What a year, y’all. This is my 2023 recap and is meant to chronicle the big things that happened, both good and bad.
I’m going to break it down across work, personal, health, personal development, and travel.
2023 brought a big change for me.
I shifted my focus from Credo, the business I started in 2013 that became my focus after I was laid off from my job at Trulia in 2015, to EditorNinja, which I launched in June 2020 but didn’t formalize into a business until December 2021 with a launch in January 2022.
Credo continues to operate, run by the team in place, as I build EditorNinja.
In short, EditorNinja benefited from the increased time and focus. In 2022, EditorNinja did ~$56,000 in total revenue. In 2023, even in a hard economy, EditorNinja completed 2023 with ~$215,000 in revenue. We also ended the year with ~5.5 million words edited lifetime, with 4.4 million of those words in 2023. We accelerated, that is for sure.
We started the year by signing our largest monthly retainer to date (from my hotel room in Costa Rica, which I’ll get to later). They committed for 12 months but canceled unexpectedly after 6 months because their new CEO apparently didn’t care about honoring contracts. This is also why customers must now request to cancel, instead of being able to cancel themselves.
In May, I made a strategic choice to focus on in-house teams. We signed on several customers of this profile but then ran into the reality that what those customers wanted was not something we’d be able to deliver at the price point we were charging.
It felt like we were stumbling around in the dark.
Churn was too high, customers would cancel at the loss of a single client, and so on. Our revenue was stagnant, and I told myself that if the trajectory hadn’t changed by October I was going to reconsider if this was the idea I should be investing all of my time and effort on.
I then made the decision that I needed to realign our ideal customer. After a lot of conversations, I realized that our happiest, longest-lasting, and most profitable customers are agencies producing a lot of content each month.
Shortly after, we landed our biggest retainer to date. I also had a lot of conversations with companies producing a lot of AI content, and we signed some as customers who have stayed long-term.
Revenue has trended up and to the right with a significant amount of work in the late stages of our sales pipeline. We ended the year with 10 editors and a Head of Operations, plus me.
For 2024, we’ll continue to focus on agency customers while also introducing a better option for in-house teams needing outsourced editing support.
Coaching and consulting
In the summer of 2023, I again picked up some SEO consulting as well as marketing agency coaching. To be honest, my family needed the cash. While it was nice to get some cash in the door when it was needed, I also realized that SEO consulting is no longer something I want to do with my career. I also coached a couple of founders and marketing leaders at companies, but I don’t think that’s my strength or passion either.
I did, however, enjoy the agency owner coaching I did. I’ve started writing more about agency growth, and I’ll publish more of that in the new year. I am also looking to take on 2-3 more agency coaching clients. If that’s you, reach out – dohertyjf at gmail dot com.
Overall, 2023 was a tough work year that didn’t meet my hopes for it going in.
But I remain an eternal optimist, and as of now, I feel like I have more tools in my toolbox that will help 2024 be a better year.
This was a big year for my family and I.
The year finished with our son, Leon, being born in mid-November. The last two months of the year were full of remembering how to take care of a newborn/infant while also parenting our now 4-year-old daughter.
In January 2024, my wife and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage. That’s a big milestone! We celebrated our 9th anniversary in Whistler BC back in January.
Courtney experienced a layoff from her job mid-year, which was also when she was about 4 months pregnant. She picked up some design consulting short-term, though ultimately landed a job at Stripe as a design manager on their consumer design team. She’s currently on maternity leave and will return to work in February.
Another big change this year was moving house in March, just a few days after we found out Courtney was pregnant. February was spent doing some renovations, and then we moved.
In May, we finalized the sale of our old house. It was great to get that sold and be able to focus on our new place, decorating it and making it feel like home.
At times, the new house has felt like a Rube Goldberg machine, where one thing after another has gone wrong, and we’ve had to invest a lot more money than we planned on maintenance and fixing things that the previous owners hadn’t done.
We hope that the vast majority of unexpected things to fix are behind us and that 2024 will be a lot quieter.
We still have our cabin in the mountains, and spend as much time as we can there. Two and a half years in, it feels like a home to us and we’re able to be generous with it by letting others stay there as well. In 2024, we plan to rent it out as a short-term rental income source.
2023 was an immense year of personal growth for me, with 2 trips that set me on an adjusted path that have had big positive impacts on my life.
MMT Costa Rica
In late 2022, I was accepted to a group of entrepreneurs originally called Mastermind Talks, though now referred to as MMT as it has morphed into more of a coaching and community program.
I attended the January gathering in Costa Rica. I met a ton of amazing people, had a chance to set my intention and direction for the year, and had some large realizations that are too personal to share here, but that reset my direction for the year.
MMT continued to be a big part of my 2023, with their mastermind groups and monthly connection calls that always helped reset me into a heart-centered and generous orientation.
One of the unexpected things that happened to me in 2023 was attending a weeklong personal development course called BraveSoul in Ireland, run by fellow MMTer Philip McKernan. I met Philip in Costa Rica, and my Credo business partner Ali attended BraveSoul in 2022.
It was an intense week, though restorative as I gave up phone and internet access for the week and was simply present.
I had a lot of deep realizations, left with some big things to sort through because they came to light during that week, and also made some amazing friends and got a taste of how I want my life to look at some point. I think I’ll look back, many years from now, at that week on the Wild Atlantic Way as a pivotal one in my life.
In 2023 I didn’t focus on my health. I gained some weight and don’t feel like my best self. I did go to the gym occasionally, took a lot of walks (though not every day like the previous 18 months), and was active hiking and skiing when I could.
I plan to focus on this in the new year by getting back to my gym routine (unlike many, I enjoy the gym). I did keep active with hiking and skiing, though, and plan to continue that this coming year.
Going into it, I didn’t think 2023 was going to be a big travel year, but it ended up being so.
I went to:
- Costa Rica
- Whistler (BC, Canada)
- San Diego
- New York
This was only the second year since 2015 that I didn’t go to Mexico. I fully plan to change that in 2024.
While in Paris, I realized how much I miss being in Europe. Many of you may know that I spent 2 years in my 20s living in a commune in Switzerland. Next year I turn 40 and we plan to spend it in Chamonix, France, and probably add another week onto that trip and spend it by a big lake in Italy.
Travel is a big part of my life, and while 2024 is all about business focus and growth, travel is something I’m unwilling to give up and this it will still be a priority in 2024.
Looking forward to 2024?
I’ll be honest – I’ve not really been looking forward to 2024. Well, I have and I haven’t. I’ve felt like I’ve been on my heels because of everything that happened in 2023, and so part of me is unsure about 2024.
At the same time, I always expect big things from myself. I’m an eternal optimist, so I have big goals, and I think I’m better prepared than in past years to give us a good shot at achieving them.
Here’s to 2024. To a year of focus, of family, of the transition to midlife, and adventure.