2023 Annual Review

How we earned our first "passive" income

First, let me wish you all the best possible year! This calendar change is often the best moment to review and reflect on what was done and plan for the future.

Please make yourself comfortable -this is a long one- and welcome to Ladataviz's 2023 annual review!

Did we reach our goals 🎯?
How much did we make 💸?
What worked 🏆 and what did not 👎?

I will tell you everything!

Some context before we start

Ladataviz is a small data visualization studio of two. We focus on three different areas:

  • Consulting: We help clients with data visualization projects (usually with Tableau).

  • Product: We develop free and paid tools for Tableau and Figma users.

  • Content: We communicate mainly through YouTube videos and this newsletter.

In 2023, the focus was sharing. I wanted to reduce the consulting side and create more tools and content.

We had one big goal: make at least 1€ from a ‘passive’ income stream.

I don't like the term "passive" income because it actually requires a lot of time and effort. The goal was to generate income that is not directly tied to selling our time and has the potential to grow over time with less effort.

So, how did we perform in each area? Let’s crunch some numbers.

2023 Annual Review

Consulting

I started freelancing in 2019, helping my first client redesign their Tableau dashboards. Consulting and helping our clients is still -by far- the core of our business, but it’s also less visible.

We never accept full-time missions and try to have one or two part-time and long-term ones. This allows us to have a base recurring revenue over the year and take interesting short projects with new clients. This year, we had three long-term projects with existing clients and five short ones with new clients.

In 2023, Jessica and I worked 225 days for clients.
In 2022, I alone worked 238 days for clients.

Goal achieved! Wait, what?

One of our goals was to work less for clients to focus on the other aspects.

But why?

Even if we have many different clients, it always feels that we are not really in control. I have been working with Client 2 since 2020, relying on that steady income stream until they froze most of the Tableau development and stopped our contract.

Selling your time as a consultant is hardly scalable. There is a finite number of hours and days in a year, and there’s a ceiling in what you can ask for your time. Our daily rate ranges from 950 to 1500€ per day (depending on the type of mission) and is already at the higher end.

A way to tackle that could be to have more project-based pricing instead of time-based for new projects.

We are paid for our time. We don’t work, we don’t get paid, logic. Now, if you take three weeks of holiday and go to a conference in the same month, this happens, and you start feeling guilty for taking time off:

There are many external factors, and having 100% of our revenue purely based on consulting does not feel good. We don’t want to stop; we like working with our clients -and we thank them!- but it’s essential to diversify.

We could hire people and find more clients to scale as a consulting company, but we don’t want to. Instead, we want to focus on developing other income streams uncorrelated to our time.

Products

At the end of 2022, you could already create Network and Sankey in Tableau thanks to our tool, which has not yet been called AdvViz.

One significant objective of 2023 was to develop more tools, which is the area I am most proud of. By the end of 2023, we have three main tools:

  • AdvViz - Free: Create advanced visualization in Tableau with just a few clicks. On top of Network and Sankey, we added Beeswarm, Bump Chart, Voronoi Treemap, and Chord Diagram. We also greatly enhanced the tool and added a galley.

    We tracked 179 Tableau Public visualizations built using the tool, 27 being awarded Viz Of The Day.


     

  • BANg - $59: Generate KPI cards in Tableau in minutes instead of hours.

    This was the first paid tool that I ever built. I had to learn Back end, API calls, find a SaaS platform that handles taxes and license keys, create authentication… It was challenging but worth it, as I could reuse all that knowledge for the following product.

  • Figma to Tableau Plugin - $149: Automatically convert all your Figma designs into Tableau dashboards.

    This is the last product of 2023 and my first introduction to the Figma developers world. I want to communicate more about this plugin and showcase how it can help you save a lot of time!

By the way, you can still use the code NEWSLETTER to get a $50 discount on the Figma Plugin until the end of the month!

After taxes and fees this year, we gained 3478€ from selling products.
Goal achieved!

Currently, this stream represents less than 2% of our total revenue. We still have a lot of room to grow on this side. We have everything in place to create more products and enhance the existing ones.

AdvViz is 100% free, and we could probably increase our revenue by making it a paid tool, but it is primarily an incredible source of traffic. 1475 users have created an account on ladataviz.com, and, on average, we have 120 unique visitors on our website daily.

I almost forgot the coffee ☕️ !
AdvViz is free, but if you feel like it’s worth some $$, you can buy us some coffee: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/ladataviz
In 2023, we received 220€ from people willing to pay a bit for a free tool ❤️

To conclude this part, I want to thank you all. If you are reading this, you have probably used our tool, paid or free. Thanks for your trust and for helping us.

Content

The focus of 2023 was sharing. And even though we shared a lot of tools and products, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed by the content we shared. We didn't have any numeric goals; we just tried to share valuable content as regularly as possible.

Let’s start with the good!

We started this newsletter in December 2022 and steadily grew for the entire year, reaching 1350 subscribers. That’s you, thank you! I am really happy with that. I received a lot of good feedback, and we’ll continue!

At the same time as the newsletter, we also started a YouTube channel. And even though the number of subscribers is quite close, this is where I’m mostly disappointed in myself. We have 1113 subscribers on YouTube, but we posted only five videos -and none since August.

I also planned to release a Tableau course in 2023, but I had to realize that it wouldn’t be possible.

Finally, on the side:

Being only two people trying to do anything is extremely difficult. We already do a lot, and I want to do things we enjoy.

We don’t want to share content because we have to. It needs to be something we want to do and enjoy doing. The best way until now is to build exciting products and share around them.

Let’s see how we improve in 2024, maybe by outsourcing some parts like editing the videos.

Let’s talk $$$ €€€

For this final part, I want to share with you our financials.

I hesitated a lot before sharing this part. I am part of a fantastic online community, Elevate, and the four mentors (Alli Torban, Duncan Geere, Gabrielle Merite, and Will Chase) all shared their financials, and everyone found it helpful.

I asked what people thought about sharing numbers, and these are two answers (that I am keeping anonymous just to be sure) that I want you to consider before reading further:

I personally like sharing numbers because during my entire career I got underpaid (sometimes up to half others' salaries) simply because no one was ever transparent about how much money they were making.  Thus, I never knew how much I could ask and I'd underprice myself. If everyone shared their numbers they would be no glass ceiling for women, people of colors etc...

My difficulty with sharing numbers is that it feeds into the misconception that more is always better. Many people are underpaid. Many are overpaid. The right number for someone in one situation is not the right number for another person in another situation. Sharing numbers annihilates all of that and reduces everything to a “are they getting paid more than me?” question.

Finally, Ladataviz is a Dutch BV, a private limited company in The Netherlands. What the company gains is not in our account or our money. We, like any other employee, receive a gross fixed monthly salary on which the company and we pay taxes, social security, and so on.

Now for the numbers:

Revenue: The most important part was to start generating revenue from products, and we will aim to grow this share (not necessarily in the amount of €, but at least in the percentage of the total.

Expenses: This includes everything the company spends, from conference tickets to accountants, our salaries, and all the different taxes (wages taxes, premiums, contributions). We have no specific aim for this part. We don’t mind spending when it helps the business, increases the quality of our work, or when we need a new tool.

Profit before taxes: This is the amount left at the end for Ladataviz. We’ll have to pay corporate taxes on this and, if we want, could get some dividends (but we don’t plan to). Primarily, this money will be used to invest more into the company and maybe hire some freelancers to help us in some aspects!

Wrapping up

I am thrilled with what we achieved in 2023; putting everything in writing in this newsletter helped me realize it.

Again, thanks to everyone who is part of this journey with us, and congratulations if you made it to the end.

Next week, we’ll share our plan for 2024 with some surprises, as always!

You can reach us easily over there:
‣ Website: https://www.ladataviz.com
‣ Twitter/X : https://twitter.com/ladataviz
‣ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@ladataviz
‣ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ladataviz/
‣ All other links: https://linktr.ee/ladataviz

If you have any suggestions, feedback is appreciated!

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