2023 has blown right on by. Here’s what I was up to this year…
Life at Home
Unlike last year, travel was greatly slowed down, meaning my family and I spent much more time back home.
My son is 2.5 years old now! It’s insane how fast its going and I can’t imagine that part’s going to slow down. He’s absolutely crazy and its both maddening and amazing. He’s a special little guy and loving watching him experience the world (and ravage it 😂).
It’s all kept me pretty busy, but have been able to manage some things like “building” a desk, which was basically finishing a butcher block and attaching it to standing desk legs. I’ve made a lot of progress organizing what goes on top. Not 100% finished but happy how it’s coming together.
Work at Cloudinary
It’s been just over two years now since I joined Cloudinary in November 2021.
I’m pretty happy with all of the work put into this year. Some really exciting projects came out of it including:
- An amazing hackathon with @midudev
- Next Cloudinary, the main package I maintain, rapidly grew
- Worked with two other devs to spin up a Nuxt and Svelte version of that library
- Published 50 Dev Hints between myself and other creators
- Built ImageCarbon to help analyze co2 emissions from website images
And a lot of other stuff I’m proud of behind the scenes to help push forward DevX at Cloudinary.
I already mentioned I didn’t do as much traveling and that included for work where typically I would go to events on behalf of Cloudinary as a sponsor, but I did manage to get to one where I spoke as part of that sponsor package and one as a speaker unrelated to Cloudinary which I cover later.
Lots of stuff done, lots to do, and there’s no sign of things slowing down.
Moving on to content, I’ve certainly slowed down my content focus this year.
Part of it is I haven’t felt like I’ve had the time like I used to, between other work priorities and not much time on the side with my son keeping me constantly busy.
While I haven’t been producing a lot of content on my own, I’ve been behind the scenes running content pipelines for Cloudinary, particularly with our Dev Hints series that I’ve been working on, which has taken a lot of my time.
This has led to less consistent video production on my own channel as well as a pretty big slowdown on articles on spacjelly.dev, which felt a bit more time consuming than knocking out a video for me.
This year I focused primarily on writing for Space Jelly.
Maybe I’m missing one, but I don’t believe I did any other third party articles this year.
16 total articles
Last year I was at 24 and the year before 46! I’m bummed about these numbers, but I think its where I’m at with work-life priorities at the moment and the time I have available.
I’m hopeful for this upcoming year though as I want to get back into regularly developing both video and written content.
2023 spacejelly.dev Stats
With this downturn in content came a bit of a slump in Space Jelly traffic.
Coupling this with a redesign which I was excited about, but unfortunately gave me an SEO hit due to some design issues impacting time on page and I’m guessing due to some of the taxonomy changes I made.
At any rate, here’s where I’m at.
My redesign happened in March and while generally there was a bit of a downturn (guessing thanks to the content slowdown), you can see it starts to turn hard after that.
I’m also not sure whats going on with that HUGE dip in June…
After that, I think it’s because I barely posted anything. The site wasn’t getting fresh content. I haven’t posted since October and that’s where it really took a turn for the worse. That’s not a good signal or generally not a great way to bring in more traffic.
But shoutout to Chris Sev, who gave me some huge actionable advice about the visit duration of my redesign, which I was able to make some big improvements and clearly make a huge impact in that number, which I think helped me save that chart from being an even bigger disaster.
Even with all of that, I still pulled off better numbers than the year before.
As far as where this traffic comes from, roughly all is organic.
And the top few posts made the majority of it.
It’s clear I had some home runs in years past that I didn’t quite hit this year, so I need to think about what that value was for people and how I can help bring that again. I think part of that is some of the articles I tried automating from video to article with AI, which is completely different than my normal style, which traditionally performed much better.
Lots of work to do on the article front and hope to see a big upturn in the new year!
Numbers reported are from Jan 1 through Dec 26, 2023
This year has been more focused on video than others, both work and personal channels.
I used to do 1 video with 1 article, but this year was mostly YouTube.
It’s been a bit of a weird year for my channel as well. I’ve had a few decent videos that have kept bringing in numbers, but nothing like the years past.
A few issues I see in my channel:
- I tried to do some niche project-related videos that weren’t engagement-friendly and not very searchable. I typically focus on searchability instead of engagement, so without that, the videos weren’t very successful
- I didn’t focus on engagement in the way most YouTubers do. I think there are things I can improve here for sure, but I never intend to go full YouTuber route with this. It’s just not my personality and while it likely impacts my success, I’m okay with just being me on this one.
- I struggle with thumbnails and titles. Titles again I typically focus on SEO, but thumbnails I’ve somewhat given up on trying to do anything crazy, as nothing ever showed positive results from trying other things.
And there’s probably a lot more than that, but it’s what I know and what’s on the top of my head.
I also started a new series for Cloudinary called Dev Hints that are very short videos meant to explain a specific feature. It’s been fun and easy to crank out.
Finally I released two courses on egghead.io, including one that walked through some OpenAI APIs as well as a Full Stack React course with Appwrite. I think course development is one of my stronger suits, purely educational and not having to play the YouTube game, so I enjoy making those.
72 total videos
7 more than last year on my personal channel actually. 1 more than last year on Cloudinary’s channel. And 8 more on egghead.io
That’s 17 more than last year (55) and 4 less than the year before. More than I actually expected before tallying this up, but goes to show the difference in content focus.
2023 YouTube Stats
My channel has certainly slowed down. Looking at the numbers, I did post a bit more than the year before, which wasn’t as much as the year before that, so it’s less year over year consistency and some of those other factors.
In case this picture of YouTube Analytics isn’t immediately obvious like it wasn’t to me, the left is 2023 and right is 2022. Green-ish is 2023, Purple-ish is 2022.
Generally speaking the channel is down.
It’s interesting to see the middle of the year dip though… I did realize at a point to try to stop making niche project-related videos and focus more on use-case driven videos, so maybe that’s where things started to turn up.
That big jump in November doesn’t coincide with any big videos released, so perhaps an older video jumped up that I was unaware of.
This year I got ~5k subscribers, where last year I got 7.2k. I never had huge growth, but was unfortunate to see that effect. Not surprising though given how well the videos this year have been doing.
Looking forward to pushing on this for next year and trying to rethink both how I produce videos and the value I bring!
Numbers reported are from Jan 1 through Dec 26, 2023
Top 2023 YouTube Videos by Views
I haven’t seemed to make a dent in my top top videos. They still consistently pull my channel forward, particularly:
- 44,842 – Trigger a Function when Scrolling to an Element in React with Intersection Observer (Feb 2022)
- 43,282 – How to Add Drag and Drop in React with React Beautiful DnD (Oct 2020)
- 43,240 – Save State to LocalStorage & Persist on Refresh with React.js (Mar 2022)
That said, I had a few from this year that have been happily humming along.
- 27,615 – Create & Send Custom Emails with React Email & Resend
- 16,451 – Upload Files in React – Typescript, Drag and Drop, & Form Examples
- 15,026 – Build React Apps with Codux Visual IDE for Faster UI Workflow
Older videos are really pulling the channel so that could also be a point of the slowdown if the new videos aren’t hitting like the old ones, as videos ultimately get older and not as relevant.
Numbers reported are from Jan 1 through Dec 26, 2023
Conferences & Workshops
I intentionally really slowed down on conferences and workshops this year.
I ended up at RenderATL, CodeMash, 2 online conferences, and attended Next.js Conf.
RenderATL was the highlight from a speaker perspective, where I gave a talk about Generative AI changing the world.
I don’t believe there were any workshops this year.
A large part of this is slowing down so I’m not away from my family as often.
I’m also considering how often I want to give talks, if at all in the near future. While there are some fun aspects of it, it’s a lot of stress and anxiety for me, and not sure if it’s worth it right now.
I do miss the opportunities of traveling to meet so many amazing people, but that can wait with more important aspects in my life at the moment.
Podcasts & Streams
I’m always down to join podcasts and streams, but I didn’t end up on too many this year.
Given the shift in the work I’ve been doing, there hasn’t been as much interesting stuff to talk about that’s broadly interesting to the developer community, where once upon a time, if I’m not mistaken, I was one of the bigger YouTube channels doing primarily Next.js and now everyone is doing Next.js content. The Jamstack has also fizzled out (or has it?) which was once a niche I put some effort into.
I don’t have any immediate plans for 2024, but there are some fun opportunities for content changes, such as Astro which is gaining popularity or even others like Svelte or Solid, which could make a more interesting target for going around talking shop.
That said, I was on Syntax.fm which was a dream come true. Scott and Wes are both amazing and as a longtime listener, I was ecstatic to be able to join them.
To sum it up, I think I made it on to 3 streams and that 1 episode of Syntax.fm. Had a blast on them all!
Libraries & Projects
This is where I put probably most of my time and effort.
Coding is what I ultimately love to do. So I’ve been spending my time building tools, demos, and examples for Cloudinary. I even created a Raycast extension!
I’ve also been slowly learning more about TypeScript, OSS lifecycles, and release management through this process to deliver a better experience and to improve the relationship between the 3 framework libraries and the core dependency I built to help manage them all.
In addition to library work, I built ImageCarbon which is a tool to help detect how much co2 website images are producing. It scrapes images and uses Cloudinary to optimize images, where I then determine the difference and get the co2 calculation with co2.js. ImageCarbon is completely open source.
As usual, I also try to publish code examples for each new video or article, which ended up being around 55 repositories give or take a few.
Plans for 2023
So what’s in store for 2024?
I want to get back on track with content. While I don’t think I’ll get to my pre-having-a-child days, I’d like to get more consistent, get spacejelly.dev back to including articles for most if not all videos, and working better on delivering value.
I also want to build a new course. I’m not sure what that is yet, but we’ll see how things go. I’m entertaining the idea of building it on my own platform rather than using egghead.io which I traditionally publish on to explore how that works.
What do you want to learn in 2023?
Let me know! Hit me up on Twitter or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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