Year in review 2023

Wow – it’s been a few years since I did a year in review (2017 was the last over at Epic Plugins). If you’ve followed along with those – this site is my new home for year in reviews going forwards.

What have you missed in 2018-2022 – rounding up those years in quick bullets:

Phew, now you’re quickly up to speed. I’m starting these reviews in more detail again. While I’ll write internal performance self-reviews, there’s just something a bit different about writing a full year in review for your blog.

I found year in reviews therapeutic when I wrote them. People also actually liked to read them too. So let’s create more of them.


Onto my 2023 year in review

These year in reviews will be slightly different than when I used to write them when running my own business. The main thing that’s changed is I can’t share revenue $$$s transparently.

If that was your gig, click the “x” at the top of the browser window. If you’re still interested then read on. What I will be covering is family, travel, health and work. Here’s a table of contents for you to jump to the part that interests you. Or, just read the whole lot 😊.

Table of Contents

    Family life

    First up family. I’ve got two young boys who are coming up to 4 and 2 years old (7th Feb and 20th Feb). They’re a handful. Sleepless nights can really drain your productivity and throw you off your game.

    I’m firmly in the 5am club and not for having the focus time, more for comforting a little one who is teething, or just waking up too flipping early. I made a montage of 2023 highlights (there were way more of these than I could fit in the reel).

    Definitely a handful, and there’s times when I’m being the centre of a tantrum that I think “they didn’t portray it like this in the movies”.. but those are outweighed by the cuter moments.

    We had to do a sleep study on Zach – he coughs a lot in the night, vomits a lot and generally has been having horrible moods. After a few months of waiting (hi, NHS) it turns out he has sleep apnoea and will need his tonsils and adenoids out.


    Next up, where did I visit in 2023. I like to put these down because it grounds me in just how lucky I am that I can get to see the world, both through work and with family. Jan & Feb I was on paternity leave for Axel, and Mar & April I was settling back into work and into a new team (more on that later).

    • May – Cyprus for a family holiday
    • Jun – Athens WCEU representing Jetpack
    • Jun – Wales for Haven and to catch up with Woody
    • Sep – Malaga for the Jetpack division meet up which was ace.
    • Sep – Lanzarote for a catch up with lads, lads, lads.
    • Oct – Haven (again) this time the grandparents came. Didn’t see them.
    • Dec – UAE (Abu Dhabi) this was great, but the last time we can go in term-time.


    Firstly, I’m OCD for weighing myself way more than I should. I’ve managed to keep my weight pretty much the same as it’s been for a couple of years. Although recently I’ve been working out more and lifting more 🏋️ – I just need to sort out the nutrition side and drop about 10kgs.

    Weight progress over time

    Gym and fitness

    I’ve generally remained healthy but by no means ate well or lost any weight. I’m carrying some Christmas weight. Christmas 1995. I’ve also been struggling with shoulder tendonitis throughout the year (the past few years really) but have been doing regular physio. Since the end of October 2023 I’ve been part of a new gym.

    fitness report
    OK, this is from a 2024 workout. It’s the first I found.

    The main thing that’s helped me stick with a gym this time is it’s all class based. You book into a class, it’s 45 minutes long and there’s others doing the same workout structure. It goes a bit like this:

    • Section A: 14 minutes, curve runner. 0.1m “on” and 0.1m recovery.
    • Section B: Floor exercises. Various bodyweight, kettlebells, dumbells
    • Section C: Strength. A compound (5 deadlifts, 5 hang cleans) while your partner does 5 cals on an assault bike.

    The workouts vary each day (Fridays are all partner workouts) and they progress over a 12 week period. The main thing I like about this setup is that it’s a block in my calendar, and there’s accountability from the trainers and people who you train with.

    Health vitals

    I’ve also tracked my health for a while now. When I found out I was becoming a Dad with Zach, I went for blood works at the local GP just to check everything was OK. I was called in with high cholesterol (turns out genetic) and have been on statin’s for a few years (you can see it started up just under 7.5, the first reading was closer to 9).

    Cholesterol readings for health tracking

    Through work I get a fuller body MOT every 2 years (via Bupa) and when I did my first one of those in 2022 it showed my blood sugars (HbA1c) were towards the high end (but not out of range). I’m a stickler for eating a snack in front of Netflix on TV nights.

    Because of this, I’ve also started monitoring my blood sugars as I don’t want to slip into the risk of becoming diabetic. As mentioned above, I’ve started working out more towards the end of October – so I’m interested to see what my next reading will be.

    This is likely to be in my 2024 full body MOT which I need to book. Thriva I do tests every 6 months now because my results have settled down and are in range (plus, I suck at doing the finger prick blood draws and actually getting the blood to fit into the vial – it ends up everywhere).

    Garmin Vivoactive 5

    This is bleeding into 2024 a bit more than I’d like, but right at the end of 2023 I got myself a Garmin Vivoactive 5 to keep track of my Body Battery. I’ve found it really helps keep me on top of whether I’ve:

    • Had a good enough sleep to feel fully recharged
    • Whether I’m coming down with something
    • Whether I’ve overdone it with exercise and need to take a day off

    I’d highly, highly recommend getting something that can monitor your energy levels throughout the day. It’s helping me to keep more focussed, rest rather than push through and know if i’m starting to get sick.

    I just need to get that sleep nailed (c’mon kids, start sleeping through).

    Work (Automattic & Jetpack)

    It’s crazy when I think about it, but it’ll be 5 years in 2024 since I joined Automattic after ZBS CRM was acquired. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, with 2 babies and a year of generous parental leave (6 months for each child). Since this is the first year in review since I joined – like the above I want to touch on some of the achievements from those first 5 years!

    • I’ve helped rebrand Zero Bullshit CRM => ZBS CRM => Jetpack CRM.
    • I hosted 40 customer interviews for Jetpack CRM to help shape the roadmap.
    • The CRM team is now 6 people, up from 2 of us at acquisition.
    • Active installs have grown from 1k at acquisition, to 40k today.
    • I left the CRM team in 2022 and moved to Jetpack Boost to help growth.
    • Since then the ARR has 10x and active installs has grown to 300k.

    2023 at Automattic (still Jetpack)

    I returned from parental leave at the end of Feb 2023 and moved out of the Boost team into the marketing team as a Product Growth engineer. Widening my responsibilities from just Boost, to all the products in the Jetpack division. Here’s a peek behind the curtain on what I worked on in 2023 and what impact that’s had in the WordPress space.

    Jetpack plugin, a peek behind the curtain
    OK – maybe it’s not that messy behind the curtain. Image via DALLE-3

    Showing fewer Jetpack admin notices

    Reviewing and iterating on the Jetpack plugin admin notices was one of my focuses for first part of the year. From understanding how much revenue they were driving, to how much pain they were bringing to people trying to use Jetpack on their WordPress site.

    Jetpack admin noticies

    My work here also involved removing notices which weren’t effective and showing fewer in general even within the Jetpack pages.

    Admin notices across WordPress are still a pain, but at least with Jetpack now our product nudges are contained to only Jetpack pages and not the rest of the WordPress admin area.

    Release posts and feature announcements

    I’ve written a quite a few of these for Jetpack (you can see them all here) the post author is currently set to the release lead, but the writing of the content falls to the marketing team. I’d like to continue improving how we promote all the new stuff that goes out in each monthly release of Jetpack.

    I firmly believe that there’s a lot that Jetpack can do that people just don’t know about. Let’s change that.


    Promotions and cross-promotions

    Over 2023 I’ve worked on a bunch of promotions of new features for the products in the Jetpack family. An example being the Jetpack Boost image analyzer and the video which went out alongside it.

    Jetpack Newsletter launch

    Sending “new post” notifications has been a thing in Jetpack for the longest time. However there’s been a lot of work done to enable people to use WordPress to run their Newsletter (similar to how you could choose to do it over at substack, ghost or beehiiv).

    For this we have a product team working on the features that are released but we’ve not given it chance to get up on stage. I was involved in getting the stage ready. For those keen on the details that was:-

    • Reviewing the product flows for sites running Jetpack.
    • Working with the product team to make sure there’s no glaring holes.
    • Creating the landing page and copy on
    • Putting together the “look inside” video (watch it below).
    • Drafting the content for the blog announcement.
    • Planning and creating the email campaign timed to the feature release.

    The voice was created with AI, but the storyboard, editing and production I put together – with some great in-house music from one of our designers who makes music as a hobby.

    Jetpack Creator launch

    Riding the coat-tails of the Newsletter launch – and from diving in deep to that particular part of the product I shaped the concept of a brand new product for Jetpack. Jetpack Creator. Here’s the teaser video for that which I put together with more of a focus on the types of creators who can use Jetpack.

    I even launched it on X / Twitter. It’s a proud moment, even if the video is a bit “stocky” as Devin Walker kindly put it 🫠.

    Launching on X / Twitter

    In addition to all the same things as the Newsletter launch, this also involved

    • Getting buy-in from stakeholders in the division and at Automattic
    • Reviewing competitors and deciding on a price point
    • Setting up the product so it works in Jetpack
    • .. {all the launch things, landing page, working with design, blog, email etc}

    In addition, I also jumped on a couple of podcast episodes to talk about the launch and that was a lot of fun. I’d love to spend time doing more of that.

    WP Product Talk

    For this I spent time with Katie Keith of Barn2 Plugins and Amber Hinds talking about building audiences for your product and why it matters.

    The WP Minute

    This was with Matt Medeiros and was more focussed on the Creator space and the Jetpack offering in particular. You can catch it here.

    I’m keen to see how continuing to shape the Creator offering fares into 2024 and beyond as there’s even more that Jetpack can offer here.

    Many, many email campaigns

    OK, more like eight. It’s a little different when working on a product the scale of Jetpack. The email comms go out to millions of people and they’re designed, copy written, reviewed and then translated into 16 different languages before being sent out by our email software.

    It takes a bit more time than simply opening Mailchimp but it’s been nice to learn the ins and outs of campaigns at scale.

    A new site launch

    The final thing to touch on is I’ve launched this new site, 100% built with the 2024 theme and using Gutenberg blocks. My old site was a bit spaghetti on the wall. Here I’ll be writing my fortnightly newsletter as well as some thought provoking articles going into more detail about content creation and how you can grow your audience.

    I’ll be doing all that while doing exactly the same myself – growing a new site from 0. It’s exciting to see where I can take this in a year.

    Where can you follow me for more?

    For 2024, I’m doing two things with more focus 1) I’m more active on X/Twitter (follow me here) and I’m aiming to release a new YouTube video every two weeks (you can subscribe to my channel here).

    Finally, if you want to receive my Newsletter where I write about content creation (including how you can develop / create great content for your WordPress site) you can subscribe below.

    Subscribe to the Newsletter

    Every two weeks, you’ll receive topical insights into content creation and how you can grow and monetise your audience.


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