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

The Big List Of Cloud Native Engineering Resources

I spend a lot of time researching Cloud Native technologies. Also whilst editing the Cloud Native Software Engineering Newsletter I’m always looking for the best sources of knowledege and high quality content. Everything on the list is things I read, people I follow or books I’ve read. I’m not recommending anything I haven’t used.

By the end of this article you’ll know about the best Cloud Native resources that I’ve found to-date. Make sure to come back as I’ll be constantly updating this page! 

How To: Get Over Your Fears Of Writing And Just Get Going

Have you been thinking about wanting to write? Did someone mention to you that it might be good for your career? Or you want to write to earn some money? Maybe you just want to document your notes and share them with others?

I can’t read your mind and know your motives to want to start writing, that’s for sure. But what I can do is this: go through the fears that are currently stopping you starting to write. How do I know what these fears are? Because I have the same writing fears and I wrestle with them every day and every week.

Why Your Code Review Could Be Doing More Harm Than Good…

And how trunk-based-development can help

Here is my latest post for Simple Programmer…

Recently, I conducted an experiment with my team.

This experiment was challenging enough to make even some seasoned developers sh*t their pants.

What experiment did we run? We stopped branching our code, we threw away code review, and we started pushing directly to master.

Before you build the product, build the deployment pipeline.

Why building a deployment pipeline should be one of the first things you consider when creating a new product.

Recently I’ve been training for a long cycling event.

The event is a three day event where we will cycle around 70-100 miles each day back-to-back.

It’s very much an endurance event and for all my adult life, I’ve been a strength athlete competing in strength sports that are maximal exertion. It couldn’t be much more of a polar opposite set of skills.

Are you thinking of building an app or website? Ask yourself these four questions first.

I sat at a Starbucks cross-legged with my laptop on my lap. I’d gone out to try and find the peace required to focus on the job application I was completing as a front-end product developer.

The task was simple: Create a demo app that connects to an API (Foursquare) and shows the results.

As I sat there putting the finishing touches on the demo (you can actually still see it here) I had a realization…

Iterating to product/market fit

Since I'm a big fan of getting real practical about the skills required to build digital products, lets take a look at how exactly we are going about finding the product/market fit for Splitoo.

We’ve been working hard over the past few weeks to put together finishing touches to the UI design. Whilst it’s not perfect, and with many more ideas to come, the product is starting to come together.

8 Non-Programming Books You Haven’t Considered That Will Boost Your Programmer Career

Here is my latest post for Simple Programmer…

There are many lists of books about becoming a better programmer. They likely include books like Refactoring, Code Complete, The Mythical Man Month, etc.

However, in the workplace, it isn’t just programming knowledge that we programmers need. Learning programming is an essential part of our work — but it’s not everything.

The authors of iconic programming books had remarkable careers, but it wasn’t just their coding knowledge that made their careers noteworthy. They were well-rounded experts and we should strive to emulate that quality as well.

You’re Selling It Wrong — How to Explain DevOps so Your Business Will Care

Here is my latest post for Simple Programmer…

We were struggling to get our features out into production. There were lots of defects and firefighting. All this and the company was but a few months old. What was working here going to be like in a year? We were all staying as late as we could and even working weekends to try and fix issues that would appear, seemingly, from nowhere. It was hell.

Build Faster, Waste Less, and Save Your Sanity by Writing World Class Tickets.

Writing tickets is an art worth mastering, for your own sanity and that of your team.

Here is my latest post for Simple Programmer…

As programmers, we have a lot on our plates. Understanding the newest technology, the business, navigating politics in the business and in our teams, and all of the tools, languages, and everything else that comes with the territory. It is overwhelming.

When it comes to making improvements, it’s easy to be in favor of our own personal development over that of our teams. Choosing to focus on gaining personal skills over improving the output of the team or the business. After all, these improvements are a manager’s responsibility, right? Possibly. But this type of thinking can backfire on us if we’re not careful.

Why? Because, ultimately, we get paid for the value we deliver to our business. So if we want more pay, more recognition, and ultimately a better career, it makes sense to keep an eye on what the business wants and needs, not just our own personal development. That’s how our checks are paid and how we keep a roof over our head.

This type of thinking can seem somewhat counterintuitive, and maybe even scary, as we’re focusing on areas that feel outside of our control.