It has been another great year for technology and The Polyglot Developer. Like I’ve done in a 2018 activity report, and the years before it, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on all that was accomplished for the 2019 calendar year.
If you’re unfamiliar with this kind of post, it is more or less a numbers report for the various things that happened throughout the year. Such things include blog, podcast, and YouTube metrics, as well as information around events and speaking engagements.
Not only is this an opportunity for me to keep track of things, but you can use it as an opportunity to learn about how I’ve conducted business and apply it towards your own.
Before jumping right into the reflection, I wanted to give you a heads up that affiliate links will pop up throughout the post. These are special links that give me credit or commission if you sign up for any of the services listed using my link. If you plan to sign up for a service, please use one of my links, because it does help keep The Polyglot Developer running.
The blog, which you’re currently viewing this article on, is and probably always will be, the core of The Polyglot Developer. It started with the blog, and it will probably end with the blog because you never know which services will exist tomorrow.
To get an idea of the impact that the blog had on the world, take a look at the analytics recorded for the year:
As you can see, there were roughly 2,200,000 page views throughout the year. There is no doubt when it comes to the popularity and impact the blog has had on developers and other people in various technology fields.
The blog has more than 500 tutorials, 60 of which were published in 2019. While I’m not as prolific at writing as I once was, the content is still coming as fast as I learn about it.
Now let’s take a look at the blog from an operations perspective.
For half the year I was using DigitalOcean, a VPS provider I had been using for around five years. The hardware specifications of my VPS were as follows:
These specifications matched what I had been using the year prior and it was running me $20.00 per month plus 20% for backups. This was very reasonable, and I would recommend DigitalOcean to anyone that asks, but because The Polyglot Developer is a static generated HTML website, the VPS was overkill.
About halfway through the year, I migrated The Polyglot Developer to Netlify based on all the recommendations I was receiving. I had to make quite a few optimizations to the blog so I wouldn’t exceed the bandwidth limits, but in the end, I got free hosting. This means that I reduced my monthly operating costs by about $27.00 with no loss of features or performance to the business.
At this point I’d recommend both DigitalOcean and Netlify even though I’m currently using Netlify.
In addition to written content, video content took a priority. As with previous years, video tutorials were recorded and published to YouTube. These tutorials were typically modeled after blog tutorials on a specific subject rather than video courses which encapsulated several subjects in a clear and concise fashion.
When it comes to the viewership, you can take a look at the stats pulled from YouTube below:
As you can see, all of the videos combined received 414,300 views for the year with more than 20,000 minutes watched. While the views and minutes watched were from all the currently published videos, the channel received 32 new videos during the year.
While I promised more videos this year, other things came up. If you’ve ever recorded a video, whether that be a screen-cast for YouTube or a course, you’ll know they are a lot of work. Not only do you have to come up with the content, but you also have to record it and then do the editing.
I do suspect that there will be more videos being published in 2020.
Over the past few years I’ve explored a few different types of paid content because this ship has to stay floating somehow. This year the focus was around courses and eBooks.
This year I purchased a license to Teachable to act as the learning management system (LMS) for courses, whether that be free or paid. This was a change from Udemy which was being used over the past few years.
While some courses still exist on Udemy, the switch is slowly being made to what is now The Polyglot Developer Course Portal.
The following courses were published this year:
While it isn’t the full scope of The Polyglot Developer course catalog, more will be redone or created and added in the future.
In addition to courses, a book was published:
This book was published on Gumroad and as you can probably guess, goes hand-in-hand with the course of the same name.
The podcast continues to be popular with guests from a diverse selection of locations, skills, and companies. While the goal was to have a cadence of one episode per month, there is a certain time commitment for each episode and finding guests. For this reason, we were a little shy of 12 episodes in 2019.
The podcast continues to be hosted on AWS S3 and for this reason determining an exact download number is a bit finicky. The cost for the year was ~$70.57 and that includes storage as well as bandwidth. So if you take that information and pair it with the average size of each episode, you can estimate how many episodes were downloaded. For 2019, I’m estimating 1,761 downloads per month of no particular episode.
In the future, I may switch to a podcast hosting provider with better analytics, but for now it is lower on the priority chain in terms of cost.
In addition to reaching a huge online community with The Polyglot Developer, I’ve been involved with quite a few in-person events in the form of Meetups, conferences, and hackathons. Remember, I’m a Developer Advocate at MongoDB, so events and content are kind of my thing.
Here are the events that I participated in this year:
When it comes to events, Meetups are by far my favorite because they are more personal and the people who attend are actually interested in being there, rather than receiving a free trip from their employer.
In case you didn’t know, I have my own local Meetup group called the Tracy Developer Meetup. It is in Tracy, CA, just outside of the Bay Area.
As The Polyglot Developer continues to scale, the need for tools and services grows. It takes a little more than just a text editor and a hosting plan to keep everything going.
The list of tools and services being used include:
To get an idea of how the tools are used, I’ll give you a quick overview.
Netlify, as previously mentioned, is being used to host the static generated website built with Hugo. It is probably one of the few services that I’m using that is free. When I push a commit to GitLab, the build process starts and the website deploys.
Namecheap is my domain name provider. While I could use Netlify for this, I’ve been using Namecheap for years and haven’t had a real incentive to switch. In addition to the domain name, Namecheap is also acting as my email provider.
ConvertKit is how I manage the mailing list. It’s how I send the newsletter in addition to sending you content that you’re particularly interested in. If it wasn’t obvious, I determine the content you’re interested in based on how you interact with the newsletter. ConvertKit makes managing all this very convenient.
Since email isn’t the only way to get content in front of you, I also use Buffer. With Buffer I’m able to easily manage the Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages and queue up any tutorials that publish. While I could do all of this manually, it was more cost effective to use a service than dedicate the time it would take otherwise.
Remember the courses portal that went live this year for The Polyglot Developer? The portal is powered by Teachable which is a great learning management system (LMS). I’m able to publish courses, set prices, and get deeper insight into how developers are engaging with the courses so I can make better content. This is something I wasn’t able to do with Udemy, the platform I was using previously.
Finally, we have Automate.io. If you’ve ever heard of Zapier or IFTTT, it is the same concept, just for cheaper. I’m able to set triggers and perform actions in an automated fashion so that way I can eliminate some of my workload. This includes queuing content, updating the blog, or managing any events that I organize.
People have been curious over the years what it costs to operate The Polyglot Developer. I’ve always shared the hosting costs, but never anything else.
The following is a breakdown of the annual operating costs and where the money goes, in terms of services:
In addition to services, there’s also necessary hardware and software upgrades. For example, the following was purchased or upgraded:
Because I like to take care of my contributors as well as do a decent marketing job, there were also costs around merchandising. To get an idea of what this consists of, check out the following:
To sum it up, it cost roughly ~$1,600 for the 2019 year to operate The Polyglot Developer. Don’t let the number deter you from wanting to start blogging and similar as hardly anything listed is a requirement. However, as you scale, you might consider subscribing to paid software and services to make your life easier.
While the end of year reflection helps me keep track of things, I’m hoping that others were able to find value in it. When I started, there were a lot of things that I wish I knew, so hopefully it fills the gap.
As previously mentioned, there are affiliate links in this report. If you plan to sign up to any of the services that I mentioned, please use my links, even if you’re creating a free account. The credits and commission I get help with the operating costs.