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!

2022 Summary: The Open Up The Cloud System

Hello, friends of Open Up The Cloud ! 👋

Welcome to the 2022 annual report for Open Up The Cloud. Here we’ll reflect together on last years goals, data and revenue, and then look at plans and goals for Open Up The Cloud coming into 2023.

For previous years reports, see: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018 & 2017.

I want to do this report differently this year, and going forward. Writing these reflections this year, it felt wrong to say “my goals”. Open Up The Cloud is—and needs to become—more community-driven. All of the finances for Open Up The Cloud are public, and all content is produced under an ethical guideline. The intention is to continue with the radically transparent approach, and push to really “put the community on the stage” (that’s you) rather than me being the only face of the brand.

General 2022 Reflections

In 2017, Open Up The Cloud was still “The Dev Coach” and was a home for my own writing. It’s funny looking back on this paragraph from the reflections in 2017:

reflections in 2022

In 2017, I knew YouTube videos would be a distraction, as I looked to build my own writing skills. Today, in 2023, video isn’t an optional nicety, it’s essential. We’re spending more time than ever on video content, both short and long form. For Open Up The Cloud to have maximum impact, and to realise the mission, we can’t swim upstream. We have to go with the trends. That being said, it did bring a smile to my face to see that despite forever telling others to not be a donkey, and to stick to one thing at a time, I did follow my own advice, and I’m glad for it. Life is a marathon, and not a sprint, and if you keep at something, and stay disciplined, in time, good things will follow.

Soft Launch of the Open Up The Cloud Community!

In 2022, I “soft launched” a community for Open Up The Cloud. The community won’t be “public”, and I would like to do periodic “renewals”. This is so we can build a really high quality network of people who are serious at improving their life through a career in cloud, and giving back to the community. Sadly, I spend a lot of time on people who I do not feel are very serious in their intentions. These interactions cost me a lot of time and energy, so I will be scaling down my time on interacting via DM responses, and scaling up participation in the community. If you want, you can apply to join the community: openupthecloud.com/community. It’s a light application process, which mostly exists to ensure that you have “skin in the game” and are serious about joining and contributing.

Data from 2022

2022 Income + Earnings Report

Okay, before we get into a recap on last years goals, let’s take a quick look at some numbers and metrics from 2022. Overall, Open Up The Cloud earned £2,907 in display ads + £243 in affiliate income. £494 was subsequently given away in giveaways + sponsorships. I also propose that we do sponsorships differently in 2023, rather than them being whimsically, arbitrarily and non-transparently chosen by me, this year I’ll ask the community for those who made the biggest impact in the cloud community, and donate and support those folks, instead. Since the community is still being built out, I’ve asked who we should sponsor in 2023 on Twitter.

income report 2022

You can find all this data at: openupthecloud.com/incomereport

2022 Social Media Metrics

Not much emphasis or weighting is put on social media metrics. However, they are interesting metrics to follow as a proxy metric for how relevant + interesting Open Up The Cloud is generally.

YouTube went up 350% to 2990 subscribers. This was the main focus area for 2023, so it’s good to see growth here. Sub 1K felt like a not-so-serious channel, however it feels that now the subscriber base is big enough to get some traction on published videos and reach a wider audience. It took a lot for me to build the basic skills base that I needed for YouTube to be successful—but I’m improving!

subscribers 2022

The YouTube channel had 90K views so far.

views in 2022

The YouTube channel got 72K views in 2022.

Instagram followers went up in 2023 by nearly 500% to 6143. I do post a lot on Instagram—I find the engagement super high, and it’s a great way to get feedback from the Open Up The Cloud audience and community. In other news, Twitter grew 200% to 3526 followers, and LinkedIn grew 1000% to 366. I think there’s huge value in growing LinkedIn presence in future, as Open Up The Cloud tends towards more career-focused content. All in all, I’d say this growth isn’t so bad given the fact that I didn’t focus on social growth in 2022.

earnings in 2022

Again, you can find all this data at: openupthecloud.com/incomereport

2022 Goal Recap

Let’s move now onto the 2022 goal. Which was fairly straight-forward: produce one really good video per month (at least). I deliberately set no writing (e.g. blog) or other goals, as I knew how time consuming video could be, and I knew if I was serious, it would take all of my energy.

2022 goals

The 2022 goal, taken from: openupthecloud.com/2021-summary

2022 Goal Reflection

Since the 2022 goal was all about producing videos, it makes sense to step through and discuss briefly each video that I created in 2022. Each was created with an intentional learning on my part, or to deliberately fill a content gap in the community. For each video, I’ll share some learnings.

AWS Associate Developer Exam Guide – This was a fun video to make. I also got my AWS Associate Developer certification done in the process. This is important to me, as I need to keep learning about the certifications and the processes so that I can help and guide others. It did feel kind of awkward to try and tell a story, whilst also cramming tips into a video like this. All in all, I’m quite proud of it, though.

Four mistakes to avoid when getting into cloud – With this video, I intended to push myself out of my comfort zone. I took my motorbike out in London, and forced myself to “present” on camera in public places. At times, it was super awkward… but it forced me to get more comfortable on camera. I really should do a similar video again. A few people did even ask me for more motovlogs!

Forget Cloud Certs, Build These 5 Projects Instead andA Cloud Resume Challenge Sequel: Classical Architecture – These two videos were architectural projects. I did these because people are always asking for real projects to build. In fact the “classical” cloud resume challenge came out of a coaching conversation with someone who was struggling to land a job with the Cloud Resume Challenge original, which focuses a lot on Serverless tech, and not so much on “classical architecture”.

I analysed 2,000 Cloud Job Ads: Here’s what you NEED to know and Learning the wrong tech, the skills cloud jobs actually want – These were my favourite videos this year ! I spent a few weeks writing the code to analyse over 2,000 job ads to create this data. I learned ton about the industry whilst gathering this data, and I can now incorporate the findings it in future content. The videos are quite dense with information though, and I think a lot more analysis could be done to break down this data and really talk about what it means, and how to practically use the information.

No, I will not mentor you – This year, I am using an adapted tone throughout my content. After speaking and mentoring more people, I realised that the audience of Open Up The Cloud seems to respond well to a certain, direct tone. So much content out there hedges “you could do this, you could do that”, but beginners need direct, opinionated input. I’ve been putting in a big effort, personally to be direct with my own feedback. This video is a manifestion of the realisation of the importance of the tone in the content. Whilst the title is provocative, the content is empowering as it gives a framework of questions to ask yourself to get unstuck.

Are these the right skills for a Cloud Engineer? – This is a format I’ll be doing more in 2023. Reviewing actual learning plans, and actual resumes from folks getting into the cloud. This content can be super useful. I also want to publish my mentoring sessions somehow. At the same time, I also posted a lot on Instagram this year. I’ve never really cared much for the numbers on social platforms. I care a lot about engagement. Interesting conversations. Useful comments. Good conversations. Yes, the numbers are a useful indicator of, but they’re not “everything”. If anything they can become a real rabbit hole and vortex that can suck you in and waste your time. In addition to that, I don’t have.

The Solutions Architect Job is NOT what you think – The final video of the year! Whilst published in 2023, it was edited and recorded in 2022, so it counts! This video took a very different direction to all of my other videos. It has a much more comprehensive introduction than any other video I’ve created, and includes interviews from three industry experts. I have long been looking for a way to credibly talk on topics that I’m not a full expert in myself, but ensure that the advice that I give is solid. I try in all my content to do “original research”, e.g. take a certification myself, gather my own data, do interviews, and not only rely on data from others. I’ve been ignoring the fact that I have a large network of experts who can give insights, in 2023 I want to lean into this more.

2023 Goals

Now finally let’s make some plans for 2023. As mentioned at the start of this post, these goals are intended to be as community-focused as possible. If you have thoughts or feedback, let me know! 2023 is all about “outcomes”. I want to shift away from goals like X views, or even Y revenue, the plan is to impact X people, e.g. get Y people a paying job. Measuring outcomes is hard, but I have some ideas on how to make them more visible and measurable. Starting now is better than starting later.

In 2022, I started to codify conversations that I have when I mentor people into cloud. That has now become a publically available “system” ⇒ openupthecloud.com/system. It goes through how to choose a role, certifications, interviewing, and ultimately getting hired. To scale Open Up The Cloud, I intend to now put this system at the heart of everything. Every YouTube video will be based on the system. Every mentoring call will lead to refinements of the system. And the system will be remain public and free.

Grow the “Open Up The Cloud” System.

Through the System, Open Up The Cloud will deliver real world valuable outcomes to the community and the audience. By continuing to gather original research + data, and incorporating learnings from mentoring conversations with those getting into the cloud industry, the system will become a repeatable backbone structure for anyone looking to get their start, or grow their career in cloud. Here’s how I’ll measure that:

R: Get 1000+ organic views per month on the OUTC system.

R: Get 10+ outside contributors to the OUTC system.

R: Run 24 free mentorship calls + incorporate learnings into the OUTC system.

R: 5+ social proof metrics of impact of the OUTC system (e.g. testimonials)

R: Get 10K subscribers on YouTube in 2023

R: Get 150K views on YouTube in 2022 – double the 2022 views

2021 Summary: A Rebrand To “Open Up The Cloud” & The Start Of Video Content

It’s now become a tradition for me to sit down and do an end of year review, if you want to see the previous years, here is 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. But wow, what a crazy year 2021 has been! Sitting down to look at the numbers, I’m even a little blown away myself. It’s been a year of really pushing myself, personally to get out there, join the community more, engage in video content.

Looking back, it’s hard to recognise where things were at the start of the year. I started the year with no real YouTube videos or subscribers, no real Instagram account, no real Twitter following, etc. In just a year, things already look incredibly different. But more on that later.

Income Report – Dec 2021

This is the first in a series of monthly income reports. In these reports, I will share where Open Up The Cloud generates it’s revenue, and where every penny is spent. Open Up The Cloud is a community-led social enterprise (read the mission). Publishing income reports [1][2] feel like a logical next step.

Open Up The Cloud Income Report

Open Up The Cloud Newsletter #27 (August and September Recap 2021)

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Well hello, there cloud friend!

The keen-eyed among you will realize this is a double-edition newsletter because there was in fact no newsletter in August! Why? Because I took a little time off! 🏖 But, we’re back to it, and for this month only, I’ll summarise two months, as opposed to one.

Let’ get into it…

What Are The Different Roles In The Cloud? A Beginners Guide.

If you’re new to the cloud industry, it’s likely you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the routes and roles to get you into the cloud industry, right? I speak to many people new to the cloud industry every day, and “what are the different roles in cloud?” is a very common question that I get asked.

Today, I’ll take you through some of the most popular roles in cloud, covering: how much they earn, how technical the roles are (e.g. if they write code, how much), and if the role is suitable for a beginner and why. Then, in the end, I’ll make you some recommendations about where I suggest you should start.

Open Up The Cloud Newsletter #26 (July Recap 2021)

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Hey cloud friends!

It’s been quiet on the announcements and new features front this last month— it must be summer! And, of course, for AWS, they’re busy stacking up their releases for this year’s Re:Invent. One great thing I’m seeing these last few months is a real increase in cloud content. So much more in-depth content, beginner content, etc which is great news (but of course means more work for me!).

Let’ get into it…