A look back at 2014
News / updated: September 02, 2016

A look back at 2014

It’s hard for me to believe, but Laravel News as a website isn’t even a year old yet. As 2014 is coming to a close I wanted to create a post outlining some of the milestones for this site over the past year. This is meant for historical reasons and could be interesting to look back on in the future.

The Beginning

January is when the site was born. I started the site on Tumblr using a subdomain and on January 18th I purchased the domain. I missed purchasing the domain without the dash by a mere 14 days, doh. I did attempt to email the person that registered it offering to purchase, but I never heard anything back. Lesson learned – Always buy a domain first. :)

Here is what the site looked like at the beginning:

First Site Design

I stayed on Tumblr until May when I relaunched on my Wardobe blogging app. With this switch I changed the design again:

Second site design

Finally in August I made the final change to WordPress and the current design. The reaction to this move was kind of weird to me. I had a few people point out they thought it was odd a Laravel site would be running on WordPress. I find it funny how developers preach “the right tool for the job” until it’s a tool they have something against.

Laravel Newsletter

I started the Laravel newsletter in May and sent the first edition on May 11th to 356 subscribers.

On the technology side I started out using Sendy and SES because of the pricing. Just three weeks back I switched to this over to Campaign Monitor which gave me some neat features but the biggest is it’s Canvas creator, a wysiwyg for newsletters.

This is by far where I’ve spent the most hours. I like to make it a unique experience each week and to get that it requires a lot of thought and planning. By switching the newsletter providers I’ve been able to shave off an hour each week and still create something I feel is high quality.

As of today the newsletter has grown from those 356 subscribers to 3,300+. I’m averaging 65-70% open rates and around 45% clicks. From what I’ve read I should expect these numbers to drop over time.

The Artisan Files

Artisan Files

I started the Artisan Files series back in May. I liked the idea of doing a weekly series interviewing developers and I thought it would be a unique feature for the site. It would also be a great way of getting to know some of the people on a more personal level, and hopefully show that we are all just a community of like minded people sharing our love for development.

Twenty eight interviews have been published this year and I packaged the first 23 into an e-book which you can download here.

Site Stats

If you like stats here is the breakdown1 from the past year.

I had 723 total posts (2 a day) with an average word count of 171. Short and sweet right :)

  • Posts 723
  • Avg. Length 1,021
  • Total Length 737,863
  • Words 123,901
  • Comments 170 with 28 being me

I think it’s worth mentioning that I pretty much stopped allowing comments about half way through the year. I had a few that I didn’t agree with the tone so I just stopped them on all linked posts. I’m rethinking that decision for next year and I will either allow comments on everything or nothing at all. I’m on the fence as I feel most comments are now via social channels.

Income

The site broke even this year comparing income to true expenses. If I add in the time I invested then it would be so far in the red it’s not even funny.

The primary income streams came from sponsors, t-shirt sales, and Laravel Jobs. Making money was never a true goal of the site, instead I wanted to create a community resource as a way of giving back. I hope in 2015 that I’m able to generate a little more to at least pay me for some of my time.

Lessons Learned

Laravel News is my first experience into a running a content driven site and the biggest take away is — Writing Is Hard!

Secondly, it’s very time consuming. Scheduling and creating interviews, coming up with content, publishing a newsletter, working on the site infrastructure, and doing all this with a full time job meant many late hours.

My goals for 2015 is to slow down and put more focus on the actual content to make it an even better Laravel resource.

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