2013 - My Year in Review

After an incredibly busy year of non-stop travel and work, my body has finally succumbed to some kind of virus. So, I've been drinking glasses of effervescent cold/flu medicine and slowly but surely wrapping up the last bits of work for the year. We're launching the first Yoga With Adriene product on January 2nd so there is still a lot to do.

So far I've done a pretty good job at staying in "the zone," but it's the end of the year and my thoughts keep reflecting on the past 12 months. 2013 was a blur filled with a lot of big milestones that I don't want to forget. This year was also filled with some pretty intense emotional stuff that I would prefer to forget (but Hilah has already documented it in detail here). We all cope with things in different ways, and I definitely coped by throwing myself into work.

So here's a quick recap of the highlights of 2013.

I quit my job.

This is probably the big one. I left my super-stable, ultra-cushy government job and started concentrating on the internet businesses full-time. This was a major goal I had been working towards since we first launched Hilah Cooking. Unlike a lot of people, I actually enjoyed my job but my projects outside of work had grown so much that I couldn't afford to spend 8 hours a day working for somebody else. I thought quitting my job would actually result in some free-time to goof around but the reality is that I've never worked harder in my life.

We turned a "hobby" into a business

I spent a lot of time thinking about and working on the business side of both Hilah Cooking and Yoga With Adriene. We have an attorney, an accountant and an intern now. Although I still shot all the videos this year, I was able to delegate more and more of the editing. We have established workflows for everything that seem to be working really well. I also started to outsource some of the web design work. Now that we know which parts of the business make how much money, it's going to be easier to intelligently outsource certain tasks.

We Produced Work For Other Companies

We produced two series for other people: Hilah's Texas Kitchen (for Tastemade) and Cooking With Kids (for Scripps/Ulive). These jobs were a critical factor in the transformation from hobby to business. Both shows were successful and we proved that we can do work above and beyond what we do on the YouTube channels.

We travelled ... a lot.

One of the personal goals I set for myself a few years ago was to do more traveling. This year I may have over did it. In addition to traveling all over Texas for the travel show, we went to LA (4 times), NYC, Yellowstone Park, Oklahoma City (twice) New Orleans and some other places I am forgetting at the moment. By November I was ready to stay home. But here are some highlights:

  • Eating scalding hot octopus balls and wandering the streets of NYC with with Jen and Leo from Just Eat Life
  • Wrecking a rental car in Yellowstone Park and waiting forever for a tow truck that may or may not be actually on its way.
  • Shooting an improv comedy video with some YouTuber friends. I've only shot non-fiction instructional stuff for the past few years and this was a reminder of what I love to do.
  • Biscuits and Gravy at Pann's. Twice.
  • Making S'Mores over an open fire and drinking too many drinks outside our Explorer Cabins with Diana, Veronica and Jason
  • An afternoon of old-school Texas Day Drinking with Hilah at the patio bar of our super-fancy hotel in SoHo.
  • An unforgettable night in Koreatown (including unbelievable Korean BBQ and an underground Korean Taxi service) with Maangchi and Dave.
  • Hanging out at the YouTube Space...

We went to YouTube Camp!

I think this is still top-secret so I can't tell you much about it until next year. But because of the popularity of the Hilah Cooking channel, Hilah and I were selected to participate in an advanced YouTube training program. We went to the YouTube space for a week in August and a week in November for training and collaborating with other YouTube creators. I've learned a lot from this program and I can't wait to share it with you. Unfortunately, it has to wait until next year!

I met some incredible new people.

We did a ton of travel this year and although we saw some great places, the best part of it was meeting a ton of new people - most of them fellow YouTubers. There aren't that many people here in Austin who are seriously focused on internet video and it's easy to feel like you are the only one in the world who is. This year, I met people from all over the world who were passionately involved in this medium. Some of them are in it for the creativity and fun and sense of connection. Others are building incredibly profitable businesses. The opportunity to hang out and talk with these creators has been invaluable. At the very least it makes me feel less like a crazy person.

I produced 191 videos.

I haven't added up how many videos I produced last year, but this has got to beat that number. Part of the reason for this number is that we experimented with publishing 3 Hilah Cooking videos per week at the end of this year. Our numbers grew, but I'm not sure they grew enough to justify the amount of additional work. So we're taking a hiatus and when we return with new episodes in 2014, we will be dialing it back to one per week. I still have 4 big videos (ReBoot) in the production queue but those will be finished and uploaded before the end of the year, so I'm adding those to the tally.

So a grand total of 191. One of my goals for 2013 was to get better at shooting and I think I have definitely improved. At the beginning of 2013 I didn't even know how to manually set the white balance on any of our cameras. The more I shoot, the happier I am with the results (and the less color-correction we do per episode).

In Conclusion...

While 2013 definitely had it's highs and low, I feel like we did a pretty awesome job of meeting the challenges. I look back on it with a sense of accomplishment and a readiness to tackle whatever 2014 has in store for us.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a kick-ass New Year!

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