When I make stuff, I'm happy. When I don't make stuff, I'm not as happy. This theme keeps getting reinforced, year after year.
I get energy from creating something and putting it out into the world. Having people connect with something you've made is a great reward.
Here are some things I shipped in 2015:
All of these were side-projects. I was consulting full-time and had to fit projects into evenings, weekends, and vacation days. The longest project to complete was Marketing for Developers. Projects like Tiny Marketing Wins took a day to complete.
2016 will be interesting because I've quit consulting full-time. So my focus will go from "side-projects" to "primary projects."
My friend Hiten Shah says: "Before you make plans, take a look at what's already working." Looking at what worked for you in 2015 is a great way to think about what you should do in the next 12 months.
My blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2015 (that's down from 300,000 in 2014). My top posts of the year were:
Why was there a reduction in traffic? I can think of a number of reasons: I was focused on writing my book, I was writing a lot for consulting clients, and I wasn't as focused on promoting on sites like Hacker News.
Here's my posting patterns in 2015 vs 2014:
My top traffic came from these countries:
I published 4 pieces on Medium this year. These are usually things I've cross-posted (or re-written) from my regular blog. Here they are:
#### Top side-projects
Here are my top 3 products, ordered by revenue:
In 2014 I made $40k in side-project revenue. In 2013 I'd made $20k. In 2012 I'd made $10k.
In 2015 I was hoping to double it once more and get to $80k. In total, I made around $66k. That's a 65% increase, but it's not quite where I wanted to be. If I'm going to replace consulting with product revenue in 2016, I need to be making over $10k / month.
A few notes:
Here's my revenue breakdown by country:
Two observations: first, my site's traffic % correlate strongly with revenue %. Second, all my startup clients have a very similar geographic revenue breakdown. The USA is almost always 30-50% of revenue, followed by Canada, UK, Germany, and Australia.
The number of people subscribed to my email list grew 79% this year (from 5076 to 9085).
A lot of that growth came from the Tiny Marketing Wins email course. It was featured on Product Hunt, and ended up with over 2,000 subscribers in 48 hours. I've been procrastinating on doing an email course for years; I'm glad I finally did it.
The rest of the growth came from blog posts, my podcast, the maker challenge, and people signing up to receive sample chapters from my books.
I won't share exact numbers, but I had a very profitable year of doing consulting for startups (focused on marketing and product).
In November I made a big decision. I decided to quit consulting full-time. The idea? To focus exclusively on building my own stuff. This is the first time I've been able to do this since I was in college. It's very exciting (but also scary). I'm not opposed to doing some consulting in 2016, but I'd really like to give my own stuff a good go.
The scary thing? Replacing all that revenue. I'm in a similar boat to Brian Casel here:
I’m in my thirties, married with a growing family (and currently the sole breadwinner), [and need to earn] close to $10,000/month.
Wowser. For a guy that doesn't like to travel, I travelled quite a bit this year.
I have a few themes I'm going to focus on this year:
Here are the projects I'd like to launch:
I'm aiming for a breakdown that looks like this:
Life is best when your actions reflect your temperament. This is why giving generic advice often fails: everyone has a different modus operandi. What works for me might not work for you.
The most poignant advice given to me this year came from Jason Zook:
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I was reviewing an old personality test I'd done (the Kolbe) and found this description:
If you know me, you know this rings very true.
This past year, I went for dinner with Ruben Gamez. One of the things he's done really well is focused on his "super power." He's really good at eliminating distractions. He mentioned that Peldi's strength is tenacious focus. Noah Kagen's is thinking non-stop about value.
The truth is, I'm different than many of my "product people" peers and heroes. Ruben encouraged me to focus on my super powers. Leverage what I'm really good at. That's something I'd like to focus on in 2016.
Reading someone else's year in review could be helpful for you (as people have said here). I have a love / hate relationship with them. Sometimes they have helpful lessons, and serve as other inspiration. But other times they can drive comparisons, jealousy, and melancholy.
I hope there's something valuable for you in here. But don't take too much stock in my experience. My situation is unique. Yours is too!
Let's agree on one thing:
Life is better when you make stuff.
All the best to you in 2016!
PS: want to join me for the 2016 Maker Challenge?