My 2018

The days are long, but the years are short.

Gretchen Rubin

Here we are again, the end of another year. It’s flown by. Having children certainly makes the year feel like it has gone in a blink of an eye. As usual, I want to take a moment to reflect on what’s happened to me both professionally and personally this year.

Delicious Brains

Working with Delicious Brains has, again, taken up a large chunk of my working time this year. We started out the year launching the new design of our site deliciousbrains.com, and after we decided to close down Mergebot, our WordPress database merging solution, I worked pretty much solely on our site.

It has felt good getting a handle on the bucket load of issues needing addressing, putting in place automated testing, creating some product screencasts, rebranding product pages, and gearing up for launching a new plugin.

Writing

I wrote 12 posts for the blog, 10 published this year, including a piece about the new WordPress editor Gutenberg which proved popular throughout the year. It even reached the top of Hacker News in October! 🎉

I only managed a screenshot at No. 6:

Jamaica

Our annual company retreat this year was in Jamaica, at an ocean-side villa in Negril. After visiting the picturesque Nova Scotia last year and only taking a handful of photos, I decided this year to document our trip with my iPhone and GoPro. This was the video I put together:

I look forward to 2019 with Delicious Brains, helping launch new products, writing more and attending WCEU in Berlin.

Pole Vault Web

After reflecting on the future of some of my products last year, and even setting a goal to remove any not adding value, I had a bit of a rethink.

WP App Store

Early on in the year there was a possibility of selling WP App Store, but in the end an acquisition didn’t materialise and I decided to reboot it.

It has always done reasonably well making revenue through paid advertising. WordPress plugin and theme shops pay for emails sent to the subscriber list, offering an exclusive deal on their product. However, I realised I wasn’t making enough of the products I had become affiliates for over time. So I decided to also use the site for affiliate marketing.

This meant I needed content. Without much time spare to write posts I set about contacting a number of freelance writers to write for the site. I quickly gave it a lick of paint with a new theme, with focus on the new content and existing deals for products with affiliate links.

The first post was commissioned in August, and overall 20 posts were published on the blog. This definitely helped with traffic:

I’m beginning to see these articles ranking well, with 5 out of the 20 reaching the first page of Google, although I need to work on ranking for keywords with large volumes!

I’m realistic that affiliate marketing is a long term effort, and commissions are few and far between at the moment (with the exception of those from the Black Friday roundup post), but I look forward to growing this in the new year.

Intagrate

My Instagram WordPress plugin had another interesting year as InstagramFacebook deprecated more API endpoints and I had to reduce the plugin’s feature set.

It was made ready for the new block editor Gutenberg, and I released a handful of bug fixes over the year, as well as to the free Lite plugin.

I will be investigating the new API for Instagram business accounts in the new year to see if I can get these features working again, at least for business accounts.

Sellwire

I mentioned in last year’s post the possibly closing the door on Sellwire, the ecommerce platform I use predominantly to sell Intagrate. There was no movement on this until this month. The service I was using to manage the recurring payments of any paying customers emailed me in August explaining they were shutting down in December. Unfortunately, that email got misplaced ignored until I received a follow up this month, which came as a bit of a shock! 😬

After some scrambling around migrating customers to Stripe, I eventually decided to shut down all new signups to Sellwire, and stop any customers on the free plan from upgrading. I just haven’t had the time to build the necessary integration with Stripe to replace the old system and I doubt if I ever will. Which again leaves Sellwire’s future up in the air. We shall see.

Pressing Matters

After purchasing a microphone to record the Delicious Brains screencasts, I decided to put it to good use and start a podcast – something I’d been considering for a while.

I’m generally pretty opinionated about WordPress but don’t always have the time to write blog posts about things I want to say. And since Brad and Pippin shutdown Apply Filters I’ve really missed having a WordPress development podcast to listen to. So why not start one?

I contacted Jack McConnell, who I’ve known on Twitter for a long time, as he also develops and sells plugins along side his client WordPress work, and Pressing Matters was born.

What Matters Most to WordPress Developers & WordPress Business Owners

Pressing Matters

We have recorded 5 episodes so far, talking about Gutenberg, JavaScript, ecommerce plugins, affiliate programs and collecting data. I look forward the future of the podcast in 2019.

Other Bits

The File Uploads addon for Ninja Forms did well again, and I released 6 new versions during the year, fixing some long standing bugs and a security fix.

I had an item on my todo list that had sat there unattended since before my son was born, 4 years ago! In April I decided to do something about it and put out a tweet to find a freelance developer who could help me finish the project.

Luckily, I found someone good who helped complete it and also worked on Michelle’s teaching resources website, to knock off some issues and help with the rebrand. Rebrand?

Print Play Learn

For a long time, Michelle didn’t feel the name Harriet & Violet was a good fit for the site, and after acquiring and sitting on a new domain for a while, getting some proper branding, we finally flipped the switch. Harriet & Violet is now Print Play Learn.

The migration was fun:


The number of free and paying members increased, and we saw the first year of recurring annual payments come through. But there is definitely room for more growth.

Michelle has big plans for the site in 2019, and I look forward to giving the theme a freshen up, as we didn’t change the design much when the new branding and name was introduced.

Personal

2018 was the year football (almost) came home, which was a good opportunity to learn a new skill, helping to build a mac app with electron:

I attended WordCamp Brighton and the awesome re:develop conference held in Bournemouth.

Michelle, Rex, Pearl and I had a great holiday in Portugal, opting to rent a child friendly villa instead of staying in a hotel room which worked out well.

Rex managed to play some golf too!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnmVvDVAIDz/

Rex turned 4! And Pearl had her first birthday:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bn-7m8WgZyA/

I definitely didn’t hit my golf goals. I barely played this year only managing two full rounds and three 9 holes. The quality of those rounds was mixed!

I listened to a fair bit of music this year. Good to see my taste hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years 😂

WordPress Bournemouth

After taking a break from organising the WordPress Bournemouth meetup in September of 2017, I kickstarted them again in June of this year.

With a new co-organiser and a new venue, we’ve had 6 meetups this year, a couple of speakers, some great discussions, and healthy turn outs. It’s been great getting them going again and feeling like it’s not all on me to organise.

2019

As usual I’ve written down a few things I want to achieve in the coming year, but most of all I hope 2019 is a healthy and prosperous year for my family and I.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *