It’s that time of year again. Time for my Year In Review. This is where I share the good, the bad, and the ugly that happened in my business (and life) during the 2020 calendar year.

Twenty-twenty was definitely a weird and crazy year, to say the least. 

It was filled with scarcity, uncertainty, quaratines, and toilet paper shortages all around the world. There were plenty of lows in 2020, but there were also some amazing things that happened as well.

If you want to learn how my business was affected by the global pandemic, keep reading.

I created my first ever annual review in 2018 and another one last year in 2019. Feel free to check those out if you really want to see how far I’ve come over the years. 

Here’s why I do these annual reviews:

  • To acknowledge my accomplishments for the year. Making note of the good things that happened in 2020 can help me build confidence and momentum to carry over into the following year.
  • To review all the goals that I didn’t accomplish and any failures along the way. This helps me make sure I don’t make the same mistakes again. It also helps me look at what I need to work on more in the coming year.

I put a lot of time and effort into writing these reviews. But each and every year, once it’s finished, I’m always glad that I did. So without further ado, let’s get into it. 

A Look Back at My Goals for 2020:

I shared my goals publically at the end of last year in my 2019 Annual Review. Now I’m going to list them out one by one to see how I did. 

1. Earn $16,666 per month (profit) from multiple income streams.

Any time there is a cataclysmic event that affects the entire world, there will be winners and losers. Some will benefit, some will suffer. Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality.

Luckily for me, my business benefited in a major way due to the pandemic.

This go-around, restaurants, small businesses, and local brick and mortar shops were crushed due to government-mandated stay-at-home orders. Whether you believe it was right or wrong, the fact remains that millions of small businesses were destroyed as a result of everything that came with the pandemic.

And I truly hate it for so many entrepreneurs.

Aside from the obvious beneficiaries like hand sanitizer and mask manufacturing companies, there was one other type of business that the pandemic seemed to help:

Online Businesses

As millions were forced to stay at home, more time than ever before was spent browsing the interwebs. Which means that, more money and transactions than ever before began to take place online as well.

So it make sense that the owners of websites and internet-based businesses would benefit from people spending more time on the internet.

Amazon, of course, was the biggest winner of them all. BUT, even smaller fish (like me) were able to grow their businesses during these unprecedented times as well.

I set a goal this year to earn $16,666 per month which, if we’re doing math at home, equates to $200,000 for the year.

I don’t really like sharing my income numbers publicly, but I will say that I easily reached and exceeded that goal this year. 

Verdict: Complete ✅

Would I have reached this lofty financial goal without the help of a global pandemic? I guess we’ll never know. I think I would have, though, thanks to a new income source that you will soon learn about if you keep reading. Either way, I feel extremely blessed and fortunate to be in the position I’m in.

2. Invest $50k total into my investment portfolio.

As I set financial goals for 2020, I knew I wanted to increase my income. Who doesn’t, right?

But earning more just to spend more on expensive things to impress people who probably don’t even like me doesn’t sound like a very smart financial strategy.

Instead, as my income has increased, the amount I’m able to put into investments has increased as well.

Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it he who doesn't, pays it. Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein said it best:

“Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.”

The more I’m able to invest at an early age, the more it will grow and the more wealth I’ll be able to build over time.

All thanks to compound interest

I understand the importance of this now more than ever due to the pandemic. This time around, small businesses and mom-and-pop shops were hit hard. Next time, though, what if the internet is wiped away and all online businesses are destroyed?

I know, it’s very unlikely — but what if?

The more I invest now, the sooner I’ll reach financial independence which reduces some of the risk that comes with being an entrepreneur — just, in case, my businesses were to get wiped out overnight. 

Verdict: Complete ✅

In the 2020 calendar year, I was able to contribute around $60,000 to my investment portfolio that includes stocks, bonds, real estate, and cryptocurrency.

3. Launch and sell 1 new online course.

Creating and selling digital products in the form of eBooks and video courses has been a primary source of income for the past few years.

Having information that people are willing to pay for is extremely valuable when running an online business. This is why I wanted to build and offer a new video course for sale.

Verdict: Fail ❌

Unfortunately, I never got around to this one. Instead, I focused more of my time on creating free videos for my YouTube channel, which I’ll share more about in a bit.

4. Grow my Amazon Associates income to $5,000 per month.

Amazon Associates is the affiliate program for Amazon where you can earn a commission whenever someone clicks on your link and makes a purchase.

For example, if you created a website about golf, you may have an article titled Top 10 Best Golf Shoes for Men.

In the article, you would simply write a review for each the best golf shoes for men and include your affiliate links to the products that are for sale on Amazon. Then, whenever someone clicks the link and makes a purchase, you earn a small commission.

This has become a major source of income for my business and the pandemic helped in a major way. As more people were shopping online, my affiliate links started getting clicked more often which ultimately resulted in more commissions for me, the affiliate.

The first few months of the global shutdown were insane!

I’m talking crazy numbers.

I considered sharing the amount in this review but ultimately decided not to. Just know that Amazon sent me a few very nice checks in return for me sending them thousands of customers.

And then, well, the checks became not quite as nice.

Unfortunately, in April, Amazon slashed their commission rates. And when I say slashed, basically they cut them in half.

At that time, Amazon was my highest source of income. And just like that, with a snap of a finger, it gets cut in half overnight.

Thankfully, the foundation of my business has been built on multiple sources of income, so the commission rate decrease didn’t hurt me too bad. Unfortunately, many online entrepreneurs who do rely solely on Amazon were crushed pretty hard.

Lesson: Never put all your eggs in one basket.

Verdict: Complete ✅

Even with the lower commission rates, my business has still earned over $5,000 every month from Amazon affiliate commissions. 

5. Publish 100 articles across all of my sites.

When running a website as a business, publishing more articles usually equates to more income.

More Articles = More Traffic

And with more visitors to your website comes more revenue in the form of affiliate marketing, advertising, video views, sponsorships, and product sales.

That is why I wanted to publish so many new articles this year.

Verdict: Complete ✅

I’m not exactly sure what the final total number is, but it was well over 100. I’m very excited to have accomplished this one because I’ll be able to start seeing results in 2021 and beyond.

6. Publish 75 new YouTube videos.

YouTube was a major focus for me in 2020. I felt that I set a difficult, but somewhat reasonable goal to publish at least 75 new videos. This equates to more than 1 video per week.

Publishing more frequently typically results in more views and subscribers, which ultimately means more ad revenue.

Verdict: Complete ✅

I demolished this goal by publishing a total of 125 videos this year. And I wanted to top it all off and finish the year strong. So starting in November, I went on a streak of publishing a new video every day for 53 days straight throughout the end of the year. The streak is still going, so I plan to see how far I can keep it going throughout the start of 2021 as well.

7. Get 25,000 subscribers on YouTube.

At the beginning of 2020, I had around 8,000 subscribers. So I set a goal of 25k because I wanted to triple my subscriber count, which I thought would be extremely hard to do.

Now, as 2020 comes to an end, my channel has around 160,000 subscribers.

Brant Reader YouTube 2020 Subscribers

I’m still kind of in shock at how fast my channel has grown. Rather than tripling my subscriber count, I multiplied it by 20.

Just crazy.

And, once you surpass 100k subscribers, YouTube will send you this silver play-button plaque thingy in the mail. I’ll shamelessly admit it — I was pretty excited once mine came in. I’m not even going to lie. 

Brant Reader YouTube Silver Play Button 100k Subscribers

Verdict: Complete ✅

Only 1% of YouTube channels have surpassed the 100k subscribers mark, which makes me feel extremely grateful for having reached this milestone. Now the questions remains, can I eventually get to one million?

8. Grow my YouTube income to >$1,500 per month.

I mentioned how I published more videos this year and also gained a ton of new subscribers. That’s cool and all, but those are just vanity metrics.

What matters most is the revenue. How much income is the channel bringing in?

Just a reminder in case you didn’t know: YouTube pays creators in exchange for running ads on their videos. This typically means that, the more views and watch-time your videos get, the more money you’ll make in ad revenue.

At the start of 2020, my channel was making around $20 per day, or $600 per month. Now, the channel is earning around $500 per day on average, or around $15,000 per month.

This month (December) has been my best month ever on YouTube and the channel is on pace to bring in just over $19,000.

It seems that the daily video experiment is starting to pay off.

Brant Reader YouTube 2020 Income

Also, you may have noticed that my videos received more than 11 million views. This means that my voice was literally listened to that many times.

Eleven. Million.

This will never not be weird to me.

Verdict: Complete ✅

Due to the massive surge in recent months, YouTube is now officially my top income source. The channel only made around $75,000 in 2020 as it was still growing in the early months. I look to build on that number in a BIG way in 2021. 

9. Grow my email list to >20,000 people.

When a visitor comes to my website, aside from providing them with valuable content, one of my primary goals is to get them to subscribe to my email list.

This helps me grow my audience and allows me to pitch new and existing products to turn readers into customers.

Brant Reader Email Subscribers 2020

Verdict: Complete ✅

On January 1, I had around 8,000 subscribers on my email list. Now, the total sits at 20,700 which means that I reached this milestone. I hope to put more effort into growing my list even more in 2021.

10. Meditate for 250 sessions/days.

I used to think that meditation and mindfulness were woo-woo practices that were performed by hippies.

Then I actually tried it back in 2017 and have stuck with it ever since.

I can honestly say that it has had a positive impact on my life by lowering stress, enhancing self-awareness, and improving my ability to focus.

I wanted to meditate for 250 days out of the year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even close to reaching this goal.

Verdict: Fail ❌

This year, I only completed a session on 150 days out of the year. I usually like to meditate right after working out, but the pandemic knocked me out of my routine. I am disappointed but I know I’ll do better next year.

11. Read (or listen to) at least 40 new books.

In 2019, I managed to read and listen to 35 books. This year I increased the goal up to 40 but came up just short with a total of 36.

Here they are (affiliate links):

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up [audiobook]
2. Higher Status
3. Get Sh*t Done [audiobook]
4. The One Thing
5. Gorilla Mindset [audiobook]
6. The Lazy Man’s Guide to Living the Good Life [audiobook]
7. Chop Wood Carry Water [audiobook]
8. Ego is the Enemy [audiobook]
9. You are a Badass at Making Money
10. Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires [audiobook]
11. 12 Rules for Life [audiobook]
12. Extreme Ownership
13. The 40 Laws of the Alpha Male [audiobook]
14. The Simple Path to Wealth [audiobook]
15. Buy It, Rent It, Profit!
16. Never Split the Difference [audiobook]
17. Change Your Habits, Change Your Life [audiobook]
18. Automatic Income [audiobook]
19. The Richest Man Who Ever Lived
20. Traffic Secrets
21. Way of the Wolf [audiobook]
22. Stop Doing That Sh*t [audiobook]
23. Personality Isn’t Permanent [audiobook]
24. The Culture Code [audiobook]
25. Rise and Grind
26. Resisting Happiness
27. Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want [audiobook]
28. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
29. Rocket Fuel
30. Million Dollar Habits [audiobook]
31. The Master-Key to Riches [audiobook]
32. Wealth Made Easy [audiobook]
33. Wealth Exposed
34. 100 Way$ to Create Wealth [audiobook]
35. Let Go
36. The Smartest Money Book You’ll Ever Read [audiobook]

Each year, I’ve started listening to more and more audiobooks via Audible. I prefer reading a hard copy, but I’m a slow reader and can listen at a much faster rate. 

This is why I love Audible because it helps me consume more books in less time.

Verdict: Fail ❌

I credit much of the success I’ve had to the mindset I’ve developed from reading books. With that said, there comes a point where reading too much becomes unproductive. Once you’ve found what works, it’s time to stop learning as much and start doing, and that’s currently where I’m at — the implementation phase. 

12. Publish 5 new Kindle books on Amazon.

Publishing and selling books on Amazon is another one of my income streams. It’s been more of a focus in the past compared to 2020, where I spent more time working on my YouTube channel instead.

I don’t recall publishing many books on Amazon this year, but after checking, I did manage to publish exactly 5 books in 2020.

Verdict: Complete ✅

This part of my business got put on the backburner once I started gaining momentum on YouTube. But, thankfully, I still was able to complete this goal. 

13. Be interviewed as a guest on a podcast.

Since I first started growing an online business, everything I’ve built (other than this website) has been behind the scenes.

I’ve built and grown a major brand within my niche. But everything that I create and publish is behind the name of that brand. My personal name or face isn’t attached to it whatsoever.

With that said, I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. I love working in the shadows and I really don’t want or care about receiving any type of recognition for the work that I do.

However, I would like to start networking more with entrepreneurs who run businesses similar to me. And one of the best ways to do so is to be interviewed as a guest on their podcast. Not to mention, I think it’d be great for my personal growth as well — to put myself out there.

Unfortunately, I never got around to doing it this year. 

Verdict: Fail ❌

I have a few podcasts in mind that I resonate with that maybe I’ll reach out to in 2021. From a monetary standpoint, I have nothing to gain by doing so. It’s all about personal growth for me which is why I hope I’ll do it. We shall see.

14. Travel to 2 new countries.

I had big dreams of traveling far and wide this year!

COVID-19 had other plans.

Needless to say, I was not able to travel to two new countries this year. The biggest disappointment was the fact that we had to cancel our trip to Bali.

My wife graduated from Optometry school in May. To celebrate, we had planned a multi-week trip to explore the island of Bali in Southeast Asia.

Of course, we weren’t able to go which sucks really bad.

However, Mexico never really closed their borders for U.S. travelers. So instead, we were able to visit Tulum which has similar vibes to Bali, from what I’ve heard.

It truly was an incredible destination and we had an amazing trip.

Brant Reader Olivia Reader Tulum Mexico 2020

Oh yeah, and as I publish this article right now, we are back in Mexico staying at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun to ring in the New Year.

Verdict: Fail ❌

Two trips to Mexico doesn’t count as two new countries, which means that I failed. Thanks a lot, COVID-19.

15. Travel to at least 4 new cities in the United States.

Again, the pandemic messed up our plans for domestic travel as well. Here’s where we visited this year:

1. Vail, CO
2. Orange Beach, AL
3. Las Vegas, NV
4. Nashville, TN

Brant Reader Olivia Vail Colorado 2020
Of the four that are listed, Vail is the only city that we’d never been to before.

Verdict: Fail ❌

Hopefully, at some point in 2021, travel will open up and get back to normal. I will even accept semi-normal at this point.

16. Invest in at least 3 new online courses.

Like reading books, each year I try to go through a few online courses to learn new skills that can be used to grow my business.

Verdict: Complete ✅

This year, I completed exactly (3) new courses which means that I accomplished this goal. I don’t really feel very compelled to share or recommend any of the courses that I completed, however.

17. Decrease the size of my eBay store to <100 listings.

Selling items on eBay is how I originally got started making money online. Whenever I quit my job back in 2018, I had my eBay store built up to around 600 items listed for sale. It was generating a few thousand dollars per month in profit. 

This served as a buffer while I worked on building and growing the other parts of my business that I’m still working on today. 

eBay was a good source of supplemental income for many years but, eventually, it began to make mathematical sense for me to quit. 

Yes, I could continue to make money selling items on eBay. But my time is much more valuable when spent on other income streams, so that is where my focus should be. And that is why I’m (attempting) to stop selling on eBay.

The year, I wanted to sell most of the remaining items so that my store has less than 100 items listed for sale.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it.

Today, I currently have 136 items listed for sale.

Verdict: Fail ❌

Hopefully, in 2021, I can sell what’s left of my inventory and put eBay on the shelf for good. With that said, I will always recommend selling on eBay to anyone who is just getting started or someone looking for a side hustle.

18. Attend 3 business/entrepreneurship conferences.

For 2020, I had already purchased tickets for two conferences:

  1. Traffic and Conversion Summit
  2. Craft and Commerce

Both, of course, were canceled due to the pandemic.

Verdict: Fail ❌

Let’s see if live events start back up in 2021. I’m certainly not convinced that they will, but we shall see.

19. Publish 5 new articles on this website.

Lol.

Verdict: Fail ❌

Every year I plan to start publishing more on this website to work on growing my personal brand. And every year, I just never do it. I don’t make any money from this website, so what’s the point? I do enjoy documenting and sharing things here every so often, but my time is better spent growing my actual business.

Other Accomplishments in 2020:

In addition to the goals that are listed above, here are a few other happenings that occurred this year that I feel compelled to share:

1. We Moved

Four years ago, we moved to the Memphis, TN area when my wife was accepted into optometry school. She finally graduated this year and started her big-girl career, so we ended up moving back to our home town — Corinth, MS.

Brant Reader Southaven 2020

2. Became a Landlord

Also four years ago, I purchased a home for us to live in while my wife was in school with plans of eventually converting it into a rental property. That plan has now officially come to fruition. Once we moved out, I hired a property manager to find a tenant and collect rent checks.

Now the property brings in solid monthly cash flow and (so far) has been a great new source of income. I’m glad to have added it to my portfolio this year. 

3. Built Out My Home Office Set Up for Productivity

For the past four years, I’ve worked exclusively from the screen of a 13-inch Macbook Pro laptop while sitting at an old wooden desk and chair.

My eyes and lower back still hate me for it.

It was beyond time for an upgrade to say the least. Once we moved, it was the perfect time to build a new setup that would allow me to get more work done and maximize productivity.

So that is exactly what I did and I love how it turned out. Note: The new 49″ curved monitor, for sure, has been a game-changer.

Brant Reader Productivity Set Up 2020

4. Finally Purchased a Tesla

I’ve dreamed of owning a Tesla for many years now and was finally able to purchase a new performance Model 3. I ordered the specs exactly how I wanted with a black-on-white exterior and white leather interior.

Tesla changed the game for me and now I can’t imagine ever going back to driving a gas-powered vehicle.

Brant Reader Tesla Model 3 2020 Corinth Mississippi

5. Expanded My Team

My team now consists of (1) full-time virtual assistant, (4) part-time video editors, and (3) part-time writers.

My virtual assistant helps me with a ton of tasks, including publishing articles and videos once they are complete. My video editors are the reason I was able to publish so many videos on YouTube this year.

And my team of writers help me constantly create and publish articles on my website. Adding new members to my team has helped take a lot off of my plate so that I can focus more on growing the business. 

6. It Wasn’t All Sunshine and Rainbows

In the early years, I made a major mistake as I was setting up my business and it cost me thousands of dollars this year to fix it.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but just know that I am just as much (if not more) human than you are. I make mistakes all the time. 

Most of this annual review focuses on pointing out all of the good things that happened to me this year. Just know that there was plenty of bad sprinkled in as well. 

Learning from my mistakes and trying to never make them again is what helps me grow the most. 

My Goals for 2021:

Now that I’ve shared my accomplishments (and failures) from 2020, without further ado, let’s take a look at my goals for the coming year.

1. Earn $33,333 per month (profit) from multiple streams of income.

2. Invest $75k total into my investment portfolio.

3. Grow my Amazon Associates income to $10,000 per month.

4. Publish 104 new articles across all of my sites.

5. Publish 104 new YouTube videos.

6. Surpass 400,000 subscribers on YouTube.

7. Grow my YouTube income to $20,000 per month.

8. Grow my email list to >35,000 subscribers.

9. Meditate for 250 days out of the year.

10. Read (or listen to) at least 35 new books.

11. Publish 5 new Kindle books on Amazon.

12. Be interviewed as a guest on a podcast.

13. Travel to a new country.

14. Travel to at least 4 new cities in the United States.

15. Decrease the size of my eBay store to < 50 listings.

16. Attend 1 business/entrepreneurship conference.

17. Publish 1 new article on this website.

Sharing my goals publically each year helps keep me accountable and increases the chances that I will actually accomplish them.

I set a reminder each month to revisit my goals in order to see if I’m making progress. This helps keep them fresh in my mind so I can stay on track to reach them by the end of the year.

Final Thoughts

I mention this every year and it still holds true. I didn’t write this annual review for anyone else. I wrote it for myself.

Because I know at some point, maybe even in the near future, I’ll look back at this and be glad that I did.

2020 was a year that the world may wish to never be remembered, but it was a year that I will never forget.

This is the conclusion and you’re still reading, so I just want to say thank you! You have no idea have much it means to me. 

Hopefully something I’ve shared here will inspire you in some way, shape, or form.

So long, 2020. Let’s be better next year. 

This is the footer of my website. Thank you for scrolling down this far. You are a cool person.

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