2018 – Year in Review

2018 – My Year in Review

Gosh! 2018 has been an eventful year. And just like every year, I’m going to do my year in review or as some might like to call it – my state of the union. So, without further adieu, let’s just get to it.

1. From a Freelancer to a Design Consultant

It was in the Jan of 2017 that I’d quit my job and went full-time freelance. It’s been 2 thrilling years since then and a lot has changed. I changed the way I positioned myself – no more a freelancer that trades their time for money but a consultant that provides value.

Desk
Not my desk. Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash.

I’ve always chimed well with value-based pricing but I took it a step further this year by taking on high-value/high-risk projects, getting myself on a retainer and delegating the projects that didn’t fit within my bandwidth. Hence, setting up a design business and creating a network of design consultants.

For a majority of the time this year, I worked on a retainer. Apart from that, I took on 5 new client projects and delegated 2 of them. My mailbox was consistently bursting with new opportunities – both freelance and full-time throughout the year, but unfortunately, I’d to let go a majority of them.

Full-time opportunities that were the toughest to decline were from Uber, Paytm, Flipkart, Housing.com, Anarock, Headout and Directi. I couldn’t go ahead with any of these because they were all offering me a full-time position in India which doesn’t quite align with my current goals.

I’m pretty happy with the way my consulting business is going so far and I wouldn’t trade it for an office job in India unless I’m made an offer I just can’t refuse. Another goal is to land an overseas job that would allow me to live in another country for at least 2 years – preferably Europe, Australia or Canada.

I’m the explorer kind and would like to explore living in another country, working on a global product, collaborating with diverse people and immersing in their respective cultures.

Looking to add an Indian product designer to your diverse team? Let’s talk on dg@darshangajara.com.

2. Product Disrupt’s Consistent Growth

My beloved side-project will turn 2 on the 20th of Jan, 2019 and this is where it stands in terms of numbers.

2018 – ProductDisrupt.com
  • Users: 8482
  • Top Traffic Source: Direct 65.7%
  • Top Location: USA 25.06%
  • Mentions: 9 (Including Golden Kitty Awards)
2018 – Product Disrupt Blog
  • Stories Published: 54
  • Views: 96K
  • Top Traffic Source: Referrals 40.11%
  • Top Writer Category on Medium: Inspiration, Design
2018 – Product Disrupt Newsletter
  • Subscribers: +663 (Total: 1797)
  • Top Location: USA 40.5%
  • Avg. Open Rate: 25.8%
  • Avg. Click Rate: 4.2%
2018 Stats for Product Disrupt Newsletter

I absolutely agree that these aren’t some ground-breaking numbers, but not too bad either for an independent side-project. The kind and heartfelt testimonials (see on my Instagram highlights) are enough motivation for me to keep working on this until it turns into a full-fledged product – or rather a community of product people.

My 2019 goals for Product Disrupt are to redesign the website with more sections and get sponsorships for the website and the half-monthly newsletter.

Interested in sponsoring Product Disrupt? Let’s talk on dg@productdisrupt.com.

3. Podcasts & Interviews

This was the year where I gathered a considerable amount of attention for my consulting business and Product Disrupt. I did a total of 3 podcasts/audio interviews and 2 written interviews.

Podcasts / Audio Interviews
  1. Interview with Phase Magazine
  2. Q&A with Abhinav Chhikara
  3. Noise Podcast – Coming Soon

Written Interviews

  1. Interview with The CEO Library
  2. Interview with Remote Indian

4. Awwwards Young Jury

Awwwards is one of the very first sites I used to visit for inspiration back in the engineering days. I’ve grown in design with this website by my side and it still remains my favorite for site inspiration. Their email of my selection as the young jury member was nothing short of orgasmic.

Awwwards Young Jury Certificate

Thank you, Melvin, for making me apply.

5. Patreon Support System

I’ve been writing stories on design and travel, mentoring designers, interviewing creative people of all kinds, creating design resources and curating newsletters for over 7+ years now. It started with a motivation to share what I’ve learned, build meaningful connections and grow together as a community.

I’ve been fortunate enough to reach an audience and help them on their creative path. This is the year when I decided not to hold back, I want to give more, do more of this and your support will help me go a long way.

By pledging $2 or more on Patreon, you’ll help me invest more time in producing high-quality content for you and focus on ideas to create products that help fellow creatives make a career in design.

Special mention to Mindaugas, Anagh, Nikunj & Damien for supporting me on Patreon over the past few months.

6. New Skill – Photography

It was on my first trip to North India in the Dec of 2017 that I started clicking pictures on my Canon 1300D and started making a conscious effort to learn photography as a skill. Soon after, I also bought a new phone with a better camera – One Plus 5T.

Since then, I’ve been regularly checking Unsplash‘s editorial feed, following the featured photographers and going through their stories to teach myself how to take great pictures. While I’m at it, I also give back to the community by uploading my pictures under a “do whatever you want” license to empower fellow creatives.

One of my photos from my recent trip to Dubai made it to their editorial feed and blew up my stats. 350K+ views in just 2 days, to be specific.

My 2019 photography goal is to click more Unsplash editorial-worthy pictures and get commissioned for a photography project. Too ambitious? Naah, I think it’s very much achievable.

Remember, consistency outplays talent.

7. Travel, Travel & Travel

According to Google Maps, I traveled to 22 cities in 2 countries in 2018. I trust it to be accurate since Google has complete access to my phone. Not sure if that’s a good thing 🤔

2018 Google Maps
My 2018 powered by Google Maps
Notable travel destinations of 2018
  1. Goa
  2. Alibaug x2
  3. Owe Dam
  4. Kutch
  5. Kalavantin Durg
  6. Kochi x3
  7. Munnar
  8. Alleppey
  9. Dubai
  10. Devkund Waterfall
  11. Kasol
  12. Tosh
  13. Delhi
2018-travel-collage
Some travel memories from 2018

Stories about all of the above travels are pinned to my Instagram highlights. Give me a follow @weirdowizard to travel along with me. Europe is on my radar this year 🇪🇺

8. Semi-Makeover

I’ve had the same hairdo for ages. Dressing style – I didn’t have one, just dressed in decent clothes to be not noticeable in the crowd. For me, the best compliment was no compliment. The fact that someone complimented (read commented) on my clothes was a reason to doubt my get-up. Yeah, I’ve been that kind of a guy for the longest of times.

It was time I upped my looks-game. I experimented a little with my hairs, got myself a cool new pair of shoes and clothes, of course.

Hairdos
Hairdo Experiments

You guessed it right, I wouldn’t become a style guru overnight. All of this was through the grooming of my dear friend – Varenya.

I hope I look relevant now 😎

9. Chloe-someness🐱

The floodgates of awesomeness in our lives were wide opened when my bro – Malik got Chloe home. I wasn’t a cat-person until Chloe came into my life. It’s just impossible to not fall in love with this adorable little furball.

She’s about a year old, not-at-all grumpy, starry-eyed energy ball. And she’s giving me company as I write this year in review.

Pur love ❤️

She’s also upped my social score (if you know what I mean), so brownie points to her.

10. Mindfulness of Time

As I learned and unlearned the ways of life, I became more and more aware of time. Time – we’ve all got it in limited portions, once I grew aware of this fact, my tolerance to bullshit hit an all-time low.

It’s better to grow mindful of your time and focus on the things that really matter to you rather than blindly chase fame, fads & other f-words.

Image by Aron Visuals from Unsplash

The only downer to growing mindful of your time is namesake friends and relatives complaining that you don’t give them enough time. Is it really a downer though? Why see namesake people when you can spend happy and quality time with the real ones?


So, that was all about my 2018 – an eventful year ending on a happy high (quite literally) in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh.

Tell me about your 2018 in the comments below or just tweet it to @WeirdoWizard. I won’t bite, I promise.

See you around in 2019!

2 thoughts on “2018 – My Year in Review

  1. Superb post, Darshan! I just love the layout and the CTAs placed across the post. The tone of your writing does convey how much fun you seem to be having with your work. Please accept loads of my best wishes for you in the new year hoping that you’ll scale even higher this year! 🙂

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