@adlrocha - Revisiting 2020!

A year and a half of newsletter. Who would have thought it!

What a year! Exciting professionally, a bit weird personally, and a great leap forward for this newsletter. Last year I started the tradition of dedicating the last publication of the year to reflect on the successes and failures of the newsletter throughout the year we leave behind, and to set the goals and plans for the year ahead. And more importantly, to thank you all for sticking around for this whole year!

Last year’s goals

Last year I set three main goals for the newsletter in 2020:

  • First, although not directly related to the newsletter, I wanted to consolidate my writing habit. I was 6 months into this experiment of writing a new publication every week without missing a single Sunday, and after the success of the first 6 months I was afraid that with the new year I could relax and completely lose the habit. I couldn’t let this happen. Thankfully, it didn’t. I was reviewing my publications of the year and I think I have more than fulfilled this goal. I have written a new piece every single week of the year without missing one of the 52 weeks of 2020. Mission accomplished ☑️.

  • I also wanted to consolidate my audience. Last year my publications were being read on average by 80-100 people, so I set the goal for 2020 to boost these numbers to 150-200 by the end of the year. Surprisingly, this was another great success. Removing the publications that ended up going viral in Hacker News or Twitter, around 300 people consistently read my publications every week. This may not seem like a lot, but for me having 300 people interested in what I have to say every week is an incredible boost of morale. Thank you! 🎉

  • Finally, I was (and still are) doing all this outstanding amount of work for free. Last year I set the goal of trying to find a “sustainable” way of funding for the newsletter in an attempt to have a bigger excuse (money is always a great one) to never abandon the habit even if my personal conditions drastically change. This was a hard one, and I’ve made some progress so far, but I can’t say I’ve managed to achieve the goal I had in mind. I am going to be completely transparent here, thanks to the generosity of a few of my phenomenal subscribers, I am making 4$/month through this newsletter. Nothing great, or that could be considered as “sustainable” enough, but way more than what I was expecting at the end of last year when I was making 0$/month. 🚀

Overall, goals achieved!

2020 in numbers

Continuing with last year’s tradition, let’s look at some numbers to try to draw some conclusions about how the newsletter has behaved in 2020:

  • If nothing changes in the next few days, I will end up the year with 398 subscribers. Compared to last year’s 64 subscribers that’s a 521.88% increase. Much more than I could have ever wished! 🤯 

  • As advanced above, on average I get between 250-400 views on average for every publication (of course this differs a bit according to the theme and quality of the publication). When one of them becomes viral in HN or Twitter, this number increases to the dozen thousands. (I know, the first time this happened I was as impressed as you are). 😱

  • How readers get to my publications have also changed a bit from last year. Last year everyone got to my newsletter’s publications via Twitter or the weekly emails sent to subscribers. This year, the bulk of my views are still from subscribers, but I also get a lot of traffic from Hacker News and search engines (mama, Google has finally indexed me! I don’t know if to be flattered or worried). In this category, Twitter has been relegated to a sad fourth place (compared to last year’s second place). 🐦

  • Regarding your reading preferences. After the brief experiment I did for a few months where I changed the publication day to Thursdays instead of Sundays, I got your message loud and clear, you rather read my publications on weekends than on weekdays. Message received, no more day changes! 📬

To end this section, let’s have a quick look at how the number of subscribers have changed throughout the year. Beautiful, right?  I am extremely happy with the goals achieved and the performance of the newsletter in 2020. Thank you for your support!

Trend in the number of subscribers of the past year.

My Top 10 of the Year

And the star line-up for this regular season is:

This gives you a glimpse of the kind of topics that interests the audience most. Anything else you want me to write about next year? Do not hesitate to let me know. Even more, remember that a month ago I announced the first “guest publication” of the newsletter. Do you want to be an active part of this newsletter, and have your publication featured here? Drop me a line!

A quick look into the future

Time to set the goals for next year. Last year was about consolidating my writing habit and my audience. This year I want to focus on building new ways of funding, and increasing the quality of my writing (even if that means signing up for English classes). This is materialized in the following two objectives:

  • Writing publications that are valuable for my audience. I will consider a publication “valuable enough” for the audience if it reaches at least 500 views, achieves a new subscriber for the newsletter, or leads to opening a discussion around the topic presented (either in HN, Twitter, or the publications comments). Writing this kind of publications takes a lot of time, so whenever I have a publication planned that may require more than one week to be written, instead of trying to write quickly a piece for the week, I may skip a week (sharing an update of my work) in order to ensure the quality of the following article. After a year and a half, I can consider my writing habit safe for now, so now is all about writing great articles.

  • Generating a monthly income of at least 15$/month through this newsletter. This can be through paying subscribers, sponsored publications, or any other funding mechanism I may come up with throughout the year. Monetizing my side hustles has been something traditionally hard for me, and this is my personal attempt to change this while having fun.

I have a lot of blind spots, and I want this newsletter to be valuable for you all, so any additional goal I may be missing and that you want to make part of the roadmap? This newsletter is as much yours as mine! (I only happen to be the one consistently writing in it and with admin rights).

Thank you… Gracias!

Like always, the last words of the year in this newsletter are of gratitude. Of gratitude to all of you that still read my lines week after week showing your love either publicly, through social networks, or personally by email. Thank you for giving me the strength to keep writing with my disastrous English, my limited knowledge, and my continuous experiments. I really hope you all have a wonderful start of the year. See you next week and next year! Cheers.

— @adlrocha