My 2015 Annual Review

Every year, I conduct my Annual Review and share it publicly.

I find it helpful for me to reflect on my successes and failures of the previous 12 months, but also I hope you can learn something or be inspired reading my reviews as well.

Similar to my previousannual reviews, I will answer 4 questions in my 2015 Annual Review:

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What didn't go so well this year?
  3. What have been my biggest takeaways this year?
  4. What am I working toward?

Let's get into the details...

What Went Well This Year?

More...

Strength Training. I started working with a fitness coach around March 2015 and have gotten a lot stronger with the 3 big lifts, especially the Squat.

My current records are:

  • Back Squat - 130kg for 3 sets of 5 reps.
  • Bench Press - 100kg for 1 set of 2 reps.
  • Deadlift - 100kg for 1 set of 6 reps.

Those stats look very good considering my bodyweight is only at 65kg. However, because I want to strengthen and grow my upper body better, I'm planning on switching to a new program in 2016.

Relationships. My connections with the most important people in my life keeps getting stronger every year.

Because I live in a different city, I only saw my family a few times this year. During those times, I made it a point to spend lots of quality time and to really catch up with them.

I also called my mom and chat with my sister regularly to keep myself updated with the happenings at home.

I spent the majority of 2015 in Hanoi with my girlfriend and we had some great memories together.

me and my GF on her graduation day

me and my GF on her graduation day

While I mostly hung out with entrepreneurial friends from the Dynamite Circle during the year, I made sure to spend some good times with close friends I grew up with as well.

Adventures. I didn’t travel much in 2015 but had managed to make some good trips with friends and family.

Some highlights:

Motorbiking to Sapa, Viet Nam

Motorbiking to Sapa, Viet Nam

Celebrating 21st birthday with my family in Da Nang

Celebrating 21st birthday with my family in Da Nang

Having a great time with Above and Beyond at Ho Tram Trip, Vung Tau

Having a great time with Above and Beyond at Ho Tram Trip, Vung Tau

Business. This year all my projects didn’t grow significantly, but my total income wasn’t bad at all.

After making some costly mistakes during the first half of 2015, I narrowed my focus back to what were working for me at the time, and things have been a lot better ever since.

I just sold my WordPress theme business in December for a nice mid 5-figure amount as well. The ROI was really good considering my total investment on the business was less than $3,000.

Although I’m grateful for what I’ve got in 2015, I’m committed to achieve much better results in 2016.

Finances. Making a good income with your business doesn’t matter, if you end up spending all of it and saving nothing for yourself.

They say the secret to wealth is to spend less than what you earn and invest the difference.

That means in order to create financial freedom, you need to learn and master your finances.

Fortunately, my saving account did grow a bit compared to the beginning of the year. But I still have a lot to learn about investing it properly, so that my money keeps growing.

What Didn't Go So Well This Year?

Tracking my numbers. I never keep track of anything. And this has been a recurring pattern in my life for years.

I personally believe this is one of the reasons I’m not achieving some of my major goals in fitness, finance and business.

I have to put an end to this in 2016. So if you have any advice for me, I’d love to read it in the comment section.

Fitness. While my strength has improved significantly, I’m still far from getting the physique that I’ve always wanted.

However, I’m pretty confident that I’ll achieve it in 2016 with the new program that I’m working on. I’ll share more about it in another article.

Sleep schedule. I’m a morning person and I’m most productive when I wake up before 7am. However, because I couldn't get work out of my head, my sleep schedule had been very inconsistent throughout 2015. As a result, my wake time suffered.

Growing Cloud Living. I only published 14 articles in 2015. Surprisingly, traffic still grew by 44% compared to 2014. But the good traffic numbers didn’t make up for the fact that reader engagement has dropped significantly.

However, everything will change soon as my core focus this year is to put out more content and grow the blog to where it should be.​

What Have Been My Biggest Takeaways This Year?

Don't do it just for the money. I spent the first half of 2015 trying to make a fortune with Teespring. But the truth is that I never enjoyed it as a business model.

I was just in it for the money. I didn’t like the process of doing it at all. So I tried to hire a bunch of people to do the work for me. It didn’t work out well and I lost a lot of money.

No one succeeds alone. My biggest regret in 2015 was staying in Hanoi for too long and disconnecting myself with my entire network of great entrepreneurial friends in Saigon. 

I also didn’t tell anyone about my problem with Teespring and felt embarrassed to admit it.

I was stuck and stressful for months. I had big insecurity and self-doubt.

Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and reached out to my friend Anton Kraly for some advice.

Here’s a part of the long email I sent him:

Sounds pretty depressed right? Turned out the quick call with Anton was a relief and helped me stop feeling bad about myself.

Then in September, I decided to come back to Saigon. That trip totally saved my life!

Being around my good friends, I started to feel the motivation to work again on projects that I loved. Then things started to get a lot better.

White-hat SEO is easy and effective. It took me a few years and a dozen of websites penalized to finally try building links with white hat SEO strategies.

I always thought that white hat SEO was expensive, time consuming, and unscalable. The idea of begging people via emails and waiting weeks just to get a few links never made sense to me.

But I tried it anyway with the help of my good friend Gael Breton from Authority Hacker. And the results blew my mind.

In the last 4 months, I’ve managed to earn a dozen of powerful links from established sites in my niche. Some of them are from top publications with Domain Authority of 80 and higher.

Here’s traffic growth from August to December 2015:

Thank Your Skin Traffic Growth

What Am I Working Toward?

Focus. In 2016, I deliberately choose to focus on just a few vital things and say NO to everything else.

In terms of business, I will only focus on 2 projects:

  • Cloud Living - I’ll grow the blog by putting out more content and launching a new course AMZ Affiliate Bootcamp.
  • Thank Your Skin - This is my current authority site which I’m building as part of the public case study here. It is growing significantly every month and has potentials to be a 6 figure business for me.

For health and fitness, I’ll focus on following this program closely and will be documenting my progress on the blog as well.

New content type. While written blog posts have been and still are working well for me, I’m going to produce more audio content in form of either videos or podcast episodes.

To be honest, this is completely out of my comfort zone at the moment, but making audio content is an important skill that I want to get better at.

I’ve gone a long way since publishing my first English article 5 years ago, so putting out a few imperfect videos wouldn’t be so bad.

The Bottom Line

So there you have it, my 2015 year in review. Overall, it was a good year with lots of great lessons and memories.

It’s a privilege to write for you. I have said many times that I'm not an expert and don't have it all figured out. I'm still young (21st) and have many years ahead.

The only thing for sure is that I will keep working hard to become better in every aspect of my life. And of course, I will be sharing what I learn along the way.

Thanks for following my journey. Hope you have a great 2016!

How about you? What were your biggest takeaways in 2015? What's your plan for a better 2016? Leave a comment below.

PS: If you have additional time, check out these annual reviews of my friends too. They're all very fun to read 🙂

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 35 comments
Gavin Jackson - January 4, 2016

Tung,

I think podcasts would be very valuable. I just started my website businesses in 2015 and the Empire Flippers podcasts were very helpful for me. Hearing about other people’s success and failures was helpful and gave me confidence to dive right in.

Gavin

Reply
Quy P. - January 4, 2016

Hi Tung,

It is great to follow your blog. Your words inspired me a lot in the last few months. Best wishes for you for the year ahead. If you want to track your fitness, I believe a Fitbit Product from Amazon will absolutely help you a lot. Try to get one and you will find a lot of encouragements to do more exercise.

Reply
    Tung Tran - January 4, 2016

    Thanks Quy. I actually don’t need motivation to go to the gym. I enjoy and look forward to every workout 🙂

    My problem now is tracking calories so I can eat the right amount to burn fat 😀

    Reply
Quy P. - January 4, 2016

The product I mentioned acts as a fitness tracker. It will help you track your steps, how long you sleep, how much calories you eat and burn, water you drink… After few months when you look back, you will have all historical data :).

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    Tung Tran - January 4, 2016

    Yeah I was considering it. Are you using it now?

    Reply
      Quy P. - January 4, 2016

      I bought one (FitBit Charge HR) in the last Black Friday at a discount on Amz. There is also a large community Fitbit Friends on Facebook if you want to join. Overall, the product and its app on smartphone help me much to track my daily activites.

      Reply
Phú Quý - January 4, 2016

Hi Tung,

It’s great to follow your blog. Everybody has their up and down moments, it’s good to see that you overcame the harsh time and regained momentum. I hope 2016 will be the best year for you.

I’m looking forward to be your 1st podcast listeners. I’m the huge fan of podcast and ‘ve been listening to John Lee Dumas (Eofire), Pat Flynn (SPI), Mixergy, My wife quits her job for years, so I’m really excited to listen to your 1st episode.

Keep on doing the great job.

Best wish to you

Quý

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Nadya from livingoffcloud.com - January 4, 2016

Happy New Year, Tung!
I love reading your blog and am happy to see i twill be one of your priorities for 2016!

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Shayna - January 4, 2016

Great reflections, Tung!

About tracking numbers – I’m the opposite; I’m obsessed with tracking and have to stop myself from doing it too much 🙂 But here’s what’s working for me at the moment:

Monthly, on the 1st of the month, I spend about an hour doing a financial roundup of my business’ previous month. I add up all the sales from the various income streams, record them in an Excel spreadsheet, tally up the expenses (I use thebirdy.com to email expenses into a database daily), and calculate the profit.

Then, I take that amount and divide it up – some goes into a separate bank account for taxes, some gets reserved for reinvesting, some goes to me.

On the 1st, I also review my personal finances for the past month and plan them for the upcoming month.

If there are any other stats I’m tracking (conversion rates, ad campaigns, etc. I review them on the 1st of the month, too.

This helps me stay on top of the stats without obsessing over them. Maybe it’ll be helpful for you, too.

Reply
    Tung Tran - January 4, 2016

    Thanks Shayna! It’s good to have you here 😀

    Currently I’m hiring someone on Upwork to go over my numbers in the last 3 months on Xero while I’m choosing the metrics that are most important to me. Then we will use Klipfolio to set up dashboards. Do you put all your numbers into excel?

    Reply
      Shayna - January 5, 2016

      Yes – Excel. I use Cyfe as a dashboard to show me a quick visual of how things are going, but nothing beats Excel for ease and detail.

      Reply
alqintara - January 4, 2016

Thanks for sharing a wonderful experience. Most starters like me have been trying to get on our feet for years. I am 44 years old and never gone beyond the the above blog stage.

I would welcome some good workable ideas from guys like you who know the cloud business excellently.

Cheers.

Reply
Phú Quý - January 4, 2016

Dear Tùng,

It’s my great pleasure to read your review and know your path. Everyone has their up and down moment, it’s great to see that you overcame your harsh time and regain the momentum.

I’m really looking to listening to your 1st podcast episode. I’ve been listening to John Lee Dumas (Eofire), Pat Flynn (SPI), Mixergy, Youprenuer, and many other podcasts for years, so that why I’m so excited to know that you are working on launching a podcast. If you need any help just hit me via email, the least thing I can do is spreading out the word ;).

I hope that 2016 is your best year ever in every area of your life. Keep on the great work and keep on inspiring and helping others.

Thank you,

Quy

Reply
paulette - January 4, 2016

Hello, nice to read your blog it is inspiring. I am just beginning to learn all about internet marketing and such but haven’t settled on anything in particular yet. I keep getting distracted by the all the new shiny objects. It’s nice to hear about someone like you and sharing your stories. Thank you and I’m sure you will have a fun and prosperous 2016!

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Raweewan M - January 4, 2016

Hey Tung,
Long time no see! This is great to read your recap for last year. I’m thinking the same thing that I will focus only 2 projects this year, authority site and self-publishing. But I’ll try to make audio contents as well. I’m thinking about a basic course that I can teach people about affiliate marketing and self-publishing. I’m thinking about Udemy course. Well, actually, this ideas was around 2-3 years ago, but I got started with self-publishing first. Anyway, I’ll try white-hat SEO as you do. My authority site is still growing and traffic is still less. OK, keep going and talk soon!

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Thành Thái - January 5, 2016

Nhìn ảnh phượt sapa thấy có cả anh Thắng (chechon):) Bạn chơi cùng anh ấy hả :).
Chúc mừng năm mới, chúc bạn thành công hơn nữa nhé.

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Kani Poly - January 5, 2016

So lovely <3

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Daniele - January 5, 2016

You sold the WordPress theme!
Well done Tung, sounds like you got a good deal 🙂
And you can focus on less projects.

Happy 2016 full of success and conversions!

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Yeshua Quijano - January 8, 2016

This is a very nice post Tung. Admitting that you were lost AND seeking help were very mature traits. I know you’ll do better this 2016.

So far I’m focusing on making another niche site right now and documenting the entire process. This is my goal for 2016.

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Sundeep - January 15, 2016

Man, haven’t been to your site since probably last year when I thought I would finally take the plunge and try to start a niche site, which never happened. Thought I’d check your site out again this year and am stoked to see you’re still at it.

Will eagerly keep up with your $10k challenge and also wanted to give you major props for those lift numbers…great for most guys let alone someone who weighs what you do…keep up the good work. I actually got sidetracked for a few hours following that workout plan link…might give it a try myself.

Regardless, good luck!

Reply
    Tung Tran - January 15, 2016

    Thanks for the kind words man. I like the program. Hoping to get some decent results in the next few months 😀

    Reply
Russell Lobo - January 31, 2016

Congrats Tung. Great article. I love the honesty in which you mention your strengths and failures. Loved your points in the expert round up on NH too 🙂
Cheers

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Michael - February 24, 2016

Hi Tung,

Great post — very inspiring.

Good to hear that white hat SEO is working out for you.
I’ve used some black hat as well in the past, but now I’m exclusively white hat. Isn’t it nice not to have to worry about Google Penalties? 😉

If you’re ever in Chiang Mai, drop me a line!

Mike

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sahbi - March 3, 2016

I’m glad to know how you did last year.
Personally I think you did pretty good and I wish you success for the coming years.
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Reply
Jack Nguyen - March 29, 2016

21… whoa. I thought you are 25 or higher. Really good!

Reply

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