2023 - A Year In Review

Writing these reviews has taught me a lot about the importance of streaks.

This is my fifth annual review. I couldn’t bare not write it, because of the reviews I’ve written before. They’ve become non-negotiable, and that’s how useful habits form.

Here’s a summary of my past year:

  • My personal co. made $364,217.96
  • I grew my X account to 33,347 followers
  • I began working with a web3 unicorn
  • I did zero WordPress work for the first time in 12 years
  • My education business’ growth stalled
  • I travelled to Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and the UAE
  • A chunk of my investments doubled
  • Spent lots of time with my family

Let’s dive in to the details:


My personal co. made £286,065 ($364,217.96) in the last 12 months.

As 2022, nearly all of this came from software engineering work. With a tiny amount from my book and educational products.

A pie chart showing Tom Hirst’s personal company revenue split between services and products for 2023.

Increasing product-based revenue is an obvious goal for me. But it’s funny to see how much one can make on the service side. Even though it’s much less celebrated online. The chime of a $49 sale for a product I created years ago does hit different.

“I have an itch to scratch somewhere”. That’s how I concluded last year’s review. Looking back, I only made a start on scratching it.

I’m in a good position because I don’t have to work. There’s runway to cover all of us without changing how we live. I remember when this felt like an achievement. But it doesn’t anymore.

I like working. I’m doing things I’d do for fun anyway. There isn’t enough time to do everything I want to do. I feel grateful that this is my biggest immediate problem.

2024 begins with me full of energy. Let’s see if I can finish scratching that itch.

Software Engineering

Most of my work time was spent as a software engineer in crypto/web3. In particular, the NFT space.

It’s a wild industry—with plenty of ups and downs—but the talent is unmatched. Digital ownership covers so many segments of my interests that I can’t imagine working on anything else.

I have a long history in web2. 2023 was the first year I didn’t do any WordPress work since 2009. If you’re thinking about a similar move to web3, let me know. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

In September, I released v2.0.0 of my Solidity Next.js Starter to help developers quickly bootstrap a best practice EVM dApp. Onboarding to web3? This repository is a good place to start. It’s amassed 330 stars on GitHub so far.

With the end of Q3 came the end of my biggest gig. The week after, I was working on a mint site for a superstar athlete with a friend I’d met there. The month after, I was working with a unicorn in the space via another friend.

This made me realise how strong (and important) the network is that I’ve built. It’s not complicated, really. Do good work and you’ll get more of it.

Digital Art

I continued to collect and create digital art.

My favourite pieces were Semblance #18 and Interpretations of the Sun - Darkness Awaits by Rahul Iyer.

When Checks took off, I felt inspired by my friends at Visualize Value to create art again. Blockchain introduces a new medium. We can gamify art. We can put the collector in control as a curator of the final piece. It’s fascinating.

In February, I created Check Turtz. A simple mash up of Jack, Jalil and Traf’s Checks and my maiden project, Tiny Winged Turtlez.

Check Turtz smart contract ASCII art.

Check Turtz was a free open edition mint with a twist. Holders of Checks and/or Tiny Winged Turtlez received a custom variant of the artwork. Props to Curtis for being first to find the dark mode easter egg.

Check Turtz #4

I also wrote a tutorial thread to help others create their own derivatives.

On-chain art continues to interest me. I’m working on another gamified experience to be released in 2024.

Educational Products

I didn’t release any new material and I didn’t promote my existing products as much as I should have.

I’m not leveraging the effort I’ve already expended. Especially after writing my book (which should be in audio format and on Amazon by now).

A graph showing $3,746.71 in sales of Tom Hirst’s educational products in 2023.

Teaching is a passion of mine. It’s been amplified since I had kids. Imagine having all of your life lessons recorded. To pass on to them. I think that’s a cool mission.

A post from @tom_hirst reading, Ever since I had kids, the more I want to teach.

I’ve learned so much from others during my career. I want to give back as much as I can. Expect bigger and better things on the education front.

Content Creation

I wrote consistently about my life as a freelance developer for two years. I was good at it. I still write about it from time-to-time. But it’s not flowing like it used to.

My writing stalled by trying to keep myself in that box. I know that being “the freelance guy” is the quickest way to grow my audience. However, I’m not interested in being so one-dimensional.

I’ve always tried to keep it real and I’ll continue to do so. Whatever I’m interested in, I’ll write about. Whenever I can share a lesson, I will.

In June, I went viral on X again. This quick fire thread on my life learnings at 36 has been viewed 5.2 million times to date. My content resonates best when I take off the handbrake and let it spill out. Perhaps, on this one though, people just liked the Mamba Green.

A viral thread on X by @tom_hirst with over 5 million views.

A tip if anything you post on X goes viral: mute the post and stop checking it. The inbound noise will wreak havoc on your schedule for at least three days.

My X account grew to 33,347 followers. I didn’t make an attempt to grow my accounts elsewhere.


Balance is something I’m generally good at. After my second child was born, I struggled to separate my work and life identities. I felt pulled in two directions.

In 2023, I felt back on track. Working in sprints with AFK time afterwards helped me rebalance.

It’s been nearly five years since we moved to Wakefield. We love it here. There are good walks, pubs, restaurants and schools. We wouldn’t be anywhere else in the UK.


Ruby is 4 and Jack is 2. Steph’s decision to take a career break was a great move for the family. You can see the results in how the kids behave. She works way harder than me.

Kids trip to London, August 2023.

We’re lucky that we can both be at home to maximise the time spent with our kids.

Overall, parenting has become easier this year.


My weight and strength have remained the same. Which is to be expected because I didn’t change any routines.

I want to experiment more with my diet in 2024.


I travelled to:

  • Dublin, Ireland in March
  • Norfolk, UK in April
  • Cancun, Mexico in May
  • London, UK in August
  • Malaga, Spain in August
  • Mallorca, Spain in September
  • Dubai, UAE in November
  • Norfolk, UK (again) in December

Sailing in Norfolk, April 2023

Highlights included sailing on The Broads, visiting Isla Mujeres and taking the kids to see the sights in London.

Isla Mujeres, May 2023

Dubai is becoming a yearly visit for the family. I can see us spending even more time there.

Dubai, November 2023

Just one trip was business related. I did most of my work from home.


We didn’t do any internal work to the house. The main change was a new driveway. The old resin drive was showing its age, and I needed an extra space, so we went with a wider asphalt layout. Progress pic:

Driveway progress

My home office needs a refresh. I’ll be switching the layout to better suit the room and my goals. For example, moving my desk position so I can record video with a solid wall backdrop as opposed to one with a door in view.

Hardware wise, I’m planning to switch out my Dell monitors for an Apple studio display or two.


I wrote a small angel check for HireChain, a web3 recruitment startup.

I’m still primarily holding crypto and tech stocks.

A chunk of my stocks performed well against the FTSE All World index over the course of 2023, which was encouraging to see.

Stocks performance 2023

My main winner was $COIN.

Not investment advice.

Wrap Up


I can feel my momentum building again.

Family life feels more settled as my kids are getting older.

It’s obvious that I made the right decision to change industry.


I’m ready to put my foot on the gas:

  • Family first
  • Win with my work
  • Personal website upgrade
  • A new project or two
  • Help others

There’ll always be a reason why you can’t make something happen. But you can succeed in spite of that, too. In 2024, my focus moves away from problems and towards solutions.

Wishing you a fruitful year ahead.

This is my fifth yearly review. You can read the rest here:

Let me know if you write one!