It’s that time of year again. We’re in the season of “Best of” lists and yearly wrap ups, with one eye on the new year and the other on the last bits of work still in front of us.
This is a time that we create goals for the upcoming year, full of optimism and ready to make changes to become all that we know we’re capable of being.
Keeping with tradition, I want to reflect on 2022 with this Year in Review, measuring my progress and production against last year, highlight GW’s best content in words, pictures and video and provide recommendations/goals for next year.
Let’s dive in.
» You can check out last year’s wrap up: GW Year in Review 2021.
My Year in Review 2022
“You are under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago.” –Alan Watts
I took this to heart and made swift changes as 2022 began. Recognizing that I fell off in a big way last year, I made sure that this year would not be a repeat.
In 2021, the word that summarized my year was “disappointed.” For 2022, the word I’m choosing to describe how it went—”reinvigorated.” But I had to break out of the funk and find flow.
Why am I feeling reinvigorated?
After the down year of 2021, I started 2022 with a focused mindset. Looking back, I can see that 2022 has been a rebound year. I’m a creator at heart and creators must create. While last year was an all-time low in terms of production, this year, I hit publish much more often.
Before the calendar flipped, I had a sense of urgency and did not want to repeat last year and so I dedicated myself and refocused. It all started with my mental and physical health. I decided to eat less and eat healthier. For most of the year I ate sparingly, even frequent one meal days, and it worked wonders for my physical fitness.
View this post on Instagram
I didn’t have the need to eat as much. I consumed less alcohol this year too and I spent more time being active. I rediscovered my love of basketball. I went on mindful walks (without my phone), meditated and practiced breath work daily. A weekly journaling/reflection practice kept me mindfully aware of my progress throughout the year and in alignment with my goals.
I also exercised via my Oculus and the Supernatural fitness app along with the Seven app (7 minute workouts and so there is no excuse) and did my 100 pushups, 100 pull-ups a day challenge on a regular basis. All of this compounded and my mental health was better than ever.
The cherry on top was the 187 cold showers that I’ve taken YTD. This has by far been one of the more difficult things I did this year, but also one of the most rewarding. The discipline you begin to cultivate when you do hard things is palpable and it fuels you to keep the momentum going.
The act of reinvigoration started with activity and movement. Mood follows action and I made a choice to move everyday. In turn, it reflected in the work I was able to produce. Speaking of the work…
Content production was consistent this year
In 2021, my content production hit all-time lows. I was out of it physically, mentally and was even depressed for a good part of the year. It showed in the work.
But this year, my content production was steady. I switched to Notion for my content calendar and it changed everything. Believe it or not, I used only Google Calendar and Keep Notes for my content schedule up until this year and while it worked up until now…
Notion has been a real game changer and has allowed for me to stay consistent with my editorial schedule, YT videos and social media posts. Planning for GW has never been easier.
You’ll see soon in the “By the Numbers” section how my content production this year compared to last year. But first, we were able to travel again in 2022 and travel I did…
I traveled for many conferences
In 2021, the country was still reeling from the pandemic and so I was homebound most of the year like everyone else. In 2022, I was itching to get out again. I wanted to get back out there to connect with like-minded creators face to face and learn from some of the best in the biz.
Where I went this year:
- Miami, Florida for the Bloomberg Power Players Summit (May)
- Las Vegas, Nevada for the Grow with Video Live Conference (June)
- Boise, Idaho for the Craft + Commerce Conference (July)
- New York, New York for The Lead Innovation Summit (August)
- San Diego, California for Traffic & Conversion Summit (September)
And I attended a handful of local Philly networking events in-between. I sure had a busy 5 month period from May-September. After over a year and a half of avoiding Covid, it finally caught up to me in July as it hit me pretty hard after Craft + Commerce.
All in all, it was an expansive year for business growth and well worth the investment.
By the Numbers
This year my content production was elevated. In turn, site traffic took off and revenue hit all-time highs (unlike the stock market this year). GW experienced a bull market run in 2022.
- 113 Blog Posts (new & updated) compared to 25 last year
- 37 YouTube Videos & 72 YT #shorts compared to 6 videos and 4 #shorts last year
- 38 Instagram Posts & 79 #reels compared to 25 total posts last year
- 156 TikToks compared to 8 TikToks last year
- 46 email newsletters sent compared to 16 sent last year
- I posted frequently on Pinterest, FB & Twitter as well (more than I should have)
Not that vanity metrics like these matter much, I always compare the current year to the previous:
- Blog traffic is up over 150% YoY.
- 23.6 subscribers on YouTube compared to 20.5k subscribers last year
- 11.5k followers on Instagram compared to 10.8k last year
- 67.4k followers on Pinterest compared to 60.9k last year
- 2,992 page likes on Facebook compared to 2.9k last year
- 1,040 followers on Twitter compared to 1k last year
- 1,445 followers on TikTok compared to 140 last year
- 2,929 email newsletter subscribers after pruning cold subs (lost over 1,500 subs—and now I’m basically back to where I was EOY last year, but the quality of subscribers is much higher)
It was modest growth across the board with exception to the blog, which reached new levels this year. This is clearly telling me something. And speaking of the blog…
I more than 4x’d production on the blog, publishing 113 articles (mostly long-form, evergreen content). I was able to do this by hiring expert writers to help to contribute content in areas of dating, relationships/confidence as well as mixology and self-development. This year I’ve begun expanding beyond men’s style; however style & fashion will always be the core of GW.
Another reason for the explosion of content on the blog was that I spent less time editing and nitpicking every little thing about the articles like I did in the past. I used to comb over each word and have comments about the littlest things (okay, I still do this, but I’m getting better). I also felt the need to create unique graphics and imagery for the articles which takes a lot of manpower. I did less of that this year, hence the increased article output.
The writers I’ve hired (much respect to HR managers for their talent finding abilities) are experts in their field and they’re all strong writers (well, most of them. I had some less than stellar experiences with unpolished writers too), so I have to trust that they’re doing what they do best and avoid micromanaging.
Everything still went through me as the editor in chief and so I had the final look over all the content and publishing responsibilities, but I was less stringent on the content itself. I’m still working on this and hope to be able to seamlessly produce even more blog content in 2023. And considering the growth the blog saw this year, an overwhelming majority of my time should be spent here. Till this day, I’m still being spread too thin by focusing on things that simply aren’t worth the time investment.
Google is also highly fickle and can’t be relied on as the sole source of traffic for the blog (which accounts for around 70-80%), as a single core algorithm update could wipe out over half of a web site’s traffic overnight. It’s happened to me in the past and could happen again. I need to prepare for worst case scenarios.
YouTube last year was dreadful. This year, saw a rebound of epic proportions (comparatively speaking). I basically 10x’d production for the YouTube channel. 10x is huge, but it’s not as impressive considering how abysmal 2021 was. Growth was bleh, though.
Overall, I still feel good about my production on YT. I have Notion to thank for this. My content schedule is much more organized and easier to digest and so it streamlines everything. Another thing that has helped is that I hired a video editor to assist. Outsourcing is an area I need to improve on, but I’m glad that I finally made my first video editor hire and look to continue working with editors in the future.
In 2023, my goal with content is to create more buffers. Ideally I’d like to produce 2 videos per week and achieve a 2 month buffer (something I’ve tried to achieve for years now, unsuccessfully) and I believe I can do it with better processes and outsourcing the editing process which as mentioned before is a tremendous help. Spending 6-7 hours editing a video is not the best use of my time. I’ll get better with hiring. It takes time. Finally, I plan on switching things up and creating different types of video content in 2023 too. We’ll see how that pans out.
I posted 117 times on GW’s Instagram page, nearly 5x last year’s production. It was a solid year for me consistently posting on IG, thanks again to Notion. Engagement is terrible though. Instagram has definitely throttled any type of organic reach on the platform as it’s nothing like it used to be a few years ago.
I posted mainly reels this year, which is repurposed content from YT #shorts and TikToks… or you could say those platforms are repurposed from IG, either way, this short form content is what the algorithms on most of the social platforms reward these days, and that’s why my strategy changed this year. I’m going to continue with the short form content in 2023.
Okay, I’m ranting now…
I still dislike IG and other social platforms like it, but I can’t seem to leave them behind. I’m still on these platforms because I want to maintain an online presence for my brand. I am also aware that I could probably grow faster in other areas of the business (like the blog, digital & physical products) if I completely ignore social components.
I’ve thought about hiring a social media manager to take complete control over social media activities so that I no longer have to do it, as social is the worst use of my time and it honestly is not something I look forward to, in fact I loathe it most of the time. I’m highly considering it in 2023, but I’m still struggling with relinquishing control of the biz. I’m working on it.
Follower growth slowed this year, from 60.9k to just 67.4k. This Pinterest number is undoubtedly a vanity metric. From the outside it looks great, but the clicks and traffic that those numbers generated in 2021 is laughable. A few years ago, I was getting decent traffic, but in 2020 and 2021 the numbers continued to decline.
I had used the Tailwind app to help automate Pinterest over the past several years and I finally cancelled my subscription. There’s simply no ROI to justify using it any longer.
I don’t really have a Pinterest strategy for next year, although I continue to design Pin worthy graphics for all of my articles, something I enjoy doing with my graphic design background. At the same time, I could certainly benefit from outsourcing Pinterest completely to a VA or social media manager. We’ll see.
I’ve consistently been posting to Facebook this year, at least 1-2 posts per day. It’s led to a very small uptick in engagement, but no real ROI. I should probably do away with posting here all together, although it’s mostly repurposed content and doesn’t take much time to post. It’s the same story with Twitter.
Twitter for me is like shouting into an abyss and hearing nothing but my own echo. Growth has been and still is deplorable, yet I still post, why? I have no idea… I guess because I feel a strong urge to be present everywhere, because I never know where my potential people might find me.
I still haven’t cracked that Twitter code that others have been able to. If I start serving a different audience here—such as other creators who are looking to grow a brand and a business—by sharing the numbers and how I was able to scale GW, then maybe I could attract some interest. A thought for the future, perhaps.
I had a huge uptick in TikTok content for 2022, from just 8 TikToks posted last year and 156 this year. Still no ROI and no blessings from the TikTok algorithm.
Earlier this year I paid for ads on TikTok to try and spur some growth and engagement. It was probably the worst decision of all-time as I noticed that all the people who commented were teens and Gen-z who are not remotely close to being in my audience.
I also noticed that TikTok started throttling my reach after I bought ads. Literally every single post after I stopped buying ads had 200 views and that’s it. I think ads on TikTok are a huge scam and I’ll never buy ads on that platform ever again.
Just like IG and all other social media for that matter, I don’t consume any content on TikTok. I have zero interest in the platform and it’s not my kind of entertainment. I prefer deep, soul-nourishing content… not quick-hits, dopamine-inducing, gold fish attention span, content.
In the latter half of 2022, I started a weekly newsletter (17 weeks in) that I send my email list called The Gent Within Dispatch, sent every weekend. It’s been one of the best decisions I made for the biz all year.
- It gives me accountability, to show up every single week
- It’s part of the 20% that drives 80% of ROI for the biz
- I actually enjoy curating it every single week
I plan on keeping this going in 2023. And I’ll be looking for newsletter sponsors as my audience continues to grow. More traffic = more subscribers, that’s the bottom line.
And now, let’s get into GW’s best content in words, pictures and video.
Best 3 Articles
Here are 3 of my favorite or most popular articles published to the blog for 2022.
1. The Art of Mix and Matching Clothing Colors for Men (A Stylist Recommends)
If you’re a man wondering how to mix and match clothing colors, you’re in the right place. This in-depth style guide has everything you need to know.
You’ll learn about why colors matters, color matching basics, defining accents, identifying your complexion, practical use of the color wheel, how to mix & match colors for various scenarios, excellent contrasting colors and much more!
2. Building Resilience Through Tough Times (and 5 Inspiring Stories)
Sometimes we feel like the obstacles or challenges we face are so difficult that we couldn’t possibly overcome them. Confronting a medical situation, facing an unexpected job loss or even coping with the loss of a loved one all can make us stop dead in our tracks, not knowing if we can move forward.
So how can some people not only find the strength to move past these tests they face, but also become stronger as a result? They show resilience in the face of their troubles.
This in-depth guide on resilience defines resilient thinking and the 4 different types of resiliency. It also covers resilience factors that contribute to a positive mindset, how to apply resilient thinking at work, school, when life is stressful and perhaps most importantly, recognizing it in others.
We’ve also included 5 case studies of individuals who overcame the odds, displaying fervent resilience in the face of adversity, that are certain to inspire and show the true power of resilience, along with a handful of helpful books and resources on resilience.
3. The Qualities Women Find Irresistibly Attractive in Men (How to Get the Girl)
Dating is a complicated game, especially if you’re a man—women have been found to be the pickier gender until the age of forty, which essentially means men have to try harder to find their perfect partner.
The question of what makes a man attractive has a two-fold answer—the physical and the mental are two completely different areas, and you should ideally master both.
Women are very particular creatures. Despite what many people think, They do know what they want. They’re just so picky about it that they even confuse themselves sometimes.
Jokes aside, your degree of muscularity or the length of your beard are nowhere near as important as the way you act.
As the saying goes:
“Actions speak louder than words.”
Let’s mix it up a bit.
Actions speak louder than beards and muscles.
Best 3 Photos
As I continue growing the business, I want to give back and start teaching everything I’ve learned along the way. Here are my 3 best photos posted to the GW Instagram page in 2022, which encapsulates some of my advice for content creators.
1. On Finding Your Voice & Consistent Practice
View this post on Instagram
2. For Those Early On In Their Content Creator Journey
View this post on Instagram
3. On Breaking Out of the Funk & Finding Flow
View this post on Instagram
Best 3 Videos
Here are the 3 videos that I most enjoyed putting together in 2022.
1. On Dressing Well ‘Playlist’
First up is not a single video, but a playlist of videos on everything you need to know about dressing well for your age and body type.
2. When Harry Met Sally Fashion Lookbook & Style Inspiration (Styling Cinema Pt. 2)
- 66 likes
- 936 views
- Uploaded: 2/14/22
As someone who appreciates the romantic comedy that is “When Harry Met Sally,” I really enjoyed styling all of Harry’s stylish and not so stylish outfits. I just wish the video performed better. Alas, I’m sure there are those who are able to get some value from it.
3. 90s Inspired Outfits for Men (Style that You Can Wear Today)
- 52 likes
- 3.2k views
- Uploaded: 5/11/22
I haven’t made many lookbooks lately, but this one featuring 90s inspired outfits let me explore a bit of style creativity, wearing outfits that I normally wouldn’t wear.
The Entrepreneurial Journey
Running your own business is one of the hardest things—but the freedom it allows, the location independence and the variety it provides is ultra-rewarding.
When I was working for the man, slaving away on 70+ hour work weeks, I hated it. I didn’t want to bust my a$$, feeling overworked and under-appreciated while building someone else’s dream. Instead I took a leap and built something that I’m proud of.
Working for myself isn’t easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I still have so much to learn and areas for improvement. My entrepreneurial journey is still very much in the early stages, but with steadfastness, persistence and patience—I know that I’ll be able to grow this into something quite special someday.
GW Product Launch
Did you know I’m launching a product next year? It’s been a long time coming, but I’m glad that I finally made it a priority. 2023, LFG.
You can get on the waitlist via the form below.
Recommendations for Next Year
In this last segment I’ll be giving myself advice heading into 2023 because I know what I need to do in order to grow GW to higher levels next year. But it’s not always easy taking your own advice.
I need to spend more time focusing on the 20% that generates 80% of the results. That means less time on trivial bulls**t like social media that is draining my time, attention and spirit. This can and needs to be outsourced. By even devoting 15-20% of my time to social media activities, I’m seriously stunting my growth. It’s clear as day.
More time should be spent on growing organic traffic to the blog and email newsletter sign ups, plain and simple. That’s where the bread and butter is. I know that it’s possible to 2-3x this year, but it starts with me shedding of the things that do not serve me like the thorn in my side of social media. It’s time for smart scaling and more volume. Simple as that.
Additionally, I need to diversify my sources of income beyond ad revenue and affiliates which comprise a majority of GW’s bottom line. Google loves making changes to the algorithm several times a year. It’s highly unpredictable and so I must diversify.
Income streams to add: Digital & physical products and more brand partnerships.
Ultimately, if I want to grow beyond a Solopreneur to an Entrepreneur, I must take my back my time and stop working in the business and start strategically working on the business.
Immediate tasks: Hire VAs, continue working with writers and video editors to scale up.
A Personal Note
And on the personal side of things—I feel confident that I’ll continue with all the healthy habits and positive routines I was able to implement this year.
I forgot to mention that I was able to read to completion 15 books this year which is okay, but I think I can increase this number in 2023.
Where I need accountability, though, is with my sleep schedule. In 2022, my average bed time was around 6:30 am! (I know) And I averaged 6 hrs 42 minutes of sleep per night.
Personally, my primary goal and recommendation for 2023 is to fix my sleep. That, I believe is going to be the most important thing for me to unlock and realize my true potential. It seems like such an easy thing, but I failed repeatedly all year long and for all of my adult life have resisted sleeping earlier.
Whether it’s me firmly believing that I’m just a night owl and it is what it is, or the 30+ years of preprogramming that I’m never going to be an early bird—I know what has to change.
My aim is to become a morning person in 2023.
A constant reminder: To be consistent and keep the momentum going.
Wrapping Things Up
2022 was a good year. A really good, momentum building year. I’m tremendously proud of all the progress and positive steps I took with GW in 2022. Looking ahead to 2023 – it’s my year – literally. I was born in the year of the rabbit/cat (lunar calendar), and it’s giving me more reason to give it all I’ve got next year and not squander all of the opportunities I have as a small business owner.
As always, the reason that I do these year-end write-ups is because 1. it’s an open journal for myself to learn and grow from and 2. I want to be able to inspire others who may be on a similar journey. In the end, if I can help out a fellow creator, then that’s a win win.
Here’s to a new year filled with hope, resilience, and all the opportunities to make our dreams a reality. Cheers to an even brighter future.
Gentleman Within Founder & Creative Director