My last day of emplyment at my former job was March 18th – about 5 months ago. I haven’t really set aside any time to review progress on my goals in that time, so I’d like to review what I’ve accomplished in those 5 months. There’s still quite a lot that I’d like to do, but it is nice to review how far I’ve come so far at least.
For my web hosting and server administration business, I’ve used the extra time to cut many expenses, land additional sales for existing customers, and automate much of the business. So far through July, I’ve increased profits by 43% over last year and have taken the time to eliminate or reduce the root causes of many pain points in running the business.
Having a majority of my clients in third-world countries with a 12-hour time difference obviously presents a unique set of problems that include constantly virus or malware infected email clients, less-than-stellar coding security practices, and having the majority of those problems surface during the middle of the night for me. By adding many anti-spam measures, working with clients to harden their passwords, blocking unusual network traffic, and increasing the montioring and notification for the worst case scenarios of an outbreak, everything is running quite smoothly now with very little ongoing maintenance required.
I’ve redecorated the spare bedroom of my condo and have listed it in airbnb.com, a service that allows individuals to provide lodging to travelers for a fee. Being located downtown, business has been better than expected, and I’ve had a steady stream of guests. Over the next few months, I’ll be at full occupancy due to several long-term guests. Though I did take advantage of the free professional photography services provided, I didn’t feel like they added much over my existing photos. You can’t beat free though! If you’re interested in staying, the listing is at https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3168336.
I didn’t start with a clear mission of this blog other than a place to write an entry whenever I felt like it, but it has been a great outlet for some technical notes I’ve accumulated. It has helped me to document some of the challenges I have encountered and the solutions I’ve devised for them. I’m glad I chose the platform (Octopress on AWS) as it has kept things extremely simple and quick.
Continuing my hobby of sharing cheap flight deals to friends and family, then on a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SLCflightdeals), I created the website to distribute flight deals from Salt Lake City to a much larger audience. I’ve built up a small email distribution list, have gained over 150 Facebook followers, and get some decent traffic to the site. However, as I knew when I started it, the revenue options are very limited. I experimented with credit card affiliate programs for a while, but generated only one lead, so I was kicked out of the program. Down the line, I think a subscription service with more timely alerts would make a small amount of revenue, but generally the site has always been a way to promote some of my other travel-related projects.
This was planned to be one of my first travel-related websites to get up and running, but it took significantly longer to publish than expected. Once I got the site up and listed on FlyerTalk, I did receive a few leads, but nothing serious. I did finally get a customer a few weeks ago, and I was able to get their family to Budapest next summer in business class using Delta miles. They also decided on a week-long stopover in Italy on the way back, which they didn’t know was possible. They came away extremely pleased and left me a very good review on FlyerTalk, but now I need to make sure I have a good way to collect reviews on my website. I felt quite happy to have saved them over $18,000 and except for having to argue with the Delta agent for an hour, I enjoyed the planning as well. I will eventually have to raise prices to account for how time-consuming it is, but I do enjoy it quite well. I’m hoping to help more and more people, but ultimately the scalibility of this venture is limited.
I have taken some unforgettable trips to Chile, Colombia, New Orleans, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and many areas of Utah and the western US. Though somewhat limited in duration because of AirBNB guest obligations, I’ve spent at least 2 of the past 5 months traveling! I do constantly feel a bit of guilt that I should be traveling when I’m working and working when I’m traveling, but that’s a balance I’ll have to work more on. I’ve also got plans booked for a trip to Mexico in a few weeks and a trip to South Africa in November. Maybe some other opportunities will come up as well.