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The past year (2022) has been perfect for me as a dev. It's my best so far in terms of money made. But at the same time, it's the year I made the most wasted and fruitless efforts since I began to surf the online world in 2020. So I feel happy when I remember how things became towards the end of the year. But I also feel dumb when I recall that I didn't meet the goals I set for it or, even worse, get close to meeting them. Maybe they were too big, or I didn't work towards them properly.
I failed to build a Twitter following.
One of the goals I set for 2022 was to "grow my Twitter to over 25k followers". At the beginning of the year, I spent some time on my Twitter profile, changing my banner, profile picture, and bio, among others. I also planned some threads to post on Twitter at intervals. In addition, I would spend several hours on the platform writing tweets and replying to tweets from more significant accounts to get exposure. I saw little bumps in my follower count, but they were nothing compared to what I wanted.
I didn't work too long on my Twitter before getting tired. I quit long before I could reach my set goal. By the end of the year, I had only ~80 followers, which I don't even think is worth mentioning, considering that it's just 0.32% of what I hoped for. But it is what it is. I've learned that building an audience is not as easy as one might think, especially on a platform like Twitter. It's not surprising that companies have teams dedicated to managing their social media accounts. Building an audience is not an easy task.
For this year, though, I have no plan to work on my Twitter. I think having good social media management software like FeedHive or TweetHunter is a must for me to pull this off successfully. And for now, I can't afford these services. Since I have little time to spend on Twitter, and time is what I would need most if I wouldn't use management software, I can only postpone my goal to grow my Twitter to a later time.
I didn't complete my first-ever freelance gig even after a year and a half.
I know this sounds very awkward, but it's true. In 2020, I started working at a shop around my house where laptops and other related stuff are sold. My boss learned I'm a web developer and requested I help create a website where visitors could see available products and shop them directly. That was in mid-2021. Then, I didn't have a laptop of my own. I used my phone to do all my coding (and I did lots of cool things with it). He gave me a laptop, and I immediately started working on it.
I wasn't a WordPress expert. I had to learn to use the software from scratch. I tried free web hosting to learn WordPress and to work on the site. I used InfinityFree and ProFreeHost for this purpose. I learned WordPress and played around with its features using the free services. But that doesn't change the fact that they suck. They were slow and just not suitable for any serious work. I decided to use LocalWP to work on the site locally, thinking it would be better. But it was also prolonged, and I had to find a better solution. Since the site wasn't ready, I didn't want to let my boss buy premium hosting just yet. Therefore, I decided to create a new AWS account in March 2022, so I'll get a free 12-month trial of services like EC2 and EBS, which I ended up using to set up a WordPress server with which I worked on the site.
But again, I still haven't completed that site to this day. I ran into money problems around April/May and had to bring in money. This caused me to neglect my boss's project, as I had told him not to pay me until I finished the project. I still don't know if I regret that or not 😀.
Anyway, I've not completed the project. It's still on AWS, not even halfway done, and AWS will start billing from March this year 😥. So I might have to terminate the instance before then. Sad.
I needed to make money.
I live with my parents, so I usually don't have to worry about eating. They provide for that. However, I still need money to maintain my data subscription. I can't afford to be disconnected from the internet. But I didn't have that money in April/May 2022. So I started thinking about what to do to bring in money. I considered a few things, none of which I ended up pulling off successfully.
When I got utterly broke, I frequently reached out to my friends around here to help me with data subscriptions. And on the 16th of May, I reached out to a friend I met on Twitter. He happens to be one of my first followers and has always been supportive. I explained things to him, and he was willing to help. He sent me approximately $30 on the next day (the 17th of May), which I used over the next three months for data subscriptions. (Data isn't very expensive here in Nigeria.) He specifically asked me to keep things private so I won't tag him here. This guy followed me the day (or the day after) I created my Twitter account. He knew me from nowhere. We're even from different countries.
Although I had plans to make money in 2022, I wanted to dedicate a significant part of the year to learning. One of the goals I set for it was to learn two new languages/frameworks to expand my toolset, but I couldn't keep up with that. I had to make money. I couldn't keep depending on people to stay online.
I tried to create a course, but...
In 2021, I held a WhatsApp class focused on HTML. I got students to join the class by urging friends to share something about it on their WhatsApp statuses and posting about it in related Facebook groups. And even though the class was free, I made around ₦17,000 (around $38) from random contributions made by the students willingly. I recorded all of the videos on my then phone (ZTE C880s).
I created a couple of flyers that I'll use to create awareness about the class when it's time. Here's one:
Since I was going to record the videos on my laptop, I had to get sound video recording and editing software. I also had to learn to edit videos with my software of choice. I decided to download OBS Studio and DaVinci Resolve since they're the best free video recording and editing software, according to many sources. Although both software was installed successfully, I had issues with them. OBS studio didn't work well with my laptop screen. Recordings were blurry; after altering many configurations, it wouldn't usually work. On the other hand, DaVinci Resolve did not run at all, as there were hardware requirements that my laptop didn't meet.
I wanted to apply to some writing publications.
The problem, however, is that I didn't have any proof of work. So even if I were very good at explaining stuff, I still needed to let them know in one way or the other. For this reason, I decided to publish some tutorial articles on FreeCodeCamp and My Hashnode Blog. I thought publishing of FreeCodeCamp could help increase my credibility.
I started writing what was supposed to be my first article on the platform on the 25th of July, 2022. It was about recursion. I expected to complete it within a week, but surprisingly, as I delved into more complex parts of the topic, I spent over half a month and still hadn't finished it. I didn't want to write the same thing as other people who have written about the topic.
When I saw that the supposed article became too long, I decided to make it into a book and write another article to be published on FreeCodeCamp. But as I kept working on it daily, delving into more complex parts of the topic, something came into the picture, and I couldn't keep up with the work like before.
The Hashnode writeathon
On the 15th of August, 2022, Hashnode announced their #4Articles4weeks writeathon. But I didn't learn about it until the 19th of August, 2022, when I saw the email sent by Hashnode the day before titled "💸 Announcing A New Hashnode Writeathon #4articles4weeks". At this time, I was still very focused on my recursion book, working on it daily. However, immediately after I got this news, I started to split my attention between the book and the writeathon. I didn't see myself as a potential winner. I just wanted to participate in the campaign to avoid missing out.
The competition was about writing four articles per week for four consecutive weeks. The deadline for submitting the first article was the 22nd of August, 2022, so I had only three days to write and submit mine. Therefore, I didn't work on my book for the first two of those three days. Instead, I worked on what would later be my first article.
After submitting the first, I worked on my book on the following four days of the week. And for the rest of the week, I worked on the second article to be submitted. At this time, I had planned that I would do the same for the two weeks that followed. That is, I would work on the book for the first four days and then on the following article to be submitted for the remaining three days, even though the deadlines for submitting the articles were Mondays. This didn't later happen exactly, though, as Hashnode announced yet another competition, the AWS Amplify hackathon, on the 1st of September, 2022.
I learned React and Next.js in two weeks.
Like other Hashnode competitions I've learned about, I learned about Hashnode's AWS Amplify hackathon through an email sent on the 1st of September. I was still preparing to write my third article for the writeathon, which had to be submitted before or on the 5th of September. I didn't want to not participate in the hackathon as it was an opportunity to learn something new, improve my skill, and maybe, even earn some money. But I didn't know anything about AWS Amplify. So I had to learn lots of things from scratch.
I spent some time reading through the Amplify Docs to know how to go about everything. After some time, I decided to use the platform to deploy a Next.js app as my way of participating in the hackathon. But I never had in any way worked with Next.js nor with React (on which Next.js is built). I had to learn these two if I wanted to achieve my goal.
Therefore, I decided I'll spend the first week of September learning React and the second on Next.js. The other two weeks of the month can then be spent developing the app to be deployed on AWS Amplify. And, of course, I still had to write the other two articles to be a valid participant in the writeathon.
Of course, I had to omit many things to start with Next.js for the second week. I followed the official React and Next.js docs to learn each of the libraries/frameworks because I didn't want to be engrossed in YouTube tutorials and other related stuff, and it worked. Those two docs are pretty good. If you want to learn React or Next.js, I highly recommend checking out their official docs.
Anyway, I still wrote my third and fourth while learning React and Next.js in those two weeks. These two articles are probably the best I've written to date.
I failed the hackathon and won the writeathon
I put in a lot of effort to participate in the AWS Amplify hackathon, but I still couldn't meet up. The project I chose to do, which I named Everyday Snippets, took too much time and couldn't be completed, even after two weeks of working on it. I've still not finished it to this day. On the other hand, I happened to be one of the winners of the writeathon, winning one thousand dollars.
The day I saw this, I had just launched the Twitter app and saw 19 notifications. I've never had that many since I started using Twitter. I thought one of my tweets performed wonderfully well. But surprisingly, it was because I was tagged in that Hashnode Tweet, and thus, I got notified of every like on it. I was thrilled. On seeing it, I felt a way I had never felt before. $1000 is a lot of money. I would love to thank @hashnode again for the opportunity.
The win was very unexpected. I had thought that Hashnode would be selecting the winners based on the popularity of the articles. But surprisingly, they didn't. Instead, they chose the winners based on article quality.
I finally applied to publications to be a writer.
After the announcement, which was made on the 6th of October, 2022, I felt that I was now more credible, and I could directly apply to publications to be a writer. Furthermore, I could also mention winning the Hashnode writeathon as proof of worthiness.
I, therefore, applied to Smashing Magazine, Tutorials Point, Draft Dev, and ProDataSkills, long before I even received the prize from Hashnode. Surprisingly, only Draft Dev replied, and their reply was to inform me of the rejection, which I still very much appreciate. The last application I sent was to Tutorials Point and was sent on the 11th of October, and I still haven't gotten any response from the others.
I searched for remote jobs.
Since I didn't get responses from the publications I applied to, I decided that I would search for technical writing part-time remote jobs. I did see a good listing belonging to Customer.io, which was about helping to develop their documentation, but I couldn't apply. The reason is that I had no prior experience with documentation software like Read The Docs or a documentation generator like Sphinx.
I made some realisation.
I ended up with tonnes of uncompleted projects.
To be able to keep up with these and some other things that I won't be mentioning here, I have set no goals for 2023. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. But it is what it is.
Although I made $1000 in 2022, I still didn't make anything. The money is just a prize for winning a competition, not something I earned by exchanging a product or knowledge of mine for. I'm happy about it, but I'm not in any way impressed. It's already the 7th of January, 2023, and I still have no clear plan for the new year, but I think things will be better this year than in the last one.
Let me know in the comments if you think there's something I should have done differently in the past year or that I should do differently this year.