January 2022

By: 
Tom Qiao
 | 
Updated: 
February 4, 2022
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Welcome back to Flexibility Is Freedom - the new year started off busy as bees!

In January, I finally moved into my new house in Hamilton and was busy setting everything up. (including a ton of mopping and dusting - who knew there could be so much dust?)

In addition, I've been planning out my renovation project - which I hope to complete before September of this year.

And of course, continuing to work my full-time job at the digital agency.

Last month, my business continued to perform well but I didn't get to spend too much time on it, aside from giving my small team of virtual assistants and writers their assignments.

Key Metrics

  • Revenue: $1,592 (+6% MoM, +529% YoY)
  • Sessions: 17,669 (+17% MoM)
  • RPM: $90 (-9% MoM)
  • Amazon Risk: 35% (down from 36% last month)

Revenue came in slightly higher than December - driven by a 17% MoM increase in traffic.

This was a pleasant surprise as I expected January to be a softer month due to the higher level of returns that tend to occur during this post-holiday period.

Profitability (RPM) declined below $100 - this is something I'll need to watch out for as RPM had been trending well above $100 for many months.

Finally, Amazon risk remained steady at 35% and my 2022 goal is to further reduce it to 25%.

Key Activities in January

Setting Up New House

I had a busy month of moving in, setting up, and managing a house on my own. Fortunately, there were no repairs required for this property - just the usual cleaning and organizing to make it a home.

I had all my utilities (including internet) set up as well and paid an extortionary "new account fee" to the utility mafia (fun).

But all in all, I love the independence and flexibility that this house provides me - it's been personally fulfilling as well as financially prudent - given the inflationary environment that we're in.

Planning Out Renovations

Next, I began to map out my renovation map for this house.

I originally wanted to carve out a 2nd unit from the 2nd and 3rd floors, however, more recently I've reconsidered this approach and have decided to create a basement unit instead.

My original plan required major changes to the house, including water and electrical, which I think would be too risky and costly, relative to the reward of higher rental rates.

The other problem is that materials and labor are in shortage just about everywhere - which means delays are very likely to occur, and the more complex the project, the longer the potential delays.

Planning Out Finances

This month, I've gone from a cash-rich / asset-poor financial profile to a cash-poor / asset-rich one.

It's a big change for me as I take on additional expenses including a mortgage, utilities like water, gas, and hydro, and of course, property taxes.

For the first time in a long time, I've actually created a monthly budget for the entire year to help plan out my cash flow and manage my financial obligations.

My ultimate goal is to create enough passive income (with some buffer room) from my business and real estate to offset the financial obligations for this house, allowing me to quit my current job and continue building my digital media empire.

Busy Month at Treefrog

But mostly, January was a tremendously busy month at my job, where I spent the majority of my time conducting SEO audits, preparing client presentations, and attending client meetings.

It's certainly been an interesting experience working for a private-sector company of this scale, in contrast to my previous experiences at the Canadian banks and CPP Investments.

There's more responsibility and independence - I am often the lead "worker" for many clients - compared to my previous employers.

And yet, there's also more bureaucracy and inefficiencies that I would have expected - especially as I'm just coming from running my own business.

But overall, I still find it a positive experience that fits my current agenda and plan.

Longer-term, however, I will return to building my own businesses as I believe it makes more personal and financial sense.

Managing Team @ The Derm Detective

Finally, I spent what time I had left managing my small team - including one virtual assistant and one content writer.

I'm very glad that I found such talented people to work with and I'm striving to not be the bottleneck in the production process.

I've definitely come a long way from my attitude in previous years, when I was more reluctant to rely on freelancers and virtual assistants.

Over the years, I've realized that scaling requires building a small team (not necessarily full-time staff, but people to help with the day-to-day and admin tasks).

That's it for this month! Stay tuned as I (should be) releasing my annual report soon for 2021!

To Flexibility and Freedom,

Tom

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