2020 Year in Review

By Sean Ondes

This is my third annual year in review. What a year it was.

I know that we’ve all had very different experiences in 2020 just as we each do every year. This year was different though and we all have felt it differently.

We’ve seen and most of us have been directly affected by Covid-19, shelter in place orders, unemployment, record setting wildfires, massive protests following the death of George Floyd, the US presidential election, Trump in general, allegations of election fraud, more protests, and finally a vaccine and the hope of things returning to something we can call normal.

We need stability. We might not think about it often but there is a minimum amount of stability that we all require. That isn’t the same as how much we might individually want. There is a minimum amount that we collectively need.

We can think about stability as the infrastructure for our lives. A paved road is more stable than a dirt one. It lasts longer and is more resilient to weather and use. A brick building is more stable than a wooden one — for the same reasons. We don’t build on swampland or sand. We need bedrock for skyscrapers.

This year has savaged the parts of our collective world that thought were stable. It showed us the parts that were threadbare and worn down to the bone. It showed us that the rock foundation we’d come to rely on was cracked.

Stability requires maintenance. Cracks need to be repaired before water gets into them. Wood needs to be resealed to prevent rot. I need sturdy enough walls, a warm enough furnace, and a full enough pantry, to be able to sit down in front of my computer and get any work done. If the crime rate in my city is too high, I won’t feel secure enough to think about much else. If I’m running out of food, fixing that problem will be my only priority.

Without the minimum amount of stability, we’ll never be able to build anything.

What Went Well In 2020

Client Work

Client work in 2020 was about selling shovels in a gold rush. Though shovels in a flood might be a more apt analogy. All of my clients dove hard into improving their online presence. A few rethought their entire marketing strategy early in the year. I had a large part in influencing that rethinking.

Through mostly luck, I was convinced early on in February that 2020 was going to be something none of us had ever seen. I encouraged everyone I know to take it seriously. Some of my clients were more fortunate to be in a position to adapt than others.


It’s no easy trick to stay positive and to keep on task when your house is burning. It was a struggle to stay motivated at times.

I’ve long striven to maintain a broad perspective on my life and my place in the world. That effort is especially challenging during stressful times. While more challenging, I’ve also learned this perspective is invaluable.

I’m convinced that anyone who has been able to get up every day and simply show up should look back and see their efforts as an incredible success. For those that have failed to do this from time to time as I have, this is our opportunity to be a bit more gentle with ourselves.

While my motivation wavered throughout the year, I do feel that I’ve learned a great deal about myself and how I fit in with the world we all share.

What Could Have Gone Better In 2020

WP Pagebuilder Pro

About 20 years ago, in 2018, I launched WP Pagebuilder Pro. The idea occurred to me after failing to find something like it anywhere I looked. I didn’t trust the spammy blogs that usually review WordPress things so I made the type of thing that I wished someone else had made.

After two years, I can confidently say that it has been a great learning experience but only a minor success. Financial ROI for the site is dismal. It brought in maybe $500 in 2020. It pays for itself but it doesn’t pay me.

Keeping the information on the site current is a challenge. There’s also a disincentivizing relationship between how many plugins I review, how often their developers release a new version, and how often I have to update the content. Basically, the more plugins I review (great for SEO), the more often I have to update the site (time intensive). The result is that I’m apprehensive to add more page builder plugin reviews since I know it will mean more work down the line.

We’ll see how things play out in 2021. I may end up selling the domain if I can’t come up with a better system.

Education Products

This is from last year’s year end review.

Not much change here from 2018. I’m still not prioritizing my education products. It’s not that I don’t believe that they could be valuable. The problem is simply working them competes for time with less prospective work.

This sentiment is largely unchanged. Though I’ve recently (around November) encountered the work of John Harrison and Pieter Levels‘s makebook.io. I’m starting to see education products in a different light. There may be more to report in 2021.

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2021

Exploring Myself, Socializing, and (maybe) Travel

I’m looking forward to learning more about embracing what I have in front of me rather than seeking happiness from the outside. I’m not new to this sort of self-work but I’ve realized that there is no end to it.

With some good fortune on our side, we’ll see widespread vaccine distribution by the Fall of 2021. That means we might have a chance at having some group gatherings and maybe even time for a trip or two by the end of the year. There are a couple of conferences that I’d like to attend if I can. Klayio:BOS is on the shortlist.

You all have my sincerest wish that you have a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2021. Be safe and remember that you each are creating the world day by day. Make sure that it’s one you want to live in.

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Sean Ondes