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The state of Go Make Things 2019

Today, I just wanted to take a quick look at what my 2019 looked like, and what I’ve got planned for 2020.

What went well in 2019

I got a bunch of stuff done in 2019 that I’m particularly proud of…

  • I rewrote a handful of my vanilla JS pocket guides to include new ES6 methods and techniques, and provide more clarity.
  • I completely redesigned the Vanilla JS Academy. It’s my best selling product, and that was a bit scary, but I ended up nearly quadrupling enrollment with the new program!
  • I created a manifesto around building a simpler, faster world-wide web, loving called the Lean Web.
  • I spoke at Aritfact Conference about the Lean Web. This was my first real conference talk, and Artifact kick-started my web dev career, so this felt like a full circle moment for me.
  • I got to chat with tons of awesome people as a guest on podcasts like JS Party and Script & Style.
  • I quit JS Jabber and doubled down on my own Vanilla JS Podcast.
  • I was interviewed for the January 2020 issue of Net Magazine about the Lean Web. The issue was all about accessibility, so it felt like a great fit.
  • With the exception of a few major holidays, I write a new article every single weekday. My newsletter started the year going to around 3,700 people. Today, about 7,800 read my newsletter each day. That’s awesome growth!

What didn’t go so well in 2019

It wasn’t all perfect. There are few things that, in retrospect, I wish had gone a bit differently.

  • Last year was an exceptionally busy one for me, and that meant I didn’t have as much time to enjoy day-to-day life as I had in years past. Too many projects, too many new ventures, and too many things vying for my attention.
  • I tried multiple times to launch a new “projects” product, first as a subscription service, then as a standalone course/guide thing. It just never stuck. How was it different from my pocket guides? From Academy? I never had a great answer for people. I ultimately ended up shutting it down.
  • Our cat, Sasha, passed away just after the new year. She had been suffering from dementia and kidney disease, and her last year was pretty tough. I was never a cat guy, but her and my wife were a package deal, and she was an amazing cat that I’m going to miss terribly. I’m still hearing phantom meows at night and impulsively looking up to see if she’s there.
  • Also on the pet front, my client relations manager dog Bailey tore both her ACLs in one week. ACL surgery for dogs is human-level expensive, and it was a long, slow recovery process. Now she can run and jump and hop up on our bed like normal, but the summer was spent carrying her up and down stairs several times a day while she recovered.

What I have planned for 2020

I’ve narrowed my product offerings to a very focused, small set of things: my newsletter, my pocket guides, and Academy.

This year, rather than trying to expand in a bunch of new directions, I want to make my current offerings even better. With that in mind, here are some things I’m considering for 2020…

  • Updating a few pocket guides to reflect changes in how I work with vanilla JS. The API guide needs to get updated with the Fetch API, for example. I’m also thinking about some new guides into some more advanced topics, like working with dates in JavaScript.
  • Alumni of the redesigned Vanilla JS Academy have been begging me to put together an advanced version that dives into more complicated projects. I’ve got some ideas mapped out, and think this might have some traction.
  • I’ve got an idea for a free project-based JavaScript course for beginners. Its less intense than Academy, a bit more hands on than the guides, and way more interesting than reading about techniques and theories like in a traditional course. I’ll let you know more if that shakes out.

What would you like to see from me in 2020?

Are there any topics you want me to write about? Products you want me to make? Anything I didn’t mention that you’d like to see in 2020?

Let me know!