Looking Back at the First Year of HeyDingus
Along with celebrating a brand-new year, today I’m also excited to mark off the first 365 days of writing here at HeyDingus. It was December 31st of 2020 that I finally revealed to my wife what I’d been sinking weeks of late nights into. I had her pull up the password-protected site while on our way to a small New Years’ Eve gathering and explained how I had wanted my own plot of land on the internet with which to contribute. I’d been an observer for long enough. I had things to say, and I had to say them.
When the clock struck midnight, I made the site public and hit ‘publish’ the first posts. It was thrilling. And it was perhaps the thing that I most looked forward to doing in 2021.
Here we are, 12 months later, and I am so happy with that decision to start a blog. It’s given me an outlet to share my tech opinions — one that I don’t have in the physical world. It’s been my place to tinker with web technologies and dip my toes into writing code. It’s stretched my creativity with Shortcuts to create tools that optimize my writing workflow.
Even if no one read this site, I’d still be content with getting my thoughts out onto the internet. But people do read it. You are reading it now! And my correspondence with readers is something that I value tremendously. I’ve written a few things that have helped people or resonated with them. And writing this site has helped me get a smattering of attention from writers I’ve long respected. It’s been fulfilling to feel that connection with the broader community.
But before I get too sappy, I’d love to share some stats and ‘best of’ posts from this year!
In 12 months, I published…
- 158 different posts
- With a total count of over 116,000(!) words
- 36 installments of my 7 Things series (you could call it a newsletter if you want)
- 32 standalone link posts not part of 7 Things
- and 7 Shortcuts explainers as part of my Shortcuts Tips series
I’ve been inspired to create…
- 15 different shirt designs
- 3 wallpaper sets
Which was viewed…
- By over 11,000 unique visitors
- With over 19,000 pageviews
The Greatest Hits
I don’t look too often at statistics, but I was impressed at how consistently popular these posts were throughout the year:
‘Shortcuts Tips: Stand Goal Cheater’ — July 1st
This was an early Shortcuts Tips post that probably took the least amount of time to put together. It occurred to me that I couldn’t be the only one frustrated with inaccurate stand goal logging with the Apple Watch. I’d figured out a simple solution years ago but hadn’t seen anyone else write about it. So I took a few screenshots, wrote an explanation of why it works, and put it up on the blog.
It hasn’t stopped getting attention since then, which taught me that more people are out there looking for solutions to their problems than opinion pieces. And it turns out that I enjoy writing both! I’ve tried to be specific in posts since then about how and why a method works for me and how others could adapt it to work for them, too.
‘How I Make Drafts Work For Me’ — July 24th
This post started its life as an email to a reader seeking more information about how I used Drafts day-to-day. After sending him a lengthy reply, I realized I still had more to say. So I wrote up how Drafts is like my outboard brain and the tool that connects many of my workflows. It took a while, but I also linked to all the actions and themes that make Drafts an excellent idea capture and refinement environment. And I explained how a small handful of Workspaces serve as temporary buckets for all those fleeting ideas.
I was fortunate enough to have the post be noticed and linked by Greg Pierce, the developer of Drafts, which sent a ton of new traffic to my site. It, too, has continued to be discovered throughout the year, drawing new readers in.
‘Ted Lasso Wallpapers and Shirts’ — July 23rd
It’s a bit weird that all three of my most popular posts were written in July, but there you go. Since the first episode, I’ve been a massive fan of the Ted Lasso show and was positively vibrating with excitement leading up to the second season. In celebration of the show’s return, I created a themed set of wallpapers that also worked great as shirt designs. This post’s popularity is undoubtedly riding the coattails of the Ted Lasso team’s success, but I’m glad to have made something that brings a little joy to others. Those Ted Lasso shirts have also been the most bought from my storefront on Cotton Bureau.
A Few of My Favorites
I mentioned above that I write this site first and foremost for me. So while it’s fun to look at what has gotten the most page views, I’ll leave you with some of the posts that were most meaningful to me to write.
‘Thoughts on the Rumored Apple Car’ — For as long as Apple’s been hinting at their car project as being rooting in a keen interest in “autonomous technology,” I’ve thought that meant it was destined to be a car service, not a car product. So as soon as I had a place to publish, I put my stake in the ground.
‘The Apple Gift Card’s Secret’ — I was so surprised when peeling off the Apple logo from their new gift card to discover it was a fully functional sticker! Since I’d not seen that knowledge posted anywhere else, it was fun to ‘break’ that news.
‘27’ — I turned 27 in February (28 is coming up quick, now that I think about it!), and took the day to reflect on what I was doing on previous birthdays. It was fun searching back through photos to jog my memory.
‘WWDC 2021: Grading My Wish List’ — I read a bunch of WWDC prediction posts every year, but very few that are revisited after the event to see what they got right and wrong. So, I did one myself. I got a bunch of wishcasts wrong but still ended up happy.
Building a Better Blogging Workflow for Squarespace — Squarespace and I have had a tenuous relationship throughout the entirety of our time together. It’s a great platform, but I’m particular about how I want to write. Squarespace would prefer you to use their tools in the way they intended. So, I’ve molded my Markdown-heavy writing workflow to work with Spacespace the best I can, and this is the write-up for others who are in the same boat.
Desk Setup, Summer 2021 — Checking out desk setups, gear logs, and everyday carry posts scratches an itch for me. Before starting HeyDingus, I knew I wanted to write one to catalog my setup. This is an ongoing series as my tools and toys change over time.
Baffling App Ages — This post showed me the power of the internet. Most of my posts get no comments, but when you’re wrong, boy, do folks like to let you know fast! I wrote this post about how I couldn’t figure out why new apps were getting listed as 4+ years old, only to learn that it was actually the age-appropriate rating. This might have been the first post I made an official update to. (I jest about being told I was wrong. I was appreciative to have my question answered and update the post so that I didn’t look like a dufus.)
7 Things (Which Are My Unanswered Questions) This Week, 2021-11-21 — Rounding up links to articles and videos on Sundays is something that I look forward to each week. And I’m proud of the consistency I’ve tried to maintain. It’s when I’m scrambling for seven things, though, that my creativity is unlocked. Some of these questions are ones that I’ve had swirling around my head for years, and it was fun to share them.
As of today, I’m out of a job — again. Don’t worry, it was planned as part of our upcoming move. I’m truly sad to leave this last position because I enjoyed my job a lot. But my exit means I’m no longer working in the industry I write about on HeyDingus. So I’m excited about feeling more comfortable commenting freely on the tech industry again.
With 154 articles under my best in one year, I technically hit my goal of posting every 2-3 days. But some months were very dry on this site, followed by months of prosperous posting. I’m aiming for more consistency in when I post and what I post about this year. My shortcuts explainers and challenge series are two categories where I want to do more. I’ll continue to dabble in design and coding and write about my progress for other beginners, but I don’t foresee them being the main focus.
And I’ll be open to following where my fingers take me. I find that it strikes when I least expect, but also when I’m most in need. Our new home in the mountains will provide plenty of opportunities to try new activities and revisit old hobbies — both of which I’m looking forward to chronicling here. 2022 is looking up, and I hope you’ll follow along.
Thanks, dear reader, for a fantastic first year, and here’s to many more to come.