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Scotch.io 2018 Year in Review: A Brutally Honest Look

Another year down in the books! This was a big year for me personally since I will be turning 30 on January 7. Lats year in my 20s. Had to make it count!

I'd like to take a look back at 2018 and take an evaluation of Scotch.io as a whole. I also want to talk on my mindset for this year and how I believe this and last year were actually flat years for Scotch.

We'll Cover:

  • Pageviews and stats compared to previous years
  • Why I think there was a decline this year
  • Plans for next year
  • The best posts for the year

This may seem like a numbers heavy post, but I think it's a necessary look at how we're doing. After all, quality content will get the traffic.

The Best of the Year

Before we dive into the numbers and thoughts on the year, let's talk about the great authors and articles that have come about!

5 Tips to Write Better Conditionals in JavaScript - Jecelyn Yeen - 90,924 Pageviews

Understanding and Working with Files in Laravel - Samuel Oloruntoba - 62,024 Pageviews

How to Build a Memory Matching Game in JavaScript - Sandra Israel-Ovirih- 56,779 Pageviews

Add Loading Indicators to Your Vue.js Application - Samuel Oloruntoba - 53,890 Pageviews

Node.js Cron Jobs By Examples - Chris Nwamba - 49,571 Pageviews

The Numbers

Let's just drop the numbers here and we'll talk about them after.

Pageviews:

Solid 21.5M pageviews for the year! Thanks to everyone that's come to read an article, leave a comment, and just hang out with us over the year!

Users and Sessions:

And let's do some comparison shots between 2018 and last year 2017.

Pageviews 2018 vs 2017:

Ouch a whopping 14% drop! A big thing I believe that is leading to our drop in pageviews is most of our popular articles were the ones we wrote back in 2013. Google seems to be dropping off their search traffic because of age. (I think. It's SEO so who knows ¯_(ツ)_/¯).

Users 2018 vs 2017:

Happy to see users stayed about the same. Weird that pageviews suffered so greatly when users stayed the same. The drop on pages/session is a big reason why I decided to build version 8 of the site (the one you see today).

My Thoughts on the Numbers

This is our 5th year of Scotch.io existence and it's been a blast. Don't take the next things I say as me being too mean; I've just always been very critical (in a positive way). Gotta know your faults if you're gonna find how to improve.

Is it harder to keep the fire or to get the fire in the first place?

This is how I feel the years of growing this blog into a business have been in a nutshell:

  • Year 1: Started the grind. Happy for any traffic.
  • Year 2: Getting traffic. HURRAH!
  • Year 3: We've never seen this many people!! This is great!
  • This is where the complacency came in...
  • Year 4: Let's automate everything. Let's try to compete with something like SitePoint.
  • Year 5: Wow. That strategy did not work. Let's rebuild.

I've always felt one of our strengths in our writing and our great community is that it's real people and real world tutorials. People working at their jobs can look at these tutorials and say "Yea that would work perfect for what I'm doing!"

For a moment, we got away from that goal and gave up a bit of our personal touch.

Shot out of the Gate (2013)

When we first started back in 2013, I was putting out content like a SpaceX rocket shooting for the stars. That led to tremendous growth in our first few years. With the first bit of success, I got a bit complacent and moved my focus away from the content.

On Autopilot (2017)

I think this was the year where the success got to my head. Not in an I'm the best kind of way, but more of a Let's hang out and ride out this wave kind of thing.

We also focused more on articles that went a little past our core goals. We were still doing tutorials but they were things like Build an XYZ with Library A, Library B, Library C, and Library D. Far too specific to be usable by the majority of people. I know they have their place, but we weren't striking the right balance of paying for articles and those articles getting traffic.

There was amazing and great content that were those super specific type articles. Don't get me wrong. I love those articles. It's just that running a blog as a business, we have to start making the decisions on what the balance between quality and traffic gettability (is that a word?) is.

The Author Program

The author program of letting brilliant writers from around the world come and put together these amazing tutorials has been so much fun. Seeing these writers grow and teach people all over the internet is a true joy to see.

Managing the author program is a tough business. Being a creator and author is far different than editing 400 authors. It took its toll. We're working on a peer-editing program to help alleviate the strain on editors.

I don't want that to come across as a diss on authors. That's more of a management issue. The authors teach me new things every day and each and every one is a genius.

Reflecting and Rebuilding (2018)

At the beginning of this year, we took a long look at where 2017 took us and where we wanted to go. So I decided to redesign (again) so that we could pivot our architecture so that we would be a site that was fast globally. In the US, we were averaging around 7s load times, but across the sea in Europe and India, we were doing about 20-30s load times.

Now with load times under control globally thanks to moving to a static-ish site with Cloudflare, I think we have a solid foundation for the next things we want to do.

This redesign sets the foundation of everything I want to do moving forward.

What are we doing moving forward?

The ultimate goal is to provide more great content so that developers can develop easier. The whole reason we started Scotch was because we spent all this time figuring out how to code; we might as well put it on paper (online blog paper).

Let's get back to that idea. Teach what you know to whoever is willing to listen.

Glossary

We're hard at work on our new JavaScript Glossary.

Check out the simple code playground we made so you can test out snippets in real-time: Scroll down on this page to see code playgrounds

Webinars & Community Events

We will be doing monthly webinars. We recently did one and it was a blast to chat and code real-time with everyone online. Here's a recording of the recent one: Code+Compare: Build an App in React, then Vue

Starters

The next step is our newest section called Starters. One of Scotch.io's internal mantras has been replace the docs. I know the word replace is a bit extreme. It's more like supplement the docs. We understand that sometimes docs are too technical and not real-world enough. We saw a lot of success with practical tutorials in the beginning and I want us to get back to that.

Scotch.io starters will be the place you can come to learn from scratch to production.

More Great Content

As always, we'll be focused on quality courses and posts from myself and more great authors.

I know this post makes it seem like we had no great content in 2017/2018. On the contrary, there was a TON of outstanding content from all our authors. I think there just wasn't enough SEO friendly content which is why our traffic dropped.

On Mental Health

I've never really been one to talk on mental health so this will be a rare couple paragraphs for me. I am told often that I struggle too hard to be perfect. That great is the enemy of good. It may seem like I am a bit harsh on this reflection of our past two years, but I think that's only part of it.

There's a bit of an "I'm not doing enough. I owe our readers better and more content." mentality after seeing how 2017 was not the most content dense year.

After seeing how 2017 was a flat year, there was a big tendency to blame myself for the stagnation. Whatever happens here is my responsibility after all.

It took me a lot of the end of 2017 and first half of 2018 to stop kicking myself. Working on the redesign that took 7 months, was nerve wracking because as I was seeing the future of Scotch, it was still not deployable and the current site was dropping.

It's those moments where I think it's important to build grit and learn to enjoy the grind. One of my favorite podcast episodes was on Joe Rogan with David Goggins. It helped me realize that building mental toughness during the hard times is important.

Anything that is out of your comfort zone is making you better if you let it.

Getting that fire back that I originally had was a slow process, but I believe I'm back to the right spot mentally.

Conclusion

Please don't take this as a negative article. This was my honest reflection on the year and why traffic dropped.

I don't want to define success by the traffic numbers, but it is a necessary evil to keep the blog running.

Let me know your thoughts on how Scotch.io did this year and what you'd like to see in the coming year.

From the bottom of my ♥, thanks so much for reading and supporting us for the past 5 years. Here's the next 5! 🍻

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