This article is an introspective review of my year as a Flutter developer, blogger and YouTuber in 2018.
I’m sharing it because I found a new, clear direction in 2018. And I hope to inspire other developers like me, just as I have been inspired by the work of others.
I have been a creator for a long time. Mobile app development has been my way of creating and sharing useful things with others. I even tried (and failed) to save the world with a mobile app.
Over time, blogging and open-source have become my way of sharing my learnings with the developer community.
Truth is — I was making things, but I never had a solid grip on marketing or branding, and there simply wasn’t enough interest for what I was building.
After the commercial failure of my Eco Buddy app, I was ready to throw the towel as an independent app developer, and get back to contract work.
Around the same time, I read the 2018 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, and learned that most developers in the industry have only a few years of experience.
At the same time, online programming courses were booming in popularity.
This was my a-ha moment. I realised that I should focus on creating learning materials for app developers. After all:
- I enjoyed mentoring and help team-mates grow.
- Compared to app users, I found it more rewarding to engage with fellow developers and get feedback about my work and content.
- Developers pay for courses, books and conferences, while users complain about paying coffee money for apps. 😉
At the time I had been working on iOS for 6 years, and I was impressed by the content by some of the top bloggers. In particular I was inspired by John Sundell, both for the quality and frequency of his blog, and his charisma on stage at conferences.
But I felt that iOS was becoming a very crowded market for content creators. And I was also losing interest in the platform itself, after building “more of the same” for various clients over the years.
2018 and Flutter
I could say that Flutter found me, rather than the other way around. In March I started a new client project that would be built using Google’s new framework, and I was immediately hooked.
I dived into Flutter with excitement, and completed a proof-of-concept app for the client in two weeks.
To assess interest in Flutter from the community, I wrote an article. This became very popular, and boosted my confidence:
How fast is Flutter? I built a stopwatch app to find out.
This weekend I had some time to play with the new Flutter UI framework by Google.
I was completely new to creating video tutorials, but I followed the example of other YouTubers and I went ahead.
Along the way, I was finally able to connect the dots about marketing and personal branding.
This talk by Peter Steinberger was crucial to the growth of my online presence:
And while I set my initial sights to growing my blog and YouTube channel, I knew I wanted to launch my own full Flutter course down the line.
To that effect, I took this excellent course on Udemy:
As time went along, a few of my YouTube videos were very well received, and I also managed to do a couple of live talks in the summer.
Starting in July, I managed to reduce my client work to 3 days per week (thank you TAB!).
And this meant that I could focus more on my blog, videos and course.
I was learning Flutter myself along the way, so it took me some time to build a full sample app using best practices, as a basis for my upcoming course.
And I set high standards for myself. In my previous jobs, too often I had seen code shipped hastily to production.
I committed to always share complete, clean and modular code to support my teaching materials. Code that could be taken and used in production apps with minor changes.
By the end of September, I felt that my sample app was production ready, and I started recording my course.
I had an ambitious goal of releasing the course by Christmas. But I wanted to do my best work, and learned the hard way that this was going to take a lot of time.
Creating a good online course is a labour of love, and a huge time commitment.
While my original estimates were optimistic, I made steady progress week in, week out.
In December, a few interesting things happened:
- I attended Flutter Live, where Google launched Flutter 1.0, and gave us a preview of Flutter on desktop and web.
- I wrote an article titled “Flutter will change everything, and Apple won’t do anything about it”. Within 48 hours, this went viral on Reddit, Medium, Hacker News and Twitter, but also stirred a lot of controversy, and for good reason. I came away with a few learnings.
- I tried again and posted a new article titled “Dart vs Swift: a comparison”. This was also very popular, but this time without any backlash.
In 2018, I produced 24 articles and 18 videos, all including open-source code. I recorded 8 hours of video for my upcoming course. I devoted 544 hours to make this all happen.
I ended up the year with a bang, and a very clear trend with my subscribers:
Looking onwards to 2019
One of my mantras is that life is short and we should make the most of it.
As far as my efforts go, I have found a clear direction in 2018.
In 2019 I want to continue working in that direction, and increase my focus.
- Focus on creating more and better free content.
- Focus on completing and launching my Flutter course.
- And do a better job at responding to the increasing number of questions from my followers.
This last task caught me a bit by surprise. I need to be a bit more organised, so I can reply more timely across all social channels (Twitter, Medium and YouTube).
There are many individuals that inspired me in 2018, inside and outside of the Flutter community.
But even more importantly, I want to say a big thank you to all the followers who read my articles and watch my videos. Your feedback and encouragement keep me going and help me navigate uncharted territory.
I’m very excited to continue what I’m doing, and have some new ideas for Coding With Flutter that I will share in due time.
Lastly, I feel privileged to be part of the community. It is a great place to learn and share ideas.
It has been extremely rewarding to see others learn from my content, and even expand on some of my ideas and share back with the community.
I hope that this article will inspire more of you to do the same.
Happy 2019 and happy coding!