So, it’s already been a year since I quit my job and dedicated myself to web projects, and it’s gone really quickly. I’ve kept myself very busy during that time, probably a bit too busy. I have absolutely no regrets with my career switch and have been incredibly happy with the decision.
One good thing to note is that the economic conditions seems to have had no major effect on online ad revenues. It’s always hard to tell on a month to month basis due to seasonal variation, but our year-to-year numbers have been up. IAB claims across the board numbers are down 5% in Q1 2009, but that seems a marginal decline when there were predictions of 50% drops by some. In fact, one of the biggest doom-sayers, Nick Denton of Gawker Media, reports that their revenues were up 35% year over year. Anecdotal reports I’ve heard from other publishers have reflected the same experiences. While there may be more declines to come… so far, so good.
The growth of TouchArcade.com has been remarkable, and is the primary reason my time has been so occupied this past year. Keeping track of App Store releases really is a more than full time job. The time I’ve had to put into it has reduced the time I have had for MacRumors improvements and AppShopper feature progression. It also put on hold any other grand projects I might have had. That said, its success is not something I can complain about. I suppose I’m not entirely surprised that it was able to gain traction, as I feel iPhone gaming is an incredibly addictive topic… but the rapidity of the growth is surprising. In just a year, in both traffic and respect, the site has done more than could have been expected. (I even interviewed Carmack the other week — how crazy is that?)
The major goal of mine over the past year was the outsourcing of more of my work. It’s been a hard transition for me, as I have a lot of personal ownership in my projects — so it’s hard to hand over the “keys” to someone else. Obviously, no one else will do things exactly the way I would, and it’s just a matter of getting used to that. As a result, it’s taken me this long to finally hire the right people. Fortunately, over the past 6-7 months, I’ve managed to hire two people to handle the editorial responsibilities that can be so time consuming, and one person to handle programming. The transition is still ongoing, but I’m really happy with the extra time it should afford me. I may actually be able to keep up with my email now.
Looking forward, I still have progress to make on freeing up more of my time, so I can focus on larger scale issues as well as new projects. I think my difficulity in transitioning editorial responsibilities smoothly has taught me to get others involved at a much earlier stage. So, I’m not planning on ever starting another content site where I would be the primary writer again. And that’s no big loss for me. As a computer science major, it still amazes me that any sort of writing has become a major aspect of my occupation.
We’ll see what the next year holds. I think it will likely include some new hires, some major feature improvements to the sites I already have, and possibly the launch of one or two major new sites. There are a few sites that have been on my todo list for years now, so I’m anxious to get serious work done on them. Unfortunately, it will probably be a number of months before I can get caught up enough to seriously start on them. Next year’s update will be interesting.