I’ve written up a “year in review” since starting my own company in 2012. This document helps me keep track of what I did (or did not) get done the past year and, more importantly, what I plan to do next year.
I’ve always written this for myself, but this year I’m making my year-end review public. Hopefully, this will give you a better idea of what I’ve been up to as well as what I have planned for next year. Also, I think posting it publicly will make me more accountable for actually getting it all done!
So here’s what I’ve been up to this year and what I’m planning for next year.
Most of my income comes from consulting with other architecture firms. My primary consulting client is Gehry Partners in Los Angeles. I spent 7 years working for Gehry Partners so I know the office and people really well. I do a lot of my work remotely. This year, however, I spent a lot of time on-site in their office. I made a total of 10, 5-day trips to LA.
I do a variety of work for Gehry, ranging from writing custom macros and applications to providing Revit and Excel training. I also do a lot of project work. This year, I spent a lot of time assisting the Battersea team with production and automation support. Next year, I’ll be working on some of the new Facebook projects.
I also did some smaller, one-off engagements consisting of custom Revit macros. I like doing this type of work and I plan to do more of it in 2016. If your firm needs help with automation, strategy or training, contact me. We can setup a free half-hour consultation call to discuss your needs and how I might be able to help.
I started Mastering Revit Macros back in 2014. It took me a while to get it recorded and out the door. Making a course is a lot of work. For every hour of video, it took me 12 hours to prepare, record, and edit. Mastering Revit Macros includes over eight hours of video so I took me close to 100 hours to produce it. Since I’m also doing other projects, I had to fit the course time around my other work. I picked up some tricks along the way so I’m confident I’ll do it a lot faster next time around.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with sales of the course. The initial launch went well and the course currently has over 40 students. One thing I’d like to do is develop a free starter course for people who aren’t sure whether they can or should learn to write macros. This course will lead you through 4 – 5 quick exercises so you get a feel for the process and power of macros. I plan is to launch the mini-course in early 2016.
I really enjoy developing courses so I’m planning a few more for 2016. These will include courses on Dynamo, Excel, and time-management. What would you like to learn in 2016? Take this 3-minute survey and let me know.
One thing that was really successful this year was the ArchSmarter Toolbox, my collection of time-saving Revit macros and Excel templates. I love working on these tools. I’m really passionate about working smarter so if I can write a macro that will save 10 or 20 minutes of work, I’ll do it. I added 12 new and updated tools this year. Total downloads for all the tools was over 5,000. Want to access the ArchSmarter Toolbox? You can sign-up here.
Since starting the Toolbox, I planned to bundle up the most popular macros into a Revit add-in. Macros are easy to develop but in order to run, you must open the RVT file. This works fine if you’re the only one using them, but it’s not great for an office setting. I hesitated developing the add-in for a long time because I didn’t know how to convert macros into add-ins. This year I finally sat down and muscled through the conversion process. Turns out it’s actually pretty straight-forward.
I’m almost done with the add-in, which I’m calling the ArchSmarter Power-Pack. I have two tools left to update then it’s on to testing. I hired a designer to create custom icons for the tools, which turned out great. I’m really excited to launch the add-in. Look for it in early January.
I wrote a total of 24 new posts for ArchSmarter this year. That’s 2 posts a month on average. Not too bad but I’d like to get to 3 to 4 posts a month in 2016. The most popular posts for the year (according to Google Analytics) were:
- The Ultimate Guide to Revit Shortcuts
- Excel for Architects
- 9 Steps to Beautiful Spreadsheets
- Which Architectural Software is Right for Me?
- Learn to Code with These Resources
Total traffic for 2015 amounted to 409,000 page views with 350,000 unique page views. Average time on the site was 2:10 minutes. I’m just getting familiar with all the metrics provided by Google Analytics but these numbers look pretty good to me.
In addition to ArchSmarter, I expanded my writing through a content partnership with ArchDaily and freelance writing for ARCHITECT magazine. The content partnership allows ArchDaily to republish some of my ArchSmarter posts on their site. This agreement has greatly increased my audience. The ARCHITECT articles came about after an editor from the magazine read some of my posts on ArchDaily. A lot of what I write for ArchSmarter is pretty narrow and tactical. The articles for ARCHITECT are for a more general audience. It’s a good mix and let’s me broaden my writing on topics I’m curious about, like building performance modeling and how to BIM better.
In 2016, I’m planning to post 3 times a month on ArchSmarter and 1 article per month for another outlet like ARCHITECT or ArchDaily. This going to take a much more disciplined writing scheduled than I’m currently following. I’ve found that the more I write, the more I want to write so I just need to get to work!
Call me weird but I love public speaking. I did a lot of theater in college so I’m very comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people. This year I spoke at two conferences, ABX in Boston and Autodesk University in Las Vegas. I had plans to speak at RTC Europe in Budapest but I had to cancel due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict. Both the AU and ABX sessions were well-received and well-attended. I even got to meet some ArchSmarter readers in the flesh, which was a real treat.
So far for 2016, I submitted two workshop proposals for RTC North America. I will also be submitting to AU and ABX again. Ideally, I’ll fit in another couple of conferences as well.
I’m also planning some on-site workshops in 2016. These will be day-long training sessions on Revit automation, including Dynamo and Revit macros. Space will be limited to 8 – 10 students. If you can’t make it to a workshop, I’m going to host monthly webinars in 2016. These will be free one-hour training sessions on automation, Excel, and time-management. I’ll have more information about both of these shortly.
This year was a great year for growing ArchSmarter’s audience. My mailing list began the year with a little over 200 people and will end with close to 5000. Not bad! I originally hoped to reach 1000 by the end of year. That will teach me to aim low.
A lot of the growth can be attributed to my content partnership with ArchDaily. Their re-posts of my earlier blog posts got a lot of traffic and, consequently, a lot of subscribers. My target for next year is 8000 subscribers. As long as I consistently post useful and engaging blog posts, this should be possible.
Vacations and Travel
In addition to all my work travel, we actually took two vacations this year. My family and I love to ski. In fact, that was one of the big draws to moving back to New England. My older boys, especially my 9 year old, are getting into it as well. In February, we spent a long weekend in Maine at Sunday River. We have friends with similarly aged kids so we rented a house. My wife, Andrea, was pregnant with little Leo during our trip in 2014. This year, we took turns watching the baby so we both got a day out on the mountain.
We also spent a week in Prince Edward Island, Canada during August. My mother is from PEI and I have fond memories of summer vacations spent on the island as a kid. We rented a house with my brother and his two kids as well as one of my sister’s sons. We were a short walk from the beach. Despite the viscous black flies, everyone had a great time. We even attempted a clam bake – our first. Suffice to say, the clam bake ended up half-baked, literally. After realizing the lobsters weren’t quite done, we finished up all the cooking in the house. We’ll get it right next year.
Lifestyle and Health
2015 was a bad year for exercising. We had a baby in 2014 so I gave myself a year off exercise to “recover”. My rationale was that I needed to conserve energy since I wasn’t sleeping much at night. Well, that year came and went and I’m still not exercising. Prior to the baby, I had been really good about exercising at least 4 times a week. I was also working from home so I could easily take an hour off and workout in our home gym / spare bedroom. Now that I have a real office, I don’t have that convenience anymore. Yes, I could just go to a gym but, for some reason, that option doesn’t really appeal to me. I haven’t figured out a good option for 2016 but I’m working on it.
Goals for 2016
The big wins for 2015 were growing ArchSmarter’s mailing list and launching the Mastering Revit Macros course. Both took a lot of work but I feel like they position ArchSmarter for a great year in 2016. With that in mind, here are my goals for the coming year:
- Launch redesigned ArchSmarter website.
- Launch “Power Pack” addin for Revit.
- Launch “Excel for Architects” course.
- Launch “The Effective Architect” course.
- Launch “Mastering Dynamo” course.
- Post 3 times per month on ArchSmarter.
- Host 6 online webinars
- Deliver 4 on-site workshops
- Grow mailing list to 8000 people.
- Add 2 additional consulting clients.
- Speak at 4 conferences.
- Exercise 4 times per week.
A big thanks to all you ArchSmarter readers. I really appreciate all your support.