Thinking About the Future

The past ten days have astounded me. I entered 2014 with low expectations, tentatively hoping to increase my readership by some small integer multiple year over year. Over the next two weeks, however, I surpassed traffic for the entirety of 2013 with fifteen days left in January. What’s more, these readers keep coming back: although pageviews decreased after the initial surge from Jim Dalrymple’s link faded, my readership has continued to grow since then at an impressive (and mildly alarming) rate. RSS subscriptions have increased as well by a factor of five, and I now have nearly as many signed up for my newsletter as I had daily visitors in 2013. This has given me a great deal to think about, and forced me to keep my head down working feverishly in my every spare moment. Now, though, with a brief respite between articles, I have started thinking about the future.

As promised, I began publishing The Neat and Out of Scope Newsletter when I realized the unlikelihood of my traffic ever returning to the low figures I saw throughout 2013. I did not, however, expect those numbers to bottom out well above the halfway point in my goals list: I felt comfortable expecting to double my daily readership, and optimistic that I could triple it. I saw only ludicrousy in hoping for anything more. Yet here I stand, traffic increasing at an incredible ~30% every day. I have a great deal of catching up to do, then: by my own goals, I now owe everyone two newsletters, at least one of which published weekly. I also need to start seeking out sponsorships, and begin accepting memberships. Learning about GitHub, given that I promised to make beta versions of my code projects available to members, would be a worthwhile investment as well. While I’m at it, I should begin exploring podcasting equipment too: at this point, it looks like I will cross that mark in February.

Yikes.

So this is what I’m thinking: I have already started preparing for the next installment of The Neat and Out of Scope Newsletter, slated for January 26th, so I will release it as scheduled; next month, I will begin sending it out weekly unless its current subscribers feel I ought to do otherwise. As for my more data-driven mailing list, I will include its content at the end of my existing newsletter until it grows large enough to merit a publication of its own. I have traditionally shunned the job of an analyst, so this entire subject is new to me. Proceeding in this way will allow me to ease myself into this new role.

As for actually generating some revenue, I expected that my growth to 2000 monthly visitors would take significantly longer than it did. With not even a month of statistics under my belt, I cannot feasibly elicit sponsorships from anyone. Instead, I will wait until April when I can show three months’ worth of metrics, at which point I believe I can make a good case for an individual or company handing over a sum of money in exchange for featuring an app or service here. Similarly, I will wait to begin offering memberships for a little bit longer until I can stabilize this hectic pace. Unless traffic takes a drastic dive between now and April, I will begin accepting memberships first. Rather than build my own system and deal with that hassle, I plan to go with Memberful which I found thanks to Brett Terpstra, who just quit his job and went indie. Given that I based my plans for a podcast on sponsorships and offering two distinct versions — one with ads and the other without — and its reliance on a group of members to publish for, I must postpone this, too, at least until May. However, when I do finally get around to it, I know where to go: Dan Benjamin just posted the update to his 2011 article Podcasting Equipment Guide as its own, standalone site: The Podcasting Handbook. When I start my daily podcast, I will look there for all my equipment needs.

I realize I have not quite lived up to my promises, now that I have deigned to push a number of these ventures back by a fairly significant amount of time; however, more important than just doing another newsletter, asking for sponsorships, and putting out a podcast is — to me — doing it well. I want to take pride in everything I publish. If that means shifting my timeline slightly, that’s fine with me.