2016 in review and a look forward to 2017

Happy New Year to you all!

If 2015 was a year of huge change, then 2016 was more incremental, building on the foundations of 2015. I still tried lots of different things – different gigs, different projects, different tools – but I’ve found creating apps and solving data problems on the Google platform is my sweet spot of skills, experience and enjoyment.

2016 highlights:

On this site

Investing so much time and effort into this site really started to pay off over the course of 2016.

Web traffic chart

Over 2,500 of you have subscribed to my email list and enjoyed a free copy of my ebook: Spice Up Your Sheet Life.

Midway through the year, I passed 100k pageviews, then 150k pageviews and am now close to 200k.

Several posts have garnered some really great commentary from readers, adding tons of value to the original post. This one in particular has 112 comments and counting!

These have been the most popular posts of 2016:

In addition, this post about Google’s new data visualization and dashboard tool, Data Studio, was the most “viral” post of 2016, getting a huge (for me) number of shares and views on the day I published it:

Google Analytics Data Studio tweet

In addition to those posts mentioned above, I also really enjoyed creating this animated data visualization of Washington D.C.’s temperatures since the 1980’s, using Google’s Visualization API:

Animated temperature chart using Google Chart API

Client highlights

Over the past year, I’ve specialized in providing G Suite and Apps Script services to clients, building dashboards, apps and tools to solve problems and save clients time. I’ve really enjoyed these projects and have worked with some great clients. I look forward to continuing into 2017 and focussing even further on custom Apps Script solutions.

In addition, I really enjoyed teaching two more data analytics courses for General Assembly in Washington, D.C.. The students were great in both groups and it’s a real privilege to teach them, and see such rapid progress in 10 weeks.

For private clients, I taught a number of data visualization workshops, focussing on Excel and Tableau, in Minnesota, Virginia and California.

I learnt a ton this year about running my own consulting business.

One of the biggest lessons was one client disappearing off the face of the earth when it came to settling their invoice. Despite repeated calls and emails, I’ve heard nothing. It wasn’t a huge amount of money, but it taught me a valuable lesson about trust, respect and how I price my services.

Want to work with me in 2017? Let me know and I’ll be in touch.

Goals for 2017

January is an exciting time of the year: a chance to set ambitious goals and a strategy for getting there.

The one big goal for last year that I failed to complete was releasing my digital course on building dashboards with Google Sheets and Data Studio. However, I’ve not stopped working on it, and it’ll be even better when I do release it. I’ve now recorded enough material that I’m confident of a launch in Q1 of 2017. Sign up to my email list for news and an early-bird offer when it launches.

Specifically, my goals for 2017:

  • Launch my Google Sheets & Data Studio dashboard course
  • Launch Edition 2 of my free ebook: Spice Up Your Sheet Life, with more interesting tips and tricks for working with Google Sheets
  • Launch two other digital products
  • Make a huge push with Apps Script, to deepen my knowledge & experience, and create detailed articles for this site. One quick way to measure this is to see what my GitHub profile looks like by the year-end, hopefully something more like this:
  • Github Chart

  • Continue to create in-depth articles and tutorials for this site, aiming for 1 – 2 posts a week
  • Continue to provide great service and solutions for my clients, in the G Suite & Apps Script ecosystem

It’s going to take hard work, focus and dedication to achieve all of these goals, but it’s as easy as ABC*

*Always Be Coding

By this, I mean being productive and efficient, always moving forwards and minimizing distractions (beware the Shiny Object Syndrome!). It’s crucial as a freelancer to create efficient workflows and systems, and to stay organized.

Well, that should do it. I better get back to work 😉

Happy New Year and all the best for 2017!

Cheers,
Ben

2015 in review and a look forward to 2016

Wow, that time of year again! Time flies.

New Year's Eve Fireworks
New Year’s Eve fireworks by: Christine Matthews

2015

2015 was a year of huge growth, both personally and in a work capacity.

By far the biggest event of 2015 (or in fact, life so far) was the birth of my son which has enriched and changed life in so many ways. It’s been challenging to figure out how to care for and nurture a new human being. Balancing that with rest of life hasn’t been easy for my wife and me. But we’re finding our feet as new parents and the experience is so special that it trumps anything else. When he smiles back or laughs it makes every night ops session worth it.

In a work capacity in 2015, I focussed on establishing a freelance career in data analytics through client work and teaching for General Assembly. Early in the year, I expanded my technical skills with a foray into web development but things really took off for me when I doubled-down on my true work passion – making sense of data.

I worked with Excel, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Google Sheets, Geckoboard and Tableau for client projects and at General Assembly, teaching data analytics to students.

Some of the highlights of 2015:

2016

I love the first few days of January, when the whole year stretches ahead and the options seem limitless. I’m really excited about 2016 and the work projects I have planned. It’s going to build on the foundations I laid in 2015, as I expand the teaching, client and website offerings.

Specifically, I have a couple of digital products launching in the first quarter, which I can’t wait to share. Watch this space!

So, goals for 2016:

  • Teach Data Analytics and Excel courses for General Assembly again. I’m signed up to teach the cohort starting on January 30th.
  • Launch my first ebook, featuring all of the most interesting, weird and wonderful spreadsheet tricks I’ve come across. I’ve nearly finished writing it and can’t wait to share it. It’s been hugely fun to research and write. Coming your way soon!
  • Launch my own dashboard course, likely through Udemy. I’m working on my first digital course which I plan to launch in the first quarter of this year. Again, I’m really excited about this.
  • Write more frequently on this blog. This website is critical to my business since the majority of my leads come through it, so I’m going to make a big push to create lots of interesting and valuable content on here this year.
  • Do more public speaking. I enjoyed speaking at GA’s graduation event last year and would love to speak at some events or meetups this year. It’s a great way to meet new people and share ideas with an interested audience.

What’s my secret mantra for 2016?

Focus!

This was my biggest single takeaway from last year. Things really started to move for me when I zeroed in on a niche and poured my heart and soul into it. So I plan to keep this in mind, stay focussed and avoid distractions this year.

So cheers to big things happening this year!

Happy New Year and all the best for 2016!

Cheers,
Ben