Wrapping up 2020

I’m wrapping up an extremely challenging year and looking forward to 2021

2020 has been such a grim year.

To be honest, this post could just end with that, but I find a bit of end-of year retrospect helpful, so here’s my wrap-up for the year.

Personal permalink

A lot has happened in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has turned almost everything on its head and the constant whirring horror of a global pandemic has completely fractured my mental health. I finish this year utterly burned out because I decided the best way to cope was to work through it. This, kids, was not the smartest decision I ever made.

Sure, working through [gestures wildly] all of this has helped financially, but the overall cost to my mental health and wellbeing is most likely not worth it, so I need to work that out in 2021 and look after myself more as a top priority.

The ridiculous amount of work I’ve done this year has provided me with a financial cushion to slow down next year and I absolutely will. Although (as you’ll learn shortly), I have lots of ambitions for next year in terms of content production: the overall aim is to reduce my working week to 4 days by the end of 2021. This is my only goal for 2021. (Sorry, I said goal: I’ll put a fiver in the jar)

I moved house this year too! We found our dream home in January and it all fell through in March when we went into lockdown, which sucked. Luckily, the deal was back on after lockdown and in the summer this year, we moved in to our forever home. Pro tip: don’t move house in a global pandemic. It is ridiculously stressful.

Work permalink

As mentioned above: I worked far too much this year. This year started with the continuation of a major client project which continued through the early parts of the pandemic. The project was 6 months, all-in. Because things were exceptionally uncertain then, a lot of my long-term freelance bookings disappeared, so in a panicked state, I dug very deep to try to weather the storm and over-worked. I’ve not had a holiday since 2019, which is reckless, to say the least.

I reckon March 2020 was one of the most stressful periods of my life and I made some relatively rash decisions that mostly weren’t helpful, in hindsight. One decision I did make that I am very thankful for was to drop everything and go all-in on producing my first course: Learn Eleventy From Scratch. I had no idea that it would be as successful as it has been and although it was so much work, it has set my long-term working goals in motion. (Don’t worry, I’ll put another fiver in the jar)

The long-term aim for me is to stop building websites for clients and purely make educational content to help you become a better designer and front-end developer. That will mostly happen on this site in the form of tutorials, articles and posts. I obviously need to make money too, so I will be producing courses, premium tutorials and running a membership system where people can support my work on a monthly basis.

Why am I making this change? Well, pals, after around 12 years of designing and building websites for people, I’m pretty bored. Building websites is great, but I get so much more personal value out of writing content that helps other people build websites now.

When I write some content which helps someone to get better at what they do, I feel extremely happy and satisfied (I even cried a couple of times when people emailed me about it), so I’m going to go all-in on being an educator and try to shift the majority of my work into markdown files.

I did some other bits, such as a workshop for Smashing Conf this year. The folks at Smashing are incredible and looked after me and most importantly, the attendees, incredibly well. I don’t think workshops are for me though. I find them very intense and really, I think I’m better at writing than speaking (it’s that bloody Yorkshire accent). I dipped my toe in workshops with the best possible people, and I’m really glad I did it. I am also very thankful that Vitaly offered me the chance to do it. Maybe in the future, I’ll rethink this, but for now, I’m going to reduce my speaking work unless a really good opportunity arises.

Piccalilli in 2021 permalink

Piccalilli started 2020 as a newsletter and ends 2020 as a pretty large site, filled with content that’s helping thousands of people. I’m so happy with how it’s been going so far.

The first thing that will happen in 2021 will be a brand new design and re-platforming of the site being launched. I’m very close to being finished with that now.

I’ll write more about this project next year, but in short: the current design and tech stack don’t make growth as easy as I’d like, so I’m getting a rebuild out of the way now. I’m so happy with the new look and feel and how it’s all coming together so far. The end result should be faster, more accessible and better looking than the current site, at the time of writing.

This is the plan for content on Piccalilli in 2021:

  • I’m going to produce one big course: Learn CSS From Scratch
  • I’m going to produce at least two mini-courses. These will be free for members and the first one will be a React course [audible gasps]
  • I’m aiming to write around 5+ tutorials a month. Some will be premium and some will be published at other places too. Regardless, expect a lot of content next year

Most of the content next year will be about CSS. I try not to write myself into a corner, but I also have a lot to teach about CSS, too. With that in mind, I’m considering writing a book that centers around CUBE CSS and how it can help you to write resilient CSS. I also want to write more about how communication can be extremely useful in this context. More to come on that (if you’re a publisher give me a shout).

All-in-all, I’m actually really looking forward to spending most of my time in iA Writer next year. I can’t wait to help you get better at what you do, too!

Wrapping up permalink

Thank you all so much for your support this year. If you have bought Learn Eleventy From Scratch, Every Layout or joined the Membership, I’d like to extend an even more special thanks to you.

Your support is enabling me to produce loads of content to help people and also keep the lights on in the process. I always want to make as much stuff as possible free, so it’s accessible as possible. The more folks that support me by paying for content (which in turn, is paying it forward) help that too!

I’m completely checking out for the winter holiday period now. I need a proper holiday, so this is why I’m posting this wrap-up early. I’m aiming to not look at a computer until January and with that, I’ll also be having a break from Twitter. As always, the best way to contact me is via email ([email protected]) because I’ll still be keeping an eye on my inbox.

I hope you have a happy and safe holiday period, pals. Thank you again for your support and I’ll catch you in 2021. Take it easy 👋