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Planning for 2023

Ned Bellavance
9 min read

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For 2022, I didn’t go into the new year with a solid plan for what I wanted to accomplish, and more importantly what I wasn’t going to do. As a result, I ended up accepting projects that I did not have the bandwidth for and ultimately wasn’t excited to do. In 2023, I’d like to have a solid list of things that I want to do and stick to that list unless there is some overriding condition, which I will also try and quantify. My hope is that having a list to refer back to will stop me from overwhelming myself or taking on projects that I shouldn’t.

Let’s get started!

Things to Accomplish

This is the list of things that I want to get done in 2023. Where possible, I am trying to put some numbers against these goals to track my progress over the year and see how I did.

YouTube Videos

Last year I produced 13 videos and ended the year with 8k subscribers. In 2023, I would like to produce two videos per month and increase my subscriber base to 25k. Lofty goals? Yes. But doable I think.

In terms of content, at least half the videos will be Terraform related. That’s my bread and butter and it’s what people tend to watch the most. Additionally, I plan to create monthly videos for ActualTech Media events and cross-post them to my YouTube channel. The remainder of videos will likely be focused on another project that I will get to in a moment.

Day Two Cloud

Day Two Cloud finished the year with 420k downloads and 21k subscribers (roughly). I don’t want to change anything specific about the Day Two Cloud content - I think we’re doing very well in that department. Instead, I want to focus on promoting Day Two Cloud episodes and growing the subscriber base. I also want to increase revenue by 25%. Let’s target a goal of 550k downloads and 30k subscribers.

Chaos Lever

Chaos Lever launched in early 2022, and I didn’t really start tracking metrics until November. We are averaging about 350 downloads per week with a subscriber base that I don’t even know how to quantify. Since I don’t yet have a way to track total subscribers (maybe I can do something with unique RSS feed pulls?), I think I will target a average of 700 downloads per week. I am also starting a newsletter based on the content of each week’s episode. I’d like to get about 150 subscribers by the end of the year. Modest goals, but achievable!

Pluralsight Courses

As I mentioned in my year end post, I really need to finish the learning path for Azure Virtual Desktop. My goal is to finish it by the end of February and breath a DEEP sigh of relief. Aside from that, my goal is to publish updates for four of my Terraform courses, and create a new course focused on either HashiCorp Boundary or Open Policy Agent. I think the audience is bigger for OPA, so that’s what I’m leaning towards. Combined with the three AVD courses, that’s a total of four new courses and four redos. Seems possible.

Pluralsight is also pushing their labs pretty hard. Maybe I do a couple of these? That’s a stretch goal and I will not prioritize it over other work. (See that Ned? You bolded it so you would remember.)

I will NOT be updating my existing pure Azure courses. Pluralsight has made it clear that they will be moving this content over to A Cloud Guru and I suspect I won’t have time to recreate the courses for that platform.

ActualTech Media

As I mentioned in the YouTube section, I am going to try and produce one video a month for ActualTech Media’s events. I’ll probably only make 10 in total, and that seems like plenty.

Certification Guides

Both the Terraform Associate and Vault Associate certifications will be updated in 2023. I need to update my certification guides to keep pace. The Terraform one is already 50% done, which is great. My goal is to get that update done by the end of January. Vault will have to wait until March.

Live Instruction

Last year I taught 15 live courses for Terraform and Vault. That was great from an income perspective, but probably too much for me. In 2023, I want to target doing one a month. That’s plenty!

Website and Blog

The Ned in the Cloud website needs a little spit and polish. Buffer Overflow still crops up in pages, even though it hasn’t published an update since April 2021. I would like to reorganize things to reflect the projects I am focused on.

I should also try and publish a blog post about twice a month. One can be based on a Chaos Lever episode and the other can be based on a Terraform YouTube video. This is an easy win and allows me to recycle my content in different mediums.

Tech Field Day and Gestalt IT

I did some blogging and paid events for Gestalt IT in 2022. I’m okay with doing a few for 2023. The limit will be one project per quarter and no more.

Universal Object Reference Project

This coming year I’d like to get involved in an interesting open-source project from the very beginning. I was listening to an episode of Full Stack Journey with Scott Lowe and I heard about the Universal Object Reference (UOR) project from Kat Morgan. The project piqued my interest based on my works with early versions of Wasm modules that leverage OCI-compliant interfaces. If the Open Container Initiative spec could be expanded to support Wasm and Helm, what else could it do? That’s the question UOR aims to answer.

The project seems interesting from a technical perspective, and they are actively looking for folks to help contribute to docs as the project develops and matures. My time writing technical docs for Solo.io was a lot of fun and it forced me to learn about new technologies like OCI. I hope that I can help move the UOR project forward, while also learning more about the adjacent tech it will support.

I’m not sure how to gauge this goal aside from making active contributions to the project. As long as I do that, I’ll consider it a success!

Conferences

In 2022, I got to attend and speak at the HashiConf Global conference. I also attended re:Invent, however briefly. That was it for conferences I attended in person. I also went to Cloud Field Day 14 in Autumn, which is not exactly a conference, but does require some amount of travel.

For 2023, there are so many conferences I’d like to attend, but I have to balance my desire to go with obligations at home and other projects I want to accomplish. I think limiting myself to one a quarter is fair. In Q1 I am already traveling to Arizona to visit friends and run a trail race. That’s all I want to do for Q1, since I have a lot of other projects on my plate for the first quarter of 2023.

In Q2, there’s not a ton of conferences going on in the US. KubeCon EU is in April and HashiConf EU is in June. Put me down as a maybe for one of those. I’d also love to go to a local DevOps day, if one ever happens around me again.

Q3 is when I tend to take personal vacations, so fitting in a conference might be tricky. If there’s a Tech Field Day event around this time, that may be my best bet.

Q4 is conference palooza! I’m planning to go to HashiConf Global again, and put me down as a maybe for a couple days at re:Invent or KubeCon US. I really enjoy walking the expo floor and chatting with vendors. I think I could spend two days doing that, and then fly home.

Other potential conferences are from Microsoft. There’s the Global MVP Summit in March which might be in person, Microsoft Build in Spring, and Microsoft Ignite in Autumn. At this point, I have no idea if any of them will be in-person. Best to adopt a wait and see attitude.

Things to Avoid

A general rule for this coming year is “No”. If the request is not part of the above goals, then the answer is a polite, “not at this time”. And I know that something will come up. A training company will ask me to create a course, book, project, etc. for them around Terraform/Vault/K8s/Azure. A vendor will ask me to blog for their site. A startup will ask me to do consulting for them. One of the above organizations will ask me to do something that is outside of my goals with them.

The answer has to be “No.”

Unless…

Exceptions

I’m not immune to money. Ned in the Cloud is a business after all. In most cases, I should try and redirect the request to my existing projects. Want me to do a video for your startup? I have a YouTube channel and 24 videos to produce this year. Why don’t you sponsor one? You’d like me to do a webinar about your cool new feature release? Day Two Cloud does sponsored content, including ads, tech bytes, and full episodes.

The exception will be for projects that I feel will materially impact my top-line revenue for the year. And if I make that determination, then I need to sacrifice one of my other goals to keep my time allocated appropriately. What does a material impact look like? 10% increase in revenue sounds like a good figure. If I expect to pull in $500k in top-line revenue for 2023, and the project will earn me $50k, then I should do it. Otherwise, it’s a pass. Stick with my current goals and refer them to someone else who’s looking for work.

Conclusion

Setting a proper work/life balance and keeping myself from being over-committed is a constant struggle. I’m hoping that setting measurable goals at the beginning of the year can keep me on task and prevent me from agreeing to new projects out of a fear of missing out.

And I will miss out on stuff. The tech industry is simply too vast and ever-changing for me not to. My mission is to focus on my core content and leave myself a little time to experiment. At the end of the year, we can review my goals together and see how I did.

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