I’m taking a break from cron.weekly

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Mattias Geniar, January 13, 2018

Follow me on Twitter as @mattiasgeniar

A little over 2 years ago I started a weekly newsletter for Linux & open source users, called cron.weekly. Today, I’m sending the last issue in what is probably going to be a pretty long time. I need a break.

Here’s why.

tl;dr: I’ve got a wife, 2 kids, a (more than) full time job, 2 other side projects and a Netflix subscription. For now, cron.weekly doesn’t fit in that list anymore.

The good :-)

I started cron.weekly out of a need. A need to read more technical content that I couldn’t seem to find in a convenient form. So I started reading news & blogs more intensely and bookmarking whatever I found fascinating. Every week, that turned into a newsletter.

It was good timing for me, too. A few years ago my role at Nucleus, my employer, shifted from a purely technical one to the role of being a manager/management. It meant I was losing my touch with open source, projects, new releases, … as it was no longer a core part of my role.

Writing cron.weekly forced me, on a weekly basis, to keep up with all the news, to read about new releases, to find new projects. It forced me to stay up-to-date, even if my job didn’t directly require or allow it.

The bad :-|

What started as a hobby project quickly grew. At first, a handful of subscribers. After 2 years, a whopping 8.000 monthly newsletter readers. And a couple 1.000’s more that read it via the web or the Reddit posts. I’m proud of that reach!

But my initial mistake became worse by the week: I called it a weekly newsletter that I send every Sunday.

That was my tagline: cron.weekly is a weekly newsletter, delivered to you every Sunday, with news & tools tailored to Linux sysadmins.“.

Weekly implies a never-ending-commitment and Sunday implies a weekly deadline. In the weekend.

In short, in the last 2 years I’ve spent at least one evening per weekend – without a break – writing a cron.weekly issue. At first because I loved it, but towards the end more because I had to. I had to, because I also found a way to monetize my newsletter: sponsors.

I won’t lie, running cron.weekly has been my most profitable side business to day. Factor 10x more than all the others. But it’s no passive income, it requires a newsletter issue every week, on the clock. And, it’s a lot of writing & thinking, it’s not a 10 minute write-up every week.

Having sponsors meant I had money coming in, justifying my time. But having sponsors also meant I had schedules, deals, commitments, … that need to be upheld. Some sponsors want to time their new software launch with a big campaign (of which cron.weekly would be one aspect), so I can’t just shift them around on a weekly basis. Sponsors – rightfully so – want to know when they get featured.

Adding sponsors turned it from a hobby to a job. At least, that’s how it feels. It’s no longer a spontaneous non-committal newsletter, it’s now a business.

The ugly :-(

I all honesty, I’m burned-out from writing cron.weekly. Not Linux or open source in general, nor my day job, but I’m tired of writing cron.weekly. I’m just tired, in general. I had to force myself to write it. Toward the end, I dreaded it.

If I couldn’t get it done on Friday evening, I would spend the rest of the weekend worrying that I couldn’t get it done in time. It would keep haunting me in the back of my head “you need to write cron.weekly”.

I did this onto myself, it’s my own bloody fault. It should have been cron.random or cron.monthly. A weekly newsletter is intense & requires _a lo_t of commitment, something I can’t give at the moment.

So here we are …

Among my other side gigs/hobbies are DNS Spy, Oh Dear, a newly found love for cryptocurrencies, … and cron.weekly just doesn’t fit at the moment.

As a result, I’m going to stop cron.weekly. For now. I don’t want to say I completely quit, because I might pick it back up again.

But for now, I need a mental break from the weekly deadlines and to be able to enjoy my weekends, once again. Life’s busy enough already.

If cron.weekly returns, it will give me the ability to rethink the newsletter, the timings & my commitments. Taking a break will allow me to re-launch it in a way that would fit in my life, in my family and in my hobbies.

I hope you enjoyed cron.weekly in the last 2 years. Who knows, you might receive a new surprise issue in a couple of months if I start again!

PS; I will never sell cron.weekly, nor the email userlist behind it. I appreciate the faith you had in me by giving me your e-mail address, that information remains closed and guarded. You won’t be spammed.



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