It’s the end of the year, so as-per I’ve been doing some reflection.
I’ve shared my full year review here, but in this email I’m just going to share my reflections and plans for the weekly email (and content creation more broadly).
It’s fair to say it’s been an odd year. It’s found it tough in many ways but still consider myself very fortunate. I hope you’re keeping well, and I’m crossing my fingers for a great collective 2021.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and I’ll see you on the other side :)
The future of this weekly email
I’m committing to not writing weekly emails or making YouTube videos until atleast mid-2021. I’m also strictly reducing content consumption. Basically, I’m switching from output to input. I’m going to be focussed on a few specific areas.
(I’ll still be checking my emails, so feel free to stay in touch.)
The plans I made
This year, I decided to make sharing and learning in public a priority. I’m in a transition period (as a doctor diving into machine learning and data science) and decided to share my thoughts, reflections and experiences.
I reflected on mediums through which to do this at the end of last year, and opted for:
Weekly writing ✅
YouTube videos ✅
I shared my rationale for the weekly email, which was basically (i) commit to weekly to build the writing habit, (ii) make it public to ensure I put in the effort and (iii) encourage myself to stop and reflect.
A month in I added another condition: to avoid superficiality by writing on larger topics as a series of smaller emails.
Alongside this, I committed to making one YouTube video a week. I played around with various different ‘types’ of video, including vlogs, educational videos and reflections.
How it went
I wrote several email series:
Transitioning into data science / learning to code: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
I made a load of Youtube videos too (56 in total). Most of them are (respectfully) pretty bad. The only ones I’d recommend are:
With the consistency, I saw a slow-and-steady growth rate that gradually increased. For example, my YouTube went from around 0 -> ~600 subscribers in the first 8 months, but from ~600 -> ~2,000 subscribers in the final 4 months.
But far cooler than the numbers, in my opinion, are all the side perks from sharing in public; meeting cool people, job opportunities, interesting conversations, etc.
Benefits of learning in public
Creating content can be great for:
Connecting you with like-minded people and creating cool opportunities (which are sometimes hard to predict).
Having an audience to collaborate with. (E.g. loads of great contributions to ExplainThisPaper.com have come via this newsletter)
Building a business around. Lots of people have done this successfully. (I made a few £1,000s this year, but this is small relative to the time investment)
I feel that investing a lot of time into content creation this year has given me a good insight into how I could double-down on building a large audience, and I’m confident that if I put my mind to it that it’s something I could do.
Why not focus on creating content?
But there are also strong arguments against devoting significant time to content creation.
For me, the biggest trap I want to avoid is creating content for the sake of it. When the focus is on building am audience, you will lean towards create content just because it works (i.e. people will consume it), but may shift away from making what you truly want to make or what is truly valuable. I feel this is particularly a risk when the content is created as a business.
I don’t want to lay judgment on anybody who’s taking this approach, but on reflection it’s just not for me. I already feel that, as a society, we consume too much and create too little. I don’t have a strong drive to be another person creating content for people to consume.
I would rather take the approach of focussing on building something that I feel is more tangibly adding value to the world, and using ‘content creation’ (ie. sharing thoughts and learnings) as a side product of that.
This will almost certainly mean that my audience will grow more slowly than it could otherwise. But personally, I’m happy with that.
What next for this newsletter?
If my top priority was to keep growing this newsletter, then I believe the best approach would be:
Keep posting at least once a week
Focus on a clear audience and ‘value add’ from the newsletter
Double-down on potential ‘viral content’ (like my YouTube video finder), which feeds into the newsletter (I got an extra ~100 subscribers after sharing that post)
However, that’s not my priority, so this is what I’m doing to do instead:
I’m not going to place any constraints on myself around the frequency of posting. I might post twice a week, I might not post for three months. (My year-long habit of weekly posts has removed a lot of the friction for posting)
I’m going to deep dive into areas I’m curious about, and where I believe I can build something of value (likely around the interface of machine learning and healthcare, or technology and personal productivity)
I’m only going to create content when I have a genuine desire / excitement to do so, or have something in particular that I want to share.
Maybe you’ll forget about me (maybe you already have 😉). But I’m pretty confident that the average amount of value each email contains will be higher. (Which is a good thing, right?)
Plans for 2021
At least until mid 2021, my plan is as follows:
Weekly writing ❌
YouTube videos ❌
Occasional blogs (and perhaps videos) when I feel a strong impetus to do so ✅
Ultimately, my feeling for 2021 is that I’ll add more value to my life by subtracting.
Stay tuned for new posts, every… sometimes.
🤩 My favourite things
(1) Obsidian (A note-taking/personal knowledge management tool)
Shout out to the personal who recommended this in response to one of my previous emails. I finally had a chance to try it out and I’m blown away. I’ve tried Notion and Roam, but I think this software is going to change my life. I haven’t been this excited about software since the first Age of Empires.
Key benefits are: (i) files are locally stored, (ii) seamless linking between files and building of knowledge graph and (iii) huge flexibility including LaTeX.
(2) Why content is King (blog)
I enjoyed this Divinations post about the ways in which making content is a great business. Have been reflecting on this (as per this email), and I think the potential is huge. Just not for me, as I said.
(3) Kolabtree (freelancing website for academics)
I’ve been on Kolabtree for months and have had various messages and project proposals, but nothing great. I was starting to grow skeptical of its value. However, in the last few months I’ve been getting loads of really cool work. If you’re someone with academic or related skills (e.g. data analysis, statistics) and interested in freelance work, I’d highly recommend setting up a profile. You’ll get some misses but occasionally may get some cool hits.
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Hi! I’m Chris Lovejoy, a Junior Doctor and Data Scientist based in London.
I’m on a mission to improve healthcare through technology (particularly AI / machine learning), and share what I learn along the way.
In this newsletter, I share my top thoughts and learnings from each week, as well as links to the best things on the internet that I come across.
All the best with the new directions Chris. I've really enjoyed reading these and checking out your recommendations - will be looking forward to what's in store next!