2021 in Review
Lots of stuff happened in my life and I hope 2022 will be better. Let’s revise what happened and what my goals are for the next year.
In 2021 I have released the following blogs:
- Remote MDX with Next.js
- Personal branding as a Software Engineer
- The Best Tech Companies in Berlin 2021
- The Work Experience in a Software Engineer Resume
- Let your Projects section shine
- 11 Things experienced Software Engineers would have done differently
- 6 Monthly Updates on Side projects
Some of them are quite good for SEO like “The Best Tech Companies in Berlin 2021” or “Remote MDX with Next.js”, but the blog is not growing as much as I want to. I might need to invest some time into the blog again next year. I have the feeling I could write a lot about my career and general career development in the EU. I am helping a lot of my friends these days with getting their careers up to speed so it might be helpful to share these other things as well. What is definitely coming in the next year is to write another blog article about the best tech companies in Berlin, since I work at one of the biggest ones hiring here now. That post will be interesting.
Sadly, I also stopped writing my monthly reviews. This was probably caused by starting my new job which I will talk about later. But I want to update you, people, again, so I will decide to write quarterly reviews.
Goals for 2022
- Write a blog about the best tech companies in Berlin 2022 (0/1)
- Do a Quarterly Review (0/4)
My professional career developed a lot this year. I left Klarna and joined Stripe this year. I am really thankful for my time at Klarna but after nearly 3 years it was time to discover something else. Stripe is similar to Klarna in many ways, but also entirely different. Especially when it comes to compensation because I almost 2x mine. But how did I get around that?
Last Christmas, I was seeing a position at Airbnb being opened in Berlin. I asked around and found a nice recruiter who was able to tell me more about the position. I started doing Leetcode. It was lockdown. It was difficult. But it was worth it. Leetcode is an online platform to train your algorithm skills. I can definitely recommend using this platform and also subscribing to the premium version of it. You will get access to a lot of problems and even lists of interview questions that companies are using in real interviews. It will prepare you in a nice way. And the money is worth it. The offers you will receive at bigger companies will outshine the subscription cost.
The Airbnb interview was tough, probably the toughest I ever had. And yeah, in the end, I got rejected. Airbnb is my dream company but it’s fine. I needed to keep my head up. In those months I really realized how much I needed to change my company, so I applied a lot to other companies. My resume almost always got me interviews at bigger companies. So that was kind of easy. I might write a blog article about that exact one. But anyway, I got interviews at GitHub, MongoDB, Stripe, Datadog, and Wayfair. All of the interview processes were really well, but the quickest was Stripe. It was also the most aligned to me I had the feeling because I was using Stripe for side projects before and their projects seemed really interesting.
After interviewing I got an outstanding offer and accepted it right away. The team was looking amazing and the project was interesting — even though a bit secret back at that time. But I can say it now. It is Stripe Tax. It is amazing because I can use some background from my knowledge at Klarna where I dealt with taxes as well. But in any case, starting at Stripe was amazing, but it deserves a blog post on its own. What I like the most though is how much trust you get working there. You can really move the needle yourself if you have the right ideas.
On top of that, I helped my friend, Julius, by referring him, to join Stripe as well. I helped another friend to get another job and I helped a mate from India to get an offer by Klarna where the person will relocate to Germany at the beginning of next year. It makes me happy to see other people succeed. I reviewed several resumes this year as well and overall I feel like I give back to the community that got me where I am today. I am super thankful for all that. Thank you to everyone who supported me in the past years and who I can support.
I worked a lot on my side projects but without any success. I have to accept it and keep moving. But let’s get into details.
A category that does not fit this chapter exactly is my Twitter growth. At the beginning of the year, I just passed 500 followers and wanted to reach 1000 at the end of the year. I also did not reach that but I got another 100 followers. Something I can build upon. I will spend some more time next year regarding Twitter growth I think, sharing more stories of my side projects.
So now to the individual projects.
I invested some time into the project this year like refactoring a major part of the application, the case conversion. I invested time into the blog as well, but it did not pay off. The search intent is simply too low I think and without a lot of backlinks, I would not reach the growth necessary to ever make it profitable. I guess I will sell it. I learned a lot but it’s time to say goodbye.
Another project no one ever heard of probably. At the beginning of this year, I was streaming on Twitch. I created a new project around the same time called linkedium. I never launched it or published it. The MVP was broken most often because I waited for LinkedIn API access. I got it in the end but lost motivation especially because there are alternatives out there like PostDrips ( https://postdrips.com/) where the founder is doing an amazing job. Maybe I will look into launching it this year and just reverse-pitch people reaching out on LinkedIn with the tool because it's the right target audience.
The traffic of the project is rising and rising which is cool to see. My SEO efforts finally show off. I wrote three blog articles with good success and traffic is rising as well because of that. I have created three blogs in the whole time:
I have also extended the career ladder source of the project which is quite cool, and that also contributed to the traffic.
A major problem though is to convert traffic. I thought by introducing a free trial I could boost the users signing up at least to get more feedback and it resolved in getting more users. But most of them simply signed up and then did not use it. It is sad, but it made me realize the users probably do not need a tool for tracking, or most engineers to who this tool is targeted are not in the need for using it. I have also included upsells in the blog posts and in most of the web pages which still are not clicked that often. I do not think changing them will change the output of the blogs. The problem lies in the search intent, no one is ever googling how to track their work, unfortunately.
When it comes to marketing I have tried to make LinkedIn posts, a product hunt launch that resulted in almost 40 upvotes but no MRR. I have launched the project on hackernews as well without any upvotes or any traction. It is difficult to find communities where people are participating and look to actively grow their careers. I was thinking of creating my own and might do so as well to grow the project a bit, but more on this now.
The future of the project has been something on my mind for a long time. I could not grow it substantially this year despite some efforts. And I believe in my new project tooltipr.com a lot more. There is simply more potential there and I feel more aligned. And I want to try some different more promising projects as well, so I have a plan. I am ready to sell the project, but first I want to grow traffic. For that, I want to publish at least twelve more blog articles during the first three to four months of 2022. A difficult task, but definitely possible. The target is to hit 2000 users per month tracked in Google Analytics. I also want to finish all pages in the footer, so the website looks complete. Additionally, I might plan on creating a discord server for the career growth of developers. Giving tips about how to get a promotion at their companies and how tracking their work can help. The community part is a bit not sure yet, but I will see what I can do about it.
In the end, the plan is to sell the project. What amount? I am not sure, maybe someone is willing to pay something for it — It is a low cost to host it ($10 per month) and with a bit of improving the marketing and sales pipeline someone could make a profit from the project. But if I can’t grow it till mid of the year with the actions I planned, I am not sure I will ever have a product-market fit.
This is my most-invested project right now. It is a tool to create corporate glossaries that can be directly shown via tooltips in your browser. I find it fascinating and it is super easy to use and a lot easier to market. I can go the B2B route, rather than going the B2C route with getworkrecognized. It is a lot easier to market and gets traction with such projects. So let us look at the stats:
We can see that search traffic and so on have not been really high, but I have some strategies around that. So let us discover what my plan is for tooltipr in specific.
First of all, we have blogging. The need for corporate glossaries is quite easily achieved these days: Excel Sheets or Google Sheets. This is working for most teams, but it is a hassle. Employees lose the link to the document and do not bother looking it up again. Getting frustrated. And this is the topic I need to explain in my blog articles. Search Engine traffic for these kinds of keywords is not high though, so I will need a distribution plan which I will share for the build-in public movement as well. I think this is one of the most important parts. I will also blog about the technical nature of tooltipr and how I have solved problems with writing a browser extension for example. There might be some useful information for other people to get hold of.
For tooltipr, I plan to release eight blog articles in the first 3 months of 2022. It will be extremely difficult to manage all of that, but it is needed especially because I have another Sales target to hit with the project. I hope to increase traffic nonetheless and also get some more email newsletter subscribers.
Another marketing effort is to showcase the project more in direct cold emails. I have the plan to build glossaries for smaller companies operating in niches with a lot of acronyms. For those companies, I create a glossary page like this one ( https://www.tooltipr.com/glossaries/runpanther) that they can use already. It is presenting the tooltipr solution in the right space already, contributing value to the companies without even asking or contacting them. With this, they will be more likely to even try out the full solution. I might need to work on the upsell message on the page, but I am sure this will work. The goal for the quarter is to write 50 emails (at least ten companies), reach out to target users with this approach, showing them the public glossary page they can use and how tooltipr can even enhance the experience.
On top of that, I still need to launch tooltipr in various communities, be it on Reddit or on other public pages. I will get some backlinks based on that which might lead to some sales hopefully.
I realized I suck at Marketing, Sales, and distribution of content. I need to improve with that in the future to be successful with creating profitable side businesses. So I am starting an initiative to start 2022 right: #100daysofmarketing. I am holding myself accountable on Twitter to do one thing every day, in the morning ideally so I cannot escape from the reality which is content creation and marketing, or cold emails.
So what are my goals for Q1 around side projects:
- 🔨 Create a sell listing for caseconverter.pro
- 🔨 Build a distribution plan for blog articles for getworkrecognized
- 🔨 Create 12 blog articles for getworkrecognized
- 🔨 Create a discord server about career growth for getworkrecognized (optional)
- 🔨 Launch tooltipr on hackernews and in other communities
- 🔨 Create 8 blog articles for tooltipr
- 🔨 Send at least 50 emails or LinkedIn messages to at least 10 companies with predefined public glossaries
- 🔨 #100daysofmarketing — this includes writing content, sharing content on social media, or writing cold emails
- 🔨 Tweet once every day in the #100daysofmarketing challenge
If I still have time, I also plan to work on some new ideas I have. The projects will be based around Excel and/or Google Sheets because I got kind of hooked into tables recently and I think the market is a lot bigger in comparison to the projects I worked on before.
Of course, there are overall goals for 2022 as well. They consist of the following:
- 🔨 Reach $100 MRR
- 🔨 Have fun at Stripe
- 🔨 Write 5 blog articles about the Software Engineering Career
And that’s it for now. Have a nice start to the next year. 2022 will be better!
Originally published at https://www.kevinpeters.net.