Today is February 2. 2016 is already 8% over! Although I have thought about it a lot, I haven’t committed my goals for 2016 to paper (or bytes) yet, so here goes.
2016 is going to be a pivotal year for two of the activities which consume a lot of my time: my retirement lifestyle planning website, Retire Fabulously!, and my wedding officiant business, Ceremonies by Dave. By the end of 2016, I will determine whether or not I want to continue with these endeavors, although for different reasons and with different criteria.
As much as I enjoy researching and writing articles for RF, the fact remains that I am still not making any money at it, and I haven’t gained nearly the audience I had hoped. I am going to dedicate one more year of focused effort and commitment to this. If I don’t see substantial improvement in my readership metrics and income, I’m going to seriously consider pulling the plug.
On January 1, I had 120 subscribers – not nearly enough to justify all the work, and not nearly enough of a foundation for profitable book sales.
My goal for the end of 2016 is 1,000 subscribers. That’s ambitious, I know. Here’s how I’ll get there:
- I am going to aggressively pursue more guest posting opportunities at high-traffic sites like NextAvenue, AARP, and Huffington Post.
- I am going to pursue syndicating my column to newspapers and websites around the country and the world. Jim Miller, the Savvy Senior, does this and his column now appears in 400 publications.
- I am going to publish two more books, and promote them more effectively. The working title of my next book is The Quest for Retirement Utopia: Finding the Place to Live That’s Just Right for You. My next book will either deal with the transition from work to retirement, or it will be LGBT retirement concerns.
- I am going to doggedly stick to my schedule of publishing one new article a week. I now have a publishing schedule with topics at least two months in advance, so that should help.
Ultimately, I need to see some money coming in – whether that is from book sales, article syndication, speaking fees, coaching fees, or product sales. I’m not going to set a revenue target for this year because I can’t forecast one intelligently, but it should be at least a couple hundred a month.
Ceremonies By Dave
My wedding officiant business is doing well. In 2015, I officiated 77 weddings (and Jeff did one) and realized over $10,000 in revenue. I didn’t hit the 100 wedding target I set out for, but 77 is still decent.
Since I raised rates twice in 2015 (and I don’t plan to do so in 2016), I should be able to realize more revenue in 2016. I’m also spending less on advertising and marketing, having learned what works and what doesn’t and avoiding what doesn’t. My goal is to officiate 75 weddings in 2016 and earn $12,000-15,000 in revenue.
I am also going to publish a book called How to Become a Wedding Officiant. Surprisingly, there aren’t too many books on that topic. That’s going to be my next project; in fact, I’m starting it now.
Given that this business is successful, why would I consider quitting?
I enjoy doing this, but I’m not passionate about it. A year from now, I suspect that more of the shine might wear off. I’ll continue to do it if I enjoy it and if I need the money.
Of course, it’s always good to have more money, but it’s a trade-off. If RF is earning money and/or if I’m making more money playing trombone, I’ll feel better about dropping this.
My Personal Life / Home Life
The biggest project for 2016 is that Jeff and I have committed to downsizing our possessions. We are going to (mostly) follow Marie Kondo’s technique in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.
- We have already rid ourselves of half of our clothes.
- We have pulled half of our books off our bookshelves and out of storage boxes, and we will either sell them, donate them, or recycle them as appropriate. That’s in progress right now.
- I will continue to sell CDs on Amazon. By the end of 2016 I want to be rid of my vinyl and cassettes.
- I have already cleaned out part of my desk drawers, and I will finish that.
- Our closets, garage, and attic will all be tidied.
- We will rid ourselves of kitchen accessories we no longer used (and in some cases, have never used).
- I’m already in the process of working down my liquor supply. A lot of products will not be replaced after they are depleted. We need to work down our wine and all the food in our freezer as well.
As part of the reduction of my music collection, I want to complete the migration from my CD jukebox to music computer. (This is a carryover from last year.)
I have owned a 400-CD carousel jukebox for about ten years. I’ve really enjoyed it and used it a lot. However, over the past year, either it has been manipulated by spirits (which in this household isn’t out of the question) or it’s just wearing out. But in either case, sometimes while it is playing a disc, it will just stop and open the door. That becomes annoying very quickly.
Jeff bought and set up a PC with a lot of hard drive memory, a large touch-screen monitor, and jukebox software called Album Player. I have been intending, for at least a year, to convert my music to that system and get rid of the 400-CD changer. This year, I will.
I also have at least a hundred CD-Rs I haven’t created labels and covers for. I may not do that for all of them, but I at least want to load them into the new music computer.
As usual, I have set an ambitious list of goals for myself. I probably won’t be successful at all of them. But I can truthfully say I want to do all of these things. I don’t have anything on my list because I feel I should do them.
At the end of the day (or, more accurately, the end of the year), I enjoy my life and I am very fortunate. It gives me great pleasure to see my life moving forward and to be doing things I’m passionate about (or at least like sufficiently). I’m excited about how much better my life and my surroundings will be by the time the year is over.
© 2016 Dave Hughes. All rights reserved.
Photo credit: McZerrill