2023 Summary: Data Driven Stories About The Cloud

Another year down, so that means another recap. For the past recaps, you can see: 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022. The goals for 2022 were essentially in two parts: to grow on YouTube, and to build out a system. I’ll do a recap on both of those goals, including some numbers, before sharing my goals for 2023.

Growing 5K Subscribers on YouTube

Let’s kick off with some numbers. In 2023, I published 7 YouTube videos. I grew the channel 5.5K subscribers, which lead to the YouTube channel getting monetised, and ultimately making about £1,175 in revenue. I made the switch from the blog in 2021 to double down on YouTube. It’s been a real journey of learning. Presenting, editing, storytelling, interviewing.

YouTube Analytics 2023

Some YouTube statistics, mainly the Adsense revenue.

Whilst Open Up The Cloud is mission based, for my own motivation, I always try to find some way to drive personal growth. The idea of doing videos used to really scare me. I’m much past that now. One of the greatest perks I’ve found from doing online content work is how it’s really levelled up my writing skills, storytelling, copywriting, and being more comfortable speaking, and on stage.

One goal from 2022 was to hit 150K views, and get to 10K subscribers. Despite that feeling like a very ambitious goal, and without publishing a video since July (more on that later), amazingly I hit the goal. With 197K views, and 8.5K subs, I’ll mark that done! To me, that’s very impressive, and shows me that the format and content of the videos is only increasing in quality.

A major highlight was the four videos I made for the AWS Cloud Bootcamp. These videos eventually made it into the FreeCodeCamp AWS Cloud Complete Bootcamp Course compilation, which now has over 320K views. Whilst I didn’t know Andrew was going to publish that video, I’m glad the content is reaching as wide as possible. These videos felt very inline with the mission of Open Up The Cloud, in contributing to a free and open cloud bootcamp.

YouTube Videos

Some of the videos I made this year, including the four in the FreeCodeCamp video.

Of those videos, two are mostly about orienting yourself in the cloud careers space: Pick the right cloud role: A beginners guide! and What cloud hiring managers want from your resume! These are the two most important topics I feel for cloud beginners. They’re not perfect, but they capture the advice I’ve been giving in coaching over the past few years. Sure, they’re long videos (~1.5hr total) but worth it if you pay attention and action them. Maybe one day I’ll find time to convert this content into a book, or something. Let’s see.

I’ve also been witnessing a very alarming, rise in tech educators who are dangerously extrapolating their own career anecdotal experiences way too far. This content “flies under the radar”, as senior tech people aren’t paying attention to that type or style of content. When I’ve dug into some examples, I’ve been deeply saddened and frustrated with what I’ve seen is going on. Exploiting those who are looking to improve their life is deplorable and is entirely against everything that Open Up The Cloud stands for.

With that in mind, I wanted the other two videos to dig into concrete and real stories of how people land cloud jobs: Get hired in cloud? I asked 5 engineers and They all landed jobs in cloud … but, how?  These videos are a lot less didactic, and much more emotional. I do my best to “connect the dots”, but without overstepping. I really wanted to capture the inherent messyness of landing a job. The emotions. The ups. The downs. I tried to make them inspirational, but not falsely “positive”, to keep the videos as real as possible.

In the end, I am super, super proud of how these videos turned out.

I believe this transparent content is the antidote to the questionable content I mentioned above. Rather than spend energy “debunking” and getting caught up in negativity, I want to focus on sharing positive stories. I’m also glad to see audience recognition for the effort of these videos. These comments are leading indicators of future views, subscribers and ultimately, impact.

Positive YouTube Comment

A perfect example YouTube comment of the exact comments I aim for.

Seeing the viewer numbers I got on these videos, the response in the comments, and reflecting on how I want Open Up The Cloud to continue to contribute to the wider community, I am resolute in how this interview heavy, almost “documentary” style format of video really is the best way to go. I don’t see it anywhere else, and feel it’s truly unique for the community.

Strains of content alongside work

Let’s take a bit of a turn now and talk about the learnings. I had some other ambitious goals to build out a system for Open Up The Cloud in 2023. The thought was that this system could become a book, or a course maybe. The system would become a constant. An anchor for my content. And whilst I did make progress on the system, it was nowhere near the progress I wanted.

The elephant in the room is really that I didn’t publish anything since July. So, what did I do? The main challenge was my day job workload. Around July time, the company was restructured, and my workload frankly exploded. Mix in some personal challenges with my living situation and something in my life simply had to give. For a few months, that was Open Up The Cloud.

Presenting on Gent AI and CDEs.

That said, I do have receipts for all that hard work. I did three meetups in London, one on Generative AI and Cloud Development Environments, and two about Applying User Research to Platform Engineering. I wrote two blogs I’m proud of, about how Internal developer portals aren’t a silver bullet for platform engineering and Champion Building – How to successfully adopt a developer tool. I also got a talk accepted: The ‘outer loop’ is dead: How AI and cloud development will revolutionise developer experience for a DX conference.

This marks the first time in my career that I wasn’t able to carve out time to invest in my own learning and my work on Open Up The Cloud. I’m not totally upset, because of the great opportunities I had at the same time. I’ve always felt like being a practitioner, and being “in the field”, doing the work in the industry makes my content and advice more current, real and credible. The cost? That it sometimes feels like I have two jobs. And… I kinda do.

My day job pays the bills, and keeps me close to the industry. But Open Up The Cloud a deep sense of fulfilment and a chance to “give back” that gets me out of bed in the morning with a sense of excitement and duty. I’m very stubborn in not giving that up. The challenge though, is how my career direction, and the audience for Open Up The Cloud are now diverging. So, since I don’t see my job workload decreasing heavily in 2020—what to do?

Running the booth at OSS EU

I need to more overlap between Open Up The Cloud, and my day job. In my last job, I was much, much more hands on in writing code for the cloud, which made making technical videos much easier. I have always been very intentional about “selling my sawdust“. So, with my time commitments, there has to be overlap between Open Up The Cloud and my day job if I’m going to stand a chance of publishing videos consistently in 2024 without exhausting myself.

If you look at the topics of the meet-ups and blog posts I published, they’re about Platform Engineering, Developer Experience, that kind of that. Makes sense, as that is my day job and my industry speciality as a Product Manager in developer tooling. However, I’ve seldom posted about those topics on Open Up The Cloud, at least not until now.

In 2024, I will repurpose my customer and tooling research and interviews to build content for Open Up The Cloud on Platform and Developer Experience. I will continue to keep the content accessible, but it’ll be less on purist career content. In addition, I’ll double-down on the interviewing and documentary style long-form video content as that will work perfectly for these topics, too. Hopefully, with that adjustment in direction, my workload will be far reduced, or at least more aligned and allow me to publish more videos.

I’ve already started to redesign the homepage. Definitely not finished, but it’s a start !

DevEx & Platform Documentaries

So with all that context, what are the goals for 2024?

I’ll aim for four documentary-style videos. Roughly, one per quarter. I’ll try to get as much interviewing in-person as possible. I’ll work on my editing skills, and take at least one course on filmmaking. The topics will be related to platform engineering, Kubernetes, and other cloud tooling topics.

In addition, I’m going to code at least one morning a week. Likely in GoLang and TypeScript. Why? Because, I’ve just simply not had enough hands-on-keyboard time this year, and I want to get back to that. I’ll re-pick up my work towards my KCNA exam, and work on a couple personal projects related to Platform Engineering and Kubernetes.

And really, that’s it. It was certainly a challenging year for me. Whilst I’ll make those adjustments to content, the mission stays the same. I’m excited to continue to make cloud and tech videos. I hope your year went well, and that you’ve got big plans for 2024. See you next year!

Lou Bichard