December 2016 Update

It has been well over a month since my last post. Ouch. It sounds like someone has fallen off the wagon. Truth be told, while I haven’t contributed to this blog as much as I would like, I’ve been plenty busy with my other businesses. Interesting things have been happening, and 2016 is racing towards a close. That means the blog will be turning 1 year old soon, and I need to do some reflection on the year and this blog itself. Largely I consider the blog a big success in terms of it’s ability to motivate me and chronicle some of my financial musings. Anyhow, I’ll keep that for another post. Lets talk turkey, and see what has been taking up my time since I obviously haven’t been writing for this website:

Real Estate Investing

Perhaps the biggest piece of news is that I am closing on a house at the end of the month. I started to write about it here, but quickly realized that this transaction merits a post of its own (or several). We close at the end of the month so I’ll publish something when that happens and re-cap the entire transaction.

I will say it’s a pretty sweet house. I’m excited.

My current tenant in my condo is doing great. She is renewing her lease for another year which is excellent. I bumped the rent up by 2.5% to account for higher property taxes and inflation. This is a great tenant so I did not want to raise the rent much. As my first annual tenant, I am very happy with our arrangement.

Law Firm

My law practice had a choppy start to 2016. I struggled to replace my part time assistant who left for full time employment. I hired and then fired someone, and then searched for a good month for a new paralegal. During that month+ search I handled all of my own paralegal work (a good 20 hour a week job for someone). The person I ended up hiring was basically totally inexperienced with the kind of law I do, and it required ground up training.

This assistant has worked out, and she has come a long way since I hired her. However, she still has a long way to go. There is no replacement for experience. Still, I am thankful for my paralegal. She is doing a great job, and has taken a lot off my plate. I am slowly training her on more nuanced areas. Any frustrations I have say more about me then about her.

I had my accountant do the books after the 3rd quarter. I knew business was down slightly from last year, and sure enough the books revealed I was down about 7%. I attribute that to a few things:

  1. More competition outside of the office;
  2. More competition inside the office;
  3. Me getting more selective with cases;
  4. Me slacking on marketing.

To be honest I was OK with the slight decline in business. I was dealing with staffing issues, and I felt better about the cases I was working on. Despite the struggles with the business, I was growing more comfortable with the practice of law. Over this past year I have grown more comfortable with what I am doing. I feel better about civil litigation. I feel like things are starting to click a little more, and I’m beginning to have some fun. Sure, it’s still stressful, and there are cases and clients that raise my blood pressure, but I feel better, and am optimistic about the future.

It has me thinking differently about financial independence. It’s probably the subject for another post, but I am starting to think I may be able to develop this into a lifestyle business that I’ll really enjoy. I think not drinking as much has been helpful with my attitude. Having decent staff helps too.

Also, business has been strong over this past quarter. Historically December is a slow month. Things are finally starting to slow down, but I’ve taken on great cases in November and December. It feels like I am finishing the year strong. I’ll be curious to see the year end numbers, and I’m ready to march into 2017.

Affiliate Marketing Business

My affiliate website has been on a roller coaster ride over this past quarter. Traffic was going up, then going down, then back up, then the election marked a couple of the least profitable weeks I have had in a long long time. Now traffic is roaring and the site is having a fantastic December. December has always been a strong month, as I’m essentially in retail and this is the best time of the year to be in retail. I’m averaging $100/day on Amazon this month, which is a benchmark I have wanted to reach for years now.

Of course things will die off after Christmas, but after a year of stagnation (despite pouring thousands of dollars into the site in the form of buying free-lance content), I think the tide has finally changed. I expect traffic to continue to remain strong, although historically it does drop off after the holidays. Google finally released another Penguin update in October, and the site immediately responded favorably to that update.

Needless to say but I’d love to see my affiliate site live up to its potential. I have put a ton time into it, and have really developed it into a quality resource. I’ve gotten a ton of great feedback from people this year, and it feels like I’m gaining ground. I have also put a lot of my free time into the affiliate site. I partially blame that for the lack of updates here (although lets be real, it’s all on me).

Final Thoughts

OK – I think that is enough for now. I have been reading a lot, and thinking a lot, and working a lot on these other projects. I’d like to crystallize some of these thoughts into blog posts that are more than just updates of my little businesses. I’d like to push to make the content here more ambitious and valuable. As always I am in flux. No one is perfect, and I’m a flawed person for sure. But I generally feel pretty positive about things now, and look forward to pushing forward. I enjoy writing for this site, and feel that although the website hasn’t gained much traction this whole website has been hugely cathartic for me. The goal setting alone has been invaluable. I definitely want to devote more time to it.