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My Coding Year 2018

Another year has come to an end, and it is time for my traditional New Year's Eve blog post. I want to take some minutes to think back about the last 12 months and how they changed me as a developer.

My Resolutions From 2017

Here are my resolutions from 2017. I do not treat them as my main goals for a year, but I think it's good to start with a little plan or direction. It doesn't matter if not everything works out as planned. That's life :-)

  • Find out how I want to work
  • Find a job or create my own one
  • Take the risk if there is a chance to make a dream come true
  • Become a Laracon conference speaker

Find Out How I Want To Work

The end of 2017 was also the end of my last job. I needed a change and to try something new or at least different. Back then, I didn't know what that was and where this could lead me. Pretty soon it was clear to me that I wanted to work from home. I want to decide myself how and when to work, and this is only possible when I work remote.

Find a Job Or Create My Own One

It was fascinating to see how many companies were, and are still, looking for programmers. It's a good time as a developer right now because you can easily find a new job. I had some interviews with great companies, but it didn't felt enough just to switch company. I soon realized, it was the perfect time to try something on my own. You can read more about this decision in my article What It's Like Being Self-Employed - A Three Months Recap.

So I have my own little one-person company for six months now.

Take The Risk If There Is a Chance to Make a Dream Come True

This goal was about creating a SaaA application and to try living from it. It is still a dream of myself to make this happen one day, but first I need a good idea for the application :-) As a result, this dream is postponed for now.

Become a Laracon Conference Speaker

Sadly, I didn't achieve this goal. I attended the conference, and I was speaking at the Unconference track, but not as the main speaker. Maybe I wasn't ready for this challenge, but I will try again next year. I still improved a lot as a speaker and wrote a separated blog article about My Speaking Year 2018.

My First Ebook

You probably already know that I released my first ebook called Build Chatbots with PHP this year. It was released on the 12th of July, and it was my first real product. I am selling it on my store, and it was a hell of an experience. I have learned so much while writing and publishing it. It also helped me to promote myself even more as a chatbot specialist.

Financially, it wasn't a success. I spent endless hours on writing this 200 pages ebook and also on creating the additional video course. Chatbots are still a niche-topic and sales were much less than expected. Still, I don't regret writing it. The experience is much more worth than money can ever be and it helped me to get more projects to work on. Am I going to write another book? Maybe, but not sure yet.

My First Video Course

As already mentioned, you can buy my book with my first video course in a bundle. In the videos, I explain how I built the Laracon EU chatbot, and it is an excellent start for chatbot development.

It is quite challenging recording such videos. I now respect teachers like Jeffrey Way or Adam Wathan even more. The quality of their videos is just insane and hard to keep up with. Additionally, speaking in a foreign language doesn't make your recordings easier. My English is ok, but far from what I want it to be.

Freelancing

Next, to my products, I do freelancing now. It is crucial because my products don't bring enough money into my company yet. But I never was a big fan of freelancing. You need to advertise yourself to find clients, and with every new client you have to start again:

  • getting to know each other
  • learn about how the company works
  • new people to communicate
  • new policies
  • etc.

It's not like I hate it, but I need projects next to freelancing, and I'm glad this is possible for me right now. The two projects I work on right now are actually quite interesting :-)

Always Searching For This Next Project

After releasing my book and video course about chatbots in July, I was already thinking about my next project. It is now part of my life. Release a product and think about the next one. This is the hardest part. You try to push yourself to come up with an idea for a new book, video course or something else. I heard from many creators that they are struggling with this situation as well. You can't force yourself to be creative and to come up with this great idea of something people will love and doesn't exist yet. Additionally, you need to be able to talk or write about this idea as well.

Over summer I was also a little bit disappointed about my book sales so far, and I stopped overthinking my next project. I used my time to focus more on my client work.

Call For Papers Web App

In Fall, Marcel and I had the idea of creating a little web app for speakers who want to get notifications about new CFPs. Until then, we and some others used this Google list to keep track of new conferences and where we submitted which talks. It was useful but hard to maintain. This is why the web app sounded like a great idea.

I built a small prototype, and we released it soon. People liked the idea, and it seemed like it could be useful to many people. But on the same day, Matt Stauffer reached out to us, that he already has a similar open source app with almost the same purpose.

We didn't want to create another similar app. After some discussions, we decided to stop our prototype and to help Matt with his app called Symposium. Check it out if you are into speaking. It felt like the right decision since Marcel, and I are big open source fans. Still, I have to admit this decision wasn't that easy for me. It meant I had to look for another new side-project of mine.

Laravel Core Adventures

After that, I did another big brainstorming session and also asked people on Twitter what they are interested in and what they are missing in the PHP/Laravel community. Someone (can't find the name right now) replied that he would love to know more about the insights of Laravel.

About a week later, I remembered this reply. It was the first time that I was thinking about creating a video course about the core of Laravel. There is already the great blog Diving Laravel by the fantastic Mohamed Said, but I wanted to give the topic a different approach.

The first thing you do when you want to create a video course is to check if Jeffrey Way has already covered the topic. If yes, you probably should start looking for a new one =)

Gladly, he hadn't covered the topic yet. At least not in detail. So I decided to start with Laravel Core Adventures, which is a free video series about how Laravel works under the hood. Right before Christmas, I released a first landing page with two videos. The feedback has been great so far, and I'm already working on new content.

What About Coding?

After writing this article, I noticed something. This year was mostly about decisions, changes, writing, recording, and planning. So how did this year change me as a developer? Now that I think about it it feels like I wasn't programming this much. But that's not true of course.

Overall I feel more mature when it comes to coding. I have been coding now for quite some years on lots of different projects and topics. I gained a lot of experiences, and I know my stuff. Speaking about technical topics and diving into the Laravel core also helped me to become a better developer.

Additionally, it is important to me that I started working with Vue.js again. I needed it for a client project, and it felt good being back in another programming language.

My Resolutions For 2019

  • Keep my one-man-show business running
  • Release Laravel Core Adventures full site
  • Cover at least ten different topics
  • Speak at a Laracon Conference
  • Start working on a new paid product
  • Do another little redesign of my blog with my learnings from Refactoring UI

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