This is my second “year in review” here on ArchSmarter. I did my first in this post last year. I’m a big fan of doing a review of your past year, even if you just keep it to yourself. It’s really useful to look back over the past year and write down everything you’ve done. I guarantee, you accomplished more than you think.
Here’s what I got up to in 2016.
I make most of my income from consulting. I’ve been consulting with my previous employer (Gehry Partners) ever since I moved back to New England in 2012. I do a range of things for them, including training and automation, as well as project work. I typically make a trip to LA once a month. Last year, I was on-site nine times. Each trip is usually Monday to Friday. I work remotely the rest of the time.
Besides my consulting work with Gehry Partners, I did some other consulting engagements. These included custom Revit add-ins, which are always interesting. I like figuring out how to do something better, so this type of work is always a good challenge.
I also did some work as an expert witness for a construction litigation claim. I (fortunately) don’t have a lot of legal experience so it was fascinating to get a behind the scenes look at how the process works. This is one area of my consulting practice that I plan to grow in 2017.
I ran two pilot courses, one for Mastering Revit Data and another for Excel for Architects. These pilots let me test out the course content with a small group. These pilot courses became the content for the mini-courses, which were launched later in the year.
Besides the paid courses, I hosted seven free webinars. All told, almost 2,000 ArchSmarter readers attended the webinars. Thanks to those of you who showed up! The response was very positive. Look for more free webinars in 2017.
I like to keep my design and production skills sharp by working on my own design projects. These projects also give me ideas for blog posts and tools. As the saying goes, it’s best to solve your own problems first.
Last year, I had three design projects in the office. Since I mostly work alone, the projects were fairly small. Two were residential additions. The other was a small office renovation. I enjoy project work, so I plan to increase this to six projects for 2017.
I enjoy making tools. While programming can be frustrating at times, it’s intellectually challenging. What’s more, it’s gratifying to create something that helps other people.
I also released my first Revit add-in, Power Pack for Revit. This add-in contains seven of the most popular macros. So far, the add-in was downloaded over 350 times. It’s available as “pay what you want” so you get to name your own price. Look for an update of Power Pack later this year.
2016 was a pretty good year for writing. I try to keep a regular schedule, but life tends to conspire against me. Despite that, I managed to write 38 posts for ArchSmarter in 2016. I was hoping for 40 but I’ll take what I can get. Here are some of the most popular posts from last year:
- 9 Steps to Beautiful Spreadsheets
- The Ultimate Guide to Revit Shortcuts
- 4 Easy Ways to Link Revit to Excel
- Which Architectural Software is Right for Me?
- The 10 Revit Apps You Should Be Using in 2016
A few of these posts were actually written in 2015, which is a good demonstration of their usefulness. ArchDaily republished eight of my posts from this year. This relationship has provided a great deal of exposure for my writing. For 2017, I’m hoping to bump this number up to twelve republished articles or one a month.
Besides ArchSmarter, I also published six articles for ARCHITECT magazine. You can see the list of all the articles here. I enjoy writing for ARCHITECT since it lets me explore a broader range of topics. Plus, I work with a super sharp editor, Wanda Lau, who pushes me to write clearer and more concise.
I love public speaking. Yes, it’s frightening but I absolutely love it. As long as I’m prepared and have practiced, I find it quite exhilarating.
I spoke at five events in 2016. The events were:
I’ll be delivering my first keynote address in 2017, which is both scary and exciting. I’ve also submitted proposals for several conferences. Given the amount of work travel I do, five to six speaking events is about all I can manage for the year.
Launching the new ArchSmarter website was a major accomplishment last year. I started ArchSmarter on a shoestring almost three years ago. I did all the design and development myself . . . and it showed. Early last year I ran into some trouble with malware attacks and other Internet unpleasantness. It was time to level up the site design and its underlying technology.
The new site debuted on May 11th and was well-received by readers. Yes, some people missed the old gear logo, but what can you do? The new site uses the Rainmaker platform. Rainmaker provides a lot of security and features, many of which I have yet to tap into. The redesign better reflects the growth and maturity of the site. I have some improvements in the works for this year, but no major overhauls.
As for traffic, ArchSmarter pages were viewed a total of 414,000 times during the year. This breaks down to 221,000 individual sessions by 197,000 unique users. That’s a lot of people! The average time on the site was 1 minute 45 seconds and users viewed 1.88 pages per session
I started the year with 5,000 subscribers on my email mailing list and ended the year with a little over 8,000. This was on target for my projections. My plan for next year is to grow the list to 12,000 subscribers. I also started a regular weekly newsletter, the “Thursday Top 5”. In the past, I would email whenever I posted something new. This new format lets me connect with you readers on a regular basis and is a lot of fun to write.
Vacation and Travel
Like last year, my family and I took two big vacations. We headed up to Vermont in February for a few days of skiing. I love the snow and skiing in particular, so this is a favorite trip of mine. We share a house with friends and their kids, so it’s a good time for everyone.
During the summer, we spent nine days in Prince Edward Island, Canada with my family. This has become a regular yearly event. There were thirteen of us (six adults and seven kids) spread over two houses. Despite being outnumbered by the kids, we all got some good quality relaxation in.
We’re already planning these same two trips for this year. Instead of Vermont, we’re heading up to Mont Treblant in Quebec. I’m looking forward to it.
Lifestyle and Health
OK, despite everything else that I did in 2016, it was a bad year for fitness. One of my goals last year was to exercise on a regular basis. Well, that didn’t happen. I did join a gym but I struggled with going regularly. For me, I need an activity that provides some structure and is somewhat enjoyable. Without a strict exercise plan, the gym doesn’t work for me. This year, I’m trying out some new things (hot yoga anyone?), so hopefully I won’t have a repeat of last year.
Goals for 2017
By all accounts, 2016 was a good year and I’m going to carry this momentum over into 2017. Here’s what I have planned for the year:
- Launch Spanish language version of ArchSmarter.
- Relaunch the Mastering Revit Macros and Learning Dynamo courses.
- Launch another new major course.
- Post 40 times to ArchSmarter.
- Start an ArchSmarter Facebook group.
- Grow my email list to 12,000 subscribers.
- Get 6 design projects for Space Command.
- Get more expert witness consulting work.
- Speak at 8 conferences / events.
- Exercise 3 times a week.
A big thanks to all you ArchSmarter readers. I appreciate all your support!