TMM 2018 Year in Review: Best Content + TMM Income Report

Can you believe it’s 2019? Here’s a look at what went on at The Modest Man in 2018, including a detailed income report.

2018 Year In Review

If we haven’t met, my name is Brock McGoff, and I founded The Modest Man back in late 2012.

I’ve been running TMM “full time” for a little over two years now. Every year presents new opportunities to grow and, of course, to make mistakes.

Let’s start with the good news. Here’s a quick list of wins:

➝ I got married!!! Also, I got to be best man in my brother’s wedding and groomsman in my other brother’s wedding.

2018 weddings

➝ I honed my “fun uncle” skills with TWO new nieces, Avery and Chloe

Brock's nieces
Cora, Chloe and Avery

➝ The TMM YouTube channel grew over 100% from 88k to 180k subscribers; views increased 57% percent over 2017 to over 7 million annual views.

➝ The TMM Instagram account saw more activity this year, growing to just under 20k followers by end of 2018.

➝ Man Camp 3.0 in LA was a huge success and included some awesome new members, including my podcast cohost, Jon Shanahan.

Man Camp 3.0 in LA

➝ Speaking of Jon, we got to hang out in real life a lot this year (we met online, so IRL hang outs are special).

Jon Shanahan

➝ We published 38 new episodes of The Buttoned Up Podcast, including interviews with Dan Trepanier, Alex Costa and Sven Raphael Schneider.

➝ I traveled a lot, visiting LA, Ottawa, Atlanta, Austin, Cabo, Denver, Charleston and NYC.

Travel meet ups

Brock in NYC

Most of these things wouldn’t have happened without your support (okay, the nieces probably would have happened, but you get the point).

For that, I’m eternally grateful to you for reading, watching, commenting and following along. Thank you!

2018 Income Report

You may know that I published quarterly income reports here on The Modest Man.

In a world of sponsored content, paid reviews and questionable online “business” models, it feels good to be transparent about how I make money.

You can apply this to any digital media publisher, by the way. When something is free, you’re the product. People like me who run websites and YouTube channels are in the business of monetizing your attention.

It’s not a bad thing, but you should know that’s what’s going on. If you want to learn more about this, read up on exactly how this site makes money.

Here’s how TMM did in 2018:

Here’s a look at 2017 vs. 2018 by category:

TMM Revenue 2017 vs 2018
Not the kind of graph a business owner wants to see…but there’s good news hidden in this chart.

This is the first year that TMM revenue didn’t grow substantially – and it was intentional.

The yellow part of those bars represents revenue from sponsored content. If that type of revenue had continued to grow at the same pace as the previous two years, TMM would have generated an additional $30-50k in 2018.

But I decided to cut way back on sponsorships. Here’s why…

Thoughts About Sponsorships

When you have a decent size audience, making lots of money with paid partnerships isn’t hard. In fact, brands are throwing money at “influencers” right now, and they’re not going to stop anytime soon.

There is a right way to do sponsored content, and there are many wrong ways to do it. It all comes down to integrity. If you don’t have it, selling out is almost inevitable.

In 2017, I really felt the pull of sponsored content. It’s very hard to say no to multi-thousand dollar deals, even if you’re not 100% in love with the brand or product.

2017 was a good year for the business. Revenue grew 36% over 2016, mostly due to paid partnerships. But I didn’t feel great about that content.

So I decided to scale way back. I think it’s better for you and me, and there are plenty of other ways to monetize TMM content, even if they’re not as immediately lucrative.

Here’s the silver lining: passive income increased 20% in 2018. This in basically total revenue minus sponsorships, which aren’t passive at all.

Also, my partnership with Peter Manning NYC takes some of the financial burden off of TMM to keep the lights on, so don’t have to do sponsorships. It’s a great feeling!

Anyway, thanks for hearing me out. I hope you’re as happy as I am with the direction TMM is headed.

Most Popular Content

Of the 24 new articles published in 2018, these were the three most popular:

  1. How to Wear Shorts
  2. 12 Short Bodybuilders
  3. Smart Casual Style

These were the three most popular YouTube videos:

  1. How to Wear Shorts
  2. 3 Types of Suits
  3. 10 Style Mistakes

Let’s take a look at what went well and what did not go well.

What Went Well

YouTube and Instagram went well in 2018. I uploaded 49 new videos and saw a lot of growth on the YT channel, which now gets more monthly views than this website. Ended the year with almost 20k IG followers (way up from 2017).

The Buttoned Up Podcast went really well. Jon and I published 38 new episodes, passed 50k downloads, interviewed a bunch of awesome guests and made some great new connections through the podcast.

Buttoned Up Podcast

On a personal note, I had a good year for fitness. I hung up my BJJ gi and started lifting weights. I completed 109 workouts in 2018.

I hit a 215 lbs deadlift, 175 lbs squat and 140 lbs bench (for reference, I weight about 120 lbs), and even saw some modest gains.

I’m looking forward to continuing my fitness journey through 2019.

What Did Not Go Well

Unfortunately, that focus on YouTube came at a cost, and didn’t really grow. I only published 24 articles (half compared to 2017), and traffic was totally flat.

The funny thing is, even though video is so popular right now, it’s much harder to monetize (unless you do lots of sponsorships). So, from a business perspective, it makes more sense to focus on the website vs. YouTube.

In 2019, I’m focusing on building a team of TMM contributors in an effort to put out more great content about style, watches, grooming, travel, fitness, confidence and product reviews.

Goals for 2019

Here’s what I’d like to do in 2019:

More Articles – I want to publish at least 25 articles produced by TMM contributors.

More Organic Traffic – I’d like to see TMM start growing organically again; the goal is a “modest” increase of 15% in organic traffic, year over year.

More Instagram – IG is the only social media platform I actually use on a daily basis. It’s a great place for men’s style, watches, etc. I want to double the TMM Instagram following to at least 40k followers in 2019.

Everything I do – how I spend my time and make a living – is possible because of you. Whether you’ve been here since the start or just found TMM recently, I can’t thank you enough for your support.

Thank you, and Happy New Year!

What are your goals for 2019? Leave a comment below!