Once I got serious about developer content creation, it quickly inspired more and more content. Since January 2020, I've written over 100 articles, produced over 60 instructional videos, created a course for beginner webdevs, published 9 packages, 1 web app, maintain 3 blogs, and have many Eleventy-related projects. Blogging is what I'm most known for, and I actually was recruited for my current job thanks to ModernCSS.dev. I have not fully monetized any of my projects, but do receive a very small bit of monthly ad revenue as well as modest royalties from egghead. Occasionally, folks will buy me a few coffees which are very appreciated!
My output has not been consistent (and that's ok!). I went through a heavy push in 2020 as I found myself re-invigorated with my new mission to educate about CSS and accessibility and then fell in love with Eleventy, too. 2021 resulted in lower total output, but I've also found myself with different opportunities such as joining live streams, speaking at conferences and meetups, and guesting on podcasts.
I've said that the main reason I create projects or write articles is so I can copy from them to speed up my future development. And while I didn't directly set out to become an open-source contributor, it's been very fun and rewarding to have folks appreciate and be able to use my projects. Ultimately, what I produce is about me chasing whatever idea is in my head and working on it when I have time (which is usually for a couple of hours after my kids go to bed a few nights a week 😊).
My initial content creation goal was to create my beginner webdev course. TBH, it's a little embarrassing looking at it now due to the lower production quality of most of the initial videos, and general inexperience as an instructor. But that was part of the point - I used what I had available for "free" (no new purchases) to test out whether that was the right path for me to make content. I used QuickTime to record my screen, a very low-quality lavalier mic for voice-over and then edited the videos using iMovie. The quality improved after I became an egghead instructor and had a better mic and learned how to use Screenflow.
Alongside that course, I began publishing via DEV. I chose this route due to the built-in audience and distribution, but also to reduce the upfront effort for starting to publish my course. DEV was a really great place to publish, and it's where I started the ModernCSS series as well. I highly recommend it if you want to test the waters without the pressure of spinning up and maintaining your own separate environment.
As I learned from my readers, watched the webdev community conversations, and indulged my own interests, other projects grew such as SmolCSS and 11ty Rocks. You can find a nearly complete list of my projects and appearances on my portfolio.
I'm starting to plan for a few new larger projects in 2022, so stay tuned! I share new projects on Twitter and in my newsletter.
Tips for Starting Your Content Creation Journey#
OK! Enough about me - let's get to the tips!
- Getting comfortable with pushing publish is my number one tip. It's the hardest one, and a related mantra is "perfect is the enemy of done". As soon as your article or project checks the essential boxes, get it published! You can always revise later.
- Don't get caught up on whether it's been done before. Your unique style and voice may help someone finally understand a concept or your tool or project may jive with their process better than what exists and is similar.
- All progress is good progress! All of the following count: making a todo list, choosing a color scheme and fonts, researching hosting platforms and making a domain name list, finding tutorials to fill a skills gap, creating a repo, building the foundational HTML, etc. Trade 20 mins of (insert other activity) for 20 mins of progress on your idea - it adds up!
- Set yourself up for success. Only you know how you work best!
- Progress leads to motivation leads to progress. Publishing an article and getting your first comment or RT from someone you admire on Twitter or a mention in a newsletter is all rewarding and motivating. Plus - you never know who may see it and how it might lead to an amazing opportunity!
No ideas? Make a thing:
- you need to help you right now
- you wish existed in the world
- that fills a need you have unique knowledge about
- that will help you learn something new
Tips for starting and keeping motivated:
- Create template repos of your starting points, dotfiles, or whatever else will help you iterate quickly using your tools of choice
- Give yourself a deadline, make a prioritized todo list, and push publish
- Rally some friends to keep you accountable
- Use a hosting platform that lets you create random domains to share for feedback
- Your first thing doesn’t have to be a big splashy project, you can leverage tools like CodePen's real-time editor to make an “app”
- Write just one single blog post and post to a friendly platform like dev.to
- Pitch an article to places like CSS-Tricks and Smashing Magazine and get the benefit of working with an experienced editor and get paid if accepted!
You may find you also like to do things live to "learn in public" such as starting up a Twitch or YouTube stream. At first, it can seem scary, but the encouragement and extended community I've found through streaming has been amazing. I recommend trying it out! It's also great practice if you do want to become a conference speaker or provide other types of live or recorded instruction.
I hope these tips help, and I can't wait to see what you make and publish!