2023 In Review And A Look Forward To 2024

Family bike ride at Harpers Ferry
Family bike ride at Harpers Ferry, November 2023

This is Annual Review number nine!

That makes this the longest career stint I’ve had. Woohoo! πŸŽ‰ (Before this, I was a Forensic Accountant for eight years.)

2023 was a great year.

Of course, it had its ups and downs, but my family and I are all healthy and safe, which is all that matters.

I was happier, healthier, and fitter than at any time since my kids were born. The year was a success from a work point of view too, although my revenue was down slightly on last year. Most importantly, I’ve rediscovered some of my mojo that I lost during the pandemic.

I’ll dive into all of this below, but let me begin with a review of my 2023 goals:

Did I Meet My 2023 Goals?

My explicit work goals for 2023 were:

  1. Create 2 new video courses – Yes, I launched Beginner Apps Script and The AI Playbook for Google Sheets
  2. Send my Google Sheets Tips newsletter every Monday – Yes,I sent 50 editions
  3. Hit 70k newsletter subscribers – Close! I reached 65,110.

What about non-work goals? Here’s how it went:

  • Have another healthy year and get fit – Yes!!
  • Century bike ride (100-mile ride) – Yes, at last! After missing this goal for the past few years, I made it a priority this year. I did 97 miles, 110 miles, and 142 mile rides.
  • Multi-day adventures locally – yes, I managed a handful of local, overnight bike tours.
  • C&O canal tour with my boys – no, we didn’t manage it this year. Bumping this one to next year.
  • 25 nights camping – I managed 11 nights camping.
  • Weekly brainstorming hike with my wife – sometimes, but it’s hard to do consistently.
  • Read 20 books – I managed to read 15 books.

2023 Highlights

1) New Courses

In early April, I launched my Beginner Apps Script course:

Beginner Apps Script

It’s a comprehensive course designed as a fun and practical way to learn Apps Script.

In early October, I launched The AI Playbook for Google Sheets:

The AI Playbook for Google Sheets

2) Google Sheets Tips Newsletter

I had another consistent year sending out 50 editions of my weekly Google Sheets Tips newsletter. The latest newsletter went out to 52,280 people.

If you’re one of those folks, thank you for your support!

And if you’re not, and you’d like to level up your Sheets skills with a bite-size tutorial each week, you can sign up here.

3) Community & Partnerships

Although I didn’t attend any in-person events this year, there were still many meaningful partnerships and friendships through the year.

And I’m truly honored to be part of the Google Developer Expert community for another year πŸ™

Google Developer Expert 2023

4) Website

It was always going to be tough to follow last year’s big push on web content. I published 12 posts this year (not including this one):

Blog Post Publication Frequency

This year, my favorite posts to research and write were:

Bullet Chart Sparkline In Google Sheets

Join The Dots In Google Sheets

Create Google Sheets Formulas with AI

Traffic to the website is still strong, but it has slowly declined through the year. Some of that is probably due to publishing fewer posts. Competition is also a lot higher now than when I started, and improves every year.

Website Traffic

(December is not showing a full month of stats.)

5) Sponsorships and Diversifying Revenue

Over 90% of my revenue still comes from my courses, but I’m working to diversify and increase the share from a handful of other sources.

Newsletter sponsorships is up and running and going well. I’m looking forward to building on this foundation in 2024. If you’re a brand looking to reach an audience of 50k+ professionals, you can sponsor a newsletter here.

Referrals: I don’t do any consulting work myself anymore, but I have a great relationship with my friends at Set & Forget. I’m delighted to continue this partnership into 2024 and have no hesitation in recommending them as your partner to help you realize your Workspace and automation goals. If you have a project in mind, I’m happy to make a referral for you. Start by completing this expression of interest form.

Affiliate income: The smallest slice of the pie, but it runs on autopilot. I’ll keep it going in 2024 and see what happens!

6) Non-work highlights

Looking back across the whole year, 2023 was a good one! Lots of memories that I’ll treasure for life.

My boys are growing up fast and I’m enjoying parenting more now that we can do a lot more things together. We’ve been hiking, biking, paddle-boarding, and rock climbing this year. At home, I’ve enjoyed countless hours of football (soccer) with my youngest son. And biking, lego, and robotics with my eldest.

I worked hard on the bike this year. For the first time since my kids were born, I felt like I reversed the slow middle-aged decline in fitness levels. Remarkably, I’m finishing the year fitter than I began it. I haven’t been able to say that for a decade. And it feels good.

We did lots of traveling as a family this year, both locally and further afield.

Travel and adventure highlights from the year:

Sunset in Snowdonia, Wales, during a traverse of the Welsh 3,000ers
Campsite at Ohiopyle during a 6-day tour of the C&O/GAP trails
Campsite at Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania, during a 6-day bike tour of the C&O/GAP trails

2023 Challenges

It’s said that your 30’s and 40’s are your busiest years. You’re raising young children and are in the peak years of your career.

I’m in my early 40’s and I can confirm this is true. πŸ˜‚

My biggest challenge continues to be trying to balance everything. It feels like I can never give enough attention to each different part of my life. It’s like the spinning plates game. You dash from plate to plate giving each a spin. Enough attention (and momentum) to keep it spinning until you can return.

This year I had a small dip in revenue for the business. This is not a fun feeling after seeing consistent growth for the past few years. There were two main causes: 1) my energy was elsewhere at times this year, and 2) my Black Friday sale underperformed compared to my forecast.

So I’m looking to create fresh new courses in 2024 as well as grow my audience.

Looking Forward To 2024

2024 Work Goals

Each year, I seem to set fewer and fewer goals. I think I’ve come to realize that though I can predict what Q1 might look like, the rest of the year is something of a mystery. Therefore, I’ll set some early-year goals and keep the rest of the year open!

Having said that, there are two annual goals that are somewhat predictable and in my control, that I will shoot for:

  1. Send 50 editions of my weekly Google Sheets newsletter
  2. Hit 80k newsletter subscribers

Next, those near-term goals for Q1, including a new course or two:

  1. I’m considering a Google Sheets Design Course teaching you how to make your Sheets look professional
  2. I want to create a Data Visualization course for Google Sheets
  3. Implementing a better onboarding system for new subscribers
  4. SEO push to claw back some lost traffic
  5. Explore new growth strategies in 2024: I think this will be a big push on YouTube! ▢️

Beyond that, I’m sure that AI will continue to play a big role in my work. In fact, I’m certain that I’ll be creating lots more Sheets + AI tutorials in 2024.

Other 2024 Goals

  1. Have another healthy year and get fitter.
  2. A C&O canal bike tour with my boys.
  3. A 200 mile double century ride.
  4. 25 nights camping, with at least 1 night per calendar month.
  5. An adventure trip with my brother.
  6. A trip home to see family in the UK.
  7. Weekly brainstorming hike with my wife.
  8. Read 15 books.

Thank You!

Thank you for your support on this journey. A big thank you for taking my courses and reading the weekly newsletters and articles. I hope they’ve been helpful to you!

Best wishes to you all for 2024! I’m excited to see what 2024 brings. See you around.

Previous years

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This post describes how I designed and ran an audience survey with over 1,700 responses, using Google Forms, Sheets, Apps Script, and ChatGPT. I’ll show you the entire process from end-to-end, including how I:

  1. Created a survey with Google Forms
  2. Used Apps Script to automatically say thank you to 1,700 respondents
  3. Analyzed the response data in Google Sheets
  4. Used AI to help me understand the qualitative data
  5. Presented the results in Google Docs

This flowchart shows how the system is set up:

Survey Flow Chart
Continue reading How I Used Google Forms, AI, and Apps Script Automation to Analyze 1,700 Survey Responses

The LEN Function in Google Sheets

The LEN function in Google Sheets is a simple but useful function that counts the number of characters in a given string.

Basic LEN Function Google Sheets

If you’re working with text data in spreadsheets then you’re likely to use the LEN function. It becomes particularly powerful when combined with other functions to manipulate and analyze strings.

πŸ”— Grab the LEN template at the bottom of this article.

Continue reading The LEN Function in Google Sheets

The ROMAN Function in Google Sheets

The ROMAN function in Google Sheets converts numbers into Roman numerals.

This function is particularly useful for those interested in presenting numbers in a classical style, whether for educational, historical, or aesthetic purposes.

Simple Roman Formula

πŸ”— Grab the template at the bottom of this article.

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Three Ways To Use AI Tools With Google Sheets

AI course for Google Sheets

Although AI has been around for decades, it’s only really been available to the public in its current form for the past year or so. And with the rise of these generative AI tools, like ChatGPT and Google Bard, AI is more accessible than ever.

But where does AI fit with Google Sheets?

And how do we use AI tools with Google Sheets?

In this post we’re going to look at how to use the most popular AI tools with Google Sheets. You’ll see how easy it is get started and learn that AI isn’t rocket science. It’s simply another useful tool that can save you time when you work with Google Sheets.

Specifically, we’ll look at three ways to use AI tools with Google Sheets:

  1. Chatbots like ChatGPT or Bard
  2. Google Sheets Add-Ons
  3. Via the API and Apps Script (advanced)

Continue reading Three Ways To Use AI Tools With Google Sheets