This year sees another round of changes to my day-to-day life, with lots of self-improvement in the face of professional stagnation and a lengthy notice period. I’ve had lots of highs and lows this year, with things getting much better towards the end of the year.
Like last year’s review, this has been hard to write compared to previous years, but let’s look at the changes in my professional life and take the time to look at some of the positive changes I’ve made.
Three major personal highlights for me this year:
- New job: I switched jobs again! This time I’ve moved into a full engineering manager role, leaving my identity niche for now. More about this later.
- Lost some weight: I finally lost a large amount of weight, losing around 12kg (about 26.5lb) at the beginning of the year. Be sure to compliment me about this the next time you see me.
- William: I can’t not mention my son, who is now well and truly a toddler. Things are going well, and based on his height already, it’s safe to say he will be a tall lad.
The state of scottbrady91.com
Traffic has largely followed the same pattern as last year, again due to older articles no longer being relevant. However, this time, the major Google search update resulted in a slight boost in search traffic.
I guess the stagnation in traffic isn’t surprising, considering I only managed to release 9 articles this year. I did manage to update some older articles, including separating my JWE content into a .NET-focused article and a standards-focused article. This worked out really well and resulted in one of my top-performing articles this year.
This year also saw my JWT creation tool gain some popularity, entering my top 5 pages of the year. I’m glad people are finding it useful. It has saved me an immense amount of time when writing articles and in my most recent Pluralsight course.
With the upcoming changes to Google Analytics and long-running privacy concerns, I have migrated my analytics tooling to Plausible, a paid-for, privacy-focused analytics platform. The Plausible team was great during onboarding, even allowing me to test their Google Analytics import tooling before it went live.
I also moved my newsletter from Revue to Substack. This was mainly due to not being happy with Revue’s deliverability and the lack of any meaningful feature development. Luckily, this was before the recent Revue outage and the shuttering of the service due to discount Tony Stark’s destruction of Twitter.
Speaking of which, don’t forget to follow me on Mastodon. I’ve chosen Hachyderm as my instance.
Speaking of migrations, I’ve owned the scottbrady.io domain for some time now, but I’m being indecisive about moving. I’m still holding out for scottbrady.com, but it looks like it will not be available anytime soon. While the “scottbrady91” moniker has become something of a running joke with friends and family, I guess I should look at moving on soon.
Top 5 articles released in 2022
As I mentioned last year, I am trying to focus on evergreen content on standards & theory rather than coding tutorials that require periodic updates. That being said, I still wrote one for a Python JWT library which turned out to be popular.
- Understanding JSON Web Encryption (JWE)
- Step-up authentication with OAuth and OpenID Connect
- JWT creation and validation in Python using Authlib
- Open Banking for OAuth Developers
- OAuth client authentication - more than just client secrets
Last year I talked about pursuing other sources of income to move beyond my Pluralsight earnings, and I thought I would share some insights.
Adverts and affiliate programs are the staple of your typical blog, and it’s one of the first I tried. For adverts, I chose Carbon as they are a bit more suited to the audience of this blog over something generic like Google Ads. I’d also like to think it is less of a target for some of the security vulnerabilities found on such ad networks.
The adverts don’t get many clicks, but to be fair, I don’t actively push them. I only display a single advert on the sidebar on extra-large desktop screens. Earnings per click are around £2.50, with profits from impressions being negligible.
For affiliate links, I’m using Pluralsight’s affiliate scheme. I already send traffic their way, so I might as well earn a little extra money from it! Earnings per click aren’t great; however, any trial or subscription bonuses are decent.
A more significant revenue stream has been from consultancy! I’ve been offering these in 1-hour blocks outside of my full-time working hours. These have been useful in keeping my consulting skills sharp and my identity knowledge up to date. I haven’t been actively seeking consultancy clients, only taking on repeat customers willing to accommodate my strange hours and building a close working relationship.
Overall, you can roughly break my self-employed earnings into the below percentages:
|Revenue stream||Percentage of income|
Compare this to last year, when around 99% was from Pluralsight alone; it’s good progress! Next year, I’ll experiment with a few other revenue streams, as I’m not sure consultancy, conference, or even Pluralsight earnings will be as high next year.
Goodbye, 10x Banking; Hello, ClearBank
I changed jobs again this year, moving to an engineering manager role at ClearBank. I’ve gone all in on leadership for this role, leaving the identity space behind for now. I reflected on why I left my identity niche in one of my recent articles. Here’s an excerpt:
Last year, when I started looking for a new role, I faced the dilemma: where do I fit in the identity world? I didn’t want to work for one of the large identity vendors, and I didn’t want to go back to being a big fish in a small pond with an architect or principal engineering role; it just wasn’t working for me, and I was stagnating. Only my leadership skills were improving.
Moving into another hybrid role, but moving the slider slightly more towards leadership, didn’t really help. On paper, the role was a subset of my previous responsibilities, but with an established team and a much better paycheck. However, I hadn’t moved the slider far enough towards leadership, and I hadn’t learned the blue tape lesson yet. As a result, the “everything is broken” stage hit me way harder than it should have.
For my newest role, I’ve decided to go all in on this leadership thing, moving into a management role and leaving behind identity, removing the temptation to act as an individual contributor. While I still write about identity and provide identity consultancy, it’s not something I want to do in my day job right now.
I left 10x for mostly positive reasons, leaving for the opportunity at ClearBank; however, it was clear to me, even on day one, that it wasn’t going to be a long-term role for me. This was strange to experience, but when you know, you know.
I stayed a little longer than I should have and experienced a very odd three-month notice period. Still, I did learn some interesting lessons, particularly in how to work within a large organization of more than just a few engineers and how the product & engineering relationship can suffer when not correctly balanced.
I think the senior tech leadership is doing the right thing and fighting the right battles, but I was looking for something different.
At ClearBank, l am the engineering manager for Team Lemur, one of the teams responsible for ClearBank’s Faster Payments implementation.
I’m loving my time at ClearBank so far; it is exactly the kind of role and engineering culture I was looking for. Lemur-related presents have already become a common theme with family, and I have no problem with this. I’ve even had a few old colleagues join me at ClearBank. It’s great to be working with them again.
2022 in pictures
Okay, it's time for baby pictures. I did warn you last year.
Plans from 2022
- Write about some other OpenID Providers - no. To be brutally honest, after dealing with some of the products and their sales engineers, they are nothing I want to write about anytime soon.
- Keep on losing weight - definitely! And more than expected!
- Pursue external sources of income - yep. As detailed above, I’ve managed to diversify my self-employed earnings a little, bringing Pluralsight down from 99% of my total down to 87%.
- Grow my leadership skills - yep. I even started blogging about leadership.
- Keep exploring languages and frameworks outside of ASP.NET Core - Kind of. I did some Go training early in the year, but I didn’t pursue it far enough to want to write about it. It was interesting to write things manually, but the language leaves a lot to be desired in terms of consistency. Also, the quality of the cryptography & security libraries struck me as quite hypocritical. I did manage to write an article on how to use a Python library, though.
Plans for 2023
Plans change week-to-week, but I’d like for these to guide me over the next 12 months.
- Lose more weight (no longer overweight) - I want to set a good example for my son. Also, I gained a little muscle before the Christmas drinking started, and I’d like to keep this up so I can carry my son for a little longer.
- Leadership - I want to continue improving and reflecting on my approach to engineering management. I’m hoping that managing managers becomes a shorter-term goal than I initially expected.
- More leadership blogging - I’ve enjoyed writing about leadership topics, even if it is just book notes, and I want to keep this up. Don’t worry, I’ll balance this with my usual content.
- Pursue external sources of income - this may be another Pluralsight course, making time for more consultancy, or maybe something different. I’m not sure about the pros & cons of the current monetization features on my website now; I may end up removing them in favor of other opportunities.
- Update old articles - a few are in urgent need of an update now. This will also be a good time to review old content and potentially split out content into versioned .NET content and generic, evergreen content like I did with my JWE content.