Most of my working career I sit at a desk interacting with my computer. No longer having colleagues because of quitting my job in June 2018 to start my own company this blog is my main connection to other professionals. Therefore, I decided to write and share a retrospective of the year 2018.
How is the blog going?
The initial plan was to write articles on a bi-weekly schedule but it became more difficult to find the motivation to write articles.
The main benefit of having a blog is that I can write on a regular basis and improve my skills. My initial expectations where that the articles would not get a lot of views. Like all creative endeavors, I did expect that the number of views would follow a Pareto distribution, where a few popular blogs would get all the views and most blogs would get none. I am happy to report that the articles are performing well beyond expectations:
The best performing article is the tutorial on how to build an API application with Symfony. It was also the article that took the most effort to write. First, I had to learn the technology for my own projects and spend some days working on the examples for the tutorial. The initial responds was great by getting a retweet of the creator of the API platform. Currently, the article is high on the first page of Google when searching for “symfony 4 api platform” and it continues to get around 1000 views per month.
An unexpected successful article is how to get Bluetooth headphones to work with Ubuntu. It was about my frustrations to get the headphones working and I decided to learn some of the concepts behind them. Initially, the article got almost no views. However, as time passed it was getting more and more views, mainly because it got higher in the search rank of Google. Currently, it gets around 500 views per month.
I am content with the blog, however, there are many things I want to improve in 2019. It is easy for me to write about technical areas in which I have expertise but it is harder to write about other topics. For example, I have views about philosophy and politics I was planning to share, I did start writing many articles which I never finished. It is fine that some concept articles never make it into the world but I could have had a better publishing record if I did finish some of these articles.
Even though the blog is successful in views it is still very difficult to make some money off it. I am in the low end of the Pareto distribution with €0 revenue, with 0 patrons, and my amazon affiliated links did result in 0 sales (resulting in being removed from the program). I am starting to reconcile the fact that this blog will never make money. It is just not focussed enough on a single topic because it is personal and I am someone who wants to work on and think about new topics. To make money I focus on selling the products I make with my company and maybe in the future I could make paid content, like an online video course or a book.
All in all, I feel much gratitude of the current state of my life. I am very happy that I did spend a lot of time with my 1-year-old son in exchange for working fewer hours (24h a week). Furthermore, my girlfriend got pregnant again which is great. I am also happy I did more social activities this year, going on a trip to London with friends, attending a few LAN parties and other social events. Furthermore, we started taking ballroom dancing lessons (cha cha cha).
On the financial side, we made some progress starting to become more frugal spending around €6.000 less than last year but because I lost some income and I had costs for my company we did not manage to invest much of it in index funds.
I do plan to do more fun things in my free time in 2019. Examples are to work together with a friend to make a competitive tower defense game in the Unreal engine and to put some time in learning to play the guitar. I am planning to try out to learn these new things within 20 hours.
This year was about investing in quality and products. As a result, I only got a few customers but they are quite happy. As I now am working alone, with fewer hours, and no longer have a team to set to work, the progress is not as fast as I would want to see.
The main accomplishments are:
– Fully automate deployments in a Docker swarm cluster
– Automated offsite backups on AWS S3
– Quality improvements of the product
– Found a good single-person workflow in Jira
– Well maintained servers, security, uptime, and performance
– Well-architected new tutoring video website
– Google Adwords API integration
The main improvements are:
– Not able to get new customers for the current product
– Spending too much time on technical stuff vs business stuff
– Slightly raised the technical debt with not much tests and documentation
The main goal for 2019 is going get the revenue up to a sustainable level. Preferable, by selling the products I made in 2018.