How to start a review for 2020? I deleted these lines 10 times in the hope for a better introduction but the year has been exactly like that: Confusing, chaotic, challenging and different.
We are all affected by the pandemic and likely a huge potion of 2021 will be like that as well. But I’m happy that I as a Solopreneur and my family still made it through the year, and I’m lucky that my business wasn’t realy negatively affected by everything going on right now.
Instead of focusing on all the things I can’t control (which are quite a lot), I tried to focus on what I can do:
Give my best on every task!
So here’s what worked and didn’t, and the challenges along the way.
Ionic Academy – Recurring revenue!
The Ionic Academy is my main source of recurring revenue and had a peak of 470 active members during the year, which is a new best!
I am happy that this project was actually more positively affected by the pandemic since many people worked from home or wanted to acquire new skills.
Overall I’m happy again with the growth, but the churn continues to be a problem. Developers usually join for a specific project or problem, so it’s natural that they leave after 1-2 months again.
Besides ongoing fresh content and the support inside the Academy, I have started a new template of the month section which gets a fresh new template every month next year!
On top of that I’m thinking about monthly Q&A live sessions or small challenges for more user engagement, but so far I haven’t found a way to dramatically reduce churn and motive members to stay longer (although there are quite some long time members and supporters <3). This issue could also be tackled by getting more companies to sign up for an account, but so far 99% of my content is targeted towards developers and not really bigger enterprises that it's no surprise that manager don't show up. The whole B2B area is still almost unknown to me, so I'm not sure if I can find an entry or right approach to get more companies on board in 2021 (reach out if you have an idea about that!).
Kickoff Ionic – A Micro Saas?
This is an on-off love: I released the Kickoff Ionic tool to bootstrap and configure Ionic apps faster this year, and the project has about 40 Pro accounts by now!
It’s not a huge financial success compared to other projects, but it proves to me that I can build small SaaS applications with my tech stack and get people on board to pay for my work (work that’s different than my usual content).
After the initial motivation I worked on other projects and had a hard time finding motivation again, but I’ve worked on some new features over the last time again. Plus it’s technically challenging and not the type of project you easily work on while watching Netflix in the evening, which is currently the only spot I got for side projects..
I am still not sure how to handle this project but I’m currently creating a traction plan with a customer goal and steps that would have a bigger impact on the project to finally make this a real success not only from a technical point but also from a financial point of view.
It’s hard to justify work on a project that’s not adding something to your monthly baseline, so let’s see if I can turn around the current situation again in 2021!
Practical Ionic – I’m an author!
After one book years ago I finally felt it’s time to create a new eBook, and I’m kinda happy with the result which is Practical Ionic.
It took some time to set up everything for the build process since the book is written in Markdown and converted with some Latex scripts, but now that I got the base I’m confident to reuse this basic template for the next book(s) in 2021!
In terms of money, the book generated ~$20k by now (released end of July 2020) and although I think it’s not matching all the time invested, it was a good project. Plus it was a nice combination during the Black Friday Special I did with IonicThemes.
The book still makes sales every week, so the revenue will continue to grow this year. Plus I’ve already outlined a second Practical Ionic which focuses on different use cases around API connection with Ionic apps.
Since I got the basic stuff for the book already in place, hopefully the next book will be finished a bit faster!
No More Time for Money exchange.
When I became self employed almost 4 years ago, I had a handful of clients I worked with every now and then. During the year I have not accepted any new clients since I wanted to focus 100% on my content and projects, and by now there’s only one project I sometimes help with.
The decision wasn’t easy, especially during a global pandemic with a lot of uncertainty everywhere.
On top of that, it’s nice and “easy” to accept that type of work which usually brings in a good amount of money. Plus you can directly calculate how much your current task is worth, which isn’t really possible when I write a tutorial, record a video or schedule social media updates.
But my mid-term goal is to live 100% from the income of my own products, and so I had to make a decision to reduce the amount of hours I directly exchange for money, and instead use that time to build new products.
If I’d to the calculation for the projects I created (like Kickoff Ionic or the book) I’m quite sure consulting would have been more lucrative.
In the end it’s not about the money for me, it’s about doing what I love and what I think I’m best at.
Therefore, I’m not actively looking for new clients in 2021 as I have enough ideas to fill all my available time – the challenge is to work on those things that have the potential of generating income like new books, courses or finally a bigger SaaS application.
YouTube & Twitch – Am I a YouTuber yet?
Despite growing my YouTube channel again by 10k followers, I still don’t really call myself a YouTuber. I had the goal of reaching 100k one day, but with the current growth it will take longer than I guess YouTube hands out these awards..
Anyway, I released at least 1 video per week, often an additional Vlog video on top as well. That took quite some time, and after being frustrated with my own topic selection I decided to double down on more Ionic related topics for these videos as well.
For 2021 I plan to create some different content on YT and experiment more. Explain videos, differently structured tutorials or playlists explaining how to build bigger apps or UIs.
After all, expecting to suddenly grow more than before is quite unrealistic if you don’t change how you approach a platform. So next year I’m trying to improve the quality of my videos and do more of the things people would like to see!
On top of that I started experimenting with live streams and Twitch at the end of the year and had about 80 people watching my second live stream – WOW!
This is definitely something I plan to do regularly in the future and stream at the same time to both Twitch and YouTube.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
I’m not as strict with posting on social media as I am with my main content, but I posted quite frequently on Instagram most of the year.
Right at the start of the year I also opened a Facebook group called Simonics for everyone interested in sharing Ionic stuff, but I must admit I didn’t spend enough time inside the group yet. Still, it has grown to ~450 people so far!
Overall I don’t have any fixed numbers or goals I want to reach with these platforms, I just like to connect with people and give some help whenever possible, or otherwise share some ideas and inspiration.
As a solopreneur and the face of my business, I just want to show how it’s like, what I’m doing and learning and be different in a way that big companies just can’t be. There’s a human beeing behind Devdactic, the Ionic Academy and Kickoff Ionic, and I want to show that (that’s why I also record a personal welcome video for EVERY new Ionic Academy member!).
Towards the end of the year I also became more active on Twitter again, I think it’s a platform I will put more effort into next year.
What I Read
I’m usually reading books that match my current mood or things that are relevant to me. I didn’t hit my reading goal of 1 book per month, but anyway I enjoyed most of these:
- The Compound effect
- Why we sleep
- Building a Storybrand
- Atomic Habits
- The Obstacle is the Way
- The One thing
- Ego is the enemy
- Think like a Monk
I don’t use affiliate links so simply look them up on Amazon if you are interested. All of them capture at least some interesting ideas!
For 2021 I have the rough goal of 1 book per month again, but I don’t have a fixed list yet. Sometimes I pick a book that’s on my list for some time, sometimes I feel like I need inspiration on a specific topic.
If you are interested in books I read or recommend for solo founders, I might do a video on that as well!
2021 – The Year of ?
The last years I had like a theme for my year, but planning for 2021 feels like 2020 was do some degree: Unforeseeable.
On top of that there’s not something big I want to start during this year, since (like right now again) I don’t know how much I’ll actually work. We had our daughter many months at home without daycare last year, and it’s going to be like this throughout January again. Probably even longer, who knows?
My wife and I share the days so each of us can work at least 4 hours, but that’s no time for an entrepreneur to live out ideas, plan big projects or start challenging projects.
This year is more like: Keep doing what you do, improve a little, try a little, give your best.
I’m not really motivated by that. Who is motivated by just continuing the usual things you already do?
But on the other hand it’s a sign that things are good and don’t need huge adjustment.
Whatever this year brings, I think it’s best to not worry about your ultimate life goals and how you are losing time right now. We are living through a global pandemic that affects everyone differently.
My solution is: Think from week to week and sometimes just day to day. Plan as far as possible, but don’t get upset when you have to change plans once agains. It’s going to happen anyway.
Enjoy the tasks on a specific day, enjoy the results of a good week and stay positive.
If we can keep that up, we might just look outside one day and see that things are slowly coming back to normal.
Here’s to a different, uncertain and challenging 2021 – let’s all do our best in every possible way.
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