Year in review: 2022
Every new year I reflect on the previous year and set new goals. I'm focusing primarily on my YouTube channel and newsletter, but there are personal reflections in here as well. Last year was an off year for me, and I'm gearing up to make up for lost time in 2023.
Previous years: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
Let's start by looking at my YouTube channel. Here are the key metrics of 2022 compared to the year before:
- 7 years on YouTube (↗️ up from 6 years 🤪)
- 0 new videos uploaded (↘️ down from 11 last year)
- 5,952,790 views (↘️ down from 9,949,706 last year)
- 68,098 new subscribers (↘️ down from 168,647 last year)
- 289,778 hours watched (↘️ down from 573,258 last year)
- 2:55 average time watched (↘️ down from 3:28 last year)
- 11 members on YouTube(↗️ up from 10 last year)
A lot of these numbers have declined sharply. Half as many views, half as many new subscribers, and a lower average watch time. I put this down to three things:
- I didn't upload any new videos.
- Cryptocurrencies aren't doing well.
- People's attention spans are shrinking.
Why didn’t I upload any videos last year? Well, after my son was born in 2021, I stopped working on videos because of a lack of time. With him growing up (really fast), I regained some of this time, but I didn’t put it to good use. I kept postponing. I promised myself I would start working on a video next week. Then I felt overwhelmed. What video should I make? What if people won’t like it? I was having the same doubts I had years ago when I was debating whether I should start a YouTube channel.
So no, I did not make any videos in 2022. But that doesn't mean I've sat idle. I've been collecting a lot of ideas, and even wrote a few drafts. But I never sat down to actually finish a video. I recently came across a blog post by Andrew Lee that might explain what is going on:
My brain feels like it’s become very intake-optimized at the expense of creativity.
This is exactly my problem. I captured a lot of information that could be turned into videos. I have an extensive list of video ideas to work with. And yet, I did nothing with that for 365 days. My brain is stuck in “intake mode” and I need to snap out of it.
Second, views have sharply declined. I put this down to cryptocurrencies being in the drain. My most popular videos are about crypto, and a bear market definitely doesn’t inspire people to learn more about these things.
And finally, there’s the decline in average time watched. It went down by half a minute, and I don’t know why this is. It actually got me worried that there’s an entire generation coming whose attention span is just long enough to watch 30 second clips on TikTok. I’m afraid that longer videos won’t do as well as they used to. I’ve considered making Shorts, but I find it really hard to condense a topic into 30 seconds. For now, I’ll stick to 3-5 minute videos.
Next up is the Simply Explained newsletter. Every month, I send out interesting things related to science and technology. It's mostly stuff I wanted to make a video about, but that doesn't fit my channel or where I don't have the time for.
The key metric here is the amount of subscribers, which doubled last year:
- 394 subscribers (↗️ up from 191 last year)
That's a small number, but the growth is 100% organic. No promotion, aside from mentioning the newsletter on Twitter.
This year, I intend to grow the newsletter by promoting it at the end of each new video. Hopefully, this will “convert” some of my viewers into readers.
A friend of mine asked why I keep sending a monthly newsletter with “only” 400 subscribers. Well, because I enjoy doing it, I believe it has potential, and I’m always reading up on various things anyway. Taking the time to collect some of what I found into a newsletter isn’t that much work. Especially given it’s only once a month.
In fact, I'm planning on writing a blog post on how I use Obsidian to track potential topics and write my newsletter. Stay tuned!
Noteworthy events in 2022
There are two events from last year that I want to highlight (and of which I'm very proud).
First up: my family is expanding! We’re expecting a second son any minute now. Exciting times! This will affect (again) the number of videos I’ll be able to make, but this time I have a trick up my sleeve (see my goals for 2023 below).
And second, I was invited to speak at a conference in the United States! I gave two talks: “Introduction to cryptocurrencies” and “introduction to DeFi”. I felt like both talks went well, and I hope to share the recordings with everyone soon. It was my first time in the US, and I had a blast. I met a lot of interesting people and got the chance to visit Philadelphia. My trip was brief, but I’m hoping other opportunities will present themselves in the coming years.
Reflecting on previous year's goals
Let's now look at the goals I set last year and how I've done:
Work on videos more regularly Well, this goal obviously failed. The goal was to set aside a fixed amount of time every day to work on videos. Like an hour a day. To be honest with myself, this wasn't realistic. An hour is really short and doesn't allow me to get into the zone. And second, I'm combining a full-time job with a young kid, which means I don't always have the energy to work an extra hour in the evenings.
Learn to write and animate properly Haven't learned to use a proper animation software, but I picked up multiple books on writing. However, I don't think that reading about it will actually help me improve. The best advice I got was to just write. Write a lot, and you'll get better. I've been keeping a (almost) daily journal just for this purpose.
Don't stress about YouTube Analytics I've definitely met this goal. I've let go of the numbers. Sure, I check them once in a while. But I no longer stress about them. Got fewer views? Less revenue? Not much I can do about that.
Goals for 2023
This brings me to my goals for 2023. Here they are in no particular order:
Set time aside to work on content (again) I've set this goal in the previous years as well, but this time I'm committed. Starting in March, I will be off from work 1 day a week until the summer. I want to use this period to see if it'll allow me to make more videos, and if so, I will take more time off after the summer as well.
Promote the newsletter more aggressively The newsletter needs to grow this year. By the end of the year, I want to have at least 1000 subscribers. I’ll accomplish this by mentioning my newsletter in any new video that I will publish. I’ve also migrated the newsletter to Substack, which means it’ll get featured on their platform as well.
Website redesign + migration to simplyexplained.com At the end of 2021, I bought the domain name simplyexplained.com. Currently, that domain name redirects to my YouTube channel, but I'm planning on moving my website there. I'm working with a designer to redesign this website and I hope to launch everything mid 2023!
Mental health: cold showers & Wim Hof breathing After reading Wim Hof’s book, I started taking cold showers. They train your body to better cope with stress and boosts your immune system. I’m not sure about the latter, but I definitely feel very energetic after taking a cold shower! Same thing for the Wim Hof breathing technique: a quick 20-minute session relaxes me and allows me to refocus my energy.
Run Forest, run! Running is my favorite way to work out. Last year I ran a total of 562km, which is less than 800km the year before, but that's still solid. Running helps me to clear my head and to briefly escape life. Goal for this year: keep running! Sure, it'll be tough with having a new baby. But it's really important for both my physical and mental health.
Be a good father. There's a time for work, and there's a time for family. Safeguard this boundary. Cherish the moments with my two baby sons. The cliché is true: they grow up too fast!
As always, I want to thank everyone that has watched my videos and read my blog posts or newsletter. Your support really means a lot to me!
Reach out to me, say hi, or ask a question via Twitter.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the new year!