2020 A year in review for Marksei.com

As 2020 comes to a close, it is certain that it has changed many of us. I had never considered writing this kind of post in the first place, but here I am, a year in review (and five missing) for Marksei.com. In this post I will analyze the “marksei.com” project status and discuss its development.

A bit of history: how it all started (2-years review condensed)

As I prefaced in the short preview of the article, 2020 has changed many of us, including me. Previously I had never even thought of this as an interesting post as marksei.com started as a practical user-oriented blog. I’d have thought “this wouldn’t be interesting for my audience” and dismiss. That is no longer the case, and here I am writing such a post. But let’s start slowly.

I started marksei.com in November 2014 as a complementary blog to keep myself busy writing about the things I had taken time to learn. The primary focus was to share knowledge with my audience that was, in that moment, non-existent. The second objective I was aiming for is to create this blog as a personal portfolio for work. I started with some very basic guidelines for myself:

  1. Write at least 1 post a week.
  2. Do not write about things you wouldn’t enjoy reading.
  3. Do not use social media to promote the blog.

During 2014 and 2015 I was very strict about these points and I only missed point one during one particular day, the day I had to take an RHCE exam. Fast-forward to the end of 2015 I was still striving to find content that would be interesting for my readers, and I was sure I was on spot, however the traffic generated was still very low, I remember hitting 15 visits one busy day.

That was the time I decided to “bend” point number 3. I subscribed to reddit and started posting some of my best articles on the popular site. That was the turning point for marksei.com, I started getting many more visits and most of all, I was happy someone found my guides useful (I am always happy to hear that!).

The years in-between (3-years review condensed)

Starting in 2016 my life took a turn for the wrong, suffice to say I wasn’t really feeling well and I kept brooding about closing the marksei.com project early. Even though I was not in my best condition, I managed to keep going, one post per week, stone after stone. It has been during this period that I produced some of my best guides such as the Owncloud/Nextcloud guide.

During this time I realized what type of reader my typical reader was and kept refining the topics I would discuss in my next articles week by week. Around that time I also decided I would no longer prioritize news over tutorial posts. Albeit news are important, they’re all over the Internet and my blog is by no means better than any other at telling news. I write about news only when I think a more objective point of view is needed, or I want to express my thoughts. I started writing more technical guides, even lowering the initial threshold of “intermediate” user, I started writing more “beginner” tutorials.

Starting 2017 I decided to monetize this project. While marksei.com uses a bunch of tricks to consume a relatively small amount of computational resources, it still weighted on my pocket. I decided to add a few ads that would not compromise my readers’ experience, that has always been my priority. I was sometimes criticized on Reddit because I wanted to monetize over content that was already available somewhere else. That pained me a lot, as a technical blog writer I had always prioritized content over monetization and up to day I have not added an excessive amount of ads nor have I made a fortune out of this blog. On the contrary, I have always striven to produce quality content that no one else had produced before. My site was also copy-pasted many times without even giving attribution, and that too pained me. People who say this do not know the amount of work needed to proofread guides such as the Nextcloud one, to ensure everything works fine in every possible configuration, a thing I do for every guide of mine.

Overall, I gained some “popularity” in my niche if you will, but my only aim was only to share my knowledge with other people, especially tech enthusiasts, home-labbers and aspiring system administrators. I was very pleased with the sheer amount of posts I had accumulated, thinking that people would benefit from this.

2020 Covid19 year, worst year

In 2020, once again because of more wrong turns in my life, I couldn’t keep up with my initial guidelines. It has been increasingly difficult for me to provide users with quality content, once a week. I started experiencing a serious difficulty in finding something that would be both interesting and easy to write about in one week. Overall I think I have missed my original guidelines in this year the most, even more than the previous years combined and for that I apologize to you, reader. I started writing about news a bit more frequently, summarizing news and facts. I also started writing about data science, a field that is gaining more interest and momentum by the minute.

As the year went by we were met with the pandemic, a new form of disease that challenged our very own foundations of what a society is. This period, which I presume will continue for a relatively long time even after a vaccine will be administered, has taken a toll on me and on marksei.com. I found myself thinking – what am I even writing, would my reader really be interested in this article? The answer was obvious.

Overall, marksei.com has become a much bigger project than I had thought it would become, and I am happy for that, however it has reached a point where it has strayed so much from its original purpose that I can no longer recognize it as it was.

The future of marksei.com

As an immediate remedy for the discussed problematic, I will take an indefinite break. For a while I will not publish new content on marksei.com, I will always respond to comments anyhow.

Once I restart writing, I will not publish one article per week but will adopt a biweekly or monthly schedule with more quality and in-depth content.

A possible “marksei 2.0” is being brewed, I am still unsure whether to pull the trigger as it could, in this particular moment be a backfiring option.

As a final note, I want to thank all of my readers both old and new, I want to express my sadness about those who are no longer with us, and I hope for a merrier 2021, as this 2020 has taken much of what we have. Thank you, I wish you all a brighter 2021.

Image courtesy of mark | marksei

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The IT guy with a slight look of boredom in his eyes. Freelancer. Current interests: Kubernetes, Tensorflow, shiny new things.

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