2015 in review and plans for 2016

Published: 03 January 2016


Update 26 January 2016

I have barely written this blog post or some changes happened. Read more about it.

Looking back at 2015

This time of the year you tend to see a lot of posts from people looking back at the previous year. In enjoy reading these, and also to do one myself as it highlights the progress one has made over the past year.

For me 2015 started off with the Killing of a Rockstar and me working for a company in Chiang Mai.

The work ended in July for a whole range of reasons most important of which was that I just did not fit in. The cultural differences and language barrier was just to difficult to overcome.

After that I floated around for a few months until I decided to see whether all the traffic coming to my blog can gain me some work. It worked out great for me and I am currently working for 2 clients - which is as much as I can handle at one time.

I have had so many enquiries for people approaching me (around 3 per week), that I decided to remove the sections at the bottom of each post stating that I am available for work, as I was turning down everyone in any case.

BTW, if you want to start doing some freelancing check out my post Finding work as a Freelance Software Developer

During 2016 I blogged fairly steadily at about one post a week, and the blog’s traffic grew nicely.

I completed the OAuth for ASP.NET website as a reference on how to configure all the different OAuth providers for ASP.NET.

I started ASP.NET Weekly and subscriber numbers grew nicely to around 3,000 and could have been much more if I had not removed the subscriber popups on my blog - more on this in a bit.

I also started with AspnetCasts and produced a number of videos, but that too came to a screeching halt.

Overall I am happy with 2015. Some things worked and some did not. Most importantly for myself was that I figured out more about myself and what I like and don’t like to do.

So on to 2016, and here is what is in store…

Themes for 2016

Travel

In early 2012 I left South Africa on a grand mission to travel around the world. I traveled through Southeast Asia for about 5 months and got to Chiang Mai, Thailand and decided it was time for a break from traveling.

The plan was to settle down for maximum 6 months and focus on a Windows 8.1 app I was writing. I got so comfortable, and liked the place so much that I got stuck for 2 and a half years!

Well in 2016 all that is changing. I left Thailand in December and right now I am back home in the Lowveld region of South Africa visiting my mom.

Later in January I will head up to Pretoria for a few days and then I am off to Orlando, FL for about a week until the end of January. That is as much as is booked at this moment in time. The rough plan is to then head south to Mexico for a few months and hopefully I can return to the USA end of March for Build - if I can get a ticket.

Otherwise I may stay longer in Mexico and then head further south to South America. I don’t plan these things too far ahead and make it up as I go along. The general plan however is to spend the next few years in South America. On my list is Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.

Meeting up with blog readers

I have already made some friends online (through my blog, Twitter and the work I do) in some of the countries I wish to visit, so I hope to meet up with some of them.

I will still add a section to this blog stating my general itinerary and allowing people if those countries to reach out to me. I really hope I can use the blog as a vehicle to meet up with some of the blog readers in the coming year. I love meeting people from different countries and learning about their countries and cultures.

I will also make use of co-working spaces in those countries which I know from past experience will give a lot of opportunity to meet up with locals and other like-minded people - i.e. computer nerds… ;)

Learning Spanish

Having already learned my lesson about what a great problem the language barrier can be, I started a few months ago with learning Spanish on Duolingo. I am still at a very beginner level but hopefully this will improve over the coming year and I am exposed to the language in Latin America.

Creating content and training materials

This year I plan to produce a lot of varied content - blog posts, the newsletter, more short videos and full-blown video training courses. My plan is to keep this content free as much as possible. I get paid enough to not have to worry about money and this is my contribution back to the community.

Some of the full-blown courses I will charge money for, but this is something I will decide on later as the circumstances dictate.

I mentioned previously about removing the newsletter signup popup from the blog. This is something I am committing to this year, and that is to put the content front and center.

No more annoying popups. No affiliate links. No advertisements. I will not cheapen this blog with a thousand popups and disrespect my readers in the process. That is my commitment to you. If I waver from it, please call me to task.

I will place some links on my website to point you to some more of my own content. If I need work again I will make it prominent on the blog that I am available for hire. That is as much of “advertising” as you will see.

Previously I have tried to put out blog posts on a set schedule every Tuesday and it worked great. With the greater focus on the videos and also the full video training courses I may not be able to keep to this. I will turn it around a bit this year. Instead of publishing on a set schedule, I will commit to producing content on a set schedule.

This may mean more or less blog posts. I will have to see how this works out. Producing the videos takes time, and this is one reason I am looking at charging for the full courses, as it will bring in money to allow me to hire someone to actually edit the videos, which in turn will free up time to allow me to produce more of the free content.

My mind is not made up 100% on this. As with most other things in my life right now, I will figure it out as I go along.

Generating Income

My freelance work is what brings in the money to keep this party going. Right now I have 2 clients that I do work for. I like the people I work for and I like the work they give me. I hope to carry on with these 2 clients for the foreseeable future.

If either of those contracts end, I am confident enough that I will be able to pick up some more work through the blog again.

For me it is important to keep doing the freelance work (besides the fact that it generates income). For one it means I stay up to date with my skills and learn new skills and technologies, but the other thing is that it also generates ideas for blog posts and videos.

As mentioned before I also hope to generate some income from full-blown courses. I do not foresee that this will generate a sustainable income for me - at least not this year. Maybe somewhere in the future it can.

Specific goals for 2016

OK, time to get specific with goals for 2016. Here is my list for 2016:

Producing Content

  • Produce at least 30 blog posts
  • Produce at least 30 short videos (< 10 minutes)
  • Produce 2 full video courses
  • Rework the OAuth for ASP.NET website to cater for ASP.NET 5
  • Publish ASP.NET Weekly every week

Personal and Career Improvement

  • Learn Spanish. By the end of the year, I must be able to produce one of my short videos speaking only in Spanish. This one scares me, but then again English isn’t my native language either ;)
  • Attend one major developer conference in the US.

Travel

  • I have no specific goals, other than to keep moving at a fairly steady pace, and not get stuck in one place for more than 3 months.

Spiritual and Health

  • I have started with the Read Scripture series from the people at The Bible Project, so my goal is to read the entire Bible this year. BTW, if you are a Christian or in any other way interested in the Bible, you should go check out their YouTube channel. They are doing some really great animated videos explaining the different books and concepts in the Bible.
  • Reach a target weight of 82 kg, as I put on a bit of weight the past 3 years in Asia. I need to drop about 10kg or perhaps more as I have not been on a scale for a while.

Keep myself accountable

  • I will start doing the monthly reviews again, to keep accountable and focused on my goals. End of each month I will review my progress in the past month, and set some short term goals for the following month. Change of plans