“It was just me blogging.”

I think it all stemmed from me not wanting to create a course. I didn’t even know that was a thing. It was just me blogging and creating YouTube videos about things that I had learned or questions that people have asked me, and then I went and wrote a blog post about it or I went up and created a YouTube video.

Source: How Wes Bos Teaches 100,000 Programmers as a One-Man Operation – The Indie Hackers Podcast

I wrote a post a few days ago about providing value before asking for something in return. Wes is a great example of someone who was providing value for the sake of providing value, then built on top of that.

Now he has a business teaching others how to code via online courses.

Aside: I was introduced to Wes through Ladies Learning Code. It was their first WordPress workshop, hosted at CSI Annex near Bathurst & Bloor. Wes was lead instructor and I was one of the mentors.

Five things I’ve learned from publishing my first YouTube video.

I’ve been itching to do more with video this year. And through the summer I dabbled with it, posting some videos on Twitter, some videos on Instagram, and some videos on Facebook. But none of it was hefty or consistent – definitely nothing that I felt comfortable posting on YouTube.

But if you’re gonna get serious with video, you need to get on YouTube.

So back in August I decided to shoot a series of impromptu Q&A sessions with web pros at WordCamp Montreal.

To make it extra scrappy, I chose to only use my phone. No fancy camera, no special audio equipment.

Now, about a month later, after spending several hours cobbling together the footage, I’ve uploaded my first YouTube video.

It’s nothing special, but it’s a start. And that’s the important thing. I’ve started something here. And through that process of starting something I’ve already learned a few new things that I can apply on my next video.


1. Use a tripod.

My phone isn’t heavy, but after holding my arms at an awkward angle for an extended period of time, I started feeling the shakes. Since my interviewees (“talent”?) were seated, the slight shifting was noticeable, even with the stabilization from my phone.

2. Use a mic.

My goal for the WordCamp Montreal experiment was to just use the phone. Nothing else. And it worked pretty well. But some of my interviewees are soft-spoken individuals. I’ve since picked up a cheap-but-good-enough lavalier (lapel) mic to use for future videos.

3. Give myself a deadline.

I could’ve spent a lot more time on the video, but then the video would’ve taken longer to finish. So I made a decision on Thursday to upload the video by EOD regardless of the condition it was in. That forced me to push my list of things to try off to the next video. Which, in turn, is encouragement to get started on the next video.

4. Learn my tools by working on a project.

I was looking up keyboard shortcuts and best practices for Premiere while having a project on the go. I feel like I learned more through that approach because I was simultaneously applying those lessons and takeaways to an actual project I cared about.

5. The Pixel XL is pretty friggin’ great for this.

The Pixel has a fantastic camera. Plus: The free, unlimited Google Photos storage that comes with the Pixel means all my HD footage automatically syncs when I’m on wifi. I don’t need to deal with manual file transfers. I just grab the files off Google Drive once they’re sync’d, and then import them into Premiere when I start my edit.

So if you’re like me and keen on doing more with video, here’s my TL;DR:

  1. Grab your phone.
  2. Find a few friendly folks and ask them some questions.
  3. Start messing with a video editor.
  4. Upload your imperfect-but-completed video to YouTube.

Then take what you learned through that process and iterate on it. 🙂

Featured in this compilation from WordCamp Montreal 2017:

Thanks to Antti Luode for providing an amazing library of music under the CC 3.0 license.

There’ll always be a need for web professionals.

Websites are the quintessential digital asset for any type of organization.

Yet there are a lot of small businesses out there with no web presence.

New products are coming to market all the time to address that need. GoDaddy’s GoCentral website builder, for example, was launched this year.

These sorts of products are supposed to make it easier for small businesses to DIY. But even with ridiculously easy-to-use products, they will still need help.

Take DNS records, for example. Dealing with DNS records is a lot like setting up the internet in your home. You don’t think about it very much once it’s configured. But if things suddenly stop working? Oh man.

Now we’re opening the can of worms that is technical troubleshooting.

There’s a problem. We don’t know what the problem is. We gotta figure out what it is first. We gotta play doctor. Identify the symptoms. Find the cause. Prescribe a (possible) solution. Administer and wait and see if it works.

Keep reading…There’ll always be a need for web professionals.

To be trusted, you must first give value for free.

This concept can be applied to any type of products to services: to be trusted you must first give value for free. This requires patience.

Source: How Seth Godin Would Launch a Business With a $1,000 Budget – Louis Grenier – Indie Hackers

Always. Be. Helping.

New to a community? Volunteer. Offer to help. Share your expertise. Don’t have the expertise? Lend your time instead.

Listen and ask and raise your hand. Build your rapport. Build your karma. Build your credibility over time.

Then, and only then, have you earned the right to ask for something in return.

You need to build the trust before you can cash in on it.

(Aside: When you’re given an opportunity to step up, don’t squander it by overstepping.)

The second coming of email.

I know the startup world is ahead of the curve, but we’re all trending away from email reliance now. The inbox is braced for a second coming— a quiet place to read, discover and learn. And it’s going to be awesome.

The more people rely on Slack and other tools for communication, the easier it will be to stand out in the inbox. The window of opportunity for great newsletters is opening and I’m doubling down.

I’m betting that people will appreciate tightly curated information more in the future than they will today. The feedback overall has been great. People actually want email.

Source: It’s the Perfect Time to Launch a Newsletter – Jimmy Daly – Medium

I used to lead email marketing workshops for Camp Tech. They run beginner-friendly tech training sessions in cities across Canada.

One of the first things I’d tell the students — before we got into any conversation about tactics or tools — is that email is the most single most important communication channel we have.

It’s a universal, open standard. It works across all devices. It’s what other communication tools rely on as a fallback. And it’s what our most sensitive correspondence relies on – think banks and governments.

And until we find a new universal standard that can address all of the above (and more), I don’t believe that email will die.

So yes, I agree with Jimmy Daly here. This is the perfect time to launch a newsletter.

Second thing in this article I want to draw your attention to:

“I’m betting that people will appreciate tightly curated information more in the future than they will today.”

Abso-freakin’-lutely. Our appetite for information is large. Our patience for consuming information is not. Longform written articles are falling out of favour. News and media companies are going all-in on video content instead.

But a short video still takes time to consume. It’s fed to you frame by frame. A short paragraph can be skimmed. It’s faster. And in this game, speed is the winner.

Getting into civic tech + Code for Canada’s Toronto open house

What positive impact can technology make on small communities across Canada?

That’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about how local Canadian communities like the Kawarthas can use technology to stay economically strong and culturally vibrant.

I brought this up with my buddy Lucas Cherkewsi at WordCamp Montreal in August. He told me about the civic tech movement, and how it’s focused on these kinds of questions.

How can technology improve the public good?

After chatting with Lucas, I made a mental note to check out the Civic Tech Toronto group, then I attended my first Civic Tech Toronto meetup last week.

It was great. There were lots of people and lots of projects going on.

And those groups weren’t just sitting around pontificating. They were getting stuff done. (And this isn’t a once-a-month thing, either. This group gets together every Tuesday evening.)

As a new attendee, I had to sit in on the Civic Tech 101 orientation. That’s where I heard about Code for Canada.

Coincidentally, Code for Canada was doing an open house just a couple of days later. I went, and this is what I learned.

Keep reading…Getting into civic tech + Code for Canada’s Toronto open house