don’t necessarily have to do email promos, and I could even have specific funnels for each one).
The honest truth is, most online entrepreneurs simply don’t have that in place and they just limit affiliates to promote 1-2 times a year, which is quite unfortunate (especially for someone like myself who rank very well in Google and YouTube for key terms, and I could drive traffic in other ways than from my email list).
For example, I even managed to finish #16 on the leaderboard for Ryan Levesque’s ASK Method Masterclass launch in 2018 without sending a single email or posting anywhere on social media about it during the 3 week launch period. That’s because I have an in-depth review that’s ranking in Google, and also a video on YouTube, which brought in leads and some of them bought the program via my link.
There’s something even better than that…
What I prefer these days are RECURRING affiliate commissions. I put in the work once, and the reap the benefits forever (with some occasional promotions and new content / updates around it of course to keep things relevant).
Tools like ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, ClickFunnels, RightMessage, Deadline Funnel, Teachable, Thinkific and a few other tools, all have awesome affiliate programs, which I make a pretty solid affiliate commission from each month.
I’ve also generated a multiple 5-figure income just from sharing ThriveCart (my most recommended shopping cart and affiliate management system) with my audience.
Worth mentioning is that I only promote products, tools and resources I use and can stand behind 100%. I’ve even written in-depth ultimate reviews for some of them.
NOTE: If you’re interested in more info how I’m generating a significant income each month from honest affiliate marketing strategies that basically pays for me to travel the world, feel free to let me know. I’ve considered creating an online course around this for quite some time if there’s enough interest for it…. and you don’t need a massive audience to make this work (in fact, you could start with pretty much no audience to generate your first few affiliate commissions).
5. Free email newsletter updates
For the first few months of 2018 I actually didn’t send a single update to my entire email list, since I was working on some other things behind the scenes. I kind of regret this as I missed out on quite a lot of opportunities and obviously lost revenue.
Early in 2018, I did start sending a weekly VSM Newsletter which went really well. We sent it for 52 weeks straight, before I decided to not keep it a regular newsletter anymore (I will basically send it only when I have an important VSM community update, new training and things like that to share).
6. Free blog posts and ultimate guides
I’m going to be very honest here… for the past few years I haven’t focused on putting a lot of free content out there on the blog.
And for most of 2018, I didn’t publish any new blog posts or guides on this site.
That said, during the second half of 2018, we started working on brand new ultimate guides and posts. This took a ton of work, but it’ll be worth it in the long run when more organic traffic starts to come in from the efforts we put in once.
Blogging is definitely not a quick way to grow your email list and making money online, but if you have the resources, it’s definitely worth it.
I plan to continue a semi-regular schedule for the blog throughout 2019… sometimes we may publish more, sometimes less… but the promise to you is that we’ll always focus on in-depth, high-quality content on navidm.com.
Heres’ what I’ve published so far (at the time of writing this annual review… I’ve published more epic content for the past 1-2 months than in the past 2-3 years combined on the blog!):
- How to Start a Blog and Make Money: Your Step-by-Step Action Plan
- Virtual Conference: 10 Lessons Learned from Hosting 100’s of Successful Online Conferences
- How to Make Money Blogging: 10 Steps to Actually Monetize Your Blog Quickly
- Virtual Events: 21 Powerful Tips for Hosting Successful Online Events
- How to Make Money Podcasting: 18 Ways to Monetize a Podcast Even If You’re Starting from Scratch
- Virtual Summit: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Hosting a Wildly Successful Online Summit
- 1,000 True Fans: How to Build Your Fan Base Fast
- The Ultimate Deadline Funnel Review
- RightMessage Review: Best Website Personalization Software
- Marketing Strategy: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide
- The Ultimate ConvertKit Review
- The Ultimate ClickFunnels Review
- Funnelytics Review: Best Funnel Mapping Software Ever?
- The Ultimate ThriveCart Review
7. Travel, Speaking & Masterminds
Ideally I would have liked to travel more in 2018 (especially to new more new countries), but the first half of the year was still really good in this regard, so I thought I’d include the travel highlights here.
I also hosted a mastermind and spoke at another one, so I’ll include some details about this below.
I actually went for a really quick visit to my old hometown Stockholm early 2018 to renew my passport and to visit my family quickly, but I’ll start with the more exciting places I traveled to (at least for me personally).
In early February I went to Medellin to speak at Ron Reich’s mastermind and explore the surroundings (I even went to the deep jungle and white water rafting for 2 days).
If you get the chance, I highly recommend you check out Medellin. There’s a great digital nomad community there too you can connect with…. and the weather is very pleasant (which is why they tend to call it the city of “eternal spring”).