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  feel like a logical next step.
I have always strongly believed businesses can be a force for good. Open Up The Cloud is living proof that a sustainable and open business model can, and does work. Importantly, Open Up The Cloud is not structured as a charity, e.g. not driven by donations. Income is generated through content and value exchanges, whilst avoiding financial barriers (e.g. paywalls) where possible.
The finances will be open, to generate feedback and discussion on where best to allocate any funding to help support the mission. If you want to chat with me, a DM on Twitter  is a good place to start.
Summary Of 2021
Since this is the first income report, I’ll recap the entire last year. In future, reports will likely be on a monthly basis with an annual recap.
Here are the headlines from 2021:
- £2912 revenue generated in 2021 (almost entirely “passively” and without any paywalls). Majority of income is via display ads, however I’m experimenting with other areas, e.g. affiliates on Gumroad, and Udemy.
- £277 was spent in a combination of sponsorships, and giveaways, books, certification vouchers, and GitHub sponsorships. So far Open Up The Cloud has given away: 3 x The Tech resume by Gergely Orosz. 2 x AWS Certifications. 1 x The Cloud Resume Challenge Book by Forrest Brazeal, and has 1 x ongoing GitHub sponsor (Anton Babenko).
You can find the full spreadsheet at: openupthecloud.com/incomereport
The majority of the current income comes from display ads on the website, served by Ezoic. I could do more to optimise these ads further, but the yield is already pretty good. The website currently gets around 20K unique users per month, which converts to several hundred USD per month (the amount varies somewhat depending on the ads market).
The intention is to try and diversify further the income streams. A clear area of exploration is affiliate products. I’ve not pushed hard on affiliates so far, but I’m leaning more towards taking them more seriously over time.
So far, I’ve had poor results with affiliate experimentation. Amazon has been low converting and paying. Udemy has been the most promising. Affiliating with indie creators who make relevant products to my audience on gumroad (e.g. The Tech resume by Gergely Orosz and The Cloud Resume Challenge Book by Forrest Brazeal) is now showing some promise.
Despite website display ads being the cash cow, this last year I invested heavily in video content (primarily on YouTube). Video is undoubtably the future of content, especially in education. However, video content does have quite a significant learning curve: camera’s, lighting, editing, creating thumbnails, speaking on camera, etc. Which all comes with additional expenditure.
The YouTube channel is not yet in the partner program, so doesn’t contribute to any income yet. But, there are also some other ideas I have to experiment with for monetising YouTube, without compromising on the mission/values.
The expenses are fairly low (~£100 per month), and consist primarily of a couple of SaaS subscriptions, currently for FeedHive, Notion, GeniusLink, AWS wordpress hosting, an A Cloud Guru subscription.
One area not to overlook as an expense is that of training and/or learning resources. Since Open Up The Cloud has recommended products (e.g. books, courses), it’s important I purchase and use these products before recommending them, I also appreciate being able to support creators in this way.
Since the revenue has grown over the last year, I’ve finally been experimenting with sponsorships. I had thought about sponsorships for some time: e.g. how to structure them and how to make them work.
Sponsorships make Open Up The Cloud a force multiplier. By sponsoring folks who do great work in the community means they can worry less about monetisation, and concentrate on their main work, whether that’s open-source, making content, running communities, etc.
I want to be able to repeatably fund others who are doing great work in the industry and give them some recurring income.
— Lou ☁️ 👨💻🏋️♂️🎸🚴🏻♂️🏍 (@loujaybee) February 26, 2021
Sponsorships are challenging, due to the ongoing financial commitment, so I was hesitant to commit too early on. Right now, Open Up The Cloud has just the one sponsor via GitHub sponsors, Anton Babenko .
Why Anton? Because I consistently recommended Terraform as a technology that cloud folks should learn , due to it’s prominence in the industry and Anton puts out great content and open source code which helps folks get started and use Terraform. Supporting Anton’s work was an easy decision.
However, having sponsors now raises other questions: How do I ensure that these sponsorships are made fairly? Could/should I introduce some sort of application process? The income is not infinite, so I cannot sponsor everyone, how should this work in future? These are questions I don’t have good answers to yet, but I’m keen to figure them out.
First Income Report ✅
That concludes this months (and annual) income report. I hope that you found viewing the data and information interesting. If you’d like me to dive into one particular area in future, I’d be happy to do so in a future income report!
I’d like to thank all those who have supported Open Up The Cloud so far. Without people reading the blog, watching the videos, sharing the content, Open Up The Cloud wouldn’t have grown to where it is today, and having the impact it does. If you would like to keep up-to-date with, you can follow on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and subscribe to the newsletter.
- 2022 Summary: The Open Up The Cloud System - January 1, 2023
- Open Up The Cloud Newsletter #30 (January Recap 2022) - March 1, 2022
- Open Up The Cloud Newsletter #29 (November Recap 2021) - January 20, 2022