~ 5 min read

My 2023 Retrospective

It’s the start of a New Year and as any good developer should, I wanted to reflect on how 2023 went for me. Here’s my 2023 by the numbers:

Highlights of the Year:

Published Articles

I’ve written a lot less this year, but surprisingly have achieved more views on the things I wrote. Partly this is down to one article doing very well and quickly becoming my most popular ever on my site. It was a rant on how bad the world of packaging is for new Python developers and was very well received by most on HN. It even got a mention on the open source security podcast which was a new and exciting thing for me. Developers do enjoy a good rant, so maybe I should become the Charlie Brooker of dev content?

YouTube Growth

I also published 26 videos to my YouTube channel and gained another 1746 subscribers. It’s interesting to note that this is only 24% more videos than the previous year, but 3 times as many subscribers. I can’t say if this is down to producing things that are better, or choosing more interesting topics. I produced a lot of AI focused content this year which has obviously been trending pretty heavily but I’m keen not to make it my sole channel focus.

As with my 2022 retrospective strangely my most popular videos were not things I produced this year, but videos from 2021 and 2022. Evidently Steam Decks and Python package management are still subjects as popular as ever.

I also met the requirements for YouTube monetisation this year, which I was really chuffed about - until shortly after YouTube halved the requirements for entry. I met their new requirements of 500 subscribers and 3000 watch hours halfway through 2022 so much ranting ensued about this too! It’s weird to finally be making a little revenue from it, but again it pails in comparison to a full time wage.

Making Money with Digital Products

Last year I released ”Side Projects Making $$$+” which is an index of successful projects making money posted to Hacker News since 2013.

This year it doubled it’s revenue which I talk about in my last newsletter. Most of this revenue occurred across the Black Friday and Cyber monday sales flurry, with minimal happening across the rest of the year.

Goals for 2024

My goals for this year remain largely unchanged, curb my expectations, better content planning and more digital products.

Curbed Expectations

I mentioned last year that I shouldn’t hold out too much hope on the video content I produce. I give the example of many days spent working on a video which had next to no traffic across the entire year. YouTube is a cruel mistress and can change it’s algorithm at any time. I’ve spoken a bit about this in my newsletter previously.

These days I try not to expect much of my videos, but it’s difficult when people further along are publishing stats about their insane growth.

Better Content Planning and Repurposing

I feel like I’ve settled into a bit of a rhythm this year focusing more on the dev side of things which comes more naturally to me. It’s also much easier for me to do than say fork out thousands for hardware reviews on a regular basis.

I don’t have a dedicated environment for my videos and so my output has been a little all over the place. I’m affected by things like noises from a nearby train, local building work and the many months of rain here in Wales. Planning doesn’t help much in some of these situations and I’ve tried to force myself to soldier on even if things aren’t ideal.

I also need to remember that content should not be the sole focus of my output. I want to produce great software, but content is secondary to it and everything I produce is learned from doing great development work.

A couple of videos this year I’ve been able to create very concise versions of during editing them. I do this to share on platforms like twitter. They’ve yielded some interesting reactions from others and have grown my audience ever so slightly in the latter half of the year.

More Digital Products, Better Marketing of Existing Ones

It’s often said that the buzz one gets with selling stuff on the internet is unmatchable. I’ve certainly found this to be true for my products and the #1 question I have when getting a flurry of sales over Black Friday is “How can I make this happen every day?“. To my mind it’s probably better marketing of said product given there’s obviously already a desire for it.

I released my second product in mid December and I’m keen to explore other helpful developer tools and educational content in the form of books/courses this year. I’ve had a book on virtual environments semi prepared for some time now that I’m keen to get released in some form.

Final Thoughts

Once again, these numbers are in no way huge - but they are really significant to me. I’m really grateful for all the growth I’ve experienced this year and hopeful for continued growth this year.

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