2019 – My Year in Review

It’s that time of the year when we (most of us) take a step back and reflect on all the mess we’ve created throughout the year. Keeping the tradition alive, here’s my year in review for 2019.

Third Year as a Consultant

2019 was my third year of working independently. I wouldn’t lie, it has gotten difficult at times but the journey has been very rewarding.

The first half of 2019 was good business because I was heavily focused on client work. The priorities shifted in the second half as I started dedicating more time to my beloved side project – Product Disrupt and went full-swing on applying for an overseas job (Major life update coming up).

Throughout the year, I worked on two major projects with return clients that made me good money. Additionally, I completed five smaller projects with the help of other freelancers.

Two of these projects were something that I was doing for the first time professionally, so I was very excited about this challenge. One of them being a strategy session for an ed-tech product and the other being UX copywriting for a product studio website. Glad to share that both the projects were successful and made the clients very happy 😊

I also took on an interim head of design role with one of my clients and managed a team of five consisting of a UI designer, illustrator, product manager & engineers. It was again something that I’d never done before. Well, not sure how did I do though, you’ll need to ask my team for the feedback on my management skills. I hope you’ll get a positive report.

This year again I’d to turn down a few great full-time opportunities, the toughest of them being the one from Gojek which would have put me in the design leadership position in Indonesia’s fastest-growing startup. Well, maybe in near future I’ll again get to cross paths with them 🤞

Product Disrupt Made its First Dollar

I was going to wait until the Product Disrupt Newsletter hit a 5k subscribers mark to reach out for sponsorships. To my surprise, Tanner from Shape reached out to me with an interest in sponsoring my newsletter for his upcoming launch of the design questions card deck. So, this was when I integrated an ad spot inside the newsletter and started accepting sponsorships. Special mention to my friend – Harsh for helping me with the code.

Guess, I was wrong about the waiting time. Just about 2k subscribers should be enough for running sponsorships. So far, I’ve had two direct sponsors supporting the newsletter and a few affiliates.

Let me put this while we’re here, I’m looking to partner up with a long-term sponsor for the newsletter. We could start with a minimum of three months and extend it to about a year. Reach out to me on dg@productdisrupt.com and I’ll be happy to share more.

Here are the numbers for Product Disrupt in 2019.

2019 – ProductDisrupt.com
  • Users: 7130
  • Top Traffic Source: Direct 57.8%
  • Top Location: India 24.36%
  • Mentions: 4
2019 – Product Disrupt Blog
  • Stories Published: 45
  • Views: 78K
  • Top Traffic Source: Referrals
  • Top Writer Category on Medium: Inspiration, Design
2019 – Product Disrupt Newsletter
  • Subscribers: 2292 (+525)
  • Top Location: USA 37.5%
  • Avg. Open Rate: 34.27%
  • Avg. Click Rate: 5.56%

Product Disrupt is an Open Startup and I share its numbers on this Twitter thread on a monthly basis. Feel free to follow along if interested.

Love of My Life

I met Pooja through my friends at dinner & drinks. I say this at the risk of sounding cliché that I developed a liking for her at first sight. It was her easy-going charm, simplicity and the smile that got my attention.

Darshan ❤️ Pooja
Darshan ❤️ Pooja

That night was the beginning of a new friendship. We got talking and started to spend more time with each other – at first in mutual settings and then just by ourselves. It allowed us to know each other better and before we knew it, we’re already together.

Well, it didn’t go exactly as described, we obviously spent a few months as friends and then got together. But, you get the feeling, right?

Pooja has had a calming effect on my life, she’s helped my thoughts to settle down and to find joy and hope in little matters of life. I’m very grateful to have found her.

I would also like to thank my amazing friends who’ve helped in bringing us together.

By the way, the love of my life is an illustrator, so watch out for some collab projects from us in the near future.

Mentions & Speaking

This year, I gave my first international talk on the topic of design thinking in Doha, Qatar. I was invited by an Indian design studio to represent them at a corporate-ish conference in Doha. Thanks to my friend – Melvin who connected us. This also allowed me to take some time off and explore Doha.

Speaker Session in Doha
That’s me delivering a speaker session on design thinking in Doha
Speaking Engagements
  1. Spoke at a conference in Doha on design thinking
  2. Spoke at Dribbble Meetup in Mumbai on the importance of side-projects

Just to put it here, I’d to deny two more speaking opportunities due to time constraints.

Speaker session in Dribbble Meetup Mumbai
Another speaker session in Dribbble Meetup Mumbai
Written Interview & Podcast
  1. Interview with Oye Startups
  2. Featured on Noise Podcast
Featured on Noise podcast
Featured on Noise podcast
Mentions
  1. Featured on Designer Hunt
  2. Featured on Indians Who Design

Photography & Unsplash

Photography has become very synonymous with Unsplash to me. Whenever I travel somewhere, I take pictures on my phone and the DSLR and then start uploading the good ones to Unsplash. Uploading the pictures there and seeing what others are sharing has helped me develop an eye for good photos.

Here’s where my Unsplash account stands so far.

  • Photos Uploaded: 191
  • Views: 2.3m
  • Downloads: 11k
Unsplash stats
My stats on Unsplash. Not bad, huh?

Travel

My most anticipated travel of 2019 was the Euro trip that I’d been eyeing for over two years. It didn’t come easy though, my visa got refused again – for the third time in a row.

I wanted to give it a last shot and so I did. I re-applied with the help of my friend Rama and StampMyVisa and finally, I got that Schengen visa stamp on my passport. It was hard-earned and hence brought me immense joy.

So, I went on a month-long trip exploring Europe, seeing my distant friends and testing the waters of the EU tech community.

Travel destinations of 2019
  1. Amsterdam
  2. Zaanse Schans
  3. Paris
  4. Chambery
  5. Annecy
  6. Lucerne
  7. Bregenz
  8. Munich
  9. Berlin x2
  10. Stockholm
  11. Doha
  12. Alibaug x2
  13. Kalavantin Durg
  14. Gokarna
  15. Daman x2
  16. Khandala
  17. Surat
  18. Prague

I always share my travel updates through stories on Instagram. If you’re interested in seeing the world through my lens, feel free to follow along – @weirdowizard.

Gym – Not For Me

Upon constant push from my friends, I decided to give gymming a shot. I was a regular for the first three months. It was difficult to make time but somehow I was showing up every day. I could also see good improvements and was motivated enough to keep going.

But then I took a break when I went on my month-long Euro trip. After returning, I started going to the gym on alternate days because of the excess workload. Then slowly, I kept losing the motivation to go to the gym until one day I completely stopped.

Gym Boys
Left: Malik (builder), Center: Me (Misfit), Right: Atul (Guy with abs)

I’m not someone who desires for a muscular body, I just want to stay fit. And I realized that running could take the place of the gym in my life and is probably better suited for me. I enjoy running with my headphones on, listening to the podcasts. I’m looking to do more of this in 2020.

Personal Finance & Investment

As a self-employed designer, it’s essential to manage our personal finance and keep a check on the expenses. This year, I started taking a closer look at where my money came from and where was it going.

I’m not very good with finance and tax goes above my head but with the plethora of digital banking and finance products recently launched in the market, managing personal finance has become way easier.

Once I got a good idea of my expenses, I also started exploring investing in mutual funds. Again, I’m no expert here, I just invest in recommended mutual funds on Paytm Money. But I’m slowly understanding how these things work and it seems to be working fine for me.

Moved to Berlin

I’d been looking for a job in Berlin for about three years, but something or the other kept getting in my way. After quite a lot of failures and successes, I finally landed a job as a Product Designer at Contentful and this is how I moved to Berlin.

It’s already been a month, time flies

I’ve written about it at length in another blog post, hence keeping it short here.


What a year! I found my life partner, moved to another country (heck continent) and many other things in between. There’s a lot to be celebrated about 2019. I’m grateful to have made it to 2020 with such great happiness.

How was your 2019? Do you also do year in reviews? If yes, drop a link in the comment or tweet it to me @WeirdoWizard. I absolutely enjoy reading retrospectives.

Wishing you a very happy new year! Create more, hate less and remember, consistency outplays talent.

P. S. “Consistency Outplays Talent” posters launching soon 🤩

7 thoughts on “2019 – My Year in Review

  1. Kudos to you for everything you’ve achieved in 2019 and wish you the very best for this year and forward! Being self-employed requires a lot of discipline and I cannot tell you how inspiring it is to see it first-hand. Always looking forward to hearing from you via your blog 🙂 Cheers!

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