It’s hard to believe that 2021 is done, and we’re now in 2022. In one sense, it feels like a “blink and you miss it” year. In another way, it feels as though it’s been one of the longest years to have passed us by.
It’s fair to say that 2021 has had its challenges, not least in the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. You may have caught my recent blog post on my mental health challenges. Practicing mindfulness and gratitude are excellent approaches for me to keep my overall mental health in balance. So, this post is just as much for me as anyone else. I want to highlight the achievements from the last year or so. I won’t be setting any resolutions for 2021, but want to build upon what I’ve learned in 2021.
I like numbers and statistics, so I’ll be highlighting some of the best performing content, which channels have performed well, and more.
2021 saw me get back into blogging in a more consistent rhythm. I published 56 blogs throughout the year, ranging from my tech setup, mental health, the latest Azure updates and triaging specific architectural choices or technical implementations.
Overall, my blog posts collectively received 25,373 page views on cloudwithchris.com. I also started publishing over on medium.com and dev.to. To more consistently post across all of these platforms, I built a GitHub Action to crosspost the blog posts onto these additional sites. It’s rudimentary and does the job, but may be something that I look to expand on in 2022. More on that later.
I’ve received 6,644 post views on dev.to and 195 total post reactions. By comparison, I’ve seen 2,083 views on medium.com with 38 fans.
Top performing posts per platform
From cloudwithchris.com (blog posts only) -
- Using the GitHub self-hosted runner and Azure Virtual Machines to login with a System Assigned Managed Identity (2,167 views)
- Securing App Service with Easy Auth behind a Public Application Gateway (1,678 views)
- Using API Management Policies to enforce access restriction policies (1,322 views)
- Why you should care about Azure Front Door Standard and Premium (1,250 views)
- Using Azure Arc for Apps - Part 1 - Setting up an Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes Cluster (1,226 views)
On dev.to, from a views perspective -
- Building an Event-Driven workflow with Azure Event Grid (580 views)
- Making a GitHub Action with Docker and .NET Core (492 views)
- Using Azure Arc for Apps - Part 4 - Deploying Logic Apps into your App Services Kubernetes Environment (328 views)
- Using Azure DevOps REST APIs to automatically create Team Iterations (244 views)
- GitHub Actions and Azure - Deploying .NET Core code to Azure App Service (218 views)
However, from a reactions perspective -
- Azure YAML Pipelines Tips (9 reactions)
- Why use Git, How it Works and what’s going on behind the scenes? (8 reactions)
- Making a GitHub Action with Docker and .NET Core (7 reactions)
- Using GPG Keys to sign Git Commits - Part 1 (7 reactions)
- Using Azure Arc for Apps - Part 1 - Setting up an Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes Cluster (7 reactions)
From medium.com -
- Azure Pipelines Tips (229 views)
- How to use the Azure Well-Architected Framework (115 views)
- Making a GitHub Action with Docker and .NET (104 views)
- Why use Git, How it Works and what’s going on behind the scenes? (88 views)
- Why you should be using Azure Security Center (87 views)
I was surprised to see that the dev.to and medium.com views and engagement numbers were so low. My hypothesis was that I’d see a higher number of views from these platforms, as they’re centralised platforms, and therefore getting new readers that may not have engaged with my content otherwise.
On the flip side, I did invest in my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) throughout the year (In case you missed it, I wrote about part of that journey here). Not from a monetary perspective, but making sure that the Cloud With Chris site is doing all of the right things to naturally return higher in search results. This has had some good results, sometimes beating even the Microsoft Docs in search results.
From a content perspective, the lengthier blog posts performed better on my main site. There are some long lengthier posts in my top posts on medium.com and dev.to, but they seem shorter than the ones on my site. It may be down to the type of content (or the topic), rather than the length of the post (i.e. correlation vs causation), but thought it was an interesting observation.
For the majority of the year, we’ve been unable to meet in person. And for those limited events that have been in-person, they haven’t been ‘normal’. They’ve been held in a COVID-safe manner, with social distancing, hand sanitizing, masks, etc.
I’ve presented at 30 different events. 28 of these were online, while 2 of them were in-person. It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but there’s a really big positive here. I’ve been able to present at meetup groups from Cardiff to Nottingham, Glasgow to Limerick and as far as Norway. Not just these locations, but global events such as the Global Azure Conference, The Azure Podcast and the Cloud Lunch and Learn Marathons. It has given me an opportunity to meet so many amazing new people in our technical community, and also broaden my reach, being able to share my knowledge with those across the world. I’m incredibly passionate about learning out in the open, giving back, and being able to use my own skills to help others grow.
I’ve delivered the following talks at online events and meetup groups -
- Deploying Static Sites to Azure the cheap and performant way
- Using Azure Arc to run your Application Services on-premises or in any cloud
- Requirements, Design Patterns, Cloud Architecture… Oh My
- How GitHub can help in planning, building and deploying a Podcast/Blog site
I even had the opportunity to present at Microsoft Build. I’m fortunate to have presented at Microsoft Inspire and Microsoft Ignite previously, which completes the set for me. For me, the next growth opportunities are how I can progress into keynoting a conference.
I plan to build upon the events momentum, speaking at additional events. I’ll continue to evolve the above talks, and plan to add some new ones in as well, focused on some of the interest areas that you’ll see towards the end of the post.
You may have seen that my primary content avenue is video-based, which means we’ll be focusing on YouTube primarily in this section. I also release those videos as audio-only content on Apple Music, Google Podcasts and Spotify as well. The content is more naturally suited for viewing (rather than listening), because a lot of content/episodes also have demos and supporting visual content.
Over the course of 2021 I released 122 pieces of audio/visual based content across several series. These includes A series on API Management, Architecitng for the Cloud One Pattern at a Time, Cloud Drops, Cloud Gaming Notes, CNCF Projects, GitHub Actions and Azure, Podcasts, Tales from the Real World, Using Azure Arc for Apps and my Weekly Vlog.
Throughout 2021, my YouTube channel received 18,992 views, with the content being watched for 1.2K hours. I gained 630 subscribers throughout the year, ending at 769 subscribers. My original goal was to reach 500 subscribers by the end of 2021, so managed to add an additional 50% on top! According to YouTube, there were 208K impressions (i.e. my content was suggested to users, but they didn’t quite convert into a click). From the 18.9K views, 42% of these were from ‘external’, 22.3% from YouTube search and 12.4% from channel pages.
A large portion of this content format is driven from me hosting guests on the show. So a lot of this wouldn’t have been possible without them. I’ve had 38 guests on the show in 2021. I’m incredibly thankful for each and every one of you for coming on. I’ve learned so much, ranging from VMware on Azure, Shifting Left Performance Tests all the way through to the impact of closed captions in public speaking. Thank you to you all for contributing to my own growth, awareness, and being part of this awesome technical community.
Top performing content per platform
From YouTube -
- Introducing and Setting up Git LFS (Large File Storage) (1.8K views)
- 28 - Introduction to Landing Zones (1.4K views)
- Beginner’s guide to PowerShell in Azure Functions (1K views)
- How does Git work behind the scenes? (833 views)
- Cloud Gaming Notes - Using Azure to host a Minecraft Game Server (769 views)
From cloudwithchris.com -
- 28 - Intro to Landing Zones (185 views)
- GitHub Actions and Azure - Using Environments with GitHub Actions (167 views)
- 24 - Health Endpoint Monitoring Pattern (Monitor your service and its dependencies!) (149 views)
- 20 - The Anti-corruption layer, Gateway Aggregation and Gateway Routing patterns (121 views)
- 19 - The Event Sourcing, Materialized View and CQRS Patterns (120 views)
From the perspective of Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify -
Across 102 items, I released 3,733 minutes of content. Apple Podcasts shows that I had 68 listeners, 41 engaged listeners and 471 plays. According to Spotify, I had 400 streams from 180 listeners. On Google Podcasts, I have 38 subscribers, received 165 plays, contributing to 2.15K minutes of audio being played.
Unsurprisingly (at least in my opinion, given the direction I have taken the content) - Audio-based consumption of my content is nowhere near as popular as video-based consumption.
I’m not entirely sure how many Twitter followers I started 2021 with, but I finished with 1,205. A big thank you for all of you who have decided to follow me, and listen to my updates / ramblings. It is appreciated!
Outside of Technology
I gave it a brief mention in the overview, but mental health played a big part of 2021 for me. If you’ve followed Cloud With Chris for some time, you may have seen some of the previous content that I’ve published around mental health. For example, a conversation on mental health, A livestream on Mental Health - Mental Health Awareness Week and Your Career and Your Mental Health. My final 2021 blog post was my most difficult to write and publish, as it was incredibly personal. I detail my challenges over the years with mental health, my triggers, treatments, side effects, etc., in the hope that they will be useful to those facing challenges, or seeking to understand more about mental health.
Mindfulness, gratitude, and looking after myself will all be a key feature in how I approach 2022.
Looking forwards to 2022
By contrast, here is the blog post setting up my ambitions for 2021. The focus was around creating content and making a real contribution back into the technical community. I certainly feel like I achieved that, and more.
But, reflecting on that journey - There are some tweaks that I want to make for 2022. There are some incredible people in the broader technical community, and I’ve been thinking about what my ‘gift’ or my ‘part’ is within that. Equally, it’s important to make sure that this doesn’t become a chore / feel like an additional ‘job’. There was a stage where the weekly updates began to feel like a grind, that needed to be completed on a weekly basis.
With that, there are a few principles that I’m going to take into 2022 -
Less is more - Be more focused on the content that I enjoy creating, and that drives my own learning as well. My background has always been in the development space, and particularly in the DevOps space in recent years. You can see that has shined through with some of the GitHub content. I plan to focus on this type of content (e.g. the developer related tools and services from Microsoft, as well as the broader ecosystem). Under the less is more theme, I’ll likely be reducing the amount of content that I’m producing. There was a stage where I’d have a couple of videos a week going out, as well as a weekly vlog. This wasn’t sustainable, and didn’t bring as much joy as I was looking to get out of it. I’ll start by reducing the vlogs to every couple of weeks. From a content perspective, I’ll be focusing on areas of interest (e.g. GitHub, Cloud Native, Emerging Developer Technologies, Learning new programming languages, Gaming). As I’ll be reducing the content I’m producing, I’ll also reduce the number of guests that I have on the show, so that I can balance some additional ideas around livestreaming pet projects / building things ‘live’, etc. There’s no set plan here, but is quite a fluid idea at the moment.
Be data-oriented - Looking back at the stats from 2021, I’m surprised at the results. It appears as though there’s more engagement on my blog content than on my video based content on YouTube. The content published on Apple Podcasts, Dev.To, Google Podcasts, medium.com and Spotify saw a lower level of engagement overall. This doesn’t necessarily take additional effort (as i’ve built automations into my process to deal with this), but it’s making me consider any areas that can be tightened up. I’m also considering whether I should be prioritising some more blog content, as opposed to the video/audio based content. There is less preparation time for this (i.e. recording, editing, post-production, etc.), so is something I’ll be thinking on over the coming weeks. Likewise, from the top-performing videos, 3 out of the 5 are short-form videos. This was something I planned to build upon in 2021, so will explore more throughout 2022.
Be kind - Overall, this is how I’m planning to go through 2022. Be kind. If you’ve read my recent post on mental health, you’ll know that I set high standards and expectations for myself. The plan is to be kind to myself, and to give myself the space to learn, grow and enjoy what I do. Not to feel that it has to be about ‘achieving’ something. Of course, I continue to aim to grow the channel through views, and subscribers - but that has never been the primary aim, and is something worth reminding myself on as I start off 2022.
A huge sincere thank you for your support throughout 2021. Not just from the channel’s perspective, but also for anyone who has sent messages of support while I was fighting my battles with depression and anxiety. It is incredibly appreciated.
I wish you all a happy, healthy and bright 2022. Let’s hope that we can see a return to normality in the near future, so that we can all have the much needed break that we deserve.
V037 - Weekly Technology Vlog #37 (GitHub Issues Beta Special!)
In this video, chris provides another update on Cloud with Chris, updates on what’s coming soon and Azure related news! We’ll also be walking through the new GitHub Issues Beta!