Review

2023 in Review

Harry 8 min read
Table of Contents

Welcome to my 2023 year in review. This is my second time writing one of these and goes into detail about my blog's performance and a little of what I get up to on the side. My plans for 2024, yada yada...

Want to check out my review for last year? Check out my 2022 in Review.

2022 in Review
The year is coming to a close so it’s around that time to write a review of things (the good and the bad) that’s gone on this year.

Blogging

The first thing to note is I picked up a new Ghost theme from Bright Themes. Initially, I was using a standard out-of-the-box Ghost theme. It helped me kick things off and focus on the writing rather than trying to do everything "right" from the start.

I posted a total of 17 articles (18 if you include this one). Beating my score of 10 from 2022, albeit I started the blog halfway through that year. I'll need to work harder for 2024!

Some articles were written as experiments (affiliates, AI, other topics). I used AI to write one before deciding I didn't like it. It felt dishonest and unauthentic, even if it was edited to make it less-AI-like. Not something I'll do again, at least on my personal blog.

I branched into some other topics outside of Laravel and posted a few smaller pieces that tackled troubleshooting. The piece I wrote on QR Codes ended up being my main source of traffic (60% or so!). Funnily enough, I did not expect this to do well when I wrote it. I almost didn't share it, but glad I did as it provided a much-needed boost in my motivation! (big numbers are fun!)

Traffic

I switched my analytics halfway through the year from Plausible to Fathom and since I stopped paying for Plausible, I have lost access to my analytics for the first half of the year. The reasons are in the article if you're interested, but tldr; I was exceeding my subscription limits and Fathom offered more value.

My main traffic in 2022 came from the bigger players in the Laravel community, where I was fortunate enough to be included in a newsletter or have my posts shared within their circles. Not much came from organic channels as my blog was still pretty new.

harrk.dev traffic (2022)

This changed in 2023, which saw a big improvement when Google started trusting my blog more. Now most of my traffic is from Google alone (80%).

Google search performance

There were only a few traffic spikes, and that's because I did not cross-post my articles. In part for either being non-Laravel related or because they were monetization experiments and sharing those to hijack the traffic felt wrong.

Fathom analytics - 2023

My blog's analytics are public so if you fancy yourself being nosey, you can view them here.

👀 Take a peek at Harrk.dev’s website analytics
You can view these stats publicly without learning anything about their visitors because they use Fathom Analytics.

Monetisation

Moving onto monetisation. At the end of last year, I was approved for Google Ads. That got me a few pennies before I ended up turning it off.

This is where I switched to affiliate links. Although, that did not go well either. First, I lost my access to Amazon's affiliate program due to a lack of conversions. Then I started doing a few things with Lemon Squeezy's affiliate program and I have yet to get a single conversion.

Lemon Squeezy Affiliate Dashboard

So I ended up turning ads back on and so far I'm sitting at a whopping £2.30. 😅

It's probably worth pointing out that I reduced my monthly running costs. I now self-host Ghost on a Hetzner (Referral link for €⁠20 credit) server. That cut my hosting fees in half or so after factoring in additional backups and VAT.

Now for some unexpected success with affiliate links. I wrote an article when I switched from Plausible to Fathom and dropped my Fathom affiliate link. I've had a couple of people sign up and convert which has made me $80 so far - nothing groundbreaking, but it's certainly beating the £2.30 of ad revenue!

Next Plan? Honestly, no idea right now. I'm happy to sit by for a bit and work on increasing traffic. Ads are now off (for this article, since I'll cross-post it in relevant circles). I don't want to introduce a newsletter/subscription thing since ADHD, so yeah, no point committing to something that requires a consistent and repetitive schedule.

Thanks to some success on other projects. I've had to sign up for the EU's One Stop Shop scheme. Also, as I reside in the UK. I will now need to submit tax returns thanks to my side projects pushing over the annual £1,000 threshold. Yay...

Side Projects

I have three projects running from the previous year with varying success. Plus a few new experiments that are either ongoing or have been canned.

RandomQR

RandomQR is a simple SPA I created for creating random/static QR codes. It gets about 400 users a day and makes a nice little profit from ads. This month has seen the ad revenue explode so I'm excited to see how this turns out in 2024.

It's hosted as a static website on Digital Ocean. Costs me nothing to run apart from the domain name ($10 a year).

QRMetric

Created at the tail end of 2022. It's grown to 300+ users with one paying customer. I did very little on this in 2023 apart from minor tweaks so I think it deserves more attention in 2024.

Formie

Another project that has cruised through 2023 with minor changes. Whilst it's been around for longer than QRMetric, it has half the users with no subscribers. It's a project I use, so it continues to run. I added a few new fields and integrations with Zapier, Slack, and Discord. Currently working on a few bigger features that I'll get out in 2024.

YouTube

No change on this front. My blog's channel has one video from 2022. However, it grew by 3 subscribers! 😂 Another channel I run has seen some success and is now sitting at 5.3k subscribers. I will continue to put my effort into that one, so my blog's channel probably won't grow. Although I may try pushing another video or two.

Other Projects / Experiments

Now for some random things I worked on that I feel are worth mentioning.

Toolflow.dev

Adding another to the plethora of similar sites out there. I decided to spin up a new site that I could chip at whenever I felt like it. When I get the itch, I'll add a new tool.

Toolflow
Empower your development workflow with ToolFlow’s extensive suite of developer tools. Boost productivity and efficiency with a wide range of coding aids, code generators, and debugging utilities.

Unnamed YouTube Thing

While messing around with YouTube's API, I made this to help manage my YouTube channel. Albeit I'm not showing the channel I intend to use it for here. But if you've heard of vidIQ / Social Blade, it's intended to be an alternative to those. (Should I ever release it)

Experimental thing

Misc...

This year, I've been obsessed with creating blogs. I worked on a multitenancy blog idea. Got something that started coming together then moved onto a fresh start without multitenancy for the simplicity. In the end, I launched two new blogs whilst learning Livewire and Filament.

Personal Development

So 2023 hasn't been a bad year, at least anything that's affected me externally. Whilst I wish I could have pushed a bit harder on some goals, it's turned out better than the year before. Making my first $ via SaaS and opening up a few new income streams, albeit in small amounts. But it's all been exciting

One of my personal achievements is keeping my blog going. In the past when I've tried a similar thing before, it ended up dying after it was no longer exciting. This time I've managed to keep it going by writing when I encounter something I'm interested in at the time.

In my 2022 in Review post, I wrote:

This year I started learning Go (Golang) and Rust. I'm starting to favour Rust over Go but I think it's still worth having Go on the side. The difficult issue is getting myself to use one of these languages over PHP which I'm more comfortable with when looking into new projects.

Still haven't made up my mind. 😅 To be honest, I barely touched each. Perhaps I could benefit by going cold turkey with Laravel. But it's battle of whether or not to be productive and ship fast, or to learn something new.

2024 Goals

What I did in my 2022 review, was set some "goals" for 2023. I'm not going to do this for 2024. I feel it'll be more or less stating the obvious, like growing the blog and whatnot. It's not a goal - just an ongoing process.

I could set targets for certain metrics but in the end, I do all of this for fun, with the bonus of earning a penny or two on the side.

I'd love to get some products I can sell out there though. There are a few ideas I have around creating a few starter kits or a book. Something to explore in 2024 for sure.

Conclusion

To summarise and bring an end to my 2023 review. Continue to work on the blog. Grow traffic. Grow revenue streams. No targets - just have fun doing it! 😀

Ps. You're welcome to subscribe to my blog. I don't publish a newsletter (yet), but I may explore this in the future. Plus it helps my blog climb the ladder on Ghost's Explorer meaning more people can find me.

See you all in 2024!

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