Please help me to not go broke

TL;DR I’m struggling a bit right now, and if you subscribe to my screencasts or buy my book that would really help me out. And if you’re a happy customer, now is a great time to tell your friends!

Longer version…

I know a lot of people probably think that as a somewhat well-known (in certain circles) globe-trotting programmer guy, I’m no doubt sitting quite comfortably. And it’s true that I’m not poor. And I’m not in imminent danger of having my family tossed out on the streets. This isn’t a call for charity. But if you’ve ever thought “gee, I should really sign up for RubyTapas one of these days, I’ll bet I’d learn a lot”, now would be a great time to do it.

Here’s the thing. I support my family with my RubyTapas screencasts and sales of my books, occasionally augmented with co-teaching gigs. And lately, RubyTapas subscribership has started to flag.

Avdi, maybe fewer people are subscribing because your videos suck! Yeah, that’s a possibility I have to consider. But if anything, the feedback I’m getting says that my latest content has been some of the best ever. And when people tell me why they unsubscribe, the majority say it’s only because they’ve moved on to work in languages other than Ruby.

So, I think the downturn partly reflects trends in the industry. But it also reflects the fact that I have done a really poor job of marketing.

Case in point, here’s a common conversation I have at conferences: “Hey Avdi, great to finally meet you in person! So what do you do these days? Are you still consulting, or…”

After doing RubyTapas as a full-time job for around three years, there are a lot of people who know who I am, but don’t know what I do for a living.

I’m working on fixing this PR problem. But that takes time. And time-wise, I don’t have a lot of leeway to work with. At the same time my income has been going down, our expenses have been going up. Right now my income fully supports six people and partially supports three more.

I don’t want to bore you with the details, but just as an example, last year we spent over $18,000 on health insurance premiums alone. That’s not counting thousands more in doctor’s bills and prescriptions. As a very-small-business-owner I’m stuck with Tennessee’s failing ACA healthcare exchange, which basically means our healthcare costs go up by at least 10% every year while our coverage drops by at least the same amount.

We also recently bought our first house. It’s nice to finally have more than one bathroom to share between eight people, but of course home-ownership comes with a whole raft of new expenses.

Finally, expenses are also up because I’ve started to delegate more of my work to others. Ultimately this means I’ll have the time to do stuff like finish my next book. But right now I’m in the priming-the-pump phase where outlay is up but income hasn’t yet risen to match it.

Now, it’s probably true I could take a salaried job at a big company and at least not have worry about the healthcare expenses so much.

But I don’t want to do that. I want to keep making videos. I want to keep blogging whenever I feel like it. I want to keep writing and self-publishing books. I want to keep giving talks that take months to research. I want to keep releasing open-source libraries. I’d like to get back into doing open-source pairing sessions.

I want to continue to have the time and freedom to dig deeply into a programming topic, grok it, and then explain it to other people. I like doing this. A lot of people seem to think I do a good job of it. And it’s only the freedom and flexibility of self-employment that has made this possible.

And to do all that, I need your help.

Here are some reasons why you should subscribe to RubyTapas, if you don’t already:

  • Because it will make you better at programming Ruby.
  • Because it will make you better at programming, period. I have subscribers who don’t even do Ruby for a living, but who still love it.
  • Because it covers topics like object-oriented modeling, testing, refactoring, patterns beyond the “gang of four”, and advice on how to think about software designs.
  • Because I work very, very hard to make sure that the episodes are tight, fast, crystal clear, and laser-focused on helping you learn one new thing in the space of a coffee break.
  • Because in case you don’t like watching videos, I provide the scripts and source code as well!
  • Because you’ll get two new episodes a week, every week!
  • Because it features great guest episodes from people like James Edward Gray II, Tom Stuart, Noel Rappin, Peter Cooper, and more!
  • Because a lot of people agree that it’s really good:


So yeah. RubyTapas. It’s pretty good! At least, I think it is. And subscribing helps me keep doing what I do. For those who do subscribe: thank you so much. If you like it, tell your friends!

Are you part of a team that works on Ruby code? Yes, we offer RubyTapas team plans! Just get in touch and we’ll hook you up.

I also write books. You can see some of them on the sidebar of this site.

The book I’m most proud of is Confident Ruby. Here are some reasons you should buy Confident Ruby, if you haven’t already:

  • Because I did my best to distill a decade of Ruby experience into it.
  • Because to my knowledge, it’s still the only Ruby book focused exclusively on how to think about structuring individual methods to be readable, maintainable, and robust.
  • Because it has a foreword by Sandi Metz, author of Practical Object Oriented Design in Ruby!
  • Because it will finally answer your nagging questions about why Ruby has to_i vs. to_int  vs. Kernel#Integer() , and when to use which one!
  • Because you’ll be able to follow along with The Ruby Book Club as they work their way through it!

Convinced yet? Buy it today!

Once again, thank you to everyone who has helped me do what I do over the years. Thank you for your belief, support, and encouragement. I’m not exactly sure what my proper job description is anymore, but I’m grateful to have it, I’m going to strive to continue to be accessible, and as I said recently, I’m going to keep trying to do even better.

Happy hacking!

P.S. as thanks for reading all that, here’s a picture of some wild orchids.


  1. I believe the main reason you’re getting low incomes with this is because of Rails. What you teach (or taught, I’m a former subscriber from long ago) is awesome when you have full liberty of the design, and thus, projects out of Rails, or gems.
    I see your situation as a collateral damage from poor choices in the Ruby/Rails community.

    1. I am a happy subscriber of ruby tapas. I love that you say so much in such a small amount of time. However, I’ve always wished you’d branch out to other languages in addition to ruby. Perhaps now is the time.

      P.S. ruby, javascript, elm, and go are all languages I’ve touched in the last month.

  2. I only buy dead tree versions of technical books. Get one, and I’ll buy it (even though I don’t do Ruby, besides the occasional rake task)

  3. I have all your books and was a former subscriber of Tapas. I unsubscribed because I am no longer interested in Ruby, but if you were to diversify to other languages and ecosystems, I might subscribe again.

  4. Unfortunately I already have most of your stuff (except Rails, who uses this anyways :D) and will stay RubyTapaist 🙂

    Maybe it might be an idea to split Rubytapas into two series with one episone per week.

    One stays Rubytapas like it is and the other one focuses more on language independent stuff like patterns. Of course in ruby as well, but with other focus and more portable. Each subscription for 5$, both together for 9$ 😉

    In fact you are – more or less – doing both types of videos, but not separated.

    I think some of my non-ruby colleagues would subscribe to the common-style videos.

  5. I’m curious, when people say that “… they have moved on to work in languages other than Ruby …” are there any trends to what they are moving to? If they are, do you have any plans to follow them there?

    1. A lot of JavaScript and related languages, some Elixir, some Go, a smattering of others.

      There are a lot of exciting languages out there, and it would be tempting to “follow the money”, so to speak. But I’m at a point where I’m realizing that there’s a limit to how many more things I’ll be able to master in my life, and I’m trying to make my learnings very intentional. I’m trying to focus on languages which will either push my thinking in important ways, or give me some kind of distinctive leverage that I don’t already have.

      For example, I’m studying Pharo Smalltalk right now. I don’t expect this to pan out into anything commercially viable. But I feel that it’s important for me to understand Alan Kay’s thinking from a hands-on perspective.

      Ultimately, I believe that readers and viewers of my stuff will benefit from this study. But it may be an oblique sort of benefit.

  6. You should consider removing the annoying CAPTCHA wall that you place in front of TOR users. That or get an HTTPS certificate for your website. Let’s Encrypt offers them for free

    It took me three CAPTCHAs and about three minutes to gain access to your blog post over TOR… =/

    1. This isn’t something I’ve set up. I’m guessing this is part of the Cloudflare CDN service, which also makes it possible for me to host this blog without it blowing up when I get a lot of hits. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  7. Grabbed Confident Ruby this past weekend for the Ruby Book Club podcast. Confident Ruby is something I have been meaning to get for a while now. The book club podcast was the extra nudge that helped encourage me to purchase it.

    Now I need to be getting a subscription to Ruby Tapas setup.

    Thanks for all of you hard work Avdi. You have been a great influence on my career and I happily will do what I can to pay you back.

  8. Hello Avdi,

    Have you considered offering bundles of your work pieces? I am definitely interested in buying some of your stuff – some of them twice actually – and a bundled package (with a discounted price maybe) would tempt me even more!

  9. Oh, and I like Christian’s suggestion, especially since it seems like a risk to be too tied to Ruby. If you are already doing language independent stuff, splitting it off might help people find it.

  10. Just bought confident ruby! I already learned something (4 parts of a method). Maybe you can also offer an online course (like Upcase).

    1. Also maybe like an Episode Guide for newcomers? I tried subscribing to RubyTapas a month ago to, but there’s just too many episodes now I don’t know what would be great at my current level (junior), maybe you can categorize them? Or create a learning path?

      1. Ditto^ “Most popular” page may actually help out a bit.

        Additionally – the website itself provides a good overview, however, it’s confusing for me that I couldn’t find any way to get to a specific video from the website to the members area without remembering the episode name and looking it up. I may be doing something wrong though.

        P.S. Thank you so much for your wonderful screencasts, talks, podcast panels and books. They not only have been a great influence on my coding skills but how I think about programming in general.

        1. I’d recommend starting with episode 1 and continuing from there 🙂

          Seriously, I find all the screencasts come in around the same difficulty and if there is a proper order to them it’s likely chronological. I don’t believe the episodes become “dated” either as this series is more about learning to program awesomely, not so much about gems and frameworks which definitely get out of date quickly.

      2. Same issue here. I’d love to subscribe but as a junior dev, I would not know where to begin. Some guide or learning trail will help.

      3. what I and my team did was watch one tapa every workday until we caught up. this will get you 3 closer every week. most of the stuff you’ll watch is not far out of date if at all. And, regardless we’ve learned alot!

  11. This should only be used with kids who have ability
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    Moreover, they have many others things in their life and they are not able to juggle with
    different tasks and thus, end up getting bad scores
    in the subject. Looking back now, I realize that it eventually occurred to us that we
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    no room left on the floor to play.

  12. Because it will make you better at programming, period. I have subscribers who don’t even do Ruby for a living, but who still love it.

    I am one of those. I d JS for a living and I find a ton of things from Ruby that apply neatly to JS too. Thank you! 😎

    Now, it’s probably true I could take a salaried job at a big company and at least not have worry about the healthcare expenses so much.
    But I don’t want to do that.

    I’m wondering if there may be a middle ground here. I mean maybe there would be a way to take on some development gigs, especially ones that need super high quality. Just a thought.

    Good luck!

  13. I’ve been a very happy subscriber to RubyTapas since the beginning, and I’ve purchased all the ebooks. And I trumpet their clear value to everyone I can—my reach, however, isn’t far.

    I’d happily pay a higher monthly subscription for RubyTapas, or buy any of the ebooks again. Can they be purchased as gifts?

  14. Sorry to hear that. I’m one of those people who canceled subscription recently. Be sure it wasn’t because of any lack or short coming on your part. Unfortunately and “funny” it’s for quite similar problems I and my family are facing. My salary also has to provide for 8 people and due to an issue/”mistake” our health insurance costs will triple, staring next month (> $2k per month). So I need to cut all expenses which are not really life threatening. Sorry it hit you. As soon as my situation improves, I would love to subscribe and support you again. Don’t give up.

  15. I’m a RubyTabas subscriber and loyal enthusiast. I value every episode that comes out and tell my friends. I also have bought every book you’ve written and devoured them. My motivation is that I am so much more awesome as a result. Thank you!

  16. Loyal subscriber. I really enjoy getting the twice a week thought fix. Can highly recommend it to anyone (and have).
    Nice work and please keep at it.

    The rate has been $9/mo for as long as I can remember. Have you considered an increase to $10 or even $11? Would be some help (I don’t know your subscriber count) and not that unreasonable (though 9 does have a better psych feel).
    You could even sweeten the bump with an occasional bonus vid, maybe something from your other tech investigations that are not directly ruby – even more meta knowledge (I like that about your series in general as I feel the field often focuses too close to the metal at the expense of bigger picture). I’d be very interested in new perspectives.
    Just some thoughts.

    Anyway, hang in there.

  17. I have been a subscriber for several years – even though for the last 18 months or so I have done no Ruby at all. I am now retired, but the consulting I have been doing was mostly using ‘R’ for its statistics power.
    I dropped my subscription to the “Ruby Rogues” a while back, but kept Tapas going because I believed in what you are doing and wanted to support it.
    I agree that broadening the topics from Ruby to more generic OO topics would be interesting.

    I’ll hang in for a while longer

  18. I’ve bought all your books , and I’m subscribed to RubyTapas, and their value to me has FAR exceeded the cost. So, in support and to say thank you I’ve just bought a couple books that I believe I already have. (Although I didn’t have the videos)
    Now that I’m “out of work” I’m enjoying some deep dives into some of the mathematical foundations of programming, (various logics and lambda calculus) and new, to me, programming paradigms. When I extract my head from that rabbit hole I know I’ll be once again enjoying and benefiting from your wonderful work.

  19. No doubt about the quality of screen casts. They really educate and enlighten me on many points.
    Like Joe Brown, I subscribed Ruby Tapas for year but eventually I decided to unsubscribed it because I have no time to take a look at it, my bad.

    I appreciate your work and really need to support you.
    I subscribe it again.

  20. Hi, i follow you since some years now and found both your books and casts really inspiring to become a better programer (and at 42 i’m not a young one).
    You really have the ability to express dense, short concepts in enjoyable and brilliant few-minutes casts.
    Recently i share the urge with others rubyists to look at some other languages that offer better performance and scalability: Ruby speed is much better now than when i started using it in 2006, but still far from statically compiled alternatives.
    After a GO parenthesis i’m now betting on Crystal, since t combines Ruby expressiveness with modern languages features and is growing better every day.
    Here my suggestion: i know you have a reputation in the Ruby community, but i fear you risk to sink with it. You probably need to detach from a particular language and focus your casts on something more generalists (CodingTapas?): for example, why just one Crystal cast (#343), if you delved into it more we can enjoy 4-5 of them, maybe alternated with few Nim ones and some SmallTalk precious pills?. You surely risk to loose some language-hardcore fans, but will open a broad range of opportunities as well.
    Said that, i really appreciate what you do and will try to support as i can to allow you continuing doing it for living 😉

  21. Confident Ruby changed the way I think about a number of important programming constructs. I am currently working in Scala, but the same ideas apply. While still in Rails my team adopted some patterns proposed by Advi (in particular, avoiding nil as a signal returned from a method). In so doing we were able to reduce our error handling, testing surface area and code complexity substantially. I have been developing since C was considered a high-level language, so it’s easy to get into a mindset. Let Advi blow your mind with his excellent book!

  22. Hi Avdi,
    I read 2 of your books and recommended to others.
    You were a role-model for me for a while and thankful.
    I want to help you with marketing to sell more from what you already have – for free.
    What’s the best way to reach you?

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