The 2019 Web-Crunch Year in Review
2019 has been an exciting year for Web-Crunch. Both the blog and YouTube have seen substantial growth over a period of time. I wanted to take some time to reflect in written form as that's how this all got started.
I love writing, teaching, learning, and sharing. That's why I started this blog originally. I wrote for very few people but kept at it consistently for now about 3 years.
As you can imagine in that time I received some responses to either tutorials or blog posts. Some were positive and some were not so positive.
People often ask me what they should learn when starting out and I found that my response is quite diverse as the web we know evolves. No more is being a "specialist" in any one area sought after. Specialists have their place in many job descriptions but in the world of the web, a developer or designer needs to come into their position/role/company as diverse as possible. I'm a designer turned developer who now works on products and programs complete Rails applications.
The people I look up to are multi-faceted folks who started their own thing and learned along the way. I learned over time to be the best at something is actually a bad thing. Siloing your offering is less than you are capable of contributing to this world.
Dan Cederholm, a personal front-end hero, for example, started out as a contractor doing design work and writing. He turned down design work for what we know today as Twitter. Amidst that decision, he later went on to start a bootstrapped company with his neighbor Rich Thornett called Dribbble. Starting with design and then learning to code allowed Dan to evolve as a professional. Starting Dribbble also gave him so many skills as a business owner and entrepreneur no one can actually prepare for. Those types of problems to take head-on and the people you see come out the other side are those successful people I'm inspired by.
Other people that inspire me lately (too many to list):
- Chris Coyier
- Justin Jackson
- Derrick Reimer
- Ben Orenstein
- Chris Oliver
- Rob Walling
- Jason Fried
- Courtland Allen
- Adam Wathan
- Wes Bos
- Paul Graham
- Rachel Andrew
- Jeffery Way
- The Honeybager crew
- Taylor Otwell
I listened to more podcasts this year than I have in my entire life. I have long-term goals of possibly starting my own podcast. I'm not sure where I would niche out but I really enjoy the topics of entrepreneurship, coding, marketing, and design. Those combined seem to drive me towards building products whether for fun or profit as an independent professional.
Some of my favorite podcasts this year:
- Build Your SaaS
- Indie Hackers
- The Art of Product Podcast
- Shoptalk Show
- Startups For The Rest Of Us
- Founder Quest
- Product Hunt Radio
- Boostrapped Web
- Remote Ruby
- How I Built This - NPR
- The SaaS Podcast
- Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend
- The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show
Numbers as of Dec 9, 2019
Okay, with the inspiration and reflections out of the way lets talk numbers. This blog originated about 3 years ago. It's still very tiny but my goal is to be consistent and build it slowly. Right now the majority of my audience comes from Google search or via YouTube. Over time I hope web-crunch.com becomes a site people want to visit in a more organic fashion. Time will tell! So far so good on that front.
- 37 Blog posts published
- 51 YouTube videos published
- 323,400 views
- 18,300 hours of watch time
- 3,800 more subscribers from 2018. Total subscribers is 7.7k to date.
- Top Playlist "Let's Build: With Ruby on Rails"
Top 5 videos (in descending order):
- Design A Custom Email Newsletter Template - Part 1
- Let's Build: A Twitter Clone With Ruby on Rails - Part 1
- Ruby on Rails API with Vue.js - Intro - 01
- Let's Build: With Ruby on Rails - Project Management App - Part 1
- How to Create a Skeleton Screen Loading Effect
Top 5 Blog posts of all time:
- Should I use SVG, Icon Fonts, or Images? - 25,512 views
- How to Create a Skeleton Screen Loading Effect - 20,986 views
- Ruby on Rails API with Vue.js - 17,991 views
- Let's Build: With Ruby on Rails - A Blog with Comments - 15,543 views
- Let's Build: With Ruby on Rails - eCommerce Music Shop - 12,042 views
This year I launched Hello Rails which took so much effort to get complete (likely why I didn't get as many blog posts out as I had hoped). I think I spent roughly four months building my course platform, the course itself, and recording/editing the content all while working full-time. It was so satisfying to launch and can't thank those that gave it a try enough.
169 total sales to date. Of those sales only about 4 were the book format only. The rest were master course purchases (most with coupon codes). For those not interested in doing the math, that comes to roughly $18,500 in sales. Not too shabby for my first go at a fully-featured course!
What's coming up?
I plan on producing more content for both the blog and YouTube for free where time allows. Having done a course about Ruby on Rails I think doing a fundamental Ruby course in 2020 is on the agenda. Much of the Ruby content you see out in the wild is either only in written form or far out of date. I'd like to change that and offer it as a pay what you want model. The idea is just to give back, promote Hello Rails a bit, and possibly pay for server space with donations. Look for that to come next year!
2019 has been rough on me personally. I lost a few close family members but also found out I will be having a new daughter in January 2020. Being so busy with work, family, and side projects, my health hasn't been the absolute best it could be. I've gained some weight and gave in to a few too many bad habits. I'm hoping Spring brings a more positive mood/outlook. The key is to strike a balance between work, play, and consider health more of a priority along those lines.
On the job front, I recently left my role at Dribbble (of about 2 years) in November 2019 to join the team at Memberful who was acquired by Patreon a couple of years back. Being a creator myself, I identify with those who need a service like Memberful or Patreon to earn from their passions. It's great helping make that all possible and I'm so excited to travel the road ahead.
Looking back I found working on a larger team has more negatives than positives for my type of personality. I like not having to report to 3 managers or be tracked and ticketed like a robot. Being tasked with a problem and the expectation to go solve it on my own terms is empowering and a big reason why I made the leap.
I wanted to ditch the stress of cramming issues into a two-week sprint with the expectation of getting those done no matter what it takes. If you don't complete what was estimated you feel like shit and your team treats it as a let down even if you busted your ass. That's not how work should be to me. That said, working in such a way does yield results quickly so it's a double-edged sword.
Previously coming from a more agile world my new role adopts the Shape Up philosophy from the Basecamp team. It's one of the most refreshing takes on building software I have ever studied. I highly recommend you find a team or better yet, make your own team, who can take these principles and run with them. Also, if you haven't already, read It Doesn't Have To Be Crazy at Work to get a sense of what work should be. I think my favorite part in this transition so far is to go all-in on mostly asynchronous communication. No meetings for meeting sake for me. Ditching software like Slack for more meaningful conversations (in paragraph form) is much more impactful as you take time to think through what you write and why before committing a new message to the web sphere.
What's in store for 2020?
A New Web-Crunch.com
In 2020 I hope to launch a brand new web-crunch.com platform. The essence of the blog will remain at the core but I will have a more branded presence and complete web app built with content in mind. Today, I use WordPress to author and distribute content. It has worked well for me for a number of years already but I want a bit more control and customizable power that I can extend on my own terms over time. Sure, the "plugin for everything" concept is truly awesome but it's not very elegant. I want better.
Currently, I am building the new platform using none other than Ruby on Rails. It will feature the blog, custom nested comments (ditching Disqus), an integrated ad framework (to help pay for server costs), and a small hub for more premium content that aren't full courses. The idea is to build the blog into more of a platform but still author content in a consistent manner. I'd also like to own my own newsletter solutions as well. There are services for this but building my own sounds right (and fun!).
A Free Modern Ruby Course
I mentioned this above but I'm hoping to produce a free course on those interested in learning Ruby a bit better. With frameworks like Ruby on Rails knowing a little Ruby gets you far but knowing a lot gets you further. (Random fact: We're naming our new daughter "Ruby" when she arrives in January 2020).
More free content and more premium content
What could go better in 2020?
A lot went well in 2019 but I did notice some burnout. I produced a lot of content and doing that over and over gets to you. You might think to record a video and writing a blog post shouldn't take so long but often times it would take me a day or two before I could finally hit publish. That's pretty quick in the grand scheme of things.
This coming year I'm hoping for a refreshed perspective that will still allow me to produce at a steady rate. Perhaps focusing in on more nugget-sized bits of content rather than hour-long videos. That said, I love doing me Let's Builds so I hope to ramp those up once again. They are a big-time commitment and between work and family, it's been rough getting those out the door at times.
Being human has its downsides some times...
Other things that could go better:
- More consistent content publishing. Ideally once per week.
- Define a schedule users can depend on
- Richer topics and media
- More series-based content
- More evergreen content to make sense of some hard to understand topics designers and developers have trouble with day-to-day.
- Network with fellow blogs/vlogs to produce more social rich content
- Accept more guest blogs that match the criteria we are looking for on the site. If you have content you think would work on the blog do reach out.
If you've been a follower, lurker, subscriber, fan, hater, or anything else I can't thank you enough for spending even a few seconds on this site or my YouTube channel. (I also published on dev.to now if you like their platform). It has been a long and windy road and I'm just starting to get this blog to something worth doing. I hear it can take years to see the fruits of your labor when it comes to blogging. I can vouge for that as it's only really just begun for Web-Crunch. Here's to an exciting and happy 2020. I hope to see or hear from you in it!