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The bad year

I always feel weird writing articles like this, because they make me feel a lot more vulnerable than I’m often comfortable with.

This year, 2023, has been a pretty rough one for me professionally.

Some things are going to be changing with Go Make Things. I wanted to share what they are and ask for your help with something.

The slump

This is the first year since I started creating courses and workshops where my sales not only haven’t grown, but have actually declined. And I’m not alone. I’ve talked to other tech educators, and it’s just been a bad year for everyone.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge deal. You plan for ups and downs in your business.

Except last year, I quit my job to do this full time, comfortable with the fact that I’d seen year-over-year growth for seven years in a row. And then this year happened.

Tech layoffs. Lots of people moving back to in-person things. A rough economy all-around.

I started this journey with a pretty big safety net. It’s a lot smaller now.

The big redesign

I reached out to a bunch of my students recently to get some thoughts on what’s working, what’s not, and what people need the most help with right now.

There were a few big trends…

  • I have too many offerings, with too much overlap. It’s confusing.
  • My best and most engaged audience, people new to web dev, wants learning that teaches you how to build things and how to put all of the moving parts together.
  • A lot of folks who chose my self-paced Pocket Guides over the Vanilla JS Academy workshops did so because they wanted to learn right now instead of waiting, or felt like they wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Based on this feedback, there are a few obvious big changes that need to happen.

  1. Offer just a few courses. I’ll be reducing my courses just to a small handful of options, all displayed in one place.
  2. Focus on self-paced learning-by-doing. My most effective program is the Vanilla JS Academy. It’s amazing. It’s launched people’s careers in web dev. And a lot of people avoid it because they have to wait or worry that they can’t keep up with a live course. I plan to make these the heart of my platform going forward, but as enroll-anytime, self-paced courses.
  3. Address modern web development. I’ve gotten a lot of asks around a course that builds a bigger, modern app without using React and all of the modern buzzword bingo dev tools. I’ve got just the thing in mind to address that.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, though.

If you already own one of my Pocket Guides or you’ve attended an Academy program in the past, they’re not going anywhere. You’ll still have access to them in the course portal.

And if you don’t own them yet, I’ll probably include them as bonus material in various future courses.

Consulting and engineering

Not a lot of folks realize this, because I don’t talk about it much, but I offer consulting and engineering services.

I can help you and your team build websites and web apps that work for you instead of the other way around. I’ve helped some amazing organizations, including Harvard Business School and the A11Y Project.

I’d love to work with you to help you build something fast, resilient, and easy-to-maintain.

If you’re interested in working together, get in touch.