5 Things I've Learned from Creating YouTube Videos
I've been creating Youtube videos for about 6 years now, and I can confidently say it has changed both my life and my career in a positive way. I've learned so much that I figured it would be worthwhile to share my learnings here!
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This first one may seem obvious, but there's a lot more to creating videos than just turning on a camera and talking.
There's a lot of preparation that goes into making a good YouTube video. You have to consider several things for each video that you create.
- who is the audience
- what are the main topics/points to cover
- why they should care about the topic
Once you have a good idea of who and what, then you can make more specific notes about the flow of the video. Typically, I keep a bullet point list of items to cover in a specific order.
This is where the learning curve really gets steep. There are so many options for both hardware and software that it can be quite intimidating.
hardware - lights, cameras, microphones, etc.
software - recording, editing, creating images/graphics, etc.
Start simple and gradually improve
The biggest thing I've learned in this category is to take it slow. Don't try to over-invest too early. Start with the simplest options first, then improve.
Over the course of 6 years, I've spent over 3k on equipment, but most of that has been in the last year or two. It is easier for me to invest more money into equipment knowing that content creation is something I'm taking seriously.
Want to know what hardware and software I use? Check out my uses page!
I'm by no means the best video editor, but it's amazing how much I've learned after creating videos for several years. I typically don't do anything too fancy, but I do know how to splice clips together, add text, basic animations, etc. Video editing has become a fun creative outlet for me.
After creating 200+ videos, there's no way you don't become better at speaking, explaining technical concepts, and being on camera right? Yes, you're absolutely right! In fact, my ability to speak confidently and teach others has been one of the biggest factors in me progressing throughout my career.
My YouTube experience has directly led to promotions, teaching opportunities, and more!
When I worked at FedEx, I made a name for myself by becoming a spokesperson on the tech side to those who weren't developers. Being able to explain technical concepts to non-technical people is an extremely sought after skill. My strong communication skills led to me becoming one of the youngest Architects in FedEx history. I wouldn't have been able to do that without the practice of creating videos.
Although you may not think of this naturally, most YouTubers are teachers. They are teaching you how to do something...cooking, woodworking, programming, etc. I've also been fortunate enough to have a few formal teaching opportunities as well. In fact, I'm currently teaching a cohort through the LaunchCode Bootcamp. I can tell you that having recorded so many videos has made it much easier for me to be able to lead and teach a group of 100 aspiring developers.
Here's an interesting fact. I don't always create videos on topics I already know. Sometimes, I decide on a topic that I'm not comfortable with and use that as an opportunity to explore something new. Here are a few of the technologies I've learned in that manner.
- Tailwind CSS
- Styled Components
- Netlify and Serverless Functions
- VS Code
Learning is a skill that can carry you a long way in your career.
The list could go on and on, but it's weird to think that the people creating YouTube videos aren't necessarily experts in a given topic. More commonly, YouTubers have gotten better and better at learning, so they can turn around and teach you what they've learned...even if they learned it the previous week.
One of the big impacts of my learning process is that I'm well-versed in lots of different technologies. I'm not saying I know them all at an intimate level, but I do have a pretty understanding of the landscape and ecosystem of Web Development.
Marketing yourself is not natural for many of us, myself included. It's actually something I've struggled with going back to the beginning of my career at Microsoft. Honestly, I always felt like I had the same amount (or more) impact as other people, but I wasn't as good at advocating for myself. Because of that, I often didn't get the visibility that others did.
You're going to be overlooked in your career if you can't advocate for yourself.
Although it's not natural, marketing and advocating for yourself is just something you have to learn how to do. I know...it's tough but it's true. You're going to be overlooked in your career if you're not able to paint the picture of the impact that you have. Here's one career hack for yourself.
Take notes about the impact that you have throughout the year. That way, at the end of the year, you have a list full of notes to reflect on. Otherwise, it's easy to forget those small wins from several months ago.
Alright, enough of the career soapbox. In the content space, i t's really difficult to gain visibility for your content if you're not sharing it. Again, it's not natural for me to constantly share things like..."Hey, look at this new thing I created", but I've learned to overcome some of that anxiety. Simply put, people don't watch the videos they don't know exist.
I'll wrap up this section by saying that I still consider my marketing abilities to be one of my biggest weaknesses. When I compare myself to some of the top content creators in Web Development, this is where I feel I have the most to learn/grow. Although I've gotten better, I still have a long way to go!
I couldn't help myself...one more small section 😆
Let's talk resumes. Words on a resume are just that...words. They don't actually mean anything because you can literally write whatever you want on a resume. What really means something is having proof of the skills you advertise. YouTube videos have proven the skills I list on my resume.
My YouTube channel is my proof. It is my portfolio.
People will frequently stress how important a strong portfolio is for progressing in your career, and this is very true. The unique thing for me is that YouTube is a big portion of my portfolio. It proves that I can communicate and that I understand Web Development. I strongly believe that creating videos is a very positive step anyone can take in their career.
Being an entrepreneur is a mindset and an incredibly powerful one. There's absolutely nothing wrong with working 9-5 for someone else (I've been doing this my entire career), but it's not the only option.
Being able to make money on your own is an absolute gamechanger. When I made my first bit of money from YouTube ads, I lost my sht 🤣 *Although it was only a few pennies, it was proof to me that I could make money on my own doing something I love.
Fast forward a couple of years, and now I'm able to generate a consistent stream of additional income from a few different places.
- YouTube ads
- sponsored YouTube videos
- paid content (courses, eBooks, etc.)
At this point, I get daily emails looking to pay me for content; a video, an article, etc. I can't tell you how amazing of a feeling that is. Creating YouTube videos has taught me to value my skills more and more and I look forward to where I take them in the next couple of years.
I can talk all day about how creating YouTube videos has changed my life, and I believe it can do the same for you. If you're interested in learning how to get started creating YouTube videos, check out the YouTube for Developers eBook!
Hi James, thanks for sharing, this was very insightful! I think most of video content creators (myself included) struggle with promoting their content, whether it's due to lack of skills or anxiety. Have you noticed which kind of promotion channels worked best for you? Was it sharing your videos via social media, participating in smaller communities, or trying to get more views via YT search?
I've been playing with various ways to promote my videos, but none of them has proved to be significantly better than the others.
Hey hey! Honestly, it's sharing across all of those channels and sharing more than once. If you tweet about a video one week, there's no reason you couldn't share again a few days later or the following week. Just gives people that much more of an opportunity to see your content. Another useful tip is to leverage other bigger platforms. For instance doing a guest blog or video somewhere.