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2023: Year In Review

This was one of the most varied years I’ve had in my career thus far, especially in my time being self-employed in the web dev space. I built a couple of the biggest projects of my freelance career, worked with some great agencies, and wrapped up some long-time client relationships as the tech landscape changed.

Early in my freelancing days, a good chunk of my client work came from agencies. After the aforementioned wrapping-up of one of those agency relationships, the majority of my work this last year was directly with my own clients. While I still did some great work with with some excellent agency partners this year, moving towards serving the end client directly is a direction I intend to continue to pursue further.

One such client was CompStak who approached me to rebuild their existing React-based marketing site as a WordPress site. This was a major undertaking, in which I replaced all of the React reactivity and interactions with Alpine.js. Ultimately, it allowed them to roll out a rebrand within a month of launching, since they now had full control of the site, no longer dependent on an overseas contractor to make even the slightest change. Read more about it.

So much React

Since the start of the year, I’ve been working on a fairly large media project, which unfortunately I won’t be able to discuss until it goes live, except for the fact that it’s a React-based project. Even though a good deal of my JS framework experience is with Vue, I’ve enjoyed leaning into React more this year on this project alongside a few others, as there continues to be a huge need for expertise with React as the years go on.

Further to that, I got the opportunity to join the faculty at BCIT where I studied a number of years ago, to teach React in the same very same program, which will start in January of ‘24. Of course, React didn’t exist back when I was a student, so this will be a great chance to both teach a “new” piece of tech for the upcoming batch of new front-end developers, and to flex a new skill in teaching online (and perhaps in person down the road).

People and Travel

I’ve been friends with Joey for a few years now after connecting through a freelancing Slack group, and we agreed at the start of the year that 2023 could be the year we finally get together in person. Not long after that decision, Laracon US was announced, and we each registered and booked our flights to Nashville right away. As providence would have it, we roomed with the legendary Jason Beggs, and shenangans ensued.

While Laracon itself was an amazing conference with inspiring talks, I had the opportunity to meet a bunch of great folks whom I otherwise might never have; in particular, I met a bunch of the guys who work for Statamic at their pizza party after the second day of the conference, and I remain in touch with some of them regularly, and the circle has grown even wider since.

Reading: business or personal?

I made the (probably foolish) decision to try to read 48 books this year. Why 48? I’m not sure exactly, but it seemed like a lofty enough number that it would be a real challenge, and I would likely read more than I did the previous year in simply making the attempt. I got off to a strong start, and while the final tally might not be 48, I did manage to read a good deal for both personal enjoyment, and for career and business development. I’ll talk more about this in a later post.

At the very least, I managed to read a few things that have been on my list for some time, including Atomic Habits, The One Thing, and The Win Without Pitching Manifesto in the business/productivity arena. Some of the books I read I discovered in a YouTube video by Chris Do, and The Futur also talks about some of these books on their website.

On the personal enjoyment side of things, I read (and re-read) some classics like 1984, Animal Farm, and a few Michael Connelly page-turners while on holiday, in addition to some personal fincance books like Beat the Bank (for the 3rd time), which is a must-read for any Canadians out there. Finally, I picked up Winston Churchill’s 5-volume set about the Second World War, which I am looking forward to reading with great anticipation.

I still have a list of books I want to tackle, so I anticipate another year full of reading. This time, I hope to be a little more focused with the business-oriented material as I gain more clarity with the direction of my business.

Looking ahead

As of this writing, I still have yet to sit down to formally put down some goals for 2024, but I anticipate that should be done soon, as has been my tradition with a good friend for many years now. Even still, a few thoughts have been brewing:

Laracon was an inspring expereince, especially when it comes to thinking about my future career in the web space. I’ve never been a back-end guy, though I supposed you could call me full stack depending on the circles you find yourself in. The bulk of my CMS experience is in WordPress; however, I’ve touched proper “frameworks” like Rails and Laravel on a surface level here and there over the years in my front-end work, and as such I have a general understanding of how these MVC frameworks work.

Laracon, with its breadth of topics that touched on the even wider breadth of uses and approaches to building that Laravel enables, gave me a new perspective. Here was a community that I was inspired to be a part of.

I have some ideas on how to find my place this space as a newcomer, so some of my aims for the coming year involve the pursuit of that goal, so stay tuned as I begin to work that out. At they very least, I’m interested in seeing how I can pivot from WordPress as my back-end/CMS of choice, to a Laravel stack.

I see Statamic playing a big part of this shift, and I’ve already begun this journey by rebuilding my wife’s site in Statamic (it’s not ready yet), which will replace the aging Gatsby-Contentful stack that requires a fair amount of involvement from me in order to make any significant changes.

As for personal things, I mostly leave that off of this platform - if you wish to know more, please don’t hesistate to reach out and/or join my newsletter below.

Thanks for reading, and may the new year bring you much peace, joy, and success in your life and endeavours.

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