Month 9 Income Report - Year in Review

Things took longer than expected and I got in my own way. Time for a better 2024.

Hey there!

This is Zach, and in this newsletter, I share a monthly update on how my full-time entrepreneurship journey is going.

I’m at the end of month 9 which also marks the end of the year!

Happy New Year to all of you following along with me! It’s pretty surreal—I rarely advertise this newsletter and most certainly don’t write for entertainment, yet… It keeps growing.

It’s the one thing I’m not actively trying to grow, and it seems to be one of the most successful ventures of 2023.

There’s probably some profound insight to take away here, but I’ve already made the decision—2024 will be a year of less thinking and more doing.

So let’s jump in.

Revenue tracker

Coming off the back of the worst month of this entire saga, we made a little bit of a rebound.

Nothing crazy, but not quite as painful as last month:

The above revenue is primarily broken into 3 separate business areas.

  1. The DIY Golfer + Local Golf Spot - my golf websites/brands

  2. Full Stack Foundations - web development courses + YouTube

  3. Services - a “catch-all” for one-time contract work

Here’s a detailed look at how the overall business has done comparing Dec. 2023 vs. the prior period, Nov. 2023.

As you can see, freelance web development work was responsible for the majority of the increase in revenue month over month. That said, there are a few things to note not shown above:

  • I ran a small holiday sale on my golf site early this month which generated ~$500 of online course revenue. This will show up in next month’s financials.

  • I cleaned up a lot of categories in Quickbooks, so this may not reconcile with last month’s report.


All of my web development content and videos will now live at I explain my rationale for this brand name in this tweet.

The site is not built yet. Rather than spending another 2 months writing more code and failing to market anything, I decided I’d build it live on my YouTube channel!

In a year that the almighty prophets of X (Twitter) have claimed that “web dev is dead”, I’m doubling down on a web dev YouTube channel.

Is this a good idea?

I wish I had an answer to that, but I have no clue.

It’s a saturated market, but I’ve already got a sizeable audience (32k on YouTube) and I’m pumped about it. Seems like a decent bet?

Special Edition: Hard Lessons of 2023

Rather than the usual programming of this newsletter, I decided this issue would be a great opportunity to look back and reflect on the first 9 months of this journey.

Here are four hard lessons that I’ve learned (or re-learned) this year:

  1. Brand + Trust will be a competitive advantage moving forward

  2. Things take longer than expected. Always.

  3. To me, “solopreneurship” is a tool, not a vocation

  4. The gap between “wantrapreneur” and “entrepreneur” is larger than I thought

Lesson #1: Authenticity and trust will be a competitive advantage moving forward

Since I’m building 2 content-driven websites in 2024, I’ve spent a huge amount of time thinking about the implications of AI.

While I can’t predict the future, one thing has become clear—the classic “niche site” is no longer differentiated.

We’re in this awkward interim period where site owners have published millions of AI-generated articles, auto-blogging services have made millions of $$$, sites are struggling to index their pages, and it hasn’t become clear how Google will respond yet.

However, as a site owner, I have to make some predictions to inform my content strategy moving forward. Here’s what I’m focusing on:

Focus #1: Video Content

My primary focus with both brands will be video content. This is the ultimate trust-building tool, which has become a scarce resource in this age of AI. I’m trying to directly incorporate video content into all of my sites. For example, here’s a blog post and accompanying video for my golf site. notice how the YouTube video is front and center!

Focus #2: UI/UX

As a web developer by trade, my unique competitive advantage vs. the cookie-cutter WordPress sites is an outstanding site experience. For now, I’ve completely removed Adsense from my sites and have worked tirelessly to make sure the UI/UX is as good as I can make it.

While this is not a direct ranking factor in Google, my hope is that this pays off in the long haul (especially for my golf site where the industry standard is very low for UI/UX).

For example, here’s a screenshot of my golf site:

Focus #3: “One-stop shop”

My focus for both The DIY Golfer and Full Stack Foundations is to be a “one-stop shop”.

While a long-term goal, I eventually want visitors to feel as if the site has everything they’ll ever need to be successful in golf/web dev.

In other words, focusing on brand is a top priority for me right now.

“Brand”, “authenticity”, “trust”, and “personalized” are all words that I think will become synonymous with success in 2024 and beyond when it comes to ranking organically in Google.

Lesson #2: Things take longer than expected. Always.

Patience was a foreign word to me in April of this year.

Part of my reasoning for making this jump into solopreneurship was to learn about my blind spots.

And this was one of them.

One of the biggest differences between W-2 jobs and self-employment is the consequence of bad prioritization.

In a normal job, if you prioritize poorly, there are (usually) checks and balances. Someone steps in and reminds you of “the deadline”. You have social accountability.

In solopreneurship, most deadlines are self-imposed, and priorities are truly “best guesses”.

It’s very challenging to prioritize your work correctly, set appropriate deadlines, and most importantly, stick to those deadlines.

At the beginning of 2023, I was BAD at this. I overestimated the number of projects I could take on. As a result, I wasn’t judicious enough in selecting my projects and daily tasks. I chose to spend my time on low-value things.

While I’m still a work in progress here, watching my runway decrease every month has been a painful and effective tool for learning how to prioritize and is something I’ll be keeping top of mind throughout 2024.

Lesson #3: Solopreneurship is not my goal

It’s very easy to get sucked into solopreneurship marketing (often by solopreneurs making their living convincing you of how great it is).

“You’ll have ultimate freedom”

“You don’t have to worry about managing people”

“You can write (or code) all day for a living”

You get the idea…

I was aware (and skeptical) of this going in and knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but in the back of my mind, I thought that maybe… Solopreneurship was worth its weight in gold. Why not dream a little?

But instead of materializing into what we all dream of, the concept has evolved in my head. I’ve come to appreciate the unique camaraderie that only happens on a team and have changed my perspective on the term altogether.

I’ve started to view “solopreneurship” as a temporary bootstrapping tool; not a permanent vocation.

It’s a great way to keep costs low, test your ideas in the market, and iterate faster than you could on a team (in some cases).

But for me, it’s not the long-term goal. In 2024, I’ll be adjusting my approach. I’m not sure what that looks like yet (maybe collaborations, tech conferences, etc.), but it sure won’t be a repeat of 2023.

Lesson #4: The gap between “wantrapreneur” and “entrepreneur” is bigger than I thought

A few years ago, I ran my first marathon.

Since I had done several half marathons before (some with very little training), I figured it couldn’t be that much harder. I knew I couldn’t go into a marathon without taking my training seriously, but figured if I did my long runs each week, I’d be fine on race day.

I was completely wrong.

Running a marathon is not 2x as hard as a half marathon. It is 100x as hard.

After my half-marathons, I was always tired, but it didn’t affect my daily life. The marathon was a different story. At the end of the race, I nearly passed out. I struggled to breathe. My legs locked up so badly that once I sat down after the finish line, I legitimately couldn’t get back up. All symptoms that I had never experienced while running before.

I believe this analogy applies to the “wantrapreneur” and “entrepreneur”.

For many years, I’ve been running my golf website and tech YouTube channel on the side profitably.

When your “side project” makes you $1,000 in a month, you get a surge of confidence. You feel “ahead of the game”.

You think, “If I can make $1,000 while working a full-time job, imagine what I could do if I went all-in!”

But in many cases, doubling the effort does not yield double the results.

When your part-time thing becomes your full-time thing, $1,000 feels like you’re falling behind. You start getting in your head. You experience mental challenges you’ve never experienced before.

It’s a different game entirely. It’s not 2x as hard. It’s 100x as hard, and in my experience, not for any of the obvious reasons. The work isn’t the hard part—it’s the mental doubts and fears you face every day. It’s what happens when you wake up for the 200th day in a row asking the same question—”Is this ever going to work?”

Recap, Looking Forward

During the first 9 months of this journey, I’ve spent my time on the following things:

  • Local Golf Spot (2 months)

  • Rebuilding and rebranding The DIY Golfer (6 months)

    • Migrating old content

    • Re-imagining the overall vision (I’ve talked to a lot of readers and customers)

    • Building a new platform with Next.js + Sanity CMS to better scale my content production and improve SEO

  • Rebranding my tech YouTube channel to “Full Stack Foundations” (1 month)

While it seems like this list of projects is endlessly growing, I have no plans on expanding it in the new year.

My weeks will be split between golf content creation and web dev content creation for the foreseeable future. I spent a TON of time coding in 2023, and very little time producing content and marketing. I hope to reverse this in 2024.

Happy New Year to you and your family and I’ll see you in the next issue!


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