What I’ve Done/What Have I Done: 2013 In Review

As the end of the year approaches, it’s a convenient time to sit down and evaluate how the last year has gone; what’s been good; what got done; what kinda sucked and what can be done better in the next year.

For me 2013 was a year of changes and rapidly growing up. I spent the first half of the year interning and then working at Miniclip where I learned a ton about pretty much everything. That whole experience was great fun and a wonderful opportunity; my decision to have a gap year was definitely the right one.

After finishing up at Miniclip I had two months off to enjoy my summer and then started university at Warwick at the end of September. Uni has pretty much dominated my life since, and as I wrote about a couple of weeks after arriving it’s been pretty fun and — once again — another big learning experience.

That’s the uber-simplistic view of the last twelve months. There have been other changes, too, though: in September I parted ways with the site that pretty much taught me everything about blogging and the web, WPShout, the site I’d set up when I was fifteen. That was a big decision, but Fred and David doing an awesome job with the site has really vindicated the move to sell. I was essentially neglecting the site, and it’s brilliant to see the kind of content I should have been writing showing up on the site.

I’ve also been blogging “once a week” here on sevenironcows. The end of 2013 brings about the first anniversary of this site, and I’m pretty pleased with how things are going here. I don’t really give a crap about readership numbers, which is fortunate as they’re pretty abysmal, but it’s nice just having a corner of the interwebs to just write without having to think too much about it. This post is number 101, which slightly misleadingly implies I’ve published something twice a week. The majority of those posts are either haikus (I failed at writing 100 haikus in 2013, in case you were wondering) or pics, but it’s still a decidedly Not Bad content-count for the year.

The redesign the site underwent back in the summer was definitely a good move, too; pulling in my Instagram feed to the sidebar works really nicely, and I’ve even considered switching back to a one-column setup where photos are incorporated (and would dominate) the site’s main feed.

sevenironcows has basically been an entirely personal project, so with no real goals to validate and nobody to justify to, I’ve been pretty pleased with how it’s gone so far.

Looking forward to 2014 I’ve been quietly working away on a new blog which I’ll probably launch early in the new year. I’ve tried and failed to launch it before, but I’m much better prepared to make it work this time round, and I’m determined to at least give it a pretty good shot. I will nodoubt drop a post here if/when the site launches.

I’ve also decided 2014 is going to be the year I get out and see more of the world. I’ve got the first bits of a plan to travel Istanbul -> London over the summer sorted, and I’d love to get outside of Europe too. Travelling is definitely more-or-less top of my personal agenda for the next year. I’ve even kitted myself out with a new camera in anticipation.

It seems naive to try and round up everything of significance that’s happened in the last year into a single blog post, let alone a 600-odd-word one. Indeed, it is; there is a metric ton of stuff I’ve missed out here. In brief, though, 2013 has been good. 2014, however, will be better. Honest.

Being less distracted/stop looking at your phone the whole damn time, Alex

Pretty much everybody I know will be able to tell you that I am more or less inseparable from my phone. I take it everywhere, will look the second I have a notification and I even carry around a portable battery just to make sure I never ever run out of charge.

It very much fits the stereotype of young people who can’t go anywhere without their phones; I’m that guy. I’ve always dismissed comments about being attached to my phone under the guise of oh, everyone does it yeah whatever, but it’s probably not actually really that healthy after all.

I don’t really want to be that guy who’s always checking his notifications; I’ve got stuff to do, and checking my phone every couple of minutes just represents an unprecedented distraction. Heck, it doesn’t just represent an unprecedented distraction, it is an unprecedented distraction.

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Lessons learned speaking at my first WordCamp

Just over a week ago I had the immense pleasure of spending a day at WordCamp London 2013. It was London’s first time hosting a WordCamp and my first time attending one; on both counts I hope it’s going to be the first of many.

As well as being a first-time attendee, I also signed myself up to talk for half an hour on “Content Marketing for Real People”. The talk should be available shortly on WordPress.tv, so I won’t dwell on it here; instead I’d like to share what it was like speaking at a WordCamp for the first time and offer up some tips on how to be better at the whole speaking thing.

Preparation, preparation, preparation

So you’ve applied to speak. You’ve had your application accepted. WordCamp Wherever You Live is three weeks away. What happens now? You’ll never guess this one: preparation.

This is the place where one quotes all sorts of inspirational people on how failing to prepare is to prepare failing, but I shall restrain from doing so. It’s pretty simple, really, the better you are prepared, the better you’re going to be at delivering your presentation.

The huge collection of videos at WordPress.tv are your greatest friend here. Watch a bunch of them and just see how people who are good at giving presentations give their presentations and what you can learn from them.

Delivery is something to focus on later, so look at the things the pros do which you can replicate and emulate. How are slides done? How much information is on each slide? What is suitable attire? You get the idea. Watch a handful of videos; see how it’s done.

Continue reading “Lessons learned speaking at my first WordCamp”