Since I’ve been struggling to find time to write monthly updates, I have decided to switch to quarterly instead. Since I’m lucky if more than 3 people read these, I tend to keep them for prosperity and tracking purposes.
Lets start with FrameIT I guess
After a bumper Q3 [relatively speaking any way], its fair to say that Q4 slowed down a bit, but it still provided a good overall finish to the first full year of operations, and I’ve been taking any profit and investing it back into the business at every opportunity.
One of those investments is a 44″ large format printer that we purchased in December. After reviewing various options, and considering the superb quality of the customer service, I opted for the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-541. This is a pretty big investment at around $10,000 but if I assume the lifespan is around 3 years, it comes down to about $277 a month, which is much more palatable.
The plan is to gradually introduce a print offering into the website, but in the short term I have been getting jobs via other parties which is more than covering the investment of the printer. Weirdly, my first print job was for Cartier and was then followed up with a job from Patek Philippe. It added a certain element of pressure to ‘learning on the go’ but everything worked out well.
Aside from the printer, I also invested in deploying FrameIT Malaysia. The reality however is that the site hasn’t yet generated a single registration, yet alone an order at this point. I got it live and then basically ignored it ever since due to more pressing priorities. I’ll definitely be putting some time and investment here in the next 3-6 months, but I want it to gain an organic foothold rather than rely on paid search, so I expect it may take a while.
There is also a major need to bring down the cost of the frames in Malaysia. I did some exit surveys in Singapore and found the majority of abandoned visitors were due to the price point. Given Malaysia is typically a lower price market than Singapore, I doubt I will be successful at selling even high quality frames unless I can reduce the price somewhat.
You may ask, “well didn’t I know this before launching?” and the answer of course is yes, but its not a huge financial investment either as an initial outlay or as ongoing operating costs, so I prefer to get the website live and let it settle / gain some ranking traction whilst I sort out some of those other operational issues.
I’ve also started some other major updates focused on allowing more orders to occur directly through the website. For example, we currently limit orders online to 120cm x 80cm, but this was entirely down to the maximum dimensions of something called a mat board. This meant 1/3rd of all orders ended up being handled offline as custom orders, which just isn’t time efficient. We’ve now got oversized mat boards that go to a much larger total size, and will tweak the website to allow sizes up to 150 x 150cm moving forward. Anything larger than this, we will recommend other framers to the customer.
Once we’ve got this change deployed I will focus on printing and multi-window frames next.
Aside from FrameIT I have been keeping busy with various pieces of client work. We’ve seen some amazing upturn in rankings for I.R.B Law during the most recent major Google algorithm update and I am thankful that this has held for the last few months. Its been such a great ride supporting the firm with their website and digital marketing over the last 2+ years.
They opened 9 new offices in Singapore during a global pandemic, and hired at least 15-20 new lawyers when everyone else seemed to be downsizing or sitting still. When I was comparing YOY [Jan 2020 vs. 2021], we’ve seen visits up 56% and leads 59%. Bearing in mind last year was already pretty strong growth via the prior year this is pretty amazing.
We’re also continuing to invest in a couple of legal minded content sites in Singapore & Malaysia, both of which are making solid progress in the rankings. Ironically we kind of toned things back on the Malaysia site because we were struggling to see a route towards revenue, but then it kind of exploded due to a couple of articles gaining very high visibility, so we’re placing some focus back there again to keep it ticking along.
I also built and launched a new site called JRQ Legal, but its not receiving a lot of love at the moment. I need to put some focus there and see if I can get it ranking. This is purely designed as a means to generate incremental search visibility and leads.
I’ve been pretty strong willed lately on maintaining my holdings rather than buying and selling, and its really paid off at the backend of 2020. I did sell off my Alphabet and Crowdstrike holdings which further rocketed, but I am not greedy, and I still realised good profits here. I’ve trimmed down my total holdings to a smaller selection of companies, and then regularly added on the dips.
I’m currently +58% on my portfolio with the majority coming in the last 3 months. My current holdings are split as follows:
Due to the explosion in Tesla surrounding the S&P inclusion and other factors, it has ballooned to 50% of my total holdings. It is at a price where I struggle to justify further investment in the short term, and yet I do believe long term that it will go much higher than were it currently stands.
Alibaba is a company I have flirted with previously and not held my nerve only to miss out on better returns. This time I decided to invest during the downturn they felt post the Ant IPO falling through, and then Jack Ma disappearing. Whilst there may be further volatility due to the political situation, I believe that long term Alibaba is a fantastic investment given their existing market position.
I am not a big user personally in Pinterest, but when I first started investing in them I knew they were massively undervalued vs. the other leading social media platforms. Their growth rate over the last couple of quarters in particular has been incredible, and I expect it will continue for some time yet.
Cloudflare is a company I use extensively in my digital consulting work, and I have some 20+ websites running through them at the moment. My question mark has always been on their ability to turn free users into paid users, and their ability to onboard enterprise companies. Despite having many websites running through their service, I am only paying them for 1 of those, at $20 per month. If we find that the results are worth the investment, I expect we’ll move more websites onto the pro plans. Given the critical nature they now serve for so many websites globally, I do see a bright future for this company and I will continue to invest on any dips after the upcoming earnings.
Since travel is still pretty much a non-event here in Singapore, most of the personal life highlights are definitely revolving around the kids. Robin has just turned 7 months old, whilst Riley is going to turn 5 later this month.
There has been some rewarding moments over the last month in particular.
Robin was ever so slightly slower than Riley in starting to crawl. He started by doing 360 degree spins and moving backwards, but now hes finally found his groove and is flying around the place. Its making it a bit tricky to work from home lately as we have to keep stopping to collect him and move him back to somewhere safe [away from the electrical sockets and cables amongst other things!].
We started Robin in swimming classes super early, and he’s really comfortable in the water. He can now do 7+ seconds of swimming underwater, turn over, and float to the surface on his own. Riley on the other hand loves the pool, but she’s super cautious. She will swim, but only with a jacket on, and for the longest time she hated getting water on her face.
Inspired by seeing her baby brother swimming underwater a couple of weeks ago she suddenly decided that now was the time. The jacket came off and she swam to me on her own steam without sinking. The total look of delight on her face at realising she could do it was awesome. These are the memories you won’t forget, and won’t get to experience again.
The other thing we were working on with Riley was to get her comfortable cycling. She’s had a bike for years, but rarely used it, and always with the stabalisers on. After trying and failing many times, we decided to take a step backwards and get her a balance bike. We basically made her use it to go everywhere for 4 days, and after 4 days of this, she was able to use a big girls bike without stabilisers. If I can make one recommendation to all parents teaching their kids to cycle – get them on a balance bike as soon as you possibly can.