I don’t want you to believe that my life is perfect. I’m not a fan of people online only show and write about the great things going on in life. Especially from people who write about personal development or how to make money online. They choose only to publicize what’s awesome about their life.
That can create a false sense of reality for all of us. It’s easy to leave out the struggles and only show the good stuff. It makes it seem like life should be one easy ride to the top. That doesn’t help us at all.
I like real people. People who will tell you how they failed before but also what they are doing about it.
Success isn’t just about the results you get. It’s about how many times you get your ass knocked down, but get back up.
I can do more to inspire you to take the action needed in your life by sharing what’s not perfect about my life and what I’m doing about it.
I’m no one special. I am not immune to problems, failures, worry, stress, and most of all fear. I just do my best to improve myself so that I can handle it. It’s not always easy, but the other choice is to let it get the best of me.
I have come a long way in three years when I decided that I was going to seriously turn my life around. I am proud of that, and my life has had many great moments. It’s also had its failures. I’ve screwed up. I’ve made dumb mistakes. I’ve sat on my couch cause I have so much on my mind and wondering when it’ll all get better.
About a year ago, I had to make a huge decision. One one hand, the decision would fulfill a dream. One I’ve been putting off for years. On the other hand, it would leave me with an uncertain future.
It’s been almost a year and I’ve kept my story silent because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I’m finally ready to open up and share what this past year has been like.
2011 – Life Changing
Many of you know my story that two years ago I released my first iPhone app, Photo 365 in August 2011. It came at a time in my life when I finally decided to take control of my life.
One year before that, in October 2010, on a drive home from work, I decided I was sick of the person I had become. I hated my job working in the restaurant business. I hated myself. Why was I unhappy? How in the world did it get to this point?
I made a decision to stop all the shitty excuses and laziness that night. I wrote a letter to myself and taped it on my wall. Fast forward to the following year and the app came out. I was just so happy that I actually started and finish something. If I didn’t make one dollar, the whole process was a great learning experience.
Then I was in for the biggest surprise of my life. My app got featured by Apple, not one week, not two weeks, but three weeks in a row. It reach rockstar status when it was App of the Week.
I earned about $30,0000 that first month. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. I had struggled to find ways to make money online for many years and now I had a way.
That money didn’t go in my pocket. I ask my parent’s accountant what should I do so I wouldn’t have a huge tax bill next year and he said create a LLC. That’s what I did and I officially had a business.
I remember someone online asking me if I was going to quit my job. That was the ultimate goal. I had been wanting to do that since 2005. Quitting my job right away didn’t cross my mind though.
If I had won millions of dollars I would have, but I knew realistically that I wasn’t going to be earning an average of $1,000 a day forever. So I was going to wait until my sales continued to do well enough that it could cover my living (mortgage, insurance, all that stuff) and have money left to invest back into apps.
That was the ideal situation. Be able to pay myself every month, and have enough to spend on my apps.
How long would I wait? I wasn’t sure. Not too much loner I hoped. I wanted to see how Photo 365 would do.
So I kept working in the restaurant business. The job I hated. The one I’ve been trying to leave. The one that made me feel sick to my stomach driving to when I had to work. The one where I worked nights, weekends and holidays. How bad did it get? I grew to hate Christmas. It used to be my favorite holiday, but when it was Christmas I knew I had to work and it would be busy.
Despite having that app, this blog, and a new attitude about life, my frustrations about work remained the same. Not having a definite date when I could quit made it worse.
I did not want to quit yet because the security of a paycheck. It was my worst enemy! It was so hard to give up. With a paycheck, I knew how I was going to pay my bills every month. Without it, I wasn’t sure.
2012 - Waiting is the hardest part
Life wasn’t all bad though. I got married in October 2011. In 2012, I wanted to travel more since we were married. My wife and I drove up the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco and went zip lining and white water rafting in Costa Rica. We took short trips to Atlanta and Orlando.
The job I hated did have one benefit and that was taking multiple vacations. I always hated coming back home, because the next day I’d have to go right back to work.
Photo 365 was consistently earing $50-100 per day. Doing some quick math, it seems good, but not enough to quit my job. The money I did earn mostly was going back into new features. One that would hopefully increase sales.
I started seeing other apps similar to mine enter the market so I had to try and stay on top.
I turned my focus into making more apps. I thought with more apps, I could have more revenue every month. I spent money on new apps like Gratitude 365, Bucket List, and Life Quotes.
It all didn’t turn out so well.
Gratitude 365 has done okay, but never got featured and took off like Photo 365.
Bucket List and Life Quotes have bombed. I researched the bucket list market and thought I could enter with a better version. I screwed up by hiring a designer and then not using any of her designs when she was done because it didn’t look good. The next guy I hired didn’t do a good job. Finally I found a good designer.
When it was all finished, I just didn’t like how it turned out.
The life quotes app started as a Bruce Lee quotes app, but I had to change the name since I didn’t have permission to use his name. I loved how it turned out, have gotten great feedback, but from a revenue standpoint, I could just buy one new pair of shoes.
So both those apps bombed and costs me thousands of dollars. An expensive learning lesson.
I was getting frustrated. 2012 was supposed to be the year when I could quit my job. However, app sales weren’t improving. I was losing money instead.
For 2012 my apps earned $27,548. Better than nothing, but not what I had hoped for. Even if I withdrew that money and didn’t spend a single penny on outsourcing, it’s not enough to live on. I was spending most of it on updates and new apps so I didn’t have much left over.
Towards the end of 2012, I didn’t know how much I could keep working.
If you are or were in a job you hate, you know just one more day is way too much. It is a struggle to get in the car and make the drive to work. There would be days when I wished for an accident just so I didn’t have to work. Yes that’s how bad it was.
Despite some failures, I didn’t give up on apps. I kept believing it’d get better. I reminded myself to be patient. Waiting was the hardest part.
2013 - The Big Turning Point
In 2013, I did have one thing to look forward to. My wife and I had our big trip coming up in January 2013. A trip of a lifetime. We were going to go back to Taipei and from there travel to Sydney and Hong Kong. All flights in business, first class, and even in a private suite. All free because of the points and miles I collected for one year. I had been waiting for that trip since the day I booked in July 2012.
We were going to be gone for four months. I couldn’t wait.
I could not ignore the reality of my situation after those four months though. Was I going to go back to work just so I’d have the security of a steady paycheck? Or finally quit, be free, and go full time with blogging and apps?
Some people are fortunate that they know they are ready to quit their job because their side business surpasses what they are currently making. It makes sense to quit and financially it’s a seamless transition.
Some don’t have that luxury. They quit their regular job before they have a backup plan financially. Sometimes it’s a leap of faith.
Sometimes they get laid off so they have no choice.
I didn’t want to use my savings, but I would have to until I could reguarly pay myself from my business. When would that be? I still didn’t know.
My wife had been trying to find jobs, even entry levels, but couldn’t get hired. So weird. Maybe I married a secret criminal.
I didn’t want to work another year. I didn’t want it to be the end of 2013 and thinking about wasting another year in a job I hated. I would be so mad at myself. I could not wait for the perfect time anymore.
I’m gonna do it!
I made the decision to not go back to work when I came back. I was going to go full time with my online businesses. If I had more time, I figured I could get more results. I would also be much happier not having to go to work.
However, I have said I was going to quit before, but chickened out.
2007 – 2009
I went to Taipei in 2007 to study Chinese. That is around the time I began to hate my job. I didn’t know what else to do. No other job I looked for online interested me. I hoped by going away, I’d figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
In Taipei, I stayed 1.5 years, learned Chinese, had a great time, and met my future wife.
My goal was figure out what I wanted in life, and find a way to make money. I read The 4 Hour Work Week in Taipei, and it changed my whole attitude about work and life. I really wanted an online business that I could run from anywhere.
I did not want to be working at the restaurant when I came back home. No way in the world. I’d rather die than do that. My hope was that I would find ways to make money online while I was away.
I tried some different online businesses, but they all failed. I got caught up on how much money these gurus promised I could make and thought it’d be easy for me. I didn’t work hard enough though. I lost interest quickly.
One major problem was my lack of effort. Why? Because I didn’t have a deadline. I had no idea when I would move back home. I just kept extending my stay because I was enjoying it there. I thought I’ll figure it all out before I come back home.
In January 2009, after 1.5 years living abroad, I came back home.
Did I have a thriving business online? Nope. Not even close. I no plan B,C or Z. I had bills that needed to be paid every month. I think you know what I decided to do.
I went back to working at the restaurant. My life went right back to how I left it.
Back to 2013
Fast forward to four years later and I saying I’m going to quit my job again. This time was different. I did have an online business. It did really well when it first started, but 2012 didn’t make enough for me to quit.
Now it’s 2013. If I wasn’t going to quit now, when would I? When everything was perfect? I didn’t know when that was going to be.
I really wanted to be free and not keep wasting my life doing something that made me so upset.
I had been waiting so long for the right time to quit. It was a scary choice to make. I had money saved, some stocks and mutual funds, but really didn’t want to touch it. I would have to though if I quit.
Would sales of my apps increase in 2013? Could I finally pay myself from my business? Or worst case scenario I go through all my savings and then what?
I knew I could have stopped spending money on updates to Photo 365 and Gratitude 365, but I believed sales would increase with more improvements. Maybe it would be a stupid decision. Maybe I should have stopped pouring money into them. As CEO of my life, it was a decision I felt was right to do.
Just to give you an idea of my apps sales from January 1 to May 31, 2013 I earned $15,685 which averaged to $104 a day. It’s good, but that money was going back into the business. I had a major update in the works which would use iCloud to sync photos between the iPhone and iPad app. I felt this feature would make my app stand out even more from the competition. It took a long time to get it working right and that meant and a lot of money.
If I could double my daily average then I would feel more comfortable. About $6,000 a month sounds a lot better. I’d have money to reinvest and could pay myself a little.
I just didn’t know when that would happen.
In late May 2013, we came back to Jacksonville. My wife asked me if I was going to go back to the restaurant when we came back. I liked the twice a month paychecks, but I hated spending just one hour at work.
No more waiting for the right time. I would figure things as as I went along. I thought if my back was against the wall, as it would be without steady income, it’d make me work even harder.
No turning back. No second guessing. No more paychecks. It was time to go out on my own.
My mom, who is the boss, was supportive. She knew my frustrations, but I know she didn’t want me to quit because it’s hard to trust people who work for you. She could trust me, but I’ll be the first to say I was a lousy employee. I did my job with no passion. I spent as much time as I could on my iPhone, iPad, or reading when there was nothing to do. I felt like being there was a huge waste of my time so I kept myself distracted.
If I had an employee like me, I would have fired him a long time ago.
Now I was in the position I’ve always wanted to be in. No more going to the restaurant. Freedom! I had more free time now, but would I fill that free time with ways to increase income or worry all day long?
I only had 4-6 months of money saved up before my savings would go empty.
In the next post, I’ll tell you how it’s been since I quit my job. I’ve had doubts. (Update: Here is part 2 of my story.)
Photo by Play among friends