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My 2022 Annual Online Business Review

By Matt Giovanisci •  Updated: 12/20/22 •  11 min read  •  Articles

I review my spreadsheets and journals to find the details and lessons learned. Then, I put them into an annual review I’ve been doing since 2016. My past reviews – 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.

2022 Current Brands Under My Parent Company

I didn’t start any new brands, companies, or projects this year. All the big leaps were done under ONE of my three main brands.

1. Swim University

I started this site in 2006 about pool and hot tub care. I’ve been able to scale revenue massively this year.

The site gets its traffic from Google and YouTube. And makes money with affiliate marketing, online courses, and physical products.

I spent most of my time on this brand. But it feels like I didn’t do anything significant because all the work was behind the scenes.

When I put it all together, things were put into place that’ll pay off now and for years to come.

First, I updated the site’s design to feature more products.

Swim University 2022 Site Design Large

The behind-the-scenes work was creative strategy, new product development, and paid advertising. We’re also improving our pool care ebook, which will launch in early 2023.

I worked on creating new physical pool products, including two water clarifiers.

Swim University Pool Chemicals

We sell four digital products and eight physical products. And they’re all sold through Shopify. The digital products are hosted on Podia and connected with a Zap. The physical products are stored and shipped via Deliverr.

I also made a big move and hired my brother to produce short videos for Instagram and TikTok. We’ve been doing this since July.

Swim University Instagram 2022

In 2022, website traffic decreased by 7%. This was expected but better than 2021. We added a lot of new content to the site, and will continue to bounce back in traffic.

Swim University 2022 Google Analytics

We increased total revenue by 49%. Which is huge, and it’s from selling more physical products. YouTube views increased by 25%. We only published 18 new long-form videos.

Swim University YouTube Analytics

We’ll continue publishing weekly videos during the spring and summer. And we have a lot of content gaps to fill on the website.

I plan to double down on content. We have the products, and we have the lead generators.

2. Brew Cabin

I started this site in 2016 about homebrewing beer, which is my passion. I even built a homebrewery in my spare garage.

Home Brewery Before and After

The site gets its traffic from Google, YouTube, and Instagram. And the revenue comes from affiliate marketing and one course.

At the beginning of the year, I wanted to make it my focus. But Swim University makes more money. So investing time in this passion project is hard.

It’s not profitable because I use all the money to fund my homebrewing hobby. So it breaks even.

I gave the site a design refresh using Carbonate 2.0. I also added a new lead magnet that converts and updated five articles.

Brew Cabin Site Design 2022

In 2022, website traffic decreased by 46%. This was expected because I only created ONE new epic piece of content. As a result, revenue was down by 10%.

Revenue didn’t take a huge hit because I did a better job collecting email addresses and selling my course through that.

Brew Cabin 2022 Google Analytics

And sadly, I didn’t create any new YouTube videos. I’m sitting on about six great ideas and halfway through scripting two of them.

I plan to publish at least four new videos in 2022. More on this later. YouTube views decreased by 47% in 2022. 

Brew Cabin YouTube Channel Analytics 2022

3. Money Lab

This is the site you’re reading. It’s my home base for everything I do with my online businesses.

The site gets traffic from Twitter, YouTube, and Word of Mouth. No SEO. And it makes money selling courses and affiliate marketing.

I feel like I neglected this brand on the front end. But kept producing content for the Money Lab Pro community. And I created a new email marketing course.

In 2022, website traffic decreased by 33%. Again, this was expected because I didn’t create a lot of new content. The only thing keeping it going was my Twitter account. As a result, revenue was down by 16%.

Money Lab 2022 Google Analytics

YouTube views decreased by 60%. I only published six long-form videos and two live streams in 2022. And while this makes me sad, I’m pumped to grow this channel to 100,000 subscribers in 2023!

Money Lab YouTube Channel Analytics

I officially have a million-dollar-a-year business. Meaning my brands collectively generated one million in revenue in 2022.

Going forward, my time will be spent on the front end of all these brands. And I got big plans 👍😉.

2022 Challenges, Experiments, and Articles

The following is a list of the content I produced on Money Lab with a brief explanation.

1. How to Restore a Failing Niche Site in Less Than 3 Months

This experiment started strong but fizzled out in the spring. Since Swim University has started picking up traffic, I feel obligated to devote my time there.

Restore Failing Niche Site

I accomplished some important things on the site that saved it from losing too much money this year. I redesigned the site, which this article details in full. And I created a strong lead magnet that’s been converting much better than all the ones I’ve tried.

It’s a good read to get the strategy and the beginning stages, but it’s not a complete article. And I hope to revisit and update in 2023.

2. Death To Affiliate Marketing

Every year, I publish a business manifesto, and this is it. This was my most popular article of the year.

Death to Affiliate Marketing V2

It highlights the three signs of death I saw in my affiliate marketing revenue. And I talk about my new online business strategy that no longer relies on affiliate marketing.

This article does not claim that affiliate marketing is dead. There’s a lot of money to be made with this revenue stream. I lay out the reality I see with my business and plan to scale without it.

3. The Daily Instagram Reel Challenge

I created 30 short-form videos in a row for Swim University and it was a massive success…

Daily Instagram Reel Challenge V2

Ok, I’m lying. I gave up on this challenge after making only eight videos. It was a fucking nightmare.

But I hired my brother, and he completed the challenge for me. And the results were unbelievable…

Sorry, I lied again. It was very mediocre. But many lessons were learned, and it’s worth reading if you’re thinking about investing energy into this content.

4. 3 Boring Business Tasks That Bring Sexy Results

This was my favorite article of the year because it contains the secret to my success.

3 Boring Business Tasks That Bring Sexy Results

This article reveals 3 tasks that help my business stay organized and make money.

  1. Monthly Metrics
  2. Business Budgeting
  3. Job Journaling

I break these into actionable tasks and share custom tools I use to complete them.

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The BEST Things That Happened in 2022

Every year, I highlight the best and worst things that happened in my business and personal life.

1. I Hired My Brother Full Time

I was chatting with a friend who talked about eventually passing down his online business to his daughter. It’s something I had never thought about.

I don’t plan to have kids. So I thought, “who would I pass my online business to?” I have a family, so why not go wide instead of down?

My brother Chris was actively looking for a job in July. So I pitched him working for Swim University as the social media manager, and he accepted.

Chris Giovanisci Running Money Lab Live Stream

In the first few months, we were trying to figure out how to do Instagram for Swim University, which you can read about here. Reels were being produced, but growth was extremely slow.

Ultimately, we found him a better role, helping me with Money Lab and Brew Cabin videos. So I’m looking forward to collaborating more with him in 2023.

2. I Brewed The Most Validating Beer Ever

I’ve been homebrewing beer since 2005. And back then, I started learning from two gentlemen named James Spencer and Steve Wilkes. They run a podcast and video show called Basic Brewing.

Since then, I’ve done several audio podcast episodes with James and even collaborated on a recipe development series.

But this year, I sent him a beer we developed and brewed myself. And he and Steve tasted it on the video show.

You might not believe me, but I cried when I saw this. It was extremely validating watching my homebrewing heroes drink a beer I made and say it’s great.

I don’t know a lot of homebrewers, and I don’t attend homebrew club meetups. I’ve always been intimidated by the space, if I’m being honest. But after seeing this, I attended my first meeting in person and was recognized from my YouTube Channel.

3. I Invested in a Local Distillery

The coolest thing I did this year was becme an investor at one of my favorite places in my hometown. Mindy and Carl Jensen of Bigger Pockets and Mr.1500 told me about an opportunity to invest in a distillery.

So I became an investor. And because of my online business skills, I was asked to be a marketing consultant. And I’ve been doing that weekly since September.

4. I Officially Got Engaged

Steph and I have been together since 2014. And finally, in 2022, we got engaged!

Matt And Steph Are Engaged

We’re getting married at our house in 2023. I’ll be brewing nine beers for the occasion, and the distillery supplies all the booze and cocktails.

The WORST Things That Happened in 2022

2022 was my best year yet in terms of revenue. But as always, some literal missteps caused me short-term pain and misery – personal and business.

1. I’m Still Wrestling with Paid Advertising

This year, I had a lot of help from various ad consultants. And I got a few ads to give me a decent ROAS. But always barely breaking even or less.

I’ve decided to limit my ad spending and focus more on what our company excels at. Which is creating free content on our website, YouTube, and email.

2. The Boy Who Cried, ” I’m doubling down on YouTube for real this time.”

I wrote this phrase at the end of this article. I’m getting tired of not sticking to it.

So 2023 will be different. I’ve invested in building a video studio in my basement, and my brother is helping me. I’m committing 80% of my time to video production.

I’ve been plugging the holes in the bucket. Now it’s time to let the water flow.

3. The Brush That Killed Trust

I sold another physical product at Swim University that didn’t work out. But a good lesson was learned.

I wanted to sell pool cleaning supplies. And I had a great offer on a unique brush.

At first, the feedback from customers was positive. But then, the complaints came rolling in.

Customers had multiple issues using the brush because of manufacturer flaws. And to save face, I refunded or sent new brushes to everyone who was having trouble.

To be fair, the manufacturer was great and didn’t charge me for the flawed brushes. But ultimately, I decided the product wasn’t a good fit for my company.

4. I Walked Off a Plane

The only way I can get on a plane is if I drink. And when I do, I enjoy flying.

But in July 2022, my first flight in three years to Seattle was delayed, and all the bars were closed. I couldn’t take the anxiety and walked off the flight.

I don’t mind sharing this story because it made me start going to therapy. Something I probably should have done after this.

In November, I booked a flight to visit a friend in Virginia and flew successfully. I’m glad I went to therapy to push myself to do this, and I will continue to go in 2023.

What’s The Plan For 2023?

I’ve been preparing for 2023 for the last month. My brother and I have built a video studio in my basement. And I plan to focus 80% of my time on creating content for Money Lab and Brew Cabin.

Money Lab Video Studio

Money Lab Video Background

Steph will be in charge of all things Swim University. Mostly focusing on launching our new updated ebook and remodeling content for better rankings.

And finally, I’m relaunching Money Lab Pro in early January 2023. It’s a community with all my courses. Plus, weekly video calls, group challenges, and 1:1 mentoring.

I’m currently setting up a new landing page, pricing, and course materials. So if you’re interested, just shoot me an email: matt@moneylab.co and I’ll get you on the waiting list.

Peach out 🍑

Matt Giovanisci

I own three authority sites across different niches, including Swim University, Brew Cabin, and Money Lab. They earn a combined total of roughly $1,000,000 a year. I design and code all my sites. Write the words. Film and edit the videos. Produce the podcasts. Illustrate the graphics. And I have a small team that helps too.
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