Year end review—2018


We’re already at the end of 2018. This year passed by so quickly. To be honest, 2018 is a weird year for me because it’s filled with great success, but at the same time, I feel like nothing special has happened.

Results in 2018

I’ve been measuring results in terms of money for a few years now. I know it’s not the best measure of results, but I can’t help it. It’s an important measure.

From 2014 to 2016, I was able to make ~$50k a year from both freelancing and products. I stopped freelancing since 2016 to work on products full time. My revenue tanked.

My worst year was 2017… I only earned $34k.

You can imagine why I’m flustered about money last year—I didn’t earn enough. If I don’t earn enough, I’d have to find a job. If I find a job, I wouldn’t have enough time to create content.

Luckily, 2018 has been great in terms of money. I earned $40k in January. This let me focus on blogging and creating Learn JavaScript. Later, in July, I launched Learn JavaScript again and earned $56k.

I earned $96k in 2018 in total. Almost every cent came from Learn JavaScript.

Subscriber count

The second most important metric is subscriber count. I keep a close eye on subscriber count because the number of subscribers I have affects the amount of money I can make.

In January 2018, I have 11,500 subscribers. Now, I have 19,000 subscribers.

19,000! I never imagined I’ll speak to 19,000 people by the end of the year. It looks like I’ve been providing good resources and good value, which is reassuring.

My greatest failure

My greatest success is Learn JavaScript. It’s an irony that my greatest failure this year is also Learn JavaScript.

I wanted to finish Learn JavaScript by June in 2018. I declared it in my year-end review in 2017. But I didn’t complete the course.

In fact, it’s still not done today. I’m still working on it. I wrote about the why and details about when it’s going to be complete in another blog post, so I’m not going to repeat myself here.

By the way, Learn JavaScript is a damn bloody good course. It’s for you if you are serious about learning JavaScript.

Other things I did/that happened

  1. Created 50 blog posts
  2. Created 34 videos
  3. Spoke at JSConf Asia
  4. Took a memory program
  5. Taught a marketing workshop
  6. Learned how to heal
  7. My grandfather died
  8. My baby girl come into this world

I want to talk a little about each thing.

50 blog posts

Wow! I never imagined I’d be able to write 1 blog post per week consistently for one year. I’ve failed at this goal consistently for three years straight.

I’m glad I finally accomplished it.

I’m glad you let me share my thoughts with you.

Thank you.

34 videos posts

That’s pretty good for my first year of videos! I’ve gone from someone who doesn’t know how to setup a recording, to someone who publishes a video each week.

I’m also converting my videos into a Podcast called Fridays with Zell. I don’t think many people knows or subscribes to the podcast yet though.

Videos are fun. They give me a chance to interact with people in a different way. I hope you’re enjoying the videos. If not, let me know and I’ll try to improve.

I spoke at JSConf Asia

Continuing with my lucky stroke of speaking at conferences, I had the privilege to speak at JSConf Asia this year. My topic was: “What writing about frontend dev taught me about communicating with the world”.

I talked about the three most important lessons I learned:

  1. Silence the critic
  2. It’s about them
  3. Be human

This topic scared me. I talked about something that had NOTHING to do with web development in a JavaScript conference.

Is this topic going to be relevant? Will people boo at me? Will I make a fool out of myself? These thoughts ran through my mind for months before I got on stage.

I’m glad I gave this talk.

Many people resonated with it. And for some people, it’s what’s they needed.

You can find a recording of the talk on here. I hope you watch it. It’s the most important message I have for you this year.

And yes, I have more messages like these that are dying to come out from within. I’ll likely write them in my blog posts in 2019.

I spoke at CSSConf China

I was lucky to be invited to speak at CSSConf China too. It was an eye-opening experience. People in China do things completely different from people in the western world.

I had such a blast at the conference. I also loved getting to know some good friends there.

To be honest, I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to speak at conferences anymore. I’ve gotten to a point where I feel that I have nothing to share.

Nothing technical at least.

Not sure if conference organizers would invite me to their conferences. I know for sure I’m not going to send in any CFPs this year.

I took a memory program

My memory is decent. I can remember most concepts taught when I was at school, as long as I listened to the lectures. So I did quite well in school.

But I took the memory program anyway. I discovered that I can be much smarter than I thought I was. Since taking the program, I can remember things much faster, retain them much longer (maybe even forever!), and I have a better mental capacity.

With this increased mental capacity, I built a new habit that let me learn for 1.5 hours a day and still produce 40% more content. I wrote about this experiment here.

This is easily one of the most life-changing programs I’ve been on. It’s not life-changing immediately after the program because you only learn to learn faster.

But the lessons taught, compounded for life? Now, that’s a great investment.

I know many other courses that are great investments as well. But I’m reluctant to talk about them publicly because people just roll their eyes when I share them. If you’re interested, feel free to email me. I’ll tell you about them.

Taught a marketing workshop

I co-taught a marketing workshop for a group of ~15 students this year.

This was interesting for two reasons:

  1. I never had any experience teaching marketing before. I’ve never even blogged about it too!
  2. I knew this group of students as friends for a while now. The group dynamics was challenging for me.

I learned so much about teaching marketing. I learned so much about marketing myself. It reaffirmed my views about how I’m doing marketing.

Marketing is not sleazy. Marketing is about making change happen. And there’s a way to do it right.

I’m still learning it, but I think I’m on the right track.

I learned how to heal

Ha! This is probably the weirdest thing you’ll hear me say. This is because programmers have a stereotype where we’re nerds that only care about logic and computers.

But programmers aren’t really all like that. We’re human too. And because we’re humans, we have our own interests and motivations.

I took a program because I wanted to heal myself. I wanted to have more energy. In this program, I learned how to heal myself, and how to heal other people.

I used the techniques I learned to heal my wife after childbirth. She’s recovering quickly as a result. I furthered my studies through a series of healing clinics with a few friends. We healed people who came.

It’s okay to learn things other than programming. Our lives don’t revolve around programming. Programming is just one part of our lives.

I have many other things that I want to learn still. I’m especially interested in things you can’t learn from the internet.

My grandfather died

Life’s just different after someone dies. I believe my grandfather passed away in peace. And I’m complete with him.

I’m grateful that I was able to complete his journey with him.

My baby girl came into this world

When a baby comes into your world, your original world gets destroyed. Everything will revolve around the baby for a while. How long? I don’t know. It’s probably going to be chaotic over here in my household for a while longer.

But here’s something I realized:

When something happens, I’ll throw everything aside for my child. I’ll also throw everything aside for my wife.

I’m still trying to understand and process these shifts though. And I’m interested to see how this will change my attitude towards work and life.

The plan for 2019

Four things:

  1. Learn JavaScript
  2. Web development guide
  3. Improving the blog
  4. Structured mini-courses

Learn JavaScript

My first priority is to complete Learn JavaScript. If I am realistic, I would only be able to complete the course by December 2019.

But I’m going to challenge my limits and try to complete it by June 2019.

Will I succeed? I don’t know. Let’s try it out.

Web development guide

Many people asked me to give them a roadmap for learning web development. They want to know what to learn first, what to learn next, and how to get hired as a developer quickly.

I want to write a guide for these people. I have a unique viewpoint to these questions. I believe my answers will help these people out.

I want to give this guide away for free. It’ll help the community more than any premium courses out there. This would be my second focus after Learn JavaScript.

I hope this project can turn into a hardcover book too. I’ve wanted to make one for the longest time ever. But I’m not sure if any publisher would take it up. I’m not going to actively look for publishers though. So we’ll see if I get lucky.

Working through my blog

If you’re new to my blog, you’ll probably be overwhelmed by the amount of content I have. It’s understandable. You’re not the first.

After all, my blog lacks proper navigation for people who’re new.

After I’m done with the above two (assuming I can finish them), I’ll redesign my blog. I’ll add search and tags back to the articles and videos I make.

Structured mini-courses

You’ve seen the Git video series, right?

When I’m done producing the entire Git series, I’m going to put up a landing page. This page lets you go through every Git video in an easily digestible manner.

I’m going to create other series this year as well because I think it’ll help many people. Two series I’ve thought are:

  1. Debugging CSS
  2. Debugging JavaScript

They’re gonna be free too.

Final words

Thanks for reading this review. I’m honoured you took the time to read through this wall of text.

I’m going back to work now. But as you know, I try to make myself available for questions. Feel free to email me if you have one.

If you have any course requests, feel free to email me and let me know too. My ears are always open.

Thanks for letting me do what I do.

Thank you for the support.

Here’s to a year ahead. 🍻

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