The Ninth Fourth

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Another year! They tick by all-too-quickly these days. It’s time for another commemorative post, as we do. A state of the union. A mile-marker style post where I talk about the year gone by and where things stand ’round here.

See the Pen Proper Fireworks by Matheus Lin (@boomershin) on CodePen.

It was last year when I was just settling into Milwaukee after buy the house I had been renting. This year, household residents have grown by one person and one dog. We’ve just finished some major-ish renovations on the house, including some front and backyard “hardscaping” work. Looks like we’ll be in this house for a good little while.

I sit up in my attic as we speak, just like last year, looking across the street at loads of families in the park getting ready for 4th of July fireworks. I kinda wanna go watch them, but Digby is so damn scared of them that we can’t really bring her and and also don’t wanna leave her alone. I guess I’ll just look at some virtual ones. Thankfully CodePen is full of them! Like the ones above by Matheus Lin.

Traffic wise, on CSS-Tricks, last year I was coming to terms with things being stagnant. No significant growth or decline. This year so far, we’ve been seeing growth of around 12% (users/sessions/pageviews) when comparing to the same month of last year. That feels better! Although, check out the next section on advertising on why we’re caring about that less and less.

Last year it also felt very new to be working with a larger staff of folks here on CSS-Tricks. Now that feels very natural! You can find them all here. I even made a special alumni section for folks that have moved on or were involved with The Lodge. The Lodge is still a section of the site, but this year we made that free instead of charging for it, as the Office Hours thing were were doing for it wasn’t working as well as we wanted it to and we weren’t able to produce enough courses to warrant continuing to charge for it.

This is the first year of CSS-Tricks that felt like a tried-and-true business. Money comes in. Money goes out. Worry happens. The books balance. But fundamentally, the site is the same as it has been for years: we publish a bunch of writing about web design and development. That’s what we love and that’s what we’ll continue to do!

A quick word on advertising.

I like it. More complete thoughts. I think it’s a particularly good business model for small publishers who can be picky about their advertising partners and who have lots of control over the experience of the ads. That’s us.

We only work with companies we use (or would use), like, and recommend. We do our best to make sure we aren’t sending you anywhere slimy and that nothing uncouth is happening with the advertisements themselves. Here on CSS-Tricks, we are currently working with Media Temple as the primary site sponsor. We run some display advertising. And we also run sponsored posts. Everything is laid out here. We’d love to have any of you out there running great products or services!

It’s the sponsored posts that are particularly interesting to me. They can take various forms: from simple explanations with my own audio endorsements to full blown tutorials. They are clearly marked as sponsors. They are good for everyone. Good for advertisers because they perform well. Good for us as we need income from good partners. Good for you? In my opinion, yes. Not only is good advertising useful in finding out about products and services, but it means we can adopt a more liberal publishing strategy. Meaning: we’re incentivized to bring good content to you wherever you want to read it. Apple News? Sure. RSS? Cool. Email? No problem. Instant articles? On the way. AMP? Already doing it. We’re not trying to force you to come to this website and push pageviews.

And speaking of email, that’s probably the biggest new thing around here. We’re (well, mostly Robin is) hand-writing it each week. Subscription form here.

As ever, my time is split between my big products. CSS-Tricks, ShopTalk, and CodePen. CodePen getting the bulk of it. It’s my baby! My passion! It’s now a funded project. I have co-founders. We have investors. We have a full time staff. We have huge new secret projects! And of course, a roadmap forever.

But as I regularly reflect, all these products are not only related to each other in theme (web design and development), but fuel each other. Their existence helps people find out about them. My work on them gives me ideas and knowledge to make the others happen. I’m quite happy I made a conscious choice to focus (and limit) myself to these projects.

High five to the whole CSS-Tricks community, and here’s to another year!