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Decluttering my digital life
Trying to maintain a social presence on multiple channels is exhausting so I have had a social media cull. Hopefully you will join me on the few channels I have left.
Hey friends 👋,
My goal for this newsletter, my YouTube channel and my website is to teach people about software engineering and tech in general. Popular opinion seems to say that I need to be on every single platform to have the highest reach.
As an introvert, however, I find being "social" quite tiring. I am not particularly outgoing and trying to keep up with all these different platforms is exhausting.
I do my best to answer every comment on my YouTube channel as most of the time they are either positive comments or people asking for help. However, trying to do this across multiple platforms just splits my attention and takes me away from actually creating content that can help people.
Currently, I have a presence at least in some form on the following platforms:
Mastodon (@firstname.lastname@example.org previously @email@example.com)
X (formally known as Twitter) (@alexhyettdev)
Substack Notes (@alexhyett)
Ever since Elon Musk bought Twitter it has been going downhill. To be honest I was a bit late to the game on Twitter and I have never managed to gain much of a following there. Due to the way the algorithms work and the fact I am not willing to pay for Twitter Blue my posts never get much reach.
Most of the other platforms aren't much better unfortunately with the algorithms mostly favouring large accounts while completely ignoring those with smaller followings.
I think the one exception to this is YouTube. As I am writing this, I have 8,100 subscribers on YouTube and still get over 2,000 views a day despite not being able to post any content for the past month. The algorithm does seem to favour good-quality content and the content is long lived.
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The great social media cull
So with that said I am cutting down my social platforms to the following 4:
YouTube (@alexhyettdev) - growth is continuing and I will be posting more videos here once my kids go back to school :).
Dev.to (@alexhyettdev) - I have managed to gain 3,200 followers on Dev.to and most of my posts get at least 100 views and sometimes a lot more.
LinkedIn - This is my professional network which is mostly developers but I have a few other people on there as well. I do occasionally share my posts if I think they are at the right level for those I have worked with.
On most of the others, I have either put a notice that I have moved to Mastodon or I will just quietly abandon them. I would delete them but I don't want anyone else to use my old handle to impersonate me.
I particularly like Mastodon as I own my own server. I am not at the whim of some CEO dictator and I can move my account around and keep my followers without any issues.
If you are not on Mastodon I would encourage you to join me. There are a lot of developers on there already as many have already abandoned Twitter.
Don't know where to start? There is a good guide here: Guide to Mastodon
You can follow me at @firstname.lastname@example.org and you can see who I am following if you want some developers to follow.
A look at the numbers and potential impact
As a developer turned entrepreneur/creator surely abandoning social media is going to hurt my reach?
Well as it turns out the numbers say otherwise. Let's have a look at the top platforms I am on.
Out of all the platforms I am dropping, TikTok has the largest following and the most reach:
On paper, these look like good numbers. So how many people have visited my website from TikTok ....drumroll.....
That's not 200 or 2,000, just 2 people have clicked on the link in my bio.
On the YouTube side, I have either had no one subscribe from TikTok or it just doesn't show me the details. Either way, I am not worried.
That's the problem with platforms that only allow a link in the bio. They don't encourage people to leave their platform.
I used to post a lot of desk photos on Instagram and because of that I still have around 1,500 followers on there. I would get the odd comment and a few hundred views per post but nothing major.
Over the last year, Instagram has driven 87 people to my website and very few if any subscribers.
X / Twitter
I am quite glad to leave Twitter with everything that was happening. To be honest, when Elon laid off the majority of the engineering team and made life miserable for the rest, it wasn't a platform I wanted to be a part of.
I only have 400-odd followers on Twitter and most of my posts only get around 50 impressions with very little engagement.
Therefore it is not surprising that I have only had 71 people visit my website and 24 video views on YouTube.
Medium & Hashnode
For a while now I have been cross-posting my newsletter to Medium, Hashnode and Dev.to with a canonical link back to the original source.
Over the last year, I have had only 727 visitors to my Hashnode blog and gained 100 followers. Only 58 of those visited my main website.
Medium hasn't been much better. I have gained 200 followers but averaging less than 100 views a month.
Dev.to on the other hand does seem to be driving people to my newsletter (16 subscribers), website (267 visitors) and YouTube channel (217 views).
I can see from my Dev.to analytics that I am currently getting around 1,635 readers and 480 new followers a month. I now have over 3,000 followers on the platform.
Overall I am hoping that focussing on a select few main channels will help me focus and give me a bit more time to help everyone.
❤️ Picks of the Week
📝 Article - awk introduction - CLI text processing with GNU awk. As part of my backend developer roadmap, I recommend people learn Linux commands. Some of them are really useful but can be tricky to master. This is a great introduction to using awk which is really powerful especially when combined with grep.
📝 Article - Block YouTube Ads on AppleTV by Decrypting and Stripping Ads from Profobuf. A lot of adverts are quite intrusive, I have a Pi-Hole set up at home to block ads on websites but it doesn't block YouTube ads. If you did want to block them it is quite involved but it is an interesting read. Personally, if you don't like the ads I would recommend getting YouTube Premium instead so you are still supporting creators like me.
📝 Article - Slack's Migration to a Cellular Architecture. I hadn't heard of cellular architecture before but in a nutshell, it is setting up services in siloed availability zones (AZ) so you can route traffic should a zone go down.
🛠 Tools - OS.js Web Desktop. It is like a computer in a browser. I just thought this looked really cool. I am not sure of the practical use for this maybe beyond a frontend for a NAS drive.
💬 Discussion - Show HN: Open-source obsidian.md sync server. A high school graduate decided to create an open-source Obsidian sync server. There are many ways to sync notes in Obsidian (for free) so I am not recommending using this but to draw your attention to the response from the Obsidian CEO.
This is the kind of attitude I can get behind. +1 for Obsidian.
📝 Article - Common Failure Causes - ByteByteGo Newsletter. Trying to make a resilient system is hard, especially if you are new to all this. This is a really helpful guide to all the common causes of failure to look out for. ByteByteGo is also a great newsletter to subscribe to, by the way.
📝 Article - If you want to address tech debt, quantify it first. A lot of companies don't see the point in addressing tech debt. It isn't bringing new features so why waste time on it? As this article addresses you need to quantify it. After all, we know how much management likes a good graph!
📝 Article - How to sabotage your salary negotiation efforts before you even start. Jumping to a new position is the best way to get a salary increase but you need to be good at negotiating otherwise you could be missing out on thousands. This article has some great advice if you are looking for a new position.
📝 Article - An Excruciatingly Detailed Guide To SSH (But Only The Things I Actually Find Useful). Like a noob, I have been using SSH for two things, logging on to a remote server and transferring files. It turns out you can do all sorts of craziness with SSH such as forward and reverse proxy.
💬 Quote of the Week
"Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life"
💰 Income Report #2: August 2023
As a developer, there are other ways that you can earn money. Let's face it we could always do with a little bit more money these days.
As a thank you to my paid subscribers, I am sharing how much I am earning and the website traffic I am getting as a developer turned creator so can see whether it is something you would want to pursue.