Gladys Assistant's 2018 Year In Review
It’s a tradition: each year, I look back at the year and summarise all the major developments surrounding Gladys. I try to be as transparent as possible, and share all the numbers: download numbers, site visits, and even revenue.
If you missed last year’s summary, the article can be found here (Only in French, sorry!).
A Year of Transition
As you might know, as of August 2018, I quit my prior job as a software engineer at a startup in order to focus more on Gladys.
I was able to take this decision because of the amazing support from the Gladys community!
Either by purchasing the Gladys starter pack
Or by contributing on the Gladys community package
It’s only thanks to you that I was able to finance a transition to part-time work on Gladys
To clarify, the first 3 months were not actually part-time: I worked full-time during this period to bring to you as soon as possible the Gladys Gateway. Gladys was, between September and November of 2018, my only source of revenue.
I would’ve never been able to make this choice without you, so once again:
THANK YOU 🙌
The way in which Gladys could be downloaded changed a few times over the course of last year.
At the start, I was using Sourceforge, a software hosting platform, that became infested with more and more advertisements, and for some unknown reason, completely stopped working for a whole week in 2018.
That was the last straw for me, and I decided to quit the platform.
Following this, I was content with hosting the Raspbian Gladys image on GitHub.
What I didn’t know, was the GitHub limited the amount of downloads, and we must’ve quite quickly hit the limit. The file was approx. 1.8Gb after all, so even a measly 100 downloads is 180Gb of bandwidth - and bandwidth is expensive.
After a number of messages from community members saying they couldn’t download the package, I was forced to find a new solution.
The solution is super simple: I personally hosted a small server with a lite Nginx, and the file was available in record time.
Problem: My host only offered 1000Gb of bandwith per account (before starting to cost money), and obviously, in only 555 downloads, the account had reached the soft cap.
So, in a final attempt, I switched over to Scaleway, because this host offered unlimited bandwidth.
Problem solved: we now have an amazing bandwidth, and bonus, the cost is relatively low (only a few euros per month to host the server with Scaleway)
The con to all of this, though, is that counting donwloads is no longer as simple as it was and much less centralised than before.
This said, I can at least share that, according to my estimates, there were at least 38 200 downloads of Gladys in total, and that’s not including the downloads directly from GitHub.
The reality was probably much closer to 40k in total.
It’s a great news for Gladys!
The Gladys Website
Likely the only point where Gladys didn’t progress as much, the traffic on the website stayed relatively consistent as compared with 2017.
This year there were approx. 700k pageviews, for 95k visitors on the website.
The reason for this is pretty straightforward: I spend much less time on the website this year than the last.
Last year, I made a big push:
- I transformed the website into a static site, muc faster than the previous version, entirely open-sourced and distributed more effectively thanks to the CloudFlare CDN.
- I wrote 11 articles, almost 1 per month
- I reworked the design, improved usability, worked quite a lot on SEO/social, and increased engagement through a new comment system.
This year, I didn’t work on any of these aspects.
Today, the site is still the same, there were only 4 articles, and I didn’t change much in terms of SEO.
I think this was an error on my part, and I intend to change things for the better in 2019.
I’ve been thinking several things:
- Guest blog posts. This could be articles written by members of the community. Instead of being posted on the forum, they could instead be shared on the blog for greatly increased visibility!
- More articles where I keep you updated on current developments. Currently I publish updates very informally through the forum, probably because the Discourse editor is much better than writing in markdown with VSCode, and so I naturally tend to write more on the forum. Maybe I should develop a better workflow to make publishing on the blog more attractive.
The Gladys Newsletter
As of today, we now have 3 372 subscribers to the Gladys newsletter!
- 2948 subscribers in French
- 424 subscribers in English
That’s 872 more than last year!
A subject that I have some difficulty managing is the internationalisation of the blog and newsletter.
When I write an article, I always hesitate: Should I write it in French? In English?
Same for the newsletter.
What I end up doing most often, is writing the article in French, and only if the subject is sufficiently important and that I have the time, I write it again in English. Unfortunately, I rarely take this time, and so the newsletter ends up being send mostly in French.
I think that when the revenue of the project increases, I will hire a freelance translator to translate both articles and the newsletter into English so I can work exclusively in French and not spend that time translating content.
The Gladys Github
This year we surpassed the 1 000 stars on the GitHub repository.
Next step: 10 000 stars!
Gladys also passed under the MIT license, in order for its use to be as easy and open-source as posslbe.
- @gladysassistant on Twitter now has 2603 followers
- Gladys Assistant on Facebook counts 673 likes
- @gladysassistant on Instagram has 531 followers
A natural progression, as per usual.
The progression has been more significant this year on my personal Twitter account, through which I prefered tweeting this year - in order to add a more personal touch. I’ve increased my follower count to 1 397 followers, from the measly hundred I started with at the beginning of the year.
A Successful ProductHunt Launch
In October, while I was travelling with friends, someone posted Gladys on ProductHunt (see the post here), a site that allows anyone to post new, innovative products.
All of a sudden, the Gladys site started receiving hundreds of visitors (without crashing, thanks to the CDN), and I was left managing this unexpected launch, while going back home at 1 in the morning, all the way to 3AM ^^
This post on a website with a strong following, and with a notable presence in English-speaking countries, allowed many to discover Gladys. A true success, unexpected and that confirmed the public interest in digital assistants that are more in tune with the privacy of the user.
2018 was a great year for events, starting with a conference in Orleans in the beginning of the year:
Followed by a 100% Gladys meetup in Montpellier in March:
And an intervention in Brest in April, on the topic of the future of digital assistants:
As well as many smaller events & meetups, such as the video “a day with Gladys”, shot with Mathieu in Orleans, or the developer meetup in Paris in December.
In addition to all that, many smaller monthly community events, in August, September, October and January.
I want to be transparent with Gladys, and so I publish each month the revenue generated by Gladys on the website, via the /open page.
- The revenue are shown in USD for all our international friends :) You can add about 20% to figure out the amount in euros.
- This is the revenue, and so to get the profit, we need to remove expenses, and then taxes.
Expenses are diverse:
- Recurring costs (servers, domains, online services, etc…)
- Commissions from payment services (Stripe & Selz)
- The coworking spaces where I work (approx. €160/€200 per month on average)
- The material I have bought, including parts as well as work tools (laptop & headset)
- Miscellaneous expenses.
The largest recent expenses were the complete visual redesign of Gladys, done by a professional designer, as well as the printing of and distribution of stickers.
Taxes are pretty simple, they’re my biggest expense!
A portion of the revenue is paid as taxes, which I pay trimestrial, as well as regular fixed fees that are paid annually by French firms.
With all the exceptional costs, few months have been profitable for the time being, but I consider all of these to be investments in the future growth of Gladys.
The redesign was a necessity for Gladys’ long term brand image, and the stickers were a way to share this new brand.
What’s next for 2019
2018 was a year of transition for Glays: on the personal side of things, the beginning of the year was quite busy, due to me finishing up my studies from February to August and 6 months spent full-time in a company, which left little time for Gladys.
The moment that made me realise that I needed more time, was a week where, following a packed work-week, I did a trip to and from Montpellier for a Gladys meetup, followed by another packed work week where I took a Wednesday off work to fly to Brest and give a Gladys talk, before finishing the event at 11:30PM, sleeping at a hotel, before getting up at 3:30AM to talk a train and get back to work in Paris at 9AM… An exhausting month 😅
From August, I was able to concentrate on Gladys and regain some control and some semblance of work-life balance, which is important so that I can work on this long-term.
A personal note
On a personal level, my objective for 2019: I want to keep working on work-life balance. I want to work on Gladys at a sustainable rate, all while taking time for myself and be able to take a breath.
I rely a lot on the generous Gladys community on the above note, notably in terms of client service 🙂 I do my best to respond to all your messages in a reasonable delay, but due to being a single person, there are times where that’s not possible (nights, week-ends, holidays), during which I intentionally avoid messages in order to take a bit of distance, so don’t be surprised if I’m a bit slow on certain requests - don’t take it personally 😉
With regards to Gladys
I have many things in the work for 2019!
In terms of developments, 2019 will be focused on two axes:
- New functionalities for the Gladys Gateway: Open API, compatibility with Alexa/Google Home, mobile app
- Gladys 4.0, the next major version of Gladys. I published a technical manifesto in December on the topic. Thankfully, the manifesto is in English, as it is to be a technical document and the vocabulary is mostly English.
With regards to the website, the community, and communication about Gladys, I intend to spend more time on all three. Of course, the thing I like best is development, but Gladys has some with regards to communication, documentation, and marketing.
I think I will need to find a new workflow that allows me to better manage my time and spend it more evenly between product and other support activities.
This being said, I think that sometime throwing myself head-first into things, like I did for 3 months to develop the Gateway, is the right thing to do. This kind of highly technical product is impossible to develop when forced to constantly get out of the zone to write blog posts and work on marketing.
In any case, my aim for 2019 is to spend significantly more time on communication.
Thank you to all
Last and certainly not least, I’d like to thank the amazing community, that gives life to and allows Gladys to continue existing.
Gladys is a piece of software that we’ve developed together, thanks to the thoughtful feedback and time and passion of the members of this community.
It’s an evolving project that is beginning to have a role to play in the home automation space, and I’m convinced, that it will someday have a significant impact in the world.
The road is long, but the best is yet to come 🚀
Thank you everything 🙏
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