hostmonster-Host Unlimited Domains on 1 Account   coolhandle offering reliable webhosting since 2001
Unlimited Hosting Space - FREE Site Builder   Smart Website Solutions for Your Small Business=

Lessons I Learned Growing a 6-Figure Online Business in 2013

Posted in Blogging, Freelance, Web Design12 hours ago • Written by Leave a comment

Do you want to learn how you can live your own dream lifestyle? Do you want to understand why others are successfully running their freelance online business while you may not?

This article will mix life lessons with action. These are tasks for you to take so be prepared to look back at last year and make 2014 your own life-changing year.

Most people (including myself, sometimes) set their goals, but after a month, motivation goes somewhere. Well, that’s why you have me this time to remind you about the great things you can do. My goal is to inspire you by giving some real sexy details about what the 1stWebDesigner team has done for the past year. I am also going to tell you what’s in plan for the future! My hope is to inspire and give you a few ideas, plus get some conversation going!

If you are excited to hear how the year went for 1stWebDesigner, what are some interesting insights happening in design industry and get yourself motivated to do more, read on!

I haven’t written anything for a while, in fact, it has been half a year! I miss talking to you, hearing from you! I am sure you also have written these goals –  ”start a blog, write articles”- at one or another. How did that go for you?

Personally, I always have felt writing opens the best learning curve for me. When you do research about some topic, you learn a lot and get a chance to let others benefit from your work as well. Writing is really rewarding. Close comparison to that is when you are working on new design projects. You always need to do lots of research and creative thinking. You might need to learn some new coding techniques in order to get the job done. Do you agree with me when I say you have the best learning curve?

One thing I learned from past year is: “Evolve or Die” – in our rapidly changing industry. In the Internet industry, if you stop learning and growing, your competitors will always outgrow you. This happens fast! So how about you? How did you do this past year? How much did you learn and grow?

Evolve die

If you are like me that after thinking about this question for a second, you’ll probably feel you didn’t get too many things done or didn’t learn a lot. Well, have you tried reviewing your past year?

You should take time to look back because this simple exercise will make you feel better. While being busy with everyday life, you might think you haven’t done anything. But when you look back, you will realize that you have done a lot. It’s really an uplifting exercise. Works every time for me!

You might find some surprising achievements and things you had done but forgotten about! I always look back when feeling bad. I promise you, when you do that, it’s gonna make you feel better. Life is a marathon. You should stop sometimes to check the map and understand if you are moving in the right direction.

  • What new skills did you learn?

  • What are some things you have done that you are proud of?

  • Why are you so happy right now? What makes you happy?

Let’s do this exercise together as I am reviewing the 1stWebDesigner business and personal performance. It would be awesome to see you joining in with stories and experiences as well. Heck, we can learn so much from each other. Let’s gain some fresh inspiration. Let’s get started!

You will now discover the biggest wins, challenges and struggles behind 1stWebDesigner 

New year 2013

So what happened with 1stWebDesigner during the past year?

Let’s kick this off with some statistics from 2013:

  • 1WD was reached by more than 15,000,000 unique visitors and 30,000,000 page views

  • There were 110 published posts

  • 4,000 published comments

  • Email newsletter is read by 80,000 people!

Yearly stats 1stwebdesigner

Now let’s go to some more fun data about 1WD visitors:

  • 50% of you use the Chrome browser; 25% use Firefox, and 12% use Safari. IE is used by 7%  of the audience, probably just to read 1WD while doing browser testing : )

  • 25% came from the US, 13% from India and 6% from UK. There are even 147 visits from Greenland. How cool is that?

  • 68% use Windows and 25% use iOS, with Linux and Android sharing 2% of the usage.

  • Interestingly, still 27% use 768 x 1023 screen resolution. There aren’t really any high resolution devices ranking in top 10. My guess is that mobile phones and tablets are really being used more and more widely, especially for reading.

What are some main traffic sources?

  • 50% of our visitors come from Google, a bit scary number. In the top 5 and 6, Bing and Yahoo follow.

  • From social networks, most traffic comes from Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and Pinterest, nothing surprising.

  • StackOverflow readers seem to refer a lot to our articles as additional reading

I find it dangerous to see how much traffic comes from Google; it makes us feel dependent on them. That’s one of the reasons why we invited more readers to join the mailing list. But this data also shows how much everybody relies on Google even more than ever.

What are your thoughts about Google? Did any of the statistics surprise you?

Let’s dig deeper. So, what really happened during last year? Feel free to jump to topics interesting for you:

Video Evolution: Stepping up the Game

Video filming

2013 was big year for videos! I always wanted to start doing videos, but always backed out until I couldn’t do it anymore! I received the final push from Derek Halpern (He has the coolest blog about Internet marketing and social triggers), when he said how few people in design industry do videos. He further added it definitely would help to bring up trust and stand out!

And so we did..

We started playing at it by doing Google Hangout with James Richman where we introduced 1WD TV. Then, there were some video community posts, and, of course, the famous series from James Richman about freelancing, starting with the suggestion to quit college and start sucking blood!!!

In order to push myself more with public speaking, I even prepared a speech in the TechHub event about content marketing. To start new things is always hard, but the gratification after doing something you have always delayed and been scared of is huge!

After the initial video started, we encouraged our whole team to jump in doing videos. We started doing audio-video calls between ourselves and the results are really rewarding! Last year, 1stWebDesigner Youtube channel with with 50 published videos brought:

  • Almost 600,000 views!

  • 14,630 channel subscribers

  • An estimated 3,496,433 minutes watched, equivalent to 6 years and 236 days! Crazy!

  • 3,863 video likes and only 117 dislikes


The most popular video was a tutorial about how to Create a Responsive Website Using HTML5 and CSS3, which received more than 300,000 views!

Answering the Most Popular Question at 1WD: How to Get Clients?

Last year, we spent a lot of time understanding you- what your biggest struggles are as well as the challenges you face to help you better. We acknowledge we lost focus. We strayed away from core reasons why people come to 1stWebDesigner. Simply put, you come here to “gain skills and knowledge on how to make money as a web designer”, right?

What most people needed to learn when starting out is that it’s more important to learn how to work with clients. Get more clients first, then, gain design skills! Sounds crazy, but there are many beginning and experienced designers who earn very little money, only because they don’t know how to sell their skills to clients.

How to clients

To help you, we started doing free live webinars and announced 1WD.TV – a video membership site where freelancers can get the necessary skills. With this membership site, we wanted to help new freelancers to find their first clients, find more clients, earn more! We wanted to help freelancers live the lifestyle they desire, where they are in control of their lives!

It was more than 9 months ago that marked a successful partnership with Spencer Forman, super experienced and successful freelancer who is now doing free webinars almost every week! It all started with this video Invitation on the Roof.

Have you attended any of the free webinars? Or have you joined Freelancer Quick Tips newsletter?

All in all, webinar and membership site creation and management require a huge never-ending learning curve and even more commitment from Spencer Forman and Karl, who are taking care of everything in the background. But your kind comments, happy emails and success stories make all of this work worthwhile!

Lesson: Always do something You are scared to do! Results will never be as the ones you expected, but results will different and better!

1wd howto clients membership

Here are some data breakdown about webinars and 1WD.TV membership site:

  • Close to 2,500 members since June 1, 2013!

  • Over 150 individual lessons and videos (around 25 hours of content!)

  • We have done 20 live webinars, which have been attended by more than 7,000 people!

Spencer, Karl and I promise to deliver even more value and awesomeness in 2014!

Build Flat Responsive Website from Scratch – Complete Course

And this is the biggest reason why I suggest you should challenge yourself. You don’t know where road will take you! This course was created by our rockstar designer, Michael Burns, who just stepped up and started doing video tutorials in 2013! In fact, he was so brilliant that we thought, maybe, he can create a whole course. And he did! This course (check site demo) took 5 months to create and complete, but the results were stunning! People loved it. In first hour, we got more than 800 people joining the course!

Flat design course noktirne

There were no plans last year about anything like this. The flat design trend just rose. Michael wanted to put his energy into something really valuable and useful, thus, this course got created! So here we are after one year! To think, a year ago, doing videos was a scary thing. Now, it’s an irreplaceable part in our business!

If you want to grow, you need to do things that SCARE you! That’s the only way to stretch yourself and achieve more!

A year ago, we wouldn’t have dreamed about having an introduction video for course like this (created by artist Daniels Mekss).

Here are some bragging numbers about our flat design course:

  • 1,716 students enrolled

  • 95 reviews, 5-star rating

  • Students have watched course for 100,000 minutes, which is equivalent to 64 days!

Conclusion about Our Video Journey

So does it pay off to do videos? You tell me. You definitely will not get the great ROI (Return of Investment) you expect, but this journey was full of surprises. It feels damn good when looking back right now!

If nothing else then Google highly value videos (obviously…Youtube) and you might remember our challenges with Google in past!

If I connect dots, looking backwards, I would do the same thing all over again! How about you? Have you done any videos yourself? What was your experience?

What about the Real World Lessons and Experiences?

Enough about virtual/online business life, real world experiences were even more interesting!

What happened in 2013…

I moved to the Philippines (been living there for the past 8 months), met up with my team, finally in person. Now, we are building an  extraordinary office together! Beats cold Latvia, for sure!

Philippines team retreat

I went to the Awesomeness Fest in Bali, Indonesia (yup, that’s me in the picture ;D) to learn from MindValley about creating awesome culture and life. This is an event created by Vishen Lakhiani. In this event, there were speakers like Lisa Nichols (from movie The Secret), Roger Hamilton, Dave Logan (book Tribal Leadership), among others.

Awesomeness fest

After this event, I applied for iLab incubator run by Roger Hamilton. This incubator was located in Bali. We got 30 days of entrepreneurial training! I don’t have any business education, but after this incubator, I felt I got a PHD in entrepreneurship.

Ilab bali

Then, I joined Mavericks Next young entrepreneur mastermind group and went to the ThinkTank event in Austin,Texas. There, for for 3 days, we all got to know and learn from successful entrepreneurs with million dollar businesses like Noah Kagan, Yanik Silver, Ryan Deiss, Robert Kirsch and others. I got to meet the smartest young people I have ever met in my life!

Mavericks next

Finally, I met my business partner Spencer Forman ( after 3 years of virtual work together!

Spencer dainis

I went to Latvia to visit my family and friends for a month. Then, I went to to UK to meet with Michael Dunlop (creator of IncomeDiary and PopupDomination) and Nicholas Tart to start an awesome great project together!

Now, I am back in the Philippines, more energetic and enthusiastic as ever to deliver awesomeness, inspiration and huge value for you in 2014!!!

But Why Am I Telling You This? What Can You Learn from These Experiences?

I don’t need to impress anybody, but I wanted to share these last year’s experiences because, after 6 years (since I founded 1stWebDesigner), 2013 was the biggest growth year.

After meeting and getting to know many super successful people, I want to share the importance of commitment to constant learning and growing if you want to get far in life.

It is no coincidence that my favourite quote is from Steve Jobs.

“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”

If you told me, that in 6 years, I would be living this lifestyle, I would never have believed you! Six years ago, I was still studying in the design academy. I was trying to earn some money by freelancing. 1stWebDesigner started out as my hobby.

I know many of you are in a place where you want to start living on your terms and the answer seems to be the Internet. This virtual paradise allows you to work anywhere in the world as long as there is an Internet connection. This lifestyle is true; I can tell you that, but it’s not for everybody!

To live this lifestyle, you need to do things that scare you. You need to challenge yourself. You need to learn a lot. Commitment to constant learning and growing is a must! Your time, money and resources should be invested in yourself. No one else.

This might sound as preachy, but this is the lesson I got after 6 years. For two years, I lost my passion, and my drive. Only last year that I got it back. This means there are always ups and downs in anybody’s lives. But you need to keep stretching yourself; you need to keep doing things that scare you. By doing so, you will become happier once you overcome those things.

Why do i succeed

I know, I know. It is March already. But this is the perfect time for setting your goals! I am sure you have thought about things you will do in 2014, but now, you already have gone into daily routine. It is time to get out and think how you will make this 2014 your best year ever.

There is no better time than now. There is no better way to strengthen your commitment but by getting your friends or peers responsible! Write your goals right now in comment section. To show you I am walking my talk too, I will do the same.

Here are some ideas for you to think about:

  • If you would have a magic wand which you can use to magically get everything you ever wanted, how would make your life using that wand?

  • What are your top 5 goals for 2014?

  • What are your top 3 values you want to live for this year?

If you want to take things even further, start documenting. You begin by making a table where you list the categories below. I also included some questions to guide you in each category.

  • Experiences – What do I want to experience?

  • Growth  – Who do I need in order to complete things I want to do?

  • Contribution – Who can help me achieve this? Whom can I help? ( In order to be truly fulfilled, you need to help others with what you know! The more you share, the more you gain!)

I learned about this exercise in AwesomenessFest. Here is video to get you going – The 3 Most Important Questions to Ask Yourself. I give this exercise to everybody in my team!

Here are my values and goals to inspire you and get you going. I am waiting for yours in comment section!

Take risks

My Top 3 Values:

  • Commitment – I am committed to constant learning and growing by making each next day better than the previous. I share my lessons through writing to those who need them.

  • Love – I love myself and others. I do what I have promised to myself and others, whether I feel like it or not!

  • Enjoyment – I enjoy little things; I enjoy life. I meditate; be just in the moment. Just being happy.

5 Things I Want to Happen in 2014, my best year yet:

  • I will make 1WD the top learning resource in the world for web designers and freelancers,

  • I will build an extraordinary team and office in the Philippines. I want to build an office where my team and I would enjoy hanging out before and after work.

  • Have an emergency fund for 6 months. Organize my business.

  • Be super fit, healthy, happy and energetic. Have a strict morning routine (holy hour ritual – wake up 5:00 AM every morning). Do sports. Read every day!

  • I want delegate everything so I can choose whether I want to work or not without making the business doesn’t get affected.

And here goes my biggest public commitment to you personally:

I commit to actively write this year and make sure 1stWebDesigner becomes the most valuable, educational and motivational place in the world for web designers and freelancers, for you!

My purposes are to constantly learn and grow, share my learnings with you and with the world! As I am learning more things and living the Internet lifestyle, I can help, inspire and empower others to understand that they can do the same and more! As I let my own light shine, I let others to do the same! You should also be the one your friends look up to as inspiration. Don’t flock with the herd anymore!

Start to be great

I am here to make sure you keep up with high standards; I am here to inspire, help and empower you! I am here to guard Internet freedom and help to contribute to the necessary change in this corrupted world. I will mix lifestyle experiences with web design and freelancing because these things are inseparable!

If you feel like I am doing bad job and not keeping up with my promise, you need to tell me so. Be my reality check, please, here is my email – dainis at

Share what you did this past year to inspire me, other readers and, again, yourself! What will you will do to make 2014 your best year so far? What are some things that scare you a little, but excite you a lot?

Article source:


Submit a Review

If you want a picture to show with your review, go get a Gravatar.

1&1 has shared hosting and dedicated hosting solutions for every budget and free domains with all hosting packages!  StartLogic - Affordable hosting: Free setup/domain, unlimited emails, PHP, mySQL, CGI, FrontPage. As low as $3.95/month
Cloud ecommerce platform delivers more traffic, higher conversion and unmatched performance

© Copyright 2008 Tyconia International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.