There it is — the end of 2020. The year is slowly but steadily coming to an end. It was a challenging and, overall, a very unusual year.
It is time to look back and analyze it, as there were some nice things and some lessons to learn.
What Went Well
1. I started this blog!
I was planning to start writing for a long time, maybe 3 years. I was reading different blogs, and each time I saw a “why should you write” / “why I started writing a blog” posts, I was getting closer to that threshold when your intention turns into action. The tipping point was a post from Emma Bostian — a software engineer at Spotify. I have no idea how I got to her article, but after reading it, I bought
iuliangulea.com and started planning my blog.
I didn’t quite know what I will write about, so I started researching the topics I am interested in and would love to learn more about and elaborate on in my posts. That turned out in a series of three posts on team processes. And then it went on. I am not going to make a detailed analysis of the process I went through for each article. Maybe I will make a separate post for that. However, I would like to emphasize some particular content that I enjoyed writing.
The Best Post Of 2020
Without any hesitation, I can say that the Pyramid of Mastery is the best and the most successful article that I wrote in 2020. It got to the first page on Hacker News, was mentioned in 2 or 3 newsletters (that I know of), and it gets the most organic traffic among the posts I wrote this year.
It was a lot of fun writing it, and I plan to explore the area of personal and professional development in the next year as well.
My Favorite Post That Got Little Attention
The Imperceptible Nature Of Everyday Change is an article I like re-reading once in a while. It states the obvious and often overlooked truth that the actions we do each day make up the lives we have.
Posts That Made It To Hacker News First Page
Some articles got such good traction that they made it to the first page on Hacker News. Below is a short overview of these articles.
To be honest, I don’t know how it happened, as I submitted the article at 5 PM in the evening, but the post made it to the first page the next morning.
The first post in the series on how people learn also made it to the first page, although it didn’t get as much attention as the previous one. I am passionate about learning processes and would like to extend that series with more articles in 2021.
This article getting to the first page on HN was totally unexpected. Not that people have not heard about the 10% myth, but there wasn’t any new information, unlike in the previous two articles. Probably the timing was right for this one.
This is a short overview of the articles I wrote in 2020.
I decided to write consistently, and so far, I kept the pace of 1 post per week. That summed up to a total of 38 articles (including this one) over the course of the year. It was sometimes challenging, but I plan to stick to this schedule in the next year as well. However, I plan to take two weeks off in January.
2. I got a new job
The decision to leave my job and take some time off to rest and prepare for interviews at FAANG companies right before a global pandemic kicked in was a poor choice. It turned out well in the end, though. I got an offer from Facebook, but it was not aligned with my expectations, so I kindly rejected it. After more search, I got an offer as a full-stack engineer at PepsiCo (e-commerce division) through Toptal. I enjoy it a lot as I both learn in the process and contribute to a global platform).
3. I learned a new programming language (Rust) and built an open-sourced visualization library in it.
At the beginning of the year, before planning to start writing here, I decided to extend my comfort zone by learning a programming language different from those I work with (Python and JS). After some minor projects, I decided to build a visualization library: charts, which, at the moment of writing, has 76 stars on Github. However, after starting the blog, I didn’t have enough time to work on it, so I had to discontinue it.
What Didn’t Go Well
1. Social media
I have a twitter account for some time but struggled to keep it active this year. Mostly, I was sharing blog updates and occasionally writing some thoughts and engaging in conversations. That had an impact, raising the number of followers to 116 (from ~20), but below my expectations for this year.
Another thing that I expected to go better is the blog’s newsletter. Currently, I have 49 active subscribers. I have experimented a bit with the newsletter format and very little with the blog’s layout, but that was insufficient. Although content is the main decision-maker when subscribing, I realize there is a lot to User Experience and a proper place to put the subscribe call to action and many more things that can increase or decrease the conversion rate from readers to subscribers. It just requires more effort than I put in.
And that’s it. One thing to note is that I wasn’t significantly affected by the sudden change in the lifestyle or workstyle because of the pandemic since, for the last two years, I was already working from home and being there for my kids. It was a bit harder, though, but the difference wasn’t as striking as those used to party and work at the office.
Anyway, 2020 has a couple more days left for you to look back at it, analyze your lessons, and make your plans for 2021!
And may 2021 bring us the possibility to hug and meet our friends and family.