The Bold Report’s Third Anniversary

The third anniversary is upon us. Here’s an update on what’s been happening with the site, what’s coming, and a special giveaway for readers.

I published the first post on The Bold Report on September 23, 2013. It was an introduction to this new site, and a migration from the personal site where I’d been writing for about five years. As usual, I got a little overly sentimental.

The Bold Report was created as a new Jekyll site—I was done using WordPress to blog. This is what it looked like when I started writing:

Can you believe I thought that looked good? Also, boy has Google Chrome changed!

Personal Growth

When I started this site, I wanted to be the next John Gruber. Since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is only one Gruber and any attempt to imitate him is futile. Plus, I don’t actually want to write this site for a living; I love to discuss a wide range of things and this is my safe place to do that.

Since day one, The Bold Report has come a long way. My writing has improved by leaps and bounds. I’ve distanced myself from the tech pundit I was trying to be at the beginning. Instead I’m just me. In my defense, I was 21 when I started writing here. I’ve grown a lot in three years. Through the School of Hard Knocks, I arrived at who I am and what I stand for. Many of my early stupid opinions were insecurity. Now if I have stupid opinions, it’s because I’m being stupid. Or you’re wrong. Probably the latter 😜.

Development

The way I design and develop this site has also changed drastically. In the beginning I wasn’t concerned with how I was going about making changes. I would commit directly to the master branch and my commit messages were all over the place. Therefore I felt The Bold Report wasn’t a great showcase of my development skills. I excused this by saying it was “my playground”, but in the end I didn’t really understand much of the codebase. And I had written it all! That’s not good.

With the v4.0.0 release of this site, I had to make a change. I trashed most of the CSS I’d written and started from scratch. I was pretty happy with myself. Looking at some of it now makes me want to barf. But I’ll get to it for the v5.0.0. Since about a month ago, I’ve been treating this project more like software. Because really, it kind of is. The site is a product.

So I’ve been using normal git flow by creating branches, then merging via pull requests. Every third or fourth pull request is then drafted into a release. Here’s what a recent release looks like. More than anything, it’s a great way for me to keep track of what’s happening. But if this is your type of thing, feel free to follow along.

Contributions

September saw the first ever contributions to the site by someone other than me! TJ Draper wrote about Apple removing ports from the MacBook Pro and Keaton Taylor wrote about new <video> capabilities in iOS 10. These are exactly the type of contributions I was looking for. I wanted posts that were important and affected the individual writer. This blog is about personal interest, and that creates a path for a beautifully eclectic collection of topics.

How contributions from other writers shape the site will be interesting to watch. If that worries you at all, I assure you that I’m still very interested in writing here and I have the final say on whatever gets published. If you’re interested in writing on The Bold Report, email me at tim@theboldreport.net.

What’s Been Published

In three years, I’ve published some pieces that I’m really proud of:

  • Review: 1Password 4 for Mac – This is my first thought-out review. I love 1Password, so when they asked if anyone wanted to test their then-newest version, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
  • Review: Human Solution Uplift Desk – I wrote an extensive review of my beloved standing desk. 90% of this post was written on iOS and I published it from iOS.
  • My Brief Review Series – My new “Brief Review” series has been very fun to write and lacks the pressure of writing a lengthy review. Some things just don’t need a thousand-word essay; the point is to tell you whether I like the product or not and give you a concise reason why.
  • The Web is Back! – After going to the Future of Web Design conference in New York, I was ecstatic about some of the progress we’ve made in terms of layout on the web. There’s still much work to be done, but it’s a space to watch. Creating the layout and design for the post was a lot of fun too.
  • Burnout. That Word Doesn’t Mean What You Think it Means – One of my more recent posts where I had the chance to be totally honest about some of my mistakes.
  • The two posts I wrote about hosting Jekyll on Heroku were a pleasure to write and boy did I learn a lot. Figuring out how to do this wasn’t easy, but once it was done, I was so glad I switched.

In three years, I’ve written more than 300 posts, so this is a very short list of my favorites. Really, they’re all my favorites. I wouldn’t have published any of my pieces if I wasn’t proud of them.

Now for Some Stats!

I did this about a month after launching the site, and it’s time for an update. Unfortunately, I stopped using Google Analytics for a while and just started using it again, so some of their stats only cover the past few weeks. I figured I’d share the numbers that most people want to know: subscribers.

Unfortunately, we had more Twitter followers a month after the site launched than right now. The site’s readership hasn’t grown as much as I’d like. Which brings me to our next section!

Subscription Drive

This anniversary, I’m trying something new. In an effort to get more people subscribed and reading the site, I’ve decided to run a subscription drive. Basically, a whole week where I’ll be reminding people to subscribe, and giving away some awesome stuff at the end. Tell ‘em what they’ll win, Johnny!

The Giveaway

It’s a brand new car! Actually… no, it’s not, but I’ve grouped the excellent swag that I am giving away into three boxes:

Coffee Box

This box comes complete with an AeroPress sent to your home, a three-month Craft Coffee subscription, and a copy of Jolt by Justin Jackson. Basically, once you’re nice and caffeinated, you can apply the awesome tips you read in Jolt.

Creative Box

This gift comes with a copy of Issue 3 of The Great Discontent, a copy of Responsive Design: Patterns and Principles by Ethan Marcotte, and a Moleskine Grid Notebook. This box will inspire you, teach you new things, and then help you get your ideas down on paper.

Spider-Man Box

This box will feed your inner (and outer?) nerdiness. It comes with a bobble-head Funko Pop! Spider-Man, a soft sculpture Spider-Man, and a Spider-Man patch; all exclusives from Marvel Collector Corps. Who doesn’t love Spider-Man?

How to Win

  • Anyone who subscribes via RSS, the email newsletter, or follows The Bold Report on Twitter by midnight on Sunday, October 2 will be entered to win.
  • Current email subscribers and Twitter followers are automatically in the running.
  • If you’re subscribing via RSS—or are an existing RSS subscriber—fill out this form to enter the giveaway. Since there’s no way for me to actually check, it’s on the honor system.
  • You do not have to live in the US to win.
  • I will do the drawing on October 4, and will notify winners via email or Twitter. I will also publish a post announcing the winners.
  • Box assignment will be randomized.
  • Current writers/editors aren’t eligible.

Thank You

I saved the most important takeaway for last. No matter how long you’ve been reading—or if you’re here because you heard you could win something—thank you. Thank you for visiting the site and reading my words.

If you’ve been reading from the beginning, thank you for sticking with me. I hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts. Onward to many more years of writing!

Those words be written good!