A few folks have asked what I've been working on since leaving full-time employment at the end of 2019. Here's an update:
I've continued my graduate studies in journalism, and I'm currently planning to graduate next year with a master's degree focused on reporting and storytelling. My classes thus far have included:
- Studies in Journalism and Communication Theory
- Social and Cross-Media Storytelling
- Journalistic Judgments
- Data Journalism
- Emerging Technologies
- Diversity & Media
Coming up this fall I'm diving into "Intro to Statistical Methods" and "Media Audiences and Content Strategy."
Overall the program at Ball State University has been good for me. I'm learning a lot and the material is interesting and relevant. It's pretty focused on building a skillset in research, news reporting and media production, and given that I've done a lot of those kinds of things professionally and for personal projects, there have been times where my impatience to apply my skills and knowledge has made me wonder if I needed to finish the degree program at all. But most of the time I just appreciate that I'm getting to take my interests and knowledge to a new level in a new context, and that I'm honing in on what I might (and might not) be able to contribute to the world of journalism.
Growing my SaaS application
About a year ago I launched a software-as-a-service tool called WP Lookout, aimed at helping WordPress professionals keep track of things happening with the themes and plugins they depend on in their work. I've continued to add new features and get a few paying subscribers, and it was fun to have it featured in some industry press coverage (WP Tavern, Post Status). This summer I've been working with a contractor on marketing and strategy for increasing user signups.
Overall this project continues to be one that mostly scratches some personal itches (solving a technical problem I had for myself, learning the Laravel framework, getting practice launching a modern SaaS offering), and the fact that it might be useful to other people is a bonus on top of that. There are plenty of other features I'd like to add to it, but I'm also trying to make sure my time invested is proportionate to the value it brings me and other people, especially since there are other (unrelated) SaaS tools I'm working toward building and launching, along with various open source software projects I contribute to.