This year has been hard on pretty much everyone in the world, some more than others. It's led to a boom in content creation as people are forced to move to a digital life in a remote world and new learners looking to find a new career like learning how to code.
Through this time, I’ve been putting a lot of work into developing educational content to help others learn dev-related tools. I was fortunate that this ended up leading to a new challenge and the start of a new career as a Developer Advocate.
- Content growth
- New challenges and new career
- Content Roundup
- Content Roundup: Articles
- Content Roundup: Videos
- Content Roundup – Talks, Podcasts, Streams, and Ebooks
- Content Roundup – Ebooks
Starting my 2020 journey
You might have heard me talk about this before, but it started from my work with maps, where it inspired me to try to help make an impact by teaching others how to make mapping apps themselves. This became even more important during the pandemic, as maps are a powerful way to communicate viral data or share open restaurant locations with others to help small businesses.
I’m also now a huge advocate of Next.js and most of my content comes along with a demo of spinning up a new Next.js app or integrating some kind of awesome tool with it. Really React is what my sweet spot is, but Next.js provides a lot of ways to make that development more natural and boost productivity.
On the content side, I started off with a blog post about how to become a Full Stack Developer in 2020 after my coworker and friend Marquet Reid helped push me past my imposter syndrome. This article had really great reception and it motivated me to write more.
I kind of unofficially set a goal for myself to produce 1 piece of content per week. While I don’t think I exactly hit 1 piece every week literally in a scheduled fashion, I produced enough content to hit that mark when aggregated throughout the year.
With the reception of my writing, it inspired me to give YouTube a shot. That was nerve-racking, putting myself on camera for the first time. I still remember sending that first video to my wife and my friends to make sure it wasn’t embarrassingly bad, and while the quality isn’t top notch, I don't think it was a failure by any means.
This kept me moving on the YouTube side, where I strove to put out a video with each post. I convinced myself that I would give it a shot to the end of the year. If it didn’t work out, I would stop, but if it did, I would keep going. I’m no crazy YouTube star or anything, but I think it’s helping a lot of people learn, and that’s good enough for me to keep moving forward.
Fortunately, I was also able to get hooked up with applying as an egghead.io instructor. This was fun because it was a completely different format and again, helped others learn in a different way, like having a place to build actual courses with a fleshed out curriculum rather than one-off videos.
I was also fortunate that being an instructor came with some free audio gear which immediately leveled up my content quality making it even better for others while they're learning. Also with the royalties I brought in, I was able to buy lights and secure a better camera so my YouTube content would be more enjoyable to watch.
While all of this content work was rewarding, it certainly wasn’t sustainable as a side hustle, which is what I was doing for the vast majority of the year. The hope was I would eventually be able to do this full time, which led me to a new opportunity.
New challenges and new career
As of December 1, I officially started as a Developer Advocate at Applitools, which is a visual regression testing framework.
With this new role, I’m able to work on developing educational content full time! It allows me to spend the time I originally would have on the side, but also I have more time to come up with and produce bigger and better projects that can make more of an impact.
It also helps that Applitools itself as a product is pretty rad (not trying to sell you here). Testing is a pain but it's super important and this makes it easy, so it will be awesome to develop content for Applitools as well.
I’m really excited to see where this takes me, as I already started streaming for the first time and I have a lot of plans for ramping that up with some fun content for 2021 both on my personal channel and with Applitools.
Now for the fun part. I love being able to look back and see what content was most impactful. The first and only time I did this was for my birthday this past year, which I think I’ll keep up as a tradition since it was kind of middle of the year, but this is the first year in review aside from that.
I also love looking back at which content was the most fun to make. I thoroughly enjoy making the demos and tutorials along with it, so being able to use fun topics just makes it another level of awesome.
Let’s dive in!
Content Roundup: Articles
- 62 articles
- 52 of those on freecodecamp.org
- 6 on colbyfayock.com with others cross posted to freecodecamp.org
- 1 for gatsbyjs.com
- 1 for takeshape.io
- 1 for snipcart.com
- 1 for applitools.com
Top Articles on freecodecamp.org
In 2020, all of my articles on freecodecamp.org received 567,898 page views. This includes any of my articles ever produced for freeCodeCamp.
The top 5 articles in 2020 by page view as of December 13:
- 86,158 – How to Become a Full Stack Web Developer in 2020
- 46,046 – How to create a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard & Map App in React with Gatsby and Leaflet
- 39,210 – 8 React.js Project Ideas to Help You Start Learning by Doing
- 25,796 – How to Set Your Future Self Up for Success with Good Coding Habits
- 23,087 – What is Agile and How You Can Become an Epic Storyteller
Data is from Google Analytics.
Top Articles on colbyfayock.com
In 2020, all of my articles on colbyfayock.com received 23,671 page views. This includes any of my articles ever produced for my website.
The top 5 articles in 2020 by page view as of December 13:
- 2,819 – How to Become a Full Stack Web Developer in 2020
- 1,704 – How to create a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard & Map App with Gatsby and Leaflet
- 525 – How to set up a custom Mapbox basemap style with React Leaflet and Leaflet Gatsby Starter
- 427 – Overcoming Your Fear of Writing and How You Can Find Motivation
- 412 – How to Become a Full Stack Web Developer in 2020
Interestingly, the first two correlate with freecodecamp.org, but the next two stand out on their own. I’m kind of surprised the Mapbox basemap one came in 3rd
Data is from Google Analytics.
Most Impactful Articles (Opinion)
While I try to make all of my articles impactful, I think some more than others have a wider impact on people’s lives whether through technology or through wisdom I can help share with others.
- Overcoming Your Fear of Writing and How You Can Find Motivation: I believe writing is an important way to level up your career. A lot of people told me this had a positive impact on them.
- How is Design Important as a Developer and What Can You Do to Level Up?: Design at a fundamental level is important for any developer to get familiar with. It impacts how people ultimately use your work
- How MySpace Taught Me How to Code and Where You Should Look to Develop Your Passion: Finding passion around your work makes it easier to enjoy that work and provides more motivation for learning to level up
- What is a Senior Developer and how can I become one?: This is another that I was told resonated with a lot of people. Becoming a Senior Developer was a meaningful journey for me and theres much more to it than years on the job
Most Fun Articles (Opinion)
- How to Add Interactive Animations and Page Transitions to a Next.js Web App with Framer Motion: Adding the animations was a ton of fun with Framer Motion especially doing some weirder interactive things to play up the Rick and Morty effect
- How to Add Drag and Drop in React with React Beautiful DnD: Final Space is my favorite show right now so using them as an example for a cool Drag and Drop widget was fun
- How to Add Search to a React App with Fuse.js: Loved working with the Futurama API and Fuse.js has become
- How to Fetch GraphQL Data in Next.js with Apollo GraphQL: Space is cool, so getting to work with SpaceX data was a great opp
- How to Test and Play with Web APIs the Easy Way with Postman: I got the opportunity to play with a few different geeky APIs like Pokémon and Lord of the Rings
Content Roundup: Videos
- 155 videos
- 39 of those were tutorials on YouTube
- 116 of those were lessons on egghead.io (including 2 courses)
Top Videos on YouTube
In 2020, all of my videos on youtube.com received 76,630 page views. This includes any of my videos ever produced for YouTube.
The top 5 videos in 2020 by page view as of December 13:
- 10,857 – How to use Storybook JS to create a component design system in React
- 9,365 – How to create a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard & Map App in React with Gatsby and Leaflet
- 5,551 – How to Use Framer Motion to Add Animations and Page Transitions to a Next.js React App
- 3,945 – How to Create a Loading Animation with Pure CSS
- 3,943 – Intro to Agile Software Development with Jira
I would have expected the videos to correlate a little more to freecodecamp.org, as I include each video at the top of the page, and while the Coronavirus map was at the top of this chart as well, I wouldn’t draw that conclusion based on the rest.
Data is from YouTube Analytics.
Top Lessons on egghead.io
This list also excludes my Leaflet course, which included things like the course introduction and section overviews, so it made sense to remove that from the picture.
The top 5 lessons in 2020 as of Dec 15:
- Create a New Map using React Leaflet
- Add a React Leaflet Marker with a Popup to a Map
- Test a New GitHub Action in its Repository with a Custom Workflow
- Interface with the React Leaflet Map API with the useRef and useEffect React Hooks
Data is from egghead’s internal analytics.
Content Roundup – Talks, Podcasts, Streams, and Ebooks
This year was a bit different. I only gave 1 talk before we reached a pandemic which was in 2019, so this year has been all online.
In 2020, I gave 17 talks with about 6 different topics, some overlap with similar content.
- 10/7/2020 – Jamstack Conf – Bringing Remote Sensing and Disaster Relief to the Jamstack
- 6/30/2020 – Gatsby Days – Supercharge your Map Apps with Gatsby
- 11/23/2020 – 3 Hours of Jamstack – Up and Selling with Next.js and Snipcart
- 9/26/2020 – WordCamp Philly – WordPress in a Headless World
- 3/21/2020 – FrontConf – Building Maps with Impact on React and the JAMstack
I had the opportunity to hop on a few podcasts. Always have fun with these and hoping to do more in the future.
In 2020, I was on 3 podcasts.
- 2/11/2020 – That’s My JAMstack – Colby Fayock On Mapping (like… the world), Gatsby, science and more
- 11/17/2020 – JAMstack Radio – JAMstack Handbook with Colby Fayock of Element 84
I also had a lot of fun joining some streams. I recently even started my own, though that wasn’t a large part of 2020 for me yet.
In 2020, I was on 4 streams. As of December 13th I’ve had 1 stream of my own, but plan at least 1 more.
As a guest:
- 8/12/2020 – Kevin Cunningham – Colby and I build a flash card system with Next and Tailwind
- 9/29/2020 – Kevin Cunningham – WordPress, Gatsby and Next
- 12/10/2020 – Landing in Tech – From graphic design to developer advocate with Colby Fayock (podcast episode coming soon)
- 12/11/2020 – James Q Quick – Jamstack and eCommerce
On my channel:
Content Roundup – Ebooks
Finally, I produced 2 ebooks this year that I’m super proud of
50 Projects for React & the Static Web
- Free ebook
- 5577 downloads
- $10 ebook
- 410 orders
More to come
Thanks everyone who’s supported me on this journey (including you reading this). Knowing that my work has been helping others learn is what’s keeping me motivated to keep pushing forward.
Looking forward to see what 2021 brings 🍻