Disclaimer: this is not a typical business letter with nice stats and revenue details about this year. It's a rather personal note. I hope you still enjoy it.
When December comes and the year is about to end I always get in this melancholy mood. I think about the past months and try to find out if I'm happy with the outcome or not.
I have to say, that being a freelancer for almost 16 years got me to a point where every year almost felt the same in terms of the work I've done. Maybe a few more or less successful projects here or there or some exciting new adventures, but it got very regular over the years. Not boring, but regular. I guess that's a good thing.
2016 and 2017 have been very different though! Last year has been super exciting for my family. Our second son was born and we moved into our new house. Both were huge steps and I thought that those were enough to just sit down and relax afterwards for a while. But for some reason the opposite happened.
In January this year I made the decision over night to leave all my client work behind and start full time for Kirby.
This is a step I didn't dare to take for more than five years and the timing with the new kiddo and house seemed more than odd. I was raised in a very German way. Always worried about the future. But somehow those new private adventures broke the last chains. I'm still worried about the future. I still live in Germany :) But it felt like now or never.
So looking back at 2017 also means looking back at the first year that I spent entirely on Kirby. I can't describe this feeling. I can't even fully grasp it. My mind is playing weird tricks on me and it often feels like nothing really changed. But then I realize that I spend every day doing exactly what I want to do and I can't believe it. It's a dream.
But how has it been going?
I was worried that everything will just fall apart financially as soon as I don't accept new projects anymore.
Kirby has been growing organically over the last five years and it is at a point where it is able to sustain my family and buy some time from our amazing team of freelancers.
But what if there are any negative spikes? What happens when sales go down? Those were the deepest worries I had for the longest time. Then I found out what it really means to focus on a project 100% instead of just switching between client projects and Kirby all the time.
So many positive things suddenly started to happen.
2017 has been the first year with regular Kirby workshop gigs for companies and the first public workshop ever with 20 attendees in Berlin. The second public workshop will be in Munich in January and I hope that there will be many more to come.
I also finally had time to start working on Kirby 3. This lead to the idea of the Kirby Next project — something I could have never done in the years before — and the response was just mind-blowing. More than 200 supporters are now backing and following the development of Kirby 3.
I started recording (almost) weekly live-streams for our supporters, which is so much fun and so rewarding. The discussions and feedback on our Next Slack channel are fantastic and it feels like the personal connection to the Kirby community and our plugin developers is getting a lot closer.
At the same time the money from supporters made it possible to "buy" more time from the rest of the team and it's so great to work on Kirby 3 all together.
But we also managed to get a lot more continuity into our release cycle for Kirby 2 and released a new version every month for more than 6 months in a row.
We also just published our 18th Kirby Kosmos issue and Sonja is really rocking each issue.
Without this big personal step, likely none of this would have happened with the same intensity. I realize that I tried to swim for the longest time without getting wet. I still stand behind the decision not to go full-time earlier. It's good to have some sort of security net and the client projects always helped to get a good reality-check for Kirby's features and usability. But it's time to move forward with more focus and especially with the work on Kirby 3 that focus is urgently needed.
We are now looking forward to a new year full of exciting releases, more workshops and other new adventures that weren't possible before.
I can't stress enough how deeply thankful I am for all of this. It wouldn't be possible without such a supportive and friendly community. I really believe that we have quite something special here.
Of course it also wouldn't be possible without my wonderful team: Sonja, Lukas, Nico, Fabian and Nils!
Finally I'm so grateful that my wife took this step with me as well and always believed that it won't lead us into chaos <3
Thank you all for your support!
Enjoy the last days of 2017 with your families and friends and have a great start into a new year.
P.S. Here comes the nasty business part: We are running the last sale of this year. You get a massive 30% discount on pro licenses until December 15th. All those licenses will be upgraded to Kirby 3 for free!
You can also still sign up for our supporter packages and follow the journey until the launch of Kirby 3.