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Architecture Weekly became the Substack Bestseller!
Boom, I got this week such a nice picture from the Substack. My Architecture Weekly newsletter appears to have become the Substack Bestseller for getting 100 paid subscribers.
It’s a nice checkpoint, so let’s look back at how it started! You need to cherish good moments.
Being hungry for knowledge is a double-edged sword. One can say that it’s impossible to know too much, but I think that in a specific context, that’s possible.
My father often told me that I had a flash in the pan. I think that it wasn’t a precise judgement. I wasn’t quickly giving up, but I had too many hobbies and jumped from one to another, and it was easy to be interested in something new. Or just distracted.
That’s precisely what was also happening with my technical musings. I think I did projects in most of the popular platforms of paradigms, mobile, backend, frontend, legacy, serverless, business intelligence, .NET, Java, Node.js, management, product design, etc. I was definitely not T-shaped but rather underscored.
As I was interested in all that stuff, trying to build a holistic view of our industry to deliver better projects, I was trying to catch up with most of the news. Like most of us, I started with a classical developer browser view: hundreds of open tabs. Of course, occasionally, I had them cleaned by random browser crashes. And all the links poof disappeared in the kingdom of doom.
Too often, I knew that I had a great link there, but I didn’t remember the author or title and couldn’t find it again. I was trying to devise different ideas for managing that: bookmarks, dedicated GitHub repos, YouTube playlists, and tools like Notion. All of those tools had their benefits, but the knowledge was dispersed, and they were still a mental barrier to keep them up to date. Kinda like a squirrel that hides nutts for later and forgets where it was.
Luckily, I had a new idea that aged better!
I’m a simple man, so the simple methods work best for me. Inspired by the immutability of the Architecture Decision Record and Event Sourcing, I just created an append-only log of valuable resources (articles, videos, whitepapers, etc.). I started to group them by week and general categories like Architecture, DevOps, Databases, Management, etc. and technologies. Firstly, I used it just for myself. Now, I could search in the markdown file by author, title, and keywords or skim approximately by time, remembering how long ago I found a particular link. Not perfect, not terrible. Good enough.
I put it in the GitHub repository that’s still a basis for each release: https://github.com/oskardudycz/ArchitectureWeekly.
I shared that with my friends. As I used the GitHub release function, it appeared that some subscribed for the new releases using built-in GitHub notifications. Some started to ask me if I could “setup a proper newsletter”. I was postponing that idea for some time, as I didn’t want to put yet another burden on myself.
Yet, finally, I decided to use Substack, as it was the most straightforward tool. It allowed me to share those links both through the page and send email notifications about new releases. It was also easy to use, looked professional and gave me more options.
What options? At some point I set up GitHub Sponsors with the idea to make my Open Source “work” more sustainable. I wanted to give them something more as a gratitude for their support. Of course, not gonna lie, also as a hook to attract more of them. That idea was to do monthly webinars. I decided, why not have both and build the community for the people who want something more in their career?
Some of them already were asking me for recommendations, comments and help. A lot of questions repeated. Some of the answers were a basis for the articles on my blog, but I wanted to have it more interactive.
I’ve set up a Discord channel.
That’s how the final idea has matured: Let’s build an exclusive community that:
share the knowledge among themselves,
can support each other and ask questions,
tackles ideas, as one of the issues of technical leaders is solitude. Not being able to find others to discuss and challenge their thoughts.
Fast forward to the time of writing, Architecture Weekly has:
3644 free subscribers,
103 paid subscribers,
19 GitHub sponsors,
We had so far 13 webinars run not only by me but also by authorities:
That’s in total: 21 Hours, 13 Minutes, 42 seconds!
As you see, it’s not a one-man show anymore.
It may be a bold statement, but I think the subscription price is a bargain compared to the amount of knowledge you can find in those videos. Better than a lot of online courses.
Is it, for me, a significant source of income right now? Not really. To be true, I’m using the paywall as a filter for the interested people to build an engaged community here. It’s still, for me, more of a way to connect and get mutual feedback with subscribers rather than a real source of income. Still, much appreciated, and I’m thankful to all.
What are the next plans?
Continue to do that until it is helpful for me and my subscribers.
I want to get more guests for webinars to make the community more diverse and supplement parts I’m not experienced enough.
I’m thinking about building the LLM bot that’d answer based on the knowledge in the selected articles.
I’m also considering workshops purely for the community.
If you have ideas, don’t be shy to share them!
Feel invited to join our community!
p.s. This article was also posted on my blog.
p.s.2 Ukraine is still under brutal Russian invasion. A lot of Ukrainian people are hurt, without shelter and need help. You can help in various ways, for instance, directly helping refugees, spreading awareness, putting pressure on your local government or companies. You can also support Ukraine by donating e.g. to Red Cross, Ukraine humanitarian organisation or donate Ambulances for Ukraine.