2023 review: lessons in engineering, writing, and business
Stats, money, moving apartments, life, goals
This year has been important in so many ways. I’ve been publishing more content than ever. I had a part time personal assistant. Got access to many wonderful opportunities. I raised my net worth by 60%. I’ve built a great team and moved the product forward at the cybersec SaaS I work at. I almost finished my master’s in management (thesis postponed to the next year). I designed and furnished my first (and hopefully last) apartment. Hell, I even started using separate products for hair and body. And there was a lot of personal change as well..
Join me in this short recap if you want to learn where a path like mine can lead you. I’ll share mostly blog and online presence related details with some professional (engineering), financial and private information sprinkled on top. Happy to tell more to those interested.
Why am I here?
I like sharing knowledge, writing and helping people. I believe that publishing is a vital part of being a professional. Being here, rushing some content out even though it’s nor perfect, being vulnerable - that’s a great way to get to know more people and open one’s mind to new points of view.
I think one person - Austin Kleon - put this in words much better than me. Check out his short book and you’ll know everything.
Show Your Work! is about why generosity trumps genius. It's about getting findable, about using the network instead of wasting time "networking." It's not self-promotion, it's self-discovery--let others into your process, then let them steal from you.
I had a blast putting effort into this blog and other projects this year. Some people enjoyed it as well, as seen in stats from various platforms.
Here’s the most interesting numbers i dug out!
My blog was visited a total of 43 thousand times:
I also got additional 23k visits to my articles republished on Hackernoon.
My LinkedIn content generated 65k impressions, similar to views on the blog. I’ve been posting quite irregularly, as seen on the graph below. Near the end of the year, I’ve started listening to the numbers, resulting in more engagement than ever. Posts mentioning others and with my photos are noticeably more popular.
My newsletter got 50 subscribers (up from 24 in July).
On twitter my posts generated ~300k impressions.
I spoke at 8 conferences.
I was a guest in 5 podcast episodes.
I have published 12 blog articles.
If you missed some of my articles, here’s a chance to catch up. It’s clear that my most popular content was not opinions, summaries or anything related to my publishing online. Most viewed articles where software engineering tutorials. A lot of traffic came from google search, where I ranked quite high for some keywords. I also think I figured out a good way to create thumbnails.
Tip for me for the next year: write more engineering tutorials.
Real estate investing / buying a new apartment: simple message from me here: don’t build a house or buy a new unfinished apartment if you’re not really into it. I had to learn interior design from the ground up. Get to know materials, design solutions, too many new technical terms. It is interesting, it can be fun, but it is a lot of work. Even though I’m very happy with the outcome, I think I could have spent my time better.
Side projects / startups: kicked off 2, shipped none. Excuses? Master thesis and moving apartments. Picking them up again in 2024. One was MeetingFusion: https://meetingfusion.com, the other is still unpublished. MF got several sign ups on the waiting list.
My old AI Startup, Sentimatic: struggling, will post an update soon.
Consulting: I’ve been able to provide some small-scale but well-paid software engineering services on the side.
Funding for new AI project: applied for government funding, spent a lot of time. My assistant spent 175 hours on it! The application was of a master’s thesis size.
Writing here gave me more opportunities than ever before. Apart from everything mentioned above, here are some highlights.
I’ve been invited few times to run a workshop about topics I write about by several engineering companies. All my offers were rejected due to the price. I am okay with this, as I only considered it if I was able to provide absolute best quality of the workshop.
I’ve got more interesting job offers than ever. I did not proceed with any, as I’m committed to my current work at Netacea.
I’ve been asked to develop a Vue.JS course for a popular course platform. The contract signing is in progress so hopefully next year some people will be able to learn something new using the course.
I’ve been invited to many more conferences than I spoke at. Had to choose where to spend my time.
My work around this blog and anything professional that is not related to Netacea (cybersec startup I’ve mentioned) only cost me money.
Apart from this money pit, I am quite okay at managing my finances, saving it and investing. I’m also fluent in tax codes, I don’t let money go to waste. I am following stock market to a limited extent as well. All of this pays dividends and helps me feel more secure in life. I recommend everyone to have basic financial fluency.
I won’t get into much detail and exact numbers, but I’ll share some stats to give you some insight into how I think about money and investing. I can share some guidelines for engineers in a separate article. Let me know.
My net worth (assets less liabilities) is allocated between cash, real estate and stocks. I am definitely real estate heavy but I have access to really good advice. Going forward, I’d prefer to have my net worth allocated in some business I run or contribute to in form of work or investment.
I am tracking my savings and investments as a whole by doing monthly net worth evaluation (it’s a quick exercise at this point). I’m doing it since April 2019 and have been able to maintain a good pace of growth, albeit with some ups and downs. Don’t get all excited, the starting point was fairly low!
My short advice for friends:
use retirement tax advantaged accounts
buy simplest stock market investments - index funds, S&P500, whole US stock market
get a mortgage, it’s a low interest rate leveraged capital and overall properties keep up with inflation rates
have a safety net by some small cash (as in bank) pile to bail you out in emergencies
My plans regarding this blog and my online presence are still in the making. I want to aim for something that will keep giving me satisfaction while being relevant and impactful. Here are the goals I am thinking about:
Launch and grow a newsletter up to at least a 1000 subscribers.
Shipping one successful SaaS tool on my own. And then grow or sell it.
Grow my global (online) and local (at Netacea) influence as an engineering leader.
Write 1 blog post per week.
Publish video content and get a reasonable following.
Regardless of details of these, you’ll likely see much more from me the next year! Stay tuned.
So yeah, a lot happened and I want it to continue to happen. This year has been another great period of my life which I’m truly grateful for. As for this blog, I want to keep writing and being a part of the global community.
After years of learning and working, I finally think like I have something to say. For me writing has always been this elusive thing that I never quite got to do. I stopped hiding behind perfectionism and started sharing. And many people found it useful, which just makes me happy. I keep learning but this time, I make some of my private notes public.
This year I’ve learned a lot, made mistakes, made new friends. The future looks exciting. See you there. Have the most wonderful year of your life.
More from me:
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