2012 reflections and 2013 goals

krogs-year-in-review
2012 has been a heck of a year, and now is a great time to reflect. The purpose of this post is to help me put my professional life into perspective, so I can go into 2013 with clarity and purpose.

There have been some very good parts of 2012, and some tough parts as well. Here’s a detailed account, numbers and everything, of the various aspects of my professional life.

Blogging

Let’s start with some post counts across various parts of the internet.

  • This blog – This post is my 40th of the year. I’m quite happy with the blogging I’ve done here. I’ll touch more on it shortly.
  • WPCandy – 19 posts in 2012. Certainly less posting than I expected this year at WPCandy. Though I think one or two of my posts got lost when WPCandy had a big hosting issue a few months back.
  • Infomedia blog – 2 posts. I wrote for our company blog a couple of times in 2012. Though they didn’t get much discussion, I actually enjoyed writing them.

That means that I blogged 61 times this year that I can count, or a little more than once per week. Not bad, but I can do better.

Krogsgard.com

The growth of this site has been a high point on my year. I’ve had only a few posts that didn’t get any discussion, and I had a few that got really, really great discussion. And the traffic has been pretty steady too, though that’s a secondary goal to the quality of the posts and the discussion.

But I know you want to see the stats. Yes, they are still pretty poor. But they are much, much better than before. And the growth is promising:

krogsgard-2012-stats

 

That’s about a 270% growth year over year. In a year, I’d like to average 20,000 visits per month rather than 27,000 all year, to keep people on my site longer, and for them to bounce less.

I had a couple of spikes during the year. One post on Google fonts (not) displaying on Kindle Fire did pretty well on Reddit (though not a target audience), and my Jetpack post has simply been huge. That post alone has gotten almost 8,000 impressions since I wrote it in July, and there are 84 comments, many of which are from Matt Mullenweg. It is my top post in search results, and gets pretty continuous traffic from poor searchers having woes with the plugin. But what is staggering is that people are reading it. The average time on that URL is almost 9 minutes.

I counted 150 comments between all posts in 2012, which is great! Comments are like blogger caffeine. And what’s really great is that people I respect are commenting. That feels really awesome, every time. New posts are getting between 200 and 500 “day 1” views on average, with my best performing posts getting 500-1100 “day 1” views. I want to turn the best performers into averages next year.

I also finally redesigned this site in December. I’m excited to analyze some stats soon, and finish building out new sections, as I outlined in the post about the redesign.

I have no intentions of slowing down my blogging here. I love writing and sharing my thoughts, and I want to make it a bigger priority, with dedicated time. My current method is to write at a moment’s notice when I just can’t stand not writing. I want to be more consistent, and write thoughtful things about the web and the WordPress community.

WPCandy

I wrote over at WPCandy much less this year than last, about two-thirds less, and my last post was in August. I hope Ryan is successful at WPCandy, but I’ve decided to move on. It’s just not the right fit for me anymore.

I’m glad I contributed there for two years. I wrote around 120 posts in total, and recorded a couple dozen podcasts too. WPCandy was a great place for me to grow in the WordPress community. But I have a lot of things I want to do still, and I need to make room for those things somewhere.

Social Media

One interesting metric to look at for the past year is Twitter stuff. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s addictive, or because it’s professionally valuable, or what, but I spend a lot of time on Twitter. Too much, my wife will tell you. But it’s had some payoff in 2012. I’m thankful to have a heck of a water cooler to sit around and share and talk to you guys. Here’s an image of my year in numbers on Twitter:

krogsgard-twitter-growth.jpng
I’m thrilled to have new followers, but what I get excited about in those numbers is that I’ve gotten a half decent number of replies, retweets, and favorites on the things I share. The web development community is certainly its own breed, and it’s really fun to be a part of it. I think Twitter is a big part of why I enjoy what I do, and I know I’ve gained both professional contacts and even friends from it. So I thought it was worthwhile for this post.

WordCamp SF

Speaking of relationships, WordCamp San Francisco was absolutely amazing. It was fantastic to meet so many people in person. I made  a lot of friendships “IRL official” (I just made that up maybe) and had hundreds of great conversations. If you are on the fence about going to WordCamps in general, and especially one of the big ones. Stop thinking about it. Go.

Contributions

Another year has gone by that I didn’t get props in WordPress core. I. will. not. let. that. happen. again. Now, I’m really on the hook, right?

In addition to contributing to core this coming year, I’m really interested in the docs project. I think that’s a place where I could potentially make a difference.

I do feel like I’ve at least had some level of involvement on other projects though. I’ve been trying to communicate feedback to plugin authors whenever I can. I especially enjoy talking to the fine folks who build WooCommerce. A couple of my feature requests are going into the plugin, and they are just really nice people who make a great product. I’d love to build an extension for WooCommerce this year.

Side Projects

Oh, side projects. I’m always dreaming things up. My struggle has been that I think something is a great idea, then I start on it, and then I convince myself that my idea was the worst thing on the planet, and I move on. There are good and bad aspects to that workflow. The good is that most of my ideas probably are terrible. The bad is that I never let anyone else decide so.

Plugins

On a bright note, I released two plugins this year: Toolbar Quick View and Really Simple Series. Both are pretty trivial, but I use them both, and at least a couple other people seem to as well (emphasis: a couple).

Themes

I’ve also worked a ton on the Happy theme project. I started out what has thus far been a disappointing series on building WordPress themes, with Happy being the example theme. Well, it turns out Happy ended up being more of a base theme, that I’m actively developing and using on new personal and client sites. But I am going to write the series, and I’ll just tailor it more generally and maybe with a less general purpose theme.

So the Happy theme is in a weird place where it doesn’t know what it wants to be. I haven’t fully decided whether to have a separate base theme that’s not really for public release, and then make Happy a version of my site design, or if the base should be a real theme. I’m leaning toward Happy being a less generic theme. I’m kind of over generic themes. Either way, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about theme architecture this year, and while I’m behind where I wanted to be, I’m happy with where I am.

New Project

68I have one more side project that is very hot on my mind. The idea has evolved for a long time, and it’s a much-needed thing in the WordPress community, I think. A few folks I’ve talked to about it think so too. It’s going to happen very soon. And I’m beyond that point of “this is a terrible idea” mentioned above ; ) so it’s officially happening. It’s my top January priority.

Freelance and Monetization

I had a goal this year to make $10,000 in freelance and side income. That goal was totally arbitrary, and I basically made zero distinct effort to reach it. I just did small freelance work when it came to me and the situation fit, and didn’t if it didn’t. I ended up making less than $5,000 in extra income this year, not including freelance / overtime work I did specifically for Infomedia, where I work full-time. I don’t know the exact figure under $5k, as I have to cobble together all of my invoices, but either way: weak sauce.

It would be pretty easy to make this number higher next year. I just have to do less stuff for free, and more stuff for money. But sometimes I like building websites for free when I can really help a great organization. So we’ll see. Either way, I’m available for some freelance work periodically, if you’re ever interested. How’s that for a sales pitch?

I’d rather spend more efforts next year monetizing my blogging and perhaps monetizing on some side projects, than worrying about freelancing too much. I get to work with some pretty awesome clients at Infomedia, so I like to spend more outside time doing my own thing than selling my time to other people.

Specifically, I want to introduce tasteful affiliate links in my blog(s). That’s why I’m building my toolset section of this website. I explain more in my post about my site redesign if you care. I’d also love to sell a theme, perhaps even on (gasp!) Themeforest. Or maybe I’ll do something totally different. Who knows! But one thing is for sure, I’m human too, and side money is good money. Next year, I’d be pumped to make $20,000 on the side. Like, really pumped.

Work and skills

This is where 2012 really shines for me. I’m so happy to say that I learned more about WordPress, web development, and even design in 2012 than ever before. It’s been a great year for my brain.

I’ve had outstanding opportunity at Infomedia to have control over what we do, WordPress-wise. And it’s been great. I’ve learned a ton about PHP and other languages from the very, very talented Brian Dichiara. And I consider David Hickox to be a mentor on both design and web perspective in general. I learn from all of my coworkers, and I love what we’re doing at Infomedia.

I feel more versed across the board technically. In fact, as you may expect, I’m utterly ashamed of any code I’ve written before… well, take your pick when. I learn every day, from coworkers, from the Google, and from you. I love learning, and I don’t intend to stop.

Specifically, I want to continue getting better with PHP next year, and I want to wrap my head around JavaScript too. WordPress is likely heading toward more JavaScript based development, via Backbone, so I want to stay with the program. I shudder as I type.

2013

2012 was a fantastic year. I learned. I grew. I made friends. I don’t think I made too many enemies. I’m very pleased with it.

In 2013 I want to narrow my focus. Really concentrate on what’s most important, and be willing to say no to other things. A year from now, I want to be writing about how I reached my goals, launched my personal projects, and really went for it even more than this year.

I’ve been incredibly blessed in 2012, and am so thankful for every minute of it. So cheers to all of you for reading these 2,000 words (if you made it) and here’s to whatever the next year holds in store!

21 thoughts on “2012 reflections and 2013 goals

  1. What can I say Brian, I like the way you write. And I’m glad you keep on doing it.

    I hope you release theme(s) for free in wordpress.org or/and themehybrid.com. That is one way to get more attention. And if you release commercial themes, give EDD a shot first.

    Anyways let there be more Happys for you in year 2013!

    Cheers.

    1. Thanks, Sami! Happy will definitely be a free theme, and I want to release it in the repository. I also do plan on releasing one at Theme Hybrid.

      I’ve been really wanting to use EDD, and it will certainly be the route I take when I sell something digitally. Thanks for your input and happy new year!

  2. Love posts like these because it’s going to allow me to annoy you throughout the year to hold you accountable to them :).

    But seriously, I dig each point you’ve made, where you stood with them, and what you’re aiming for in the coming year – especially in contributing to WordPress Core and in making some cash outside the normal 9-to-5.

    The second one is a challenge but it can definitely be done. Hang in there with that goal. You do good work.

  3. Congratulations on what looks to have been a successful year for you 🙂

    Particularly interesting to see the graph from Twitter; I dare say your influence there is what’s driving success elsewhere. Where did you get that data from?

    1. Alex, I definitely attribute much of my success to time “invested” on Twitter. The key is balance – I sometimes use it as a fallback when I could be more productive. But I will never underestimate how important it’s been for me to connect with all sorts of amazing experts in our field.

      The service I used is Crowdbooster. But they are going to a monthly paid model, which I don’t need, so I’m actually eyeing an open source project called ThinkupApp

  4. there’s a lot to be said for putting it all out there. to be honest, I haven’t thought much about that 2013 has in store for me, goals or otherwise. For a long time, I’ve lived under the mantra of “I’ll wake up in the morning, and see what happens.” Life has a funny way of making those decisions for me.

    but trust me when I say the freelance work is out there if you want it. I still get more than I can handle.

    1. I pretty much wake up every day the same way you mention. But I do like to start the year with something of a vision.

      Re: freelance work, I know it’s there, I just haven’t really pursued it. I like to freelance, but I’m not really willing to do it anymore unless it’s the right dollar amount, and won’t destroy all opportunities for personal time for months on end.

      Thanks for chiming in!

  5. Great post, love reading this type of post, helps me put my own year in perspective. Keep up the good work, will be following you in 2013 as well!

  6. Do you have a few people you can bounce your ideas for side projects off of? I wonder if that would help you refine them before you start putting time in to them. If it passes through the other people it would also motivate you because someone else thought it was a good idea and they are going to help you stay accountable.

    I have a number of projects that I’ve started and stopped as well. In the end of 2012 I ran one by a few people and just haven’t stopped working on it until it’s launched. All my other ideas I’ve left to the side. Once I’ve launched the book in a few weeks I’ll look at my group of ideas and decide which one is the best option going forward.

    1. Hey Curtis, I do have a few people I tend to bounce ideas from. It helps tremendously. But I usually stew on them for a while before that. Either way, I’m feeling more focused now than I have before, so I hope I’m getting over that sticking point : ) Thanks for your comment, and good luck with the book! I can’t wait to see the final product.

  7. Awesome post, Brian and congratulations on the awesome success in 2012. You did some amazing things and I have been following you ever since you started writing for WPCandy :).

    Hope you have a great year.

  8. Hey Brian, happy new year from Belgium to ! I follow you now for half a year; good stuff to read. Keep up the good work ! Well, that’s my part for the caffeine.

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