Can anyone believe 2020 has nearly finished?

Honestly, I can’t. This year has been absolutely insane, and not just for me, but for everyone. We’ve all gone through a pandemic, lockdowns and plenty of protests and riots.

Remote work at it’s worst

From March I have been working from home and I’ve not stepped into the office since. It’s been nice not having to travel or stuck in traffic. However, at times, it has been frustrating. There are times when work would have benefitted from a few more eyes. There are also times where I would love to socialise with others. My wife has still been going into the office as her workplace requires her there. So here I am. Working alone. With my three cats to keep me company.

Protesting and rioting

Then there’s the protests and riots while going through a pandemic. So many countries are rightfully angry at their governments and leaders because they feel they aren’t being treated right. Black men and women have felt let down and betrayed by the very people who are supposed to protect them.

America’s current president

Donald Trump has lost the vote but refuses to leave his post. He acts like a baby when he loses. I think a lot of people will rejoice and cheer the day he moves out of the White House and Biden finally moves in.

Our mental health struggles

Mental health has also been a struggle for many including myself. I’ve had times where I thought the pandemic wasn’t affecting me, and I was moving forward in full force. However, this quickly fell flat, and although I did make some great progress, I also went through many days of doubt and anxiety.

Looking forward to 2021

Hopefully, the holidays and having days of celebration will help us all stay positive. I’m looking forward to tomorrow as it’s the first of December, and the first day I can open my coffee advent calendar.

I hope that anyone reading this finds joy in December, and has many things to look forward to next year. I for one hope we can go back to live gigs and really appreciate live arts once again.

Enjoy reading this blog? Please consider subscribing using the form below.

73 Things About Me

1. What is your usual Starbucks order?

I normally buy Costa, but I would say seasonal drinks are my goto. Especially ginger or cinnamon lattes. They are amazing.

2. What does your workstation look like right now?

This is what my home desk looks like. I take the red mechanical keyboard to work with me because it’s so good.

3. All time favourite food?

It used to be steak and chips, but since going vegan, I’ve gone for Mousakka Bowls, it’s just so tasty. ?

4. Favourite author?

I don’t read a lot a lot of fictional books and I’ve gotten into reading a lot of self-help books. Tim Ferriss has been great, as well as Dale Carnegie and Anthony Robbins are a few of my faves.

5. What do you think of open relationships?

If that’s what someone wants, and it works, then why not? However, I wouldn’t personally go for something like this, and believe I have found my “one”. We are married (3 years), and I wouldn’t change a thing.

6. What is your favourite video game?

I play so many games. However, my all-time favourite would be the Batman Arkham series. Mainly the first two, but Knight is pretty good. BoTW is also a great game, and it blew my mind. I’m also always jumping onto Destiny 2 whenever there are new updates.

7. Guilty pleasure treat?

Doughnuts, uuuuugggghhh I love doughnuts. I can literally eat a whole pack in one sitting. 😂

8. Favourite movie?

Batman the Dark Knight trilogy (of course). Also, I have to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and Die Hard during the Christmas period.

9. Favourite book?

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss has so many great golden nuggets. The Chimp Paradox because it helped me understand my mind.

10. Twitter or Instagram?

Twitter, because I’ve made so many great connections. Instagram is still alien to me. I keep going back to it and retrying but quickly get bored.

11. Desktop or laptop?

Desktop, there’s no competition in my mind. Yes, a laptop is portable, but a desktop has MORE POWER!

12. Best advice you’ve ever received?

Believe in yourself.

13. What project are you working on right now?

Moving my blog from VueJS to WordPress (I’m back).

14. Favourite colour?

Green

15. Did you get good grades at school?

Ahahahaha I did not. Most were Ds and Es with one C in ICT. However, I believe I’ve come so far in life, and the grades haven’t had too much of an impact on my life.

16. Dream job?

To get paid and not have to work. 😂

If I do have to work, then I would love to be able to write, film and make websites that are all my own projects, while being funded for them. Anything that can help others, and the environment.

17. Played any sports?

Yes, and I have found so much love for CrossFit. I honestly had no idea what it was until I saw people flipping some tyres, and thinking… “I want to do what they’re doing”. I’m still yet to flip a tyre though.

18. Do you have a degree?

I do not

19. Nationality?

British.

20. What is your favourite kind of blog post to do?

I do like to write very personal and relatable blog posts.

21. What do you like to collect?

Books and Games 😁

22. Describe yourself in three words

Chilled, anxious, and I have so much love to give.

23. If you were a rapper what would your rapper name be?

Screw Loose

24. Who was the last person you DMed?

A friend named Jason, and how he managed to finally get himself a Series X.

25. What’s on the top of your wish list right now?

To save up for a deposit and get my wife and I our first home.

26. Hogwarts house?

If I remember correctly, then I think I am HufflePuff.

27. How many tattoos do you have?

Just one, and it’s a small tattoo on my shoulder. I got it done on third visit to Download Festival. It’s the Download Dog, and it didn’t hurt. Also, I’m very surprised it didn’t get infected as I got it done on the first day.

28. What are you most grateful for this year?

Still being in work when so many people are losing their jobs right now.

29. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this month?

Ordering food from Tam’s kitchen. Honestly, this month has been very stressful. Especially at work, so I’m really grateful for the little things this month.

30. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?

Having some “me” time with my wife.

31. What’s the best thing ever?

Cuddles with my cat, listening to music and watching endless amounts of TV with my wife.

32. Favourite season?

Summer for swimming weather. Autumn because of the colourful trees and perfect temperatures.

33. Favourite holiday?

What are holidays? 😂

34. Which fictional character do you relate to most?

I want to say Bruce Wayne, but that wouldn’t be 100% true. It would probably be Columbus from ZombieLand. Full of anxiety, but manages find ways to keep surviving.

35. Do you like surprises?

I absolutely love surprises!

36. What’s the biggest surprise you’ve ever had?

My wife surprised me on my birthday with a tandem skydive, and it was honestly the best thing I have ever done. She’s going to have a hard time to beat that to be honest.

37. What’s a surprise that made you cry?

When my mum bought me a goldfish. 😂 I was fairly young, and I think my other fish passed away so it was a great surprise.

38. What’s the best surprise you’ve ever given anyone?

I’m not the best at giving surprises, but I remember Valentine’s Day with my wife. This was before we were married, and I hid lots of bits in random places. We then took a trip to the beach with a picnic basket, and sat watching the sunset with some champagne, food and great company.

39. Do you like muffins?

Who doesn’t like muffins?!? They’re amazing, and there’s so many varieties, it would be hard to not like them.

40. Do you cook often?

Almost daily, and on the days I don’t we either microwave some frozen food I’ve cooked beforehand, or grab a takeaway from our favourite vegan restaurants.

41. What’s your favourite dessert?

Apple pie, apple crumble, or apple strudel. Can you tell I like apples? 😂

42. Is there a dessert you don’t like?

I don’t think there is if I’m honest. I am a huge foody.

43. Cake or pie?

Pie, definitely pie.

44. What’s your least favourite food?

Before I went vegan, it would be fish and anything proper fishy. I didn’t mind cod or scampi, but salmon or bass was disgusting. Vegan wise, I don’t think I have a least favourite food, it’s all been amazing so far.

45. What’s your favourite condiment?

Barbecue or tomato sauce.

46. It’s 4am on a Saturday night, what would you eat?

Peanut butter and jam on toast.

47. If you could teach a college class what would it be called?

Hmm… it would be something about self-acceptance and kindness / inclusivity towards ourselves and others.

48. Best animated film?

Up and Lion King (the original) are my faves.

49. What has a guy/girl done or said to impress you?

Been honest with me and consistently being there through the hard times as well as the great times.

50. Best thing to do on a first date?

Anything, I’m very easily pleased.

51. Worst thing to do on a first date?

Being rude and hurtful, or trying to show off.

52. What’s the funniest pick up line a guy could use on a girl?

Hello, do you come here often?

53. Best comic book character?

Batman

54. What are three things that are always in your purse?

Keys, wallet and phone.

55. Favourite drink?

Coffee

56. If you could play a historical character who would it be?

Ragnar Lothbrock

57. Kittens or puppies?

Kittens. I have 3 cats which used to be 5, and I love every single one of them.

58. Favourite sushi roll?

Veggie

59. What kind of lipstick do you use?

Black

60. What kind of foundation do you use?

I do not

61. Blow dry or air dry?

Air dry as it’s more natural, and doesn’t damage your hair.

62. Who is your fashion icon?

I don’t do fashion.

63. Favourite Disney character?

If Disney now own the movie rights to Marvel, can I include a Marvel character? Then I would pick Captain America. Otherwise, I would pick Woody from Toy Story.

64. What are you doing tomorrow?

Working.

65. Movie you laughed the hardest through?

Most recently, I would say Holidate, that was a pretty funny movie.

66. Movie that made you cry?

Our Planet by David Attenborough. Seeing the animals being killed because of deforestation and our destructive behaviour really hit me. I really hope we can turn things around.

67. If you could sing a duet with someone who would it be?

My best buddy Joshua Doidge.

68. If your life was a song what would the title be?

Here’s to us by Halestorm.

69. What’s your favourite animal?

Cheetahs, I absolutely love them and would love to rescue them as my job. Also, red pandas are super cute.

70. Favourite illustrator?

I’ve never really thought about this to be honest.

71. Person you want to have coffee with?

Phil Sturgeon or Eric L Barnes would be two people I’d love to have a coffee with. I’ve known these guys on the internet for years, but never met them which is a shame.

72. What country do you wish to visit?

Sweden and Finland would be two I’d love to visit. Mostly because of the metal music scene there.

73. Best way to decompress?

Playing computer games, and binge watching TV with my wife.

Enjoy reading this blog? Please consider subscribing using the form below.

Dear readers, it’s been a while

Hello to anyone that visits my blog post, whether it’s your first time or your 100th. You all mean the so much to me, and I appreciate you taking the time to read any of my posts.

What’s happened in the last 5 months?

A lot has happened since my last blog post since it was posted 5 months ago.

We’ve had COVID-19 which is still in progress. We’ve had the black lives matter movement which I’m really in support of. And a lot of personal things have happened too.

What are my personal changes?

It’s now been over a year since I started contracting and my contract with the University of Exeter has been extended multiple times. This has given me a lot of confidence within myself and my coding has improved because of this.

My goal for creating 12 YouTube videos has unfortunately fallen behind as I haven’t created a single video this year. One a month should have been doable, but I’ve had so much on my mind that it’s taken a backseat.

I’ve cleared my £7k of credit card debt and I’m now working on clearing my wife’s £8k. Technically it’s both our debt, it’s just on her cards rather than mine because we’ve been switching between our cards to get 0% balances and now we don’t have an interest rate, we can focus without worry. Our overall debt at the beginning of this year was around £17k so we’ve more than halved it which is a great feeling.

COVID-19 has been a blessing for me and I know this isn’t the case for everyone. Working from home has been going really well and I’m saving a lot on petrol. I hope that when this eases, I’ll be able to work from home on a permanent basis. However, I’m well aware that others are struggling right now, the government has failed us and haven’t been supporting those that need it most which is a huge shame.

What are my thoughts on the rest of the world?

All key workers are struggling mentally and they will need a huge break if and when it’s possible for them. The campaigns to raise money for them has been tremendous and really restored some faith in humanity. However, a lot more needs to be done in order to support them further and the government should be held responsible for making this happen.

Now for the black lives matter campaign, most protests started out peaceful which has been fantastic to hear. That is until the police stepped in and brutally pushed protestors back, sprayed them in the face for no reason and even shot people with rubber bullets. There are times where it seemed necessary, but 99% of the time, it was complete police brutality.

I believe this is what also led to most riots, if we didn’t have this brutality, most people wouldn’t have been pushed to riot. Donald Trump has been a tragic president who still believes he’s some sort of God. He constantly spews the same rhetoric and it’s quite frankly getting boring. I wish he would just step down, but we know this won’t happen, so America needs to vote for change.

Similar things are happening in the UK where Boris is this bumbling idiot that keeps flip-flopping on his plans and his words. He’s a racist which we desperately need to vote out and we need to campaign for change.

Let’s hope that things can change and that we can end 2020 better than when we started. We’re all desperate to see our families and get back to some sort of normality. I believe that change for the better is happening. However, it’s still too slow and we need to speed things up and add pressure where we can.

Closing thoughts

If you enjoyed reading this, please feel free to follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page. I hope to speak to you again soon.

Focus Keeper is an extraordinarily brilliant Pomodoro Timer

What I’ve used in the past

In the past, I’ve used a timer called Forest and wrote about it before. Which had been good at the time. However, at the end of my last article, I expressed that they could make things a little better like having a Pomodoro style added to it.

Sometimes, I would use it non-stop for a whole week. Then have this habit of whacking it up to the full amount of time to have a genuinely blossoming tree. This was great for the reward side, but it wasn’t great for when I needed to take a break.

Because of this issue, I stopped using it for a very long time and kept wondering to myself if there was something better suited. I’ve looked into Pomodoro timers in the past which were browser-based solutions, and they all sucked. There was little to no explanation for what the time was for. Should I be working right now, or taking a break? If I move away from my browser and another program is on top, I can no longer see the time, and there was no sound. Browser-based Pomodoro timers were useless and lacking in so many features, so I gave up.

A new hero has entered the room

Until last week when I listened to a fascinating podcast episode talking about Pomodoro apps. This reinstated my interest, and I decided to take a look at the Apple App Store. I entered “Pomodoro timer” in search and up came “Focus Keeper” (available on the Apple Store, and Android Store). Out of intrigue, I decided to download it and give it a go.

Instantly, it gave me a run-through of “Focus”, “Short Break” and “Long Break” timers. I thought I would keep all timings as the default, which is 25 minutes for focus or work time, 5 minutes short break, and 25 minutes long break which has worked out well for me. If it doesn’t suit your needs, then you can change them to suit you.

Some annoyances (at least for me) that you should know about before starting a timer are the sound options. The timers can have a ticking sound which I find very distracting and had to turn them off. However, you can change to ticking sounds and even switch to music. On Apple devices, it can work with Apple Music, but not Spotify, which is a shame. I’m not sure how it works for Android, but maybe you can link it to Spotify on there.


Break little and often

Breaks will also play a lovely beach sound by default which confused me. I was listening to music on the same device. Then during my break, I had this beach sound with my music. At first, I thought it was part of the track, but I couldn’t remember it being on the song before. It wasn’t until it went from one song to another. I could still hear waves playing, and I figured it was the app on not my music. I quickly turned it off after I found out about this.

Of course, you might be completely different and want ticking sounds and waves during your breaks. However, it is entirely up to you, and the app is very customisable. The only thing it doesn’t do is block apps or websites which if you need an app to do that, then Forest might be for you.


It would be great if someone could make a fusion of Forest and Focus Keeper, but until then, I will continue to use Focus Keeper while keeping an eye out on other applications within this space.

If you know of any other apps that are potentially better, then please feel free to share them, and, I will take a look.

Changing up how I share with my community

Having a central place to communicate with my audience

Recently, I started a newsletter (which you can sign up to here). And I didn’t know what to do with it. So I wrote and posted to my blog once a week and released it on a Friday. I would then copy all of the content and post it straight to my newsletter ready for a 12:30 pm (GMT) schedule.

My recent thoughts have been, I would like to ramp up my blog posts and post more frequently. However, I don’t want to post all of my blog posts to my subscribers as this would be annoying. Instead, I will post more frequently to my blog post, and write summaries for each update in my weekly newsletter. Kinda like “This is what I have been up to in the past week”.

It will also have snippets of other things that I find interesting. Which could be a handful of tweets, video content from other creators, drawings and many other things. Hopefully, this will help bring in more people into the spotlight and help to cultivate my audience.


Having many interests can be a blessing and a curse.

I have many hobbies, interests, and things going on in my life, and I would hate to just focus on one thing. If I can somehow find a way to showcase all of these things and box them up into my weekly newsletter, then it would make me and hopefully my audience much happier.

Take, for instance, yesterday; I found out DC are releasing a ton of new movies and a couple of games for next year which I’m super excited about for next year. Also, I think it would be cool if I could share that excitement with my readers, but also have it bundled in with other bits just in case there are some aren’t so bothered.

I love what I do in the web development space, but I’m also a huge movie and gaming nerd. I love music and am quite open to any genre of music, from pop to classic, rock to dubstep. I’m very open to listening to new music. I like to workout and do CrossFit in the mornings, and I know not everyone is into that. However, if I could make it so it can catch someone who might be interested. And those not interested can find something else, then I think I’m onto a winner.

I believe life is one big experiment, and the fact I have a handful of subscribers right now means there is more room for experimentation and making mistakes. As Gary Vaynerchuck would say, you have to eat dirt until you get it right, and that’s what I’m going to do.


Conclusion

I hope you’re ready to join me on this new journey, and you can subscribe to my newsletter here. Which will allow you to like and comment on any of my previous newsletters. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll have more people communicating with each newsletter. To help control the future of what you would like to read.

How I got my blog to 3,893 views last month

Last week I checked my website’s analytics and took a lot at how many views I had compared to the previous months. I was genuinely surprised that I managed to gain over 3,000 views. The jump between the previous month was 1,600 difference.

It’s so big that I thought I’d make a post on how I managed to grow my blog over time. Please also be aware that I have been a blogger on and off for over ten years. The views over time aren’t extraordinary compared to other bloggers, but it is a noteworthy achievement.

How did I build up my views?

Last month, I focused on building my social followers. I updated my Facebook page, Tweet more on Twitter. My blog posts have been imported into my Medium profile and also posted to my Coil profile. Last month was also my first full month of weekly posting to my Substack newsletter. And even though I don’t think Substack affected my website views, it’s helped me grow a tight-knit community. If you’re not sure what any of these social networks are. Or you’re not sure how to utilise them, don’t worry, I’ll explain that now.

I haven’t focused on growing my LinkedIn connections, but I have started converting my blog posts into LinkedIn articles. No one from LinkedIn has been signed up to my newsletter subscribers or viewed my website. Because of this, I don’t think it’s worth writing about today.

How I use my Facebook page

For my Facebook page, I’m not sure how many people are people I don’t know vs friends who have liked my page. However, I decided to go to ham on the invite button and invite everyone on my friend’s list, which has helped me from 138 to 142-page likes. I think a handful of those likes have clicked to view my website at some point.

I’ve mostly been sharing my newsletter posts instead of my blog posts on Facebook. This means most views won’t actually be coming from here unless they click on about section which most users won’t do.

How I use my Twitter profile

Twitter is, by far, my most used social network. It’s incredible how you can find so many amazing people and connect with them. I follow people I find interesting and join in their conversations when I feel if the right moment.

Most of my interaction is liking and retweeting, which I think if you’re just starting. It won’t be the best strategy. I feel the best approach is searching for interesting topics, and join in the conversation.

Every so often I’ll chuck in a hashtag or two, but I don’t focus on hashtags. I’ll mostly focus on following and connecting with new and current people within my network. Be yourself and don’t seek out to be something you’re not. If you try to be fake, people will know, and they will call you out for it.

Medium is excellent as an additional source for your blog posts. If you haven’t signed up, I would recommend you do it now and join the partner platform. Once you’re on the partner platform, you will get revenue based on a reader’s read time. The longer you can keep them interested in your post, the more money you can make from them.

My strategy is importing my posts into a Medium story, which will add a canonical link back to your original blog post, and have a link in the footer which says “Originally published at https://michaelbrooks.co.uk“. I’ve joined a couple of Medium groups and participate in any posts where possible.

How I use Coil

This is where I believe most of my new traffic has come from, and I connected my blog to their payments system so I could receive support from their readers, and linked my latest posts to my profile page. A couple of my posts have been featured on their community-supported section which I’m proud of, and the community on Coil has been very welcoming, and I’ve connected to a few people from here on Twitter.

If you haven’t done so, I recommend you take a look at Coil’s website and sign up. If you’re wondering how much I made from here last month, it was around 10 pence, which isn’t a huge amount, but it’s better than nothing, and it helps keep me going.

How I use Substack

My latest blog posts are also created as a newsletter post. Honestly, I’m not sure how long I’ll carry on doing this for as I’m thinking of changing the format of this. What I might do is create links to my latest articles which will be posted to my blog, and new sections such as what I’m currently reading, what I’m listening to and who I’ve found interesting this week.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then please leave a comment down below, and I’d love to read it. Alternatively, you can @ or dm me on Twitter, Facebook, wherever takes your fancy.

Bonus: How I use Hacker News

Hacker News or HN as others like to call it is a great community of developers, creators and business owners. They offer a lot of advice and support, and overall they’re a fantastic community. I’ve posted a few milestones and updates on there, and have received comments, views and new followers.

I decided to create a new group called “Creator interviews” which anyone can contribute to, but so only I have added content there. I have also linked to my blog where I deemed it was helpful for the topic at hand, and I think this has helped me gain extra viewers on my blog.

Conclusion

That’s pretty much how I use the plethora of social networks, and I’m constantly exploring new avenues and seeing what works, and what doesn’t. As always, you’re more than welcome to comment below and subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t done so already.

Woman eating popcorn with remote - Writing and selling an ebook

Writing and selling an ebook during COVID-19 lockdown

Coming up with the idea

Two years ago, I decided I wanted to write my first ebook and sell it to the public. That ebook was all about writing your first ebook (very meta).

I started writing and got so far, then suddenly stopped. I’m not sure what happened, it could have been a decline in confidence or an overwhelming sensation of anxiety and depression, but I didn’t go back to the idea until this year during the lockdown.

Fits-and-starts

During the beginning of quarantine, I didn’t have any thought or motivation in writing a book. However, I did have a lot of inspiration for reading books, and this year is the most I’ve ever read.

It then got to a point where I felt motivated to work on personal projects again, and I started getting social on my Twitter, invited all my friends to my Facebook page, and, most importantly, began where I left off with my ebook.

I went from worrying about what people might think about my work, to not giving a flying f*ck what people might think.

It wasn’t exactly a straight and narrow road, some days, I would spend an hour or two writing and other days, it would be 5 or 10 minutes. I did whatever I could to muster up the motivation and courage to keep on writing. The most important thing that changed is my mindset. I went from worrying about what people might think about my work, to not giving a flying f*ck what people might think.

That change in mindset ultimately helped me get to the finish line and release my work to the public. Once it was complete, I uploaded a PDF version to PayHip and a docx version to Draft2Digital. So far, I have made four sales totaling £7.96, and my ebook is still being published to the Amazon marketplace. Once it hits the Amazon marketplace, I think I can make a couple more sales, but I won’t be taking much of an income from that, so I’ll try and persuade people to buy with PayHip instead.

Marketing my ebook

What did I do to market my book? Well, I’m glad you asked because I haven’t done anything special.

I went to Twitter, where I have ~3,000 followers. This is a handful, but nowhere near the amount of the greats. I started off writing a thread on how to make and sell an ebook, and then posted that thread to Hacker News for more exposure. Which I’m not sure even worked. I then waited until the evening and posted an update to that thread announcing the release of my book.

Also, posting to my Facebook business and personal pages but didn’t receive any sales from there. I had a few likes and comments, but nothing too exciting. The same also goes for LinkedIn; actually, many people have had quite a bit of luck with LinkedIn, but I’m yet to see any positives from there just yet.

Once I received my first sale, which I believe was sent from Twitter, I took a screenshot of the graph and posted it to Twitter underneath my sale announcement. This announcement prompted another sale from a close follower, which I was super happy about; she’s always been a very supportive Twitter follower and friend.

This all gave me even more confidence to post on Indie Hackers. Now, I’ve never been very active over there, and that’s definitely on me, but everyone there is super supportive. From now on, I will be far more active on IH and hope to build closer relationships over there. I say this because I had two more sales from posting updates to IH, and there have been so many great, supportive comments which make me want to push further.

Moral of the story

The moral of this story, you need to find your circle of online friends. Be supportive to those you are personally attracted to, and they will support you back. That support will then grow further to new people where the reach and positivity can grow. Nurture and love your followers, friends, and family, and you will reap the rewards.

Gain confidence early and gain confidence now, because the longer you wait, the worse your fears will grow. There are plenty of books to help with this, and I recommend “How to stop worrying and start living,” “Feel the Fear and do it anyway,” “The Chimp Paradox” and “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

Redesigning my website

My initial thoughts

Over the past week, I migrated my website from VuePress to Gridsome. This migration has now given me more freedom of design and development.

Inspired by Jack McDade’s awesome website and I wanted to create something that was more personable to me.

Also, I like funky designs, but I’m always less motivated to design websites for myself. I never know what I want and I’m not sure if what I’m doing is overboard to a point where my viewers will dislike it.

Determined to move past my anxieties

This is in part due to my anxieties and lack of self-confidence, but speaking to other’s about their experiences and gaining inspiration has given me the confidence to push past my own anxieties. I went ahead and created my design using Figma. Once I was happy with my creation, I decided to share it with a Slack group. Those that gave me feedback were very positive which gave me more confidence to share it to a larger audience.

I took a deep breath and posted it on Twitter who generally have more negative thoughts, but the responses were still very positive. It was time to transform my graphic into my actual website.

Designing my website

After about a day, I had most of the design complete and I was super impressed with my work. This is something I’ve never felt confident about. I love developing websites, but designing a website was something I constantly struggled with.

As you can see from the image above (and from looking at my website), I used black as my background colour with yellow as the main colour. The dark blue adds some sort of separation between blocks and my social icons follow the lines like they’re walking along a field at night.

My blog content is still the same white background with black text since it’s easier to read. My “Latest Post” has been moved further to the right and has an angle which follows the angle of the yellow square. This gives my website a little more character and breaks it up quite nicely.

The search is also using a yellow border to help make it stand out, and the results also do the same thing. Hopefully, my results can be read clearly, but if you struggle and have suggestions, then I’m open to feedback.

Closing thoughts

Please explore my newly created website and send me plenty of feedback if you have any. I’m always open to suggestions and would love to hear what works and what doesn’t. You can add your own comments to this post here, or you can @ me on Twitter.

Website migrated from VuePress to Gridsome posting from Forestry

Yesterday, I published my new website which has been created with Gridsome. I had to reformat my blog posts and add tags to each of them. I have 156 posts, so this was not an easy task, to say the least.

Now I’m writing my first blog post using Forestry, and with any luck, it will post to my repository and deploy to my site with no issues. That’s if I’ve set up the formatting correctly and everything else that comes with it.

I now have a newsletter which you can subscribe to using the form at the bottom of this post. Signing up is easy and it will make sure you never miss an update. However, if you’re more of an RSS person, then I have that too.

There are a few more things I would like to add to my website such as comments that aren’t by Disqus, social card metadata and an auto-generated sitemap. I should probably create a roadmap on my GH repository for you to keep an eye on.

That’s pretty much it for this one, and if you like the new update please let me know on my Twitter page.

Join the discussion here.

2020 – New Year – New Decade – New Goals

Looking back at 2019

Last year has been yet another big rollercoaster. I wanted to stay working at Lightfoot for another year, but it didn’t quite turn out as well as I had hoped. I started my own business to become a contractor, and my wife is still using pet-sitting as a side hustle.

Lightfoot, unfortunately, had money issues after missing out on sales targets. This left them with the horrible misfortune of letting employees go. I was one of them, but I managed to bounce back almost straight away. I started my own limited company and began contracting with the University of Exeter.

It’s been a scary, but eye-opening jump and I’m glad to be finally giving it a go after all my indecision over the years. I seem to be very much in profit and able to pay my taxes which is definitely a great step in the right direction.

My goals from last year

There were two goals I managed to meet last year and that was Be happier and have 0 panic attacks and Post more on my blog. Despite being made redundant last year, I managed to stay calm and not panic about my impending job loss. I did, however, have a feeling it was going to happen, and I think this is what helped me overcome any anxieties I may have had.

In January of last year, I decided to post every day for the month. I ended up surpassing this and posted for a good 3 – 4 months before slowing down. If I posted just every day in January, then I would have beaten my goal to post more. I won’t be doing the same again this year, but I will try to post as much as I can.

Here’s my list from last year…

  • Clear my £10k credit card debt
  • Go abroad for the first time ever
  • Raise more money for cancer and mental health
  • Stop being last in Crossfit competitions
  • Be happier and have 0 panic attacks
  • Help create an incredible business for my wife
  • Save for a house
  • Post more on my blog

Something unexpected happened

Partway through January, I decided I wanted to try and go vegan for economical reasons. I told my wife and she said she didn’t want to do it which was fine with me. After creating a few vegan meals and sharing some of them with her, she decided that it wasn’t all that bad and she wanted to join me on this journey.

We now cook vegan-based meals and we only ever eat meat/dairy if we go to a place that doesn’t offer any alternatives. I would like to be 100% vegan by the end of this year and that means cutting out all restaurants that don’t offer vegan alternatives.

Goals for this year

This year, I’ve chosen to have more actionable goals by putting a number on everything I do. That way I’ll know when I have achieved and even surpassed my goal. Last year, I wanted to pay off my £10k debt and due to things breaking and losing my job, I didn’t manage to get close. I now have just less than £7k left to clear which down by a decent 30%. I have also set aside £1,000 as an emergency fund in case anything breaks or I need something for work. This way, I won’t be dipping back into my credit cards.

  • Clear £7k debt
  • Save at least £1,000 for a house
  • Gain 100 subs on YouTube
  • Have at least 1 “date night” a month
  • Create at least 12 videos for my YouTube channels
  • Finish my course on Laravel