Coté Memo #056: the $110,000 a year blogger, investing in barf bags

Tech & Work World

Quick Hits

2015 Preview preview: invest in barf bags

Here’s the concluding text from out 2015 preview for Development, DevOps, and Middleware channel (one of the practice areas I oversee at 451) which I submitted to the copy desk today. We’ll see if it gets through:

Every which way you look, you hear “cloud”: a call to rip and replace the previous infrastructure layers and replace them with this ineffable new things of magic. For those with more gray hairs in our beards than not, this sounds like a gut-wrenching return of the climb up the roller-coaster ride of IT: time to put in place new layers of IT replacing old layers that never delivered on the promise of “business/IT alignment.” Well, it’s time to take some Dramamine (or at least get a barf-bag) and ride the roller-coaster. New cloud technologies and practices are proving to be better suited for delivering on business/IT alignment through the critical path of “agility.” While examples like Uber and mobile application loyalty card app like Starbuck’s are cliché by now, they point to a very real vision at the application development layer: the ability to harness developers to program the business with custom written programs. Thanks to new technologies (mostly, “cloud”) previously moribund and very un-agile industries have the chance to use IT for more than just running packaged applications, checking email, and scheduling meetings – a method of IT existence often known as “keeping the lights on.”

Over the coming years, the trends we’ve identified here will repeat themselves often: honing the software development and delivery practices (DevOps), new standards for packaging and deploying custom written applications (Docker), and the evolution of enterprise architecture practices and tools. The last body of work – enterprise architecture – must start evolving at pace with “the kids” of DevOps who have little knowledge, appreciation, or use of the staid body of work known as “EA.” The bathwater has become so murky that the baby can be hard to find, but we as industry must do so: extracting the best from EA and throwing the accumulated muck out the window. Mainstream companies, ever risk averse, are eager to find a steady-hand when it comes to applying DevOps to their software delivery pipelines. The DevOps community has done some work there, but it tends to espouse a raised earth theory of process change over an evolutionary change program. Enterprise architects themselves will need to understand how their roles changes in the rapid application delivery life-cycles of cloud and DevOps and help those communities evolve and become more “enterprise-y.” Otherwise, it’s out that window with all the brown water.

The Independent Analyst

As you can imagine, I’m fascinated by the independent analysts out there.

Those individuals who setup shop, hang out a single, etc. What I always want to know is how much money they make.

My analyst hero, Horace Dediu seems to have joined a foundation removing him from the mix. Ben Thompson (aka @stratechery) is one of the more recent ones to join this mix.

He has paywall (“subscription”) that costs $100 a year (or $10/month) and gets you daily updates, email access to him, a member’s forum, and other stuff.

In a recent podcast he mentioned he now has about 1,100 subscribers (in a post he said 1,000).

So, at $100 a year (the discounted rate), that’s $110,000/year, plus some consulting of around $10-20k total (so far), I’d guess? So, let’s say $120,000/year. That’s in just six months!

Let’s say it takes a year to double that to a round $200,000…and even after expenses (which should be low if he never hires anyone or travels much) and taxes, you’ve got a really high paying job there. (First of all: good for him!)

Consulting can add up quickly here as his fame (and trust in him) rises. I’d wager that in year two and three the consulting would ratchet up and he could charge between $5,000 and $10,000 for a one day, low prep consulting or speaking engagement – $20,000 for a higher prep one (requiring several days of work ahead of time). Beyond that it’s a project spanning weeks, but more in the $30,000 to $40,000 range per project. At some point, an individual has to turn away consulting work because it will very dramatically and very quickly damage your daily output (have you seen how little I’ve been publishing of late?).

Ben has such a broad area of topics that I’ve always wondered who his customer is: perhaps the generic “I want to keep up with startups and high-growth IT” readers? The TechCrunch crowd (a crowd that is likely starved for “industry analysts” who are good, let alone as helpful as Ben)? His customer, I guess, is the whole “software is eating the world” crowd, which is a good demographic to target: they likely have a spare $100/year and really want the information.

Another interesting tangent here is that Ben’s success is an example of his “there’s more than just scale” counter-idea to businesses like Google, Facebook, and Uber. He’s been doing a good job explaining it in the past two episodes of his podcast, #25 and #26. This “long tail” think has always been a hope of Internet people. Hopefully it’ll work this time.

The main issue is getting the actual individuals to take the leap, go through those “dark times,” and either fail or succeed. The technology and structures are there, it just needs more meat-sacks to take on the risk and see if it pans out.

(I’ll have to finally subscribe and see what’s going on beyond the paywall.)

Fun & IRL

Lamb chops tonight.

They had lamb-chops at CostCo this weekend. Here, you can see $21’s worth in action. I just ate the last of the left-overs for lunch.


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We’re up to 70 subscribers now – thanks, readers!

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