2016: The Year in Review

2016: The Year in Review

This will be the fourth year I've done a community survey and shared my results from the previous twelve months. I really enjoy a look back over the past year, and I think it's important to review our progress, assess our goals, and, if necessary, make changes.

We all should pause, often, to examine not only where we're going and our progress toward that goal, but to also review where we've been and how far we've come. Too often, we hustlers and go-getters lose touch with the world around us due to our focus and drive to move forward. So, it's always good to look up and see the mark our progress has left on the world.

Every year I do my very best to learn more about everyone who is in my community. FYI, if we're friends on Facebook, if you follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, or if you're on my email list, I consider you a part of my community.

If you haven't yet taken the survey for 2017, you can click here to open it in a new window.

2016 year in review

2016 By the Numbers

As of December 12, 2016…

Business Financials

As my business grew, so did my expenses. There's some truth to the phrase, “it takes money to make money,” though it doesn't always take much. What did cost money, was a new work computer, new office equipment, and new software to help me automate and scale.


  • Overall revenue – 88.6% YoY growth
  • Overall Affiliate income – 52.5% YoY growth
    1. Grammarly – 885% YoY growth (See my review of Grammarly here)
    2. Amazon – 183% YoY growth


This year I made some major upgrades to my business. I purchased more software than ever, went to more conferences and invested more in myself, and upgraded the hardware in my office. While I bootstrapped my business in the beginning, I'm now investing money on tools that allow me to automate and scale various parts of my business.

I'd highly recommend this approach of starting slow, learning the business, and then investing for growth.

  • Travel & Conferences – $5146.67 – This year I traveled a fair amount. In July I attended and spoke at Podcast Movement in Chicago. In September, I went to Content & Commerce Summit in Orlando. And, at the end of October, I traveled to San Diego, CA for one of my favorite and most-recommended conferences of the year, Thrive: Make Money Matter.
  • Software & Licensing – $3414.63 – I spent more on software, WordPress plugins, and other non-physical tools this year than all other years combined. This year I added Grammarly, Ninja Forms, WPForms, and Thrive Themes to my list of tools & resources.
  • Office Hardware – $3182.24 – In addition to digital tools and software, I made several office upgrades too. I purchased a new laptop (Dell XPS 15, i7 Quad, 16GB, 512GB SSD, 1080p non-touch, with the bigger battery). I upgraded my travel and podcast headphones to the Bose QC35 (which have incredible noise-cancelling), and I bought the new GoPro Hero5 BLACK for vlogging.

Though there were a lot more expenses, these were the three major areas. And I thought they were worth noting for a few reasons.

First, if you don't invest in yourself, you will fail. Period. Second, if you're not upgrading your tools, you may find yourself running your business with a flat tire that's keeping you from hitting your stride. Third, I believe it's important to celebrate your successes, and for me, I enjoy getting new gadgets.

Overall Site Stats

  • Total visitors – 19% increase, total of 42,857
  • Bounce rate – 720% increase (which is bad), total of 84.16%
    • in December 2015, I installed an SSL certificate on my site. The bounce rate increased both immediately and dramatically. I'm not sure if I did something wrong, or if the tracking code was messed up, but this number is disturbing.
  • % New visitors – 0% increase, total of 84.4%
  • Best overall traffic month – March, total of 4678 visitors
  • Best overall traffic day – Wednesday, November 30, 2015, total of 459 visitors (more than 2x last year's biggest day)
  • Most popular traffic day of the week – Wednesday
  • Most popular traffic hour during the day – 12 pm

Traffic Stats

Top 3 most popular countries with readers

  1. United States (47%)
  2. Russia (16.07%, though I think there is a good deal of spam referral traffic here and I can't filter it all out)
  3. United Kingdom (3.86%)
  4. Canada (3.51%)

Top 3 most popular US states with readers

  1. California (13.5%)
  2. Texas (10.98%)
  3. New York (7.38%)

Top 5 most popular cities with readers

  1. New York
  2. Los Angeles
  3. London
  4. Chicago
  5. Houston

Most popular browser – Chrome (52% of users)

Most popular devices

  1. PCs (48.3%) a decrease of 24% YoY
  2. Mobile (32.34%) an increase of 6.6% YoY
  3. Tablets (4.12%) a decrease of 28.7% YoY

Most popular mobile devices

  1. iPhone (48.93%)
  2. iPad (%8.41)
  3. unknown (5.22%)
  4. Samsung Galaxy S5 (.73%)

Most popular traffic sources

  1. Organic search (59.6%)
  2. Direct (13.6%)
  3. Social (7.8%)
  4. Email Campaigns (0.7%) – I need to email my subscribers more often

Most popular social sources of traffic

  1. Facebook (58.9%)
  2. Twitter (8.9%)
  3. LinkedIn (5.48%)

Top 10 Most Popular Posts

  1. The Ideal Work Environment
  2. 7 Types of People Successful People Avoid
  3. Podcasting Essentials: How to Create a Podcast Studio in a Bag
  4. 9 Incredible Lessons from Disney's Tomorrowland
  5. How to Make Money on YouTube – Ellory Wells Show #90
  6. 49 Things To Do Before the End of the Year
  7. 165 Valuable Lessons from Think and Grow Rich
  8. Are You Tired? Here's What Keeps Me Going (and Can Keep You Going Too!)
  9. 8 Ways to Kill Your Presentation
  10. Maintaining Your Momentum

Top 5 Most Visited Pages

  1. Home
  2. New Subscriber Thank You Page (subscribe here)
  3. A Little About Me
  4. Landing page for SPI Listeners (listen here)
  5. Mastermind Sales Page

Top 10 Search Traffic Terms

  • Unknown/not provided/hidden
  • ideal work environment
  • ideal working environment
  • what keeps you going
  • lessons from think and grow rich
  • ellory wells
  • ideal workplace
  • the axel show
  • people to avoid
  • think and grow rich lessons

Email Stats

  • # of Email Subscribers – 71.32% increase
  • Most popular day for email (by open rate) – Mondays
  • Most popular time for email (by open rate) – 2 pm CST
  • Most popular email client – Gmail

Social Stats

  • Facebook page likes – 18% increase (331 total)
  • Twitter followers – 15% increase (1158 total)
  • LinkedIn connections – 19% increase (784 total)

Click Here to Participate in the 2017 Survey

What Worked in 2016

Masterminds – Like last year, working with my private masterminds has been a huge success for both me and my clients. They get to start, build and grow their businesses, and I get to learn how to be a better coach, mentor, and teacher. Though I did NOT raise my prices this year, I feel like I'm primed to do that in 2017 (so apply now!).

Email Segmentation – I began segmenting my email list last year. Using multiple opt-in forms for various resources, I can tag people by interest in ActiveCampaign. Plus, with the addition of Thrive Leads from Thrive Themes, I can split-test multiple opt-in forms.

Attending Conferences – The same as in 2015, I attended three conferences this year, Podcast Movement, Content & Commerce Summit, and Thrive.

exit strategy free shipping promoPublishing Exit Strategy – In July, I self-published my first real, physical, you-can-hold-it-in-your-hand book (and first physical product), Exit Strategy.

I'm over ebooks. Because they're so simple to create, people just throw crap together, save it as a PDF, and wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, we have an ebook.

Most people see them as cheap resources they'll read later (but never do). Since they don't require much skill, expertise or effort to create, ebooks have become a low-end commodity that hold less and less value.

Click Here to Get Exit Strategy for Free+Shipping

Split-Testing – Last year was the first year I made much of an investment in split testing, and this year saw my efforts (and financial expenditures) increase in that area. Using PrettyLink Pro, last year I was able to split test entire landing pages. This year, with the addition of Thrive Leads by Thrive Themes, I was able to start split-testing individual opt-in forms.

For example, below are the results of the split test I did on the landing page for my episode on Smart Passive Income. The content and layout of the page was the same for everyone, but I tested 4 different forms, each with a different color scheme.


Thrive Leads lets me determine how a winner is chosen, and then automatically shows the form with the highest conversion rate to the rest of the visitors.

Personal Touch – I can't tell you how many people reply to my emails and say “thank you for responding, I didn't expect that.”

Are you kidding me!? Have we (as online marketers) gotten so far out of touch with reality that people don't even expect a response any more?!

While I don't always get to respond in a timely manner, I do my very best to respond to every email (unless I think it's spam). I also know that email is one thing I push to the back burner when I get busy, but come on! Responding to emails has not only helped me grow my business (in revenue), but it has also helped me grow my community and audience.

Asking for Business – Until we get offered everything we want in life, we have to ask for everything we want in life. While some sales and many clients are now coming to me, I still have to ask for the business. Sometimes it's asking for the close, sometimes it's asking for the meeting or the introduction, but there's (almost) always an ask.

Keeping in Touch – Sometimes the sales cycle of a product or business can be short. The sales cycle of a stick of gum at the checkout counter is about 3 seconds.

In my business, the sales cycle is anywhere from 3-4 weeks to 12-15 months, depending on whether or not someone is interested in coaching or a mastermind, and whether or not they already know, like and trust me. Some of my clients knew me for 18 months before hiring me. Is that too long? Maybe. But I didn't give up on them.

Raising Prices – Though I didn't raise the price for my mastermind groups, I did raise the price of my coaching. When I bumped the price to $2000 for 6 sessions, one of my clients, Bridgette, said I was still under-charging. It takes around the same effort to sell a $500 service as it does a $2000 one, so don't under charge.

What Didn't Work in 2016

Inconsistency – As was the case last year, as I got busier, my content-creation efforts slowed. It's a catch-22. My content brings the customers, but the customers slow the creation of content.

The Fix: So, to fix that, I've got to be more intentional about turning what I teach and coach into content for the masses. Almost every call something comes up that I could (and maybe should) share with blog readers and podcast listeners.

The Ellory Wells Show – I had big plans for the Show this year, but I fell flat. When I went to Podcast Movement in July, I was barely a podcaster, and I felt bad.

The Fix: I think shorter episodes will work better for my schedule. That, or getting someone to do my editing for me.

The [M]embership Site – I dropped the ball with my membership site about half way through 2016. Though the content is evergreen, there's very little new information. I stopped promoting it, and the enrollment stalled. Membership sites are hard to maintain, and, as I said before about raising prices, it's almost to as easy to sell a $149/mo mastermind as it is to sell a $34/mo membership.

The Fix: I either need to work on content or shut it down so I don't mistreat hopeful members and do a disservice to both them and to my business.

Click Here to Participate in the 2017 Survey


In the past 12 months, I've learned a lot about what it takes to grow a business. You've got to take and set meetings. You've got to ask for people to hire you. And, you've got to have more than a single product.

Though there's more than those things, those are the basics. And, where I am, I need to keep doing what I'm doing. I need to focus on what I do best, and outsource the rest.

Action Plan for 2017

NOTE: As I look over the notes from last years' action plan, I realize my goals and actions for 2017 are largely the same. I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but my gut says it's mostly good.

Positive Affirmations – While at Thrive this year, I hear John Assaraf talk about the power of programming your mind, and how repeating positive affirmations can make physical and real changes to our neural pathways.

My major affirmation at the end of 2016 is:

I am so happy and grateful that I'm now making over $250,000 a year from my writing, speaking, and coaching.

And, I'll be honest – the more I say it, the more I feel it. My mindset has started to shift, and I feel different, and that's just since I've been saying my affirmation 4-10 times per day since November 1st.

The Ellory Wells Show – Same goals as last year – more frequency, more content.

Coaching – Same goals as last year – more clients, more businesses started, more lives changed.

Conferences – I love attending conferences, but in 2017 I want to speak at more of them. I would LOVE to speak at Thrive 2017. And, again, bringing my business partner and wife, Ashley, to more of them will be a continued goal moving forward.

Video – Same goals as last year – though I didn't share, record, or broadcast as much video as I would have liked. Video is impactful, and impact is my goal.

More Email – Last year I wanted to “get better at email.” This year, I want to send more of it. Over the past 12 months I've gotten pretty good at segmentation, tagging by interest, and automations and autoresponders, now I need to send more email so my subscribers won't be like, “who's that guy again?”

Give Back (Work with Veterans) – My final goal for my business is to begin working with veterans who want to start businesses. At every turn, veterans get the short end of the stick, and they're the LAST people on earth who should be treated that way. I'd like to be able to give discounted coaching services to men and women who want to start a website or business. If you know someone who'd fit the bill, tell'em to email me.

Final Thoughts

My wish is that this 2016 Year in Review and these numbers show you that it doesn't take an audience of millions to change your life. You don't need a stadium to show up every time you hit publish or press record. Everything I've accomplished is something you too can achieve if you're willing to get up early, show up consistently, and put in the work.

There's no magic formula.

I hope you'll join me as we move into 2017 and beyond. I appreciate you more than you know. Thank you for joining me!

Talk soon,


Click Here to Participate in the 2017 Survey

Over to you: How did your 2016 turn out? What results did you get in your business?


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  • Jon Stolpe says:

    One of my highlights from 2016 was the launch of the Stretch Men Group mastermind group for men. I’m so thankful for the people who have encouraged and pushed me to make this a reality.

  • Kent Sanders says:

    Ellory, thanks for this super insightful post. I appreciate your honest reflections on what worked, and what didn’t. Thanks for continuing to add so much value to others.

    Honestly, I spent some of 2016 sort of finding my way with my own writing, although I spent a huge amount of time doing writing for others (primarily, podcast show notes, which I really enjoy). Just a couple of months ago, I got back on track with my own blog, and am working on the next book, as well as launching a new podcast soon. Lots going on!

  • Michael says:

    Just to alleviate your concerns about your bounce rate, it could have been your SSL certificate. It may also have been analytic/spam bots.

    An added tip – I’d rename “Go Inside” to “Start Here” or “Recent Articles”. Just to follow learned design patterns, people are just used to those calls to action.

    This might be a bit nerdy, but if you are concerned about if your bounce rate is legit, give this tutorial a go: https://moz.com/blog/adjusted-bounce-rate

    • Ellory Wells says:

      Hey Michael! Funny you should mention that specific article on Moz – I DID read that, and just a few days ago and added the extra code. Not sure its working though.

      And thank you for the tip! I didn’t know what that link should say, and I always thought “go inside” was a little odd, but forgot to go back and change it. Now it says something new =)

      Thank you for reading and commenting Michael! it is much appreciated!


      • Michael says:

        It was the first thing that came up in Google for me as well 🙂 It’s actually a really useful trick that distinguishes between unqualified/bot traffic bounce rate and legit bounces.

        If you want me to take a gander at your analytics to see if there’s some technical oddity, feel free to add me to View/Analyze your property mikewilson2k5 aaaatttttttt gmail dat com

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