2019 Year In Review
This was a challenging year for me. A lot of travels, changes in business, product launches and failure. I have mixed feelings about 2019, but definitely it wasn't boring at all. In this post, I'll try to structurize it as much as possible.
I know it might be too late to write a recap on the previous year, but mid-December to mid-January was a bit hectic time for me due to high pace travels and work. However, I think it's better to do it later than never.
We celebrated our 2019 in Chiang Mai and basically started from there. We had a lot of work and not much travel time. Since we decide to slow down a little bit and try staying in one place for 1-3 months. Anyway, almost every weekend we went outside the city to spend some time close to nature.
In terms of work, January was a great month financially for me. I had 3 good client projects and I've managed to make 3 times more than a usual month. However, I didn't have enough time to work on my products. Even though Chiang Mai is a great place to concentrate on work. Especially, if you stay in an area like Nimman where everything is within walking distance. Basically, I've managed to quickly finish up full-stack design projects and free up some space for next month to have a more focused time to make and ship products. That was my initial idea. I wanted to launch several more products in 2019 to get at least 50% of my income from products and do not depend that much on client work.
In February we decided to take some time off because actually we didn't have a vacay time for about a year and after the intense work in January we decided to go to Ko Samui island and relax a little bit, but I also wanted to have some creative time to think through some things and plan what to do next. However, things were not as expected. Maybe it's because of the high expectations of a vacay time due to lack of it, maybe because of the accommodation that we rented or an area we stayed in. Or maybe it's because my mother got sick and she was 10,000 kilometers away and the only thing I could do is just to call and support her from time to time. Luckily, things worked out well for her without any complications. Anyway, for some reason, it was hard for me to relax and even properly think about future plans.
Another thing, we've tried to do is going to Ko Phangan which is 50 minutes ferry away. The island is very beautiful, but the vibe is quite weird as for me. Maybe I will explain it in a separate post
After a week we booked the hotel we already stayed in about a year ago to not have any surprises and came back to Ko Samui. This time we knew the area and I've made some progress with projects. Also, made some updates to my blog and the platform (one of my products).
By the end of February, we went to Bali. That time we decided to stay in Ubud and I wanted to try Hubud as one of the most popular co-working spaces in the world. I've managed to do some work from there, Starbucks and one small coffee shop on quiet parallel to Monkey road street.
After one week we decided to move down to Canggu. The Internet is much better there and we find that hipster vibe works better than the one in Ubud. There is a joke that the second name of Canggu now is Balifornia. Also, we had more spaces to work from. We've done it from our Guesthouse, we went to Outpost coworking space, and a variety of cafes with decent flat whites.
While in Bali I've managed to do some client work, finish and launch my product Nightfall Dark Mode Design System. Right after that I've worked on marketing and got first sales. That was in March.
We went back to Europe by the end of March. I needed to do some paperwork and set up my e-Residency business. I needed to go to Tallinn for a couple of days to open my bank account and right after that, we decided to go back to Bali. So March and April were pretty much about travel, paperwork and client work. Also, I've managed to launch a mini product related to Nightfall.
We spent our May in Bali and later went to Chiang Mai again. It was the time when the air there just started clearing up. So officially smoke season came to an end. Chiang Mai is our favorite productive place and we wanted to try staying there for a year. It was a great idea. Since we were tired of constant movement between countries and places.
I was working on the Blogging Engine as the next product I wanted to launch. I wanted to do it within these 3 summer months, but I undervalued the complexity of this product. The main issue I guess is that, first of all, I'm not a developer and don't usually practice coding on a daily basis. So I had to learn a lot how to code stuff either server side and front end. I must say that this is the most challenging project I've ever worked on. Also, I've worked with clients designing their products. This is another thing that took 50% or more of my working time.
We went down to the islands for a week as a short vacay just to relax on a beach and don't do anything.
During all this time in Chiang Mai, we were thinking whether to stay for a year or not. We like the city and vibe, people are friendly and the food is amazing. It's to live there and focus on the stuff you want. However, we decided that It's good for 1-3 months but after that some things like roads that are hard to cross, beeping songtaews, and Chinese tourist crowds start to be annoying. Of course, we could move to a more quiet area and rent a house, but it wouldn't be convenient in the same way as it was staying in Nimman area or at least close to it. I'd say it's a personal preference and it's not like something is wrong with the city or area we stayed in.
We've made the decision to try one more option we had back in Europe. So at the end of July, we started working on our plan setting up our base in Europe (I'm gonna write a separate post on the exact place and details this year).
I had to put my work on Blogging Engine off due to my focus on paperwork and client tasks. This was a big pause and honestly, it's difficult mentally to not be certain about projects and deadlines. Because this product is very promising in terms of revenue possible success. Anyway, I moved on leaving only essential tasks I need to do in my hands. That is the best I could do at that moment.
We flew back to Europe in September and worked on projects (mostly client work) all 3 months.
I've opened one more company that will help us to stay in Europe for as long as we can manage, but the downside of this process is that I needed to file documents for the residence permit to live and work in the EU. The waiting time is usually around 1-3 months. This is mentally frustrating because you have to stay in your home country and wait while your application will be processed and whether they have any questions or not. You can't get any information regarding the stage of your application and you just need to wait for requests or until the decision will be made.
So it was hard to focus on products and sometimes even on the client projects. Also, the cold winter weather is something we forgot about spending the last 2 years in tropics.
This what we experienced in the Autumn and in December we decided that we desperately need to go somewhere in a warm place. We were thinking about something close like Cyprus or Sri Lanka. Well, the last one is not that close but seems closer on the map than Southeast Asia.
Since we were close to Christmas and New Year's holidays we definitely had a corridor of a month when there is a high probability that no one would request anything regarding our application. So in the middle of December, we decided to go to Thailand for one month and I quickly booked tickets like 3-4 days before the departure date. This was probably the quickest one.
And here we are. I'm writing this post from the beach cafe in Ko Samui. We were moving a lot in Thailand this time. Our journey started in Krabi, then we went to check Ko Lipe (the Maldives of Thailand), then went back to Bangkok to celebrate New Year's in a rooftop bar and then back to islands.
This is how my year ends. Lots of uncertainties, projects, and plans that are still in progress, but I'm very positive about what's happening and during the 2019 year, I've learned to switch faster on a positive side of things instead of staying on the negative one for a long time. It became more clear what I want in my life and I see the picture now. Unfinished projects will be finished in 2020. That's for sure. I'm going to be more stable and plan better for 2020, finish up things, learn more, make things on a different level. Also, it's going to be less nomadic, but I still want to travel to a couple of new places and do it as short trips.