How (and why!) to start with content creation

Mar 23, 2023 · Blogging, About me, Workshops, Teaching, Career, Content creation · 4 minute read

Content creation is a great way to level up as a developer, and improve your hard and soft skills. It makes you more visible, and distinguishes you from other developers, because you show you are a communicative developer, which is a sign of seniority, and indicates there is more than just coding.

Next to content creation, contributing to open source, mentoring, and being active in communities are also activities that can have similar results. Or even better, combine these things.

Whether or not you think leveling up is important for you, there is another, and for me personally the biggest reason to do content creation, and that is learning new tech and skills. I always write content about things I want to learn and understand. For me content creation is taking a step back, look at things from a distance, learn, structure what I think is important to understand, and then try to explain them.

People always say, build things. And of course that is important, but next to that, creating content about it is next level. By only building things you tend to focus more on making things work, and not always to fully understand why. Creating content forces to go deeper, and really grasp and solidify it. If you can not explain it, it might mean you don't understand it yet. The ideal combination, however, is build, learn, and share content about it at the same time: Learn in public.

Content creation may sound big, time consuming, scary, and "not for me", however, there are many forms of content creation, and you can make it as big and scary as you like. Let's talk about how to start, and how to find a way of content creation that fits you.

Oh, and let's not forget to have fun. If you are having a lot of fun, the reasons for not doing it may become less important, and move to the background. What makes it fun for me is the creative process behind it to structure things, and to explain it in my own way. But also the topics, I love going meta, like creating content about content creation, like the blog post you are reading now.

Or give a talk where I demo my open source project for building slide decks, where I create the slides for my presentation during the presentation... And when I create a React workshop, are we going to build a TO DO app? No of course not! We are building spaceships and travel through space.

Being intrinsically motivated because you are super enthusiastic of the content, and the way you are sharing it, is essential for giving it a fair chance of trying and keep on doing it.

So how do you find your preferred form(s) of content creation? I would say, start small, and maybe even try different ways of content creation. For example, if you like writing, just tweet stuff out there, or start a blog. And no need to write long epistels, just short texts, or publishing some notes is perfectly fine to start with.

A great way to start blogging is GitHub Pages, as you are probably on GitHub anyway. I use it for my blog, and although I've built something custom, that is absolutely not necessary.

If you like talking, but the idea of being visible on someone else's screen is intimidating, start podcasting.

A free, and very nice and simple platform is Me and Rich use it for our Curious Coders Chronicles podcast, and it's great. It automates distributing your podcast to all of the well known platforms. To record your podcast you can just use local recording software, online meeting tools, or more dedicated tools like Riverside.

And YouTube or Twitch are great for video content of course, either live, or for edited video on demand.

By the way, another nice and safe way of content creation might be joining or creating channels on your company's Slack, and start sharing stuff there, either by writing, speaking, or creating short videos. For example, at WebinarGeek we have Slack channels such as #react, #typescript, #xstate, and #til, where we ask questions and share our learnings.

And if your company does not have a knowledge sharing culture, initiating one is a great opportunity in itself to become more visible, and get to know fellow content creators and consumers.

You can be up and running with all of these ways of content creation within 5 minutes. However, whatever form and platform you choose, it is very important to start shipping content right away.

Writing a simple HTML page with your first blog post on day 1 is better than first building your enterprise blogging application, which takes half a year, before you finally can start blogging, if it even will still happen by then... Or for video and audio content, yes, a good microphone and camera is nice, but please, just start, no need to invest in anything right away. Well, except for investing in your content itself of course. Many people that want to start creating content, procrastinate by building stuff first. However, from the moment you publish your first piece of content, magic happens. It gives you a direction of what about and how you want to share your content.

Just. Ship. It.

Once you started publishing stuff, it can feel pretty intimidating to put it out there. However, rest assured, the internet is a big place, so no one will probably notice (or care) for your content anyway...

But if you are curious what others think, and want some feedback, ask friends or colleagues whom you trust and are rooting for you. In my experience, these people find it super cool you are even doing this, regardless of how interesting or good they think it is what you are sharing. I mean, look at yourself, if a friend is creating content, how would you respond to that?

And worst case, you can even create content just for yourself, as a mechanism to learn, and have a nice place of structured notes, you can always look up.

As you improve and continue creating content, the fear of other people's reaction will probably become less. Especially because you will find your own unique way of sharing content, as you go.

This uniqueness of you, and your content, is very important to realize. The topics you choose, the way you communicate them, all based on your experience, perspective and opinion, is unique. Which is why it does not matter you are not the first to create content about a topic. If I would ask 10 content creators to write a blog post with the title "Is HTML a programming language?", I would get 10 very different blog posts. Not only their answer to the question, but also their reasoning and approach.

So go ahead, and start creating your first piece of content now, and before you know it you are a content creator...

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