A new year, wait — new decade, is upon us and keeping with tradition, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the year that was.
While I’m always moving forward, it’s still fun to look back as it gives you the opportunity to see your growth and how far you’ve come over the course of the year. As I always say, a lot can happen in 365.
And let me tell ya, 2019 had its moments — good, bad and ugly. Last year I mentioned being more strategic if I really wanted for Gentleman Within to flourish. And so, I spent a little more time on the things that mattered towards growing my brand, and lo and behold, it worked.
Unfortunately I also distracted myself a lot with things that weren’t all that important to growing GW too, like spending a little too much time on certain social media and giving weeks, even months to apps like Netflix and TV in general. But that’s okay and it’s all in the rearview now. I only need to focus on what I can do now and better prepare myself as we enter 2020.
GENTLEMAN WITHIN: YEAR IN REVIEW 2019
Check out last year’s Best of Gentleman Within 2018.
Not that numbers mean much, but it’s good to see my production in comparison to previous years and where I can improve my workflow.
- 74 Blog Posts
- 44 YouTube Videos
- 32k likes on 174 Instagram Photos
- Gentleman Within turned 3
- 11k subscribers on YouTube
- 10k followers on Instagram
- 18.1k followers on Pinterest
- 2.7k page likes on Facebook
- 968 followers on Twitter
I produced a little bit more blog content this year over last. I also worked with more brands on sponsored content. For next year, I have no specific numbers in mind, just to be consistent and stay focused when I need to be. I’ve also begun accepting more contributors to the blog on a myriad of topics men’s style.
For YouTube, I created a good amount less than I did last year. I did, however grow more from 3k to 11k over the course of the year. I’m also approaching 1 million video lifetime views across my entire channel. That to me is mind blowing.
Of course it’d be cool if one of my videos pops off like that, but I’m definitely not counting on that to happen. I just plan to stay consistent and keep delivering value to my audience regardless of subscriber count. As with the blog, I also worked on more brand partnerships for YT.
As for the Gram, just like YouTube, I hit a major milestone — the 10k mark. I won’t be celebrating the next big ones till 100k which probably won’t ever happen on Insta (organic growth on IG is the worst). But I can see it happening on YouTube. And I will always continue to celebrate all the small wins along the way.
My Pinterest growth was off the charts this year. I’m glad I took the time to learn about that platform and how it can drive additional traffic to the blog. It was a worthwhile investment of my time. Excited to continue growing my account in 2020.
As for Facebook, it’s pretty much pay to play as organic reach is horrendous. I still publish all of my Instagram posts there as well as any new articles that are published on the blog.
Occasionally I’ll share content from the archives as well. I don’t get much engagement, but I feel it’s important to stay top of mind and continue publishing where my potential audience might be.
Twitter, I haven’t taken it seriously — ever. Maybe for 2020 I’ll give it some love and we’ll see if we can boost those numbers a bit.
5 BEST ARTICLES
Here are a handful of my favorite articles published to the blog for 2019.
1. How To Dress Well: 21 Important Style Tips for Men
How to dress well is a question that men begin to ask themselves at some point in life. And not surprisingly, because being a well dressed, stylish man has its advantages in today’s modern world.
Amazing things happen when you start to care about your appearance.
2. The Gentleman Within 2019 Holiday Gift Guide
This year’s gift ideas have a little bit of everything for every man. It’s all the good stuff that’s been tested, vetted and gifted.
So go ahead and kick back with a warm drink and comfy slippers as you shop for your family and friends and admit it — yourself 😉
3. Styling Cinema Pt. 1: Back To The Future Fashion Refreshed
Welcome to Gentleman Within’s first edition of Styling Cinema™, a series where we attempt to refresh/modernize stylish outfits from the movies.
Part 1 features the worldwide cultural phenomenon, Back To The Future, and all of its superb styling.
4. Fall & Winter Fabrics Guide (Everything You Need To Know)
While you may have a firm grasp on the principles of color theory or advanced layering techniques, how much do you really know about the materials that make up your cold weather clothing and outerwear?
And so, without further ado, here is a comprehensive guide breaking down the best fabrics and materials to wear that will keep you warm and comfortable during winter’s worst.
5. How To Approach Women: 10 Proven Techniques
There are two ways you can approach women: directly and indirectly. Equally effective, both options offer easy and actionable techniques to implement into your communication and potential connection with a girl.
Here are 10 solid techniques for meeting and approaching women when you are out and about.
5 BEST PHOTOS
Here are my hand-picked favorite photos posted to my Instagram page in 2019 — either for the image, caption or both.
1. A New Decade
2. When Monday Is No Worse Than Friday
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Mondays aren’t so bad anymore. One of my favorite things about building a brand and being an online digital publisher is the creativity and freedom it allows. I get to not only flex my sartorial muscles, but also continue to hone my design skills, level up my video editing chops, photography, branding, copywriting, the list goes on. The content creation process has to be one of the most gratifying feelings, and this is why I find it so had to relinquish the work, because I actually enjoy the process so much. The more work I put in, the more I want to continue to do. It’s like the work is what keeps me fulfilled and keeps me going. When I’m getting shit done in that flow state, it feels great and to me doesn’t feel like work. Sure it’s a lot of hard work, time and effort, but it’s different when it’s something you truly love and enjoy doing. One of the best parts is that there’s no one I have to answer to except select brands that I choose to work with and my most loyal followers. I’m lucky and I hope more people can find the things in life that fulfills them and brings them a level of excitement where Monday is no worse than Friday.
3. The Entrepreneurial Journey
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How do you deal with ruts? 📸: @ryan.siu.photo The entrepreneurial journey isn’t as fancy or exciting as it may seem. Just like in life, there are many ordinary moments. One thing is for certain though. It takes a special kind of grit to keep pushing forward, especially when things aren’t going the way you think they should. There’s no getting around it, but the work is the work and if I’m being honest for the past several months — heck, even the vast majority of 2019, I’ve been feeling pretty ehhh and haven’t been doing the work I know I’m capable of. There’s been this resistance to create and do what I know needs to be done. And I have my reasons for falling off. Life happens. I’m not seeking attention or shouting out woe is me. I just wanted to share a small bit of where my headspace has been at, and that I haven’t been doing nearly as much as I know I’m capable of. 2019 has seen many ebbs and flows. I’ve shut off from creating any type of new content for weeks, even months at a time. Binge watching Netflix and TV hasn’t been helping. Only recently have I begun to pull myself out of the rut I put myself in. I’m putting it on myself to maintain and be more consistent for the rest of 2019. No excuses. #createexplore #streetphotography #urbanandstreet #illkillers #killyourcity #illgramers #way2ill #longexposure #longexposurephotography #urbanphotography #lightstreaks #agameoftones #gramslayers #unknownperspectives #chicago #gentlemanwithin #mnswear #styleoverfashion #mensstyleblogger #menswearblogger #outfitinspiration #outfitinspo #casualstyle #styleforasianmen #lookbook #lookbookmen #asianmenswear #asianmenstyle #vietnamstreetstylegroup #ootdvietnam
4. Fun With Cinemagraphs
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suede in the rain? man, that boy crazy. he ’bout to catch a cold instead he caught fire… rocking a rugged field. corduroy under collar. crisp denim shirt days. dark slim jeans, supreme. just enough cuff. a fit up to snuff… 📸: @ericatorresphoto #gentlemanwithin #stylestorytelling #fw19 #mnswear #styleoverfashion
5. Time Waits For No Man
INSTAGRAM TOP 9
And of course I couldn’t leave this section without including the Top 9 square grid post for 2019 that everyone and their mom will be posting over the next several days.
5 BEST VIDEOS
1. Nike Killshot 2 Lookbook
- 175 likes
- 25 dislikes
- 12.5k views
- Uploaded: 3/28/19
I put this one on my list of best videos for 2019 because I had fun putting it together. I always like to play with different ways to transition from outfit to outfit and this is the first video where went a little overboard with it.
2. Back To The Future Lookbook
- 107 likes
- 4 dislikes
- 1.8k views
- Uploaded: 11/23/19
I got some good feedback on this one. People want to see iconic movie and tv show styles. This was an idea I had for a long while and I’m happy with how this turned out. And I had a ton of fun creating this video in addition to the article.
3. Men’s Fashion Trends for 2019 To Wear Right Now
- 986 likes
- 89 dislikes
- 75.5k views
- Uploaded: 1/11/19
I included this video because it was by far the most viewed video of mine this year and one of my most viewed videos of all time. Who know people loved trends so much?
Looks like I’m about due for a new trends video for 2020!
4. Menaji Camo Concealer vs Stryx Concealer (Should Men Wear Makeup?)
- 44 likes
- 5 dislikes
- 2k views
- Uploaded: 4/4/19
This one wasn’t that popular of a video, mainly because it wasn’t style related, but I felt that it’s an important discussion worth having.
Some people are very close minded and with this video, I wanted to open the discussion whether or not it’s okay for men to wear makeup. Feel free to chime in the comments yourself!
5. UNIQLO Winter Try-On Haul 2020
- 131 likes
- 2 dislikes
- 3k views
- Uploaded: 12/21/19
Haul videos are popular on YouTube, especially if it’s a well known fashion brand. UNIQLO is really popular these days, and after polling my audience on YT and Instagram, they overwhelmingly wanted to see one.
I took my buddy Morgan up on his offer to let me film some videos in his basement. So there’s a good chance you’ll see more videos here in the coming year.
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2020
The only goal I want to set as we leap into 2020 is to keep moving forward. The more obstacles the better because that’s how I’ve been learning over the past several years running Gentleman Within.
I don’t want to throw out aspirational numbers anymore. The only thing that matters is the impact that I’m making (which I feel like I’m finally starting to) and whether or not I’m enjoying myself along the way (always, or I wouldn’t be doing this any longer).
Advice For Creators
I feel like it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the vanity metrics (likes, followers, views, etc). But those numbers don’t even begin to tell half the story.
My advice for all creators is to instead, focus on creating your best work. Spend more time doing the things that really matter (it’s the hard stuff that most aren’t willing to do). Make sure you are in love with the process. And no matter what, keep moving forward.
And with that said, here are a few areas of focus for 2020.
For 2020 I plan to do a little traveling in and outside of the country, starting with Man Camp in January. It’s essentially a gathering of like-minded men with the purpose of learning, sharing advice, doing manly things and just having fun with new and old buddies.
It’s the perfect way to start off the new year — surrounded by these leaders of industry. They’ve all got thriving businesses and I’m striving to get there. I’m just going to be a sponge and soak it all in.
I’m really happy to have been invited this year. I’ve looked up to a lot of these guys and whether they realize it or not, have played a big role in the development of Gentleman Within.
As for international travels — I haven’t been abroad since my 3 months sabbatical to Australia back in early 2018. In late January I’ll be traveling back to my homeland, Vietnam for a few weeks.
I’m looking forward to seeing all of my family back home, sightseeing and of course devouring some of my favorite foods. It’s been 6 years since I was there last and it’s always a wonderful trip.
A note: I will be slowing down on content while I’m abroad in Vietnam, but still plan to put out one piece of content a week and maybe some guest contributions along the way. And I’ll probably keep up with the socials as usual.
I love conferences and meeting other like-minded people. As creators, we spend so much time isolated doing our work, and so it’s nice to get out and have face to face time with others that are doing the same thing as us. I always come away with new tactics to implement to improve my content and workflows.
There are already several conferences I have my eye on for this year, like the ConvertKit, Craft + Commerce conference in Boise, Idaho. Although, I’m not quite sure that I’m ready for a conference of this level. We shall see. And, as a YouTube video creator, VidSummit is another one that I’ve had my eye on.
MediaVine, the ad network that I’m currently partnered with runs 2 conferences a year. I attended my first one this past June in Chicago and it was an incredible learning experience. Well worth the money spent.
Additionally, I’m a member of PHL Bloggers and was lucky to be invited to speak on a panel about transitioning into entrepreneurship. I look forward to working more with them in 2020.
And then there’s Menfluential, the conference I’ve attended the past 4 years. It was the conference that started it all, considering the first one I attended GW was just an idea in my head.
And so, after this previous year’s conference though, I was undecided whether or not I wanted to attend again, but after hearing that this will be the final one, I decided I had to go. Plus, it’s always nice to catch up with old friends and colleagues. Aaand, I might be speaking this year? (Shhh)
Finally, I plan on leaving room for short spontaneous trips throughout the year. The beauty of running a digital publication like this one, is that I’m completely location independent. Isn’t that the dream? I feel lucky and don’t take it for granted one bit! Work and play is something I’ve always wanted to mix, and now I’m finally able to do that.
Over the past several years I’ve met a lot of people at conferences and so here are some of my best networking tips so that you can crush it at your next business conference.
In 2019, I began asking for and accepting guest contributors on my blog. For 2020, I want to build a team of contributors for the website and YouTube channel.
I’ve been lucky to have found a some awesome contributors that I’ve been able to offload content to, which has been helpful. It’s even better when they’re a pleasure to work with. Of course it’s still a lot of work because I’m still editing, formatting, optimizing content/images and ultimately publishing, but the extra hands really do help.
I know that I need to learn how to better delegate and improve my processes in terms of working with multiple people — a team! Right now, I have a streamlined workflow that includes only myself which is easy because I like to keep organized. But it’s hard running a business and trying to do everything yourself. And so in 2020, it’s time to build a team and flourish together.
Quick pitch, here’s what I’m looking for right now:
Gentleman Within would love to have contributors (blog and YouTube) on a myriad of men’s fashion topics as well as reviewers. Reviewers must be able to produce his/her own original high-quality photography/videography of reviewed products (preferred) and or source photos from the brand.
In addition to men’s style & fashion, I’m interested in finding expert contributors on various lifestyle topics, fitness, dating/confidence, grooming/fragrance, personal finance, mixology/drinks, horology and overall self-improvement.
If any of the above interests you, fill out this brief form and I’ll get back to you. Feel free to shoot me an email at info [at] gentlemanwithin [dot] com with any questions.
A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT TO COME
I’ve been working on something behind the scenes for a better part of 2019 and I just want to say that I’m almost ready to reveal it to you, but I’m not there yet.The plan was to launch right before the holidays, but as you know, things don’t always go according to plan! Logistics had caused a delay, and now with me traveling for the first half of Q1, the big announcement won’t happen until mid-late February. So stay tuned for that!
WRAPPING THINGS UP
I wanted to keep this short and sweet, but my verbosity always seems to get the best of me.
Anyway, before I go I wanted to say the reason that I do these writeups is because 1. it’s a open diary for myself and 2. I want others who are doing something similar to be able to get inspiration by delving into my mind a bit to see the process.
In the end, if I can help a fellow creator out then that’s a win win.
Cheers & Happy New Year!
I hope you make your 2020 one worth remembering.
Gentleman Within Founder & Creative Director
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Ray Li says
Love what you’re doing Khoi! Keep up the inspiration for Asian men to look and feel great! Cheers Ray Li
Khoi Nguyen says
Hey Ray, I really appreciate the comment! Cheers, Khoi.