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six ducklings

The last year has flown by like a swarm of bees. We do one of these blog posts every year and they’re kind of a mix between a family Christmas letter and a state of the union address. We’ll spend a while congratulating ourselves on the charming new babies we made this last year, we’ll show you some cute pictures of our dogs, and there’ll be a lot of humble-bragging and some lame puns. Then we’ll throw up some statistics and end with some stirring patriotic language about the coming year.

Year In Review

Last October we had just unveiled a big redesign and, having launched it too hastily, then spent months dealing with new bugs and problems. Lesson learned! But the redesign, if not the full aftermath, was part of last year’s review. So, moving on, in the wee newness of 2017 we launched our Todoist integration and later made big improvements to our URLminder integration and wrote a little guide for writers to automatically beemind their wordcounts. Then there was a nice leap forward for integrations in general: third-party integrations can now be just as powerful as official integrations. In the spring we had some fun with Maniac May-hem. We may (ahem) make it a tradition. Then more big integration news: iPhone users can now automatically beemind any of a slew of health metrics from Apple Health. In travel news, we got to go to the Quantified Self global conference in Amsterdam this summer, where we met some wonderful Beeminder users as well. In less exotic travel news (from our perspective in Portland), we also hosted a wonderful Beeminder meetup in Seattle (it involved Pomodoro Poker) and met even more wonderful Beeminder fans. The most recent big news items include the influx of new users from Pact shutting down, and finally adding support for PayPal.

And those are just the things we blogged about. (Also there’s the couple hundred things other people blogged. And some brilliant guest posts on this blog.)

A big theme in general for us this year — just like last year, hence the redesign — has been making things easier for newbees. Which is no mean feat given our complete unwillingness to sacrifice an iota of our data-centric power-user nerdacity. (To be clear, it’s absolutely possible to have the best of both worlds, it just takes lots of tricky design work.) The need to be more accessible was driven home for us by the Pact shutdown. They sent an influx of curious newbees our way, people who were even primed with the idea of “pay if you screw up”, but who had a shockingly hard time getting their heads wrapped around Beeminder’s graphy way of thinking about things. It prompted us to write a set of recipes for beeminding Pact-like goals. After that we (mostly Chelsea, who many Beeminder users know as our Support Czar but who has been doing more and more for Beeminder lately, including writing code) embarked on some real Beeminder documentation (more than 100 articles so far!) which we’re collecting at help.beeminder.com.

It’s a really excellent resource if you’ve got a question. Chelsea and the rest of us are of course still there to spring into answering action if you send your questions to support too, but the help site captures a lot of the expert knowledge that we’re using to answer your questions in the first place. A little bit like a searchable and incredibly detailed FAQ.

Other goings-on in Beeminderland include a whole batch of bug fixes and improvements to restarting and archiving and deleting goals. And some small improvements to GTBee, which, if you didn’t know, is a dirt simple to-do list that charges you money for not getting your things done. Kind of the other extreme from Beeminder in terms of tracking but with the same incentive scheme, namely, taking your money. GTBee and the Beeminder iOS app are both by Andy Brett. Also you can now beemind Dailies in Habitica thanks to Alice Harris a.k.a. Alys. And we upgraded back-end things and made the site faster. Wee!

Finally, a big thing we want to mention even though it’s not exactly done and has plenty of rough edges, especially in terms of the interface: Thanks to Uluç Saranlı we have a fancy interactive road editor, currently hosted at road.glitch.me but you can use it for real to edit your actual roads.

If you really want to know the gory details of what we’ve been up to, we made 365 User-Visible Improvements to Beeminder in the last 365 days and documented every one of them on our fancy new changelog (the creation of which was itself one or more of those 365 UVIs). Don’t forget we’ll owe one of you $1000 if we ever fail to maintain our average of one UVI per day!

State Of The Union Address

This is the part where we tell you how Beeminder is doing, how much money we are making, any major screwups we made this year, staffing changes, blah blah blah. We’re afraid to jinx ourselves right off the bat by saying that we failed to generate any great Crashes of Ineptitude stories this year. The saddest news for Beeminder (though exciting in every other way) is that our Minister of the Exterior, Lillian, who had what she called a side hustle, has turned that into an sustainable company of her own, namely, Oh My Dollar. She hasn’t left us entirely but most of the grand plans (like the Carrot/Stick conference) are not going to be happening in 2017. (That also means we’re looking for help with things like marketing and advertising and socialmediaing. Also an Android developer!)

Let us wrap this up with the bottom line, so to speak: Revenue graph: the past year

That’s how much money Beeminder’s been making this year — technically up from a year ago but really, on average, almost exactly flat. It’s comfortable and pretty sustainable but it’s imperative that we grow over the next year. We’re thinking about a commitment device to that effect, which we’ve employed successfully in the past. It’s just that revenue is not a good metric to beemind and our last such commitment device was super stressful.

Instead, we’ll end with our goals for the coming year which we think are most likely to make revenue grow, and on which we’ll be beeminding progress:

  1. Yellow Brick Half-Plane (it doesn’t sound like a revenue generator, we know, but everything depends on this)
  2. More integrations, starting with a template for oauth-less 3rd-party integrations
  3. Improvements to onboarding, probably starting with a crazy-sounding signup hurdle
  4. Infrastructure upgrades (just because there’s no choice about this)
  5. Lifecycle emails (starting with better unsubscribe controls, which are currently a mess)
  6. A referral program, currently half done (and we’re accepting guinea pigs!)

P.S. Big shout-out to Dr. David Gessner who’s been beeminding for 4.5 years now and who this week successfully defended his PhD thesis! Which he wrote, he tells us, with the help of Beeminder. It feels pretty amazing hearing success stories like that. Which also reminds us to remind you to spend some time with our wonderfully supportive community in the Beeminder forum.


Image credit: Walden Farm and Ranch