I've been meaning to write this post for a while, but a lot has been put into motion since the holidays.
Last January, my step-father passed-on, and I received a sizeable inheritance over the holidays...enough to where I can support myself & fully commit to learning software development. So I revisited my research on coding bootcamps, as they're currently the best option to transition into this role in a timeframe that fits my budget. Most of my research entailed looking within & seeing what I need to make this a successful endeavor.
My responsibility in learning is much like a plant's relationship to the sun. First off, the sun has no knowledge of what the plants need, it just burns & sends its energy in all directions. It is the plant's responsibility to angle & direct itself to effectively utilize the sun's energy. So I need to make sure that I put myself in a program & environment that's compatible with how I learn.
Most bootcamps were out of the question, as they're usually 4~6 months long, which is far too intense for me. In my experience, a slow & steady flow of water fills up a sponge more effectively than a waterfall. A 10-month long program would be much more effective for me. After much research, I landed on Flatiron School. I'm currently going through the pre-work & aiming to start in a class that starts on the 11th, but may have to wait until the following class in mid-March, depending on how things go.
I'm really excited about this new direction. I've discovered that building apps brings up the same giddiness and squee as making a new cosplay for Comic Con or recording a podcast. It's the same reason I splash in the bathtub. I'm pushing 40, and I've already spent way too much time just getting a job that covers the bills. When I have a chance to make a living doing something that brings me joy, I have to go for it.
...and I don't do half-measures.
I'm a bit late writing this, but life happens. I've been busy preparing for my part in my brother's wedding that takes place this weekend.
I definitely feel like I'm making progress in tightening up my videos and making them more engaging. It's slowly becoming less and less a stream-of-consciousness deal and (slightly) more produced. I feel OK with this, as I already have a podcast with that creative philosophy. I feel the need to have a free-flowing content platform is being met, so giving this channel a narrower scope makes sense.
So I've taken to create a more drilled-down outline and separating each point while I record. I find that I'm able to give the details a little more focus, and hopefully make each one more engaging. The only aspects of it that are fully scripted are the intro & outro, the rest of it is still pretty off-the-cuff. I'm still not quite sure where that balance lies.
I'm going to start a live streaming series called Ryan Learns to Code, in which I go through a tutorial on a language or framework & build something. I'm not sure how often I'll do it, but I've gotten more views on a live stream test than most of my videos. I think doing regular live streams would foster more community growth, so we'll see how that goes.
You can find my Freelance Journey Vlog Series here.
In terms of the actual production, I treated this like a travel vlog, in that I did intro -> b-roll -> short update -> b-roll -> summary. This was my first hackathon, so I wasn't sure what kind of format to go with. So I went with one that allowed me the most flexibility. Now that I've been through it & generally know what to expect, I would probably go with the same format, but I can't say that I won't go with something different.
I was also really caught-up in the event, and being a newbie to the community, I didn't want to burn bridges with the other developers before I had a chance to build them. Even while I was there, I thought of better b-roll shots than what I took, but they would require more equipment than I felt other people would be comfortable with. Even though vlogs are more commonplace now, and less people are weirded-out by others documenting their experiences, a lot of people aren't comfortable with someone else posting their faces and/or voice on the Internet. As I get more & more integrated with the developer community, my approach to vlogging at a hackathon may change.
You can watch the vlog on my YouTube channel here.
With this one, I felt like I made some progress toward a tighter presentation. I still have my "um's" and some spots where I have a thinking pause, but I've started a couple mitigating techniques. I've started using an outline for each video. I've progressed beyond the "can I do this regularly" stage, and now I'm at the point of coming up with a plan that still maintains a degree of "I'm making this up as I go along."
For me, it's important that I keep an off-the-cuff, stream-of-conciousness aspect to what I produce. So much of the media that we consume is so produced that it doesn't come off as authentic, it has this "approved by executives in suits" stink to it. I think that's part of what's so screwed up in the U.S., so many people are alienated & stigmatized as a result of how ideas are presented in the mainstream media. That's why I'm grateful that YouTube exists, it allows for this nuanced & authentic expression and is closer to a meritocracy.
I definitely started this vlog series with a live-to-tape philosophy, which has worked well for the podcast, but this is a different medium. So I'm working on finding a balance between scripted content & off-the-cuff, because there's definitely merit to both.
You can find my Freelance Journey Vlog Series right here.
I feel that I have to acknowledge that this is the first post YouTube transition video. I feel like I'm moving into a new phase of my development as a video content creator. I definitely didn't plan to make the 20th of this series match this stage of development, it just happened that way. I don't really have an over-arching plan for this series, it's more for me than anything.
I started this just to document what I'm going through so I can re-visit later to track progress & make sure I keep moving forward. However, this kind of change can't be done in a vacuum. What I think needs to be done in this journey may be completely wrong, so I need to let other voices into the conversation to give me some perspective.
That's where making these videos publicly available comes in. I started at Vimeo due to my wariness of YouTube's control over what can/can't be seen. I didn't want the anxiety of "what do I need to do/say to keep these videos online" entering into my mind during that stage of development. I have no issues with Vimeo's hosting service, it gave some people a chance to watch me work through that stage & provide feedback. However, it was very much a 1-to-1 deal; if you saw those videos, there's a really good chance that you got the URL from me directly.
That's when I started looking at YouTube. I took a lot of time and researched the elements of their guidelines & system, and I don't feel that I have much to worry about. It's highly unlikely that an AI program or person would find my titles & descriptions spammy or click-batey, and I don't see how the content I'm putting out would violate their reasonable community guidelines.
I think that I can sum-up the reason behind my wariness with this: "if it bleeds, it leads." The story of some YouTube creator getting their videos taken down for an ambiguous reason sounds intriguing, and it feeds on this anti-corporation affectation. So I'm excited to see what this new phase will bring & where I go from here.
The entire series can be found here.
I produced this concurrently with the "How I Got Started Vlogging" video, so it's difficult to distinguish which lessons are isolated to this particular video. As I mention in this video, YouTube will be my primary content distribution platform going forward. I'm at the point where I'm ready to move beyond press-record-then-talk-then-stop-recording. It takes more than that to create an engaging video that holds people's attention.
I'm seeing the spots where I need some structure to bring people in & say "hey, this is what this video series is about," as opposed to just record & upload it without considering how a new person may see it. That's not to say that I can't be off-the-cuff in some aspects of producing the content, but I have to be more purposeful in how it's used. While people are looking for more authenticity, having a structure does make it a bit more digestible. Every comic is somebody's first comic.
I also need to work on my wrap-up to make it integrate with the end cards better, especially when it comes to timing. I'm sure there are other tweaks that will help in discoverability, sharing, and engagement, but that's more about working within best practices of the platform. I have a feeling that I still need to work on making the content itself more engaging, which would be applicable regardless of how the platform operated.
You can find the entire series here.
After reviewing the video, I can tell that I'm getting tighter. I am still forgetting some details that could add more color to the story, but I don't think that it's anything critical. However, what I see as "important" in carrying an engaging story may be flawed. I will have to come up with some kind of workflow that limits the number of details that I leave out, and then figure it out with editing.
In this video, I wanted to share my experience of an introvert starting out vlogging. I don't know if another introvert will benefit from learning the steps I took, or if any of them will use it as a springboard into vlogging. For all I know, what I did was totally normal & every single other introvert on this planet knows what I did and vlogging right now...but I doubt it.
I also talked about the technological progressions in a way that tied it to the growth of my confidence. Honestly, I'm not working with very expensive equipment. I've seen non-pro vloggers using cameras that cost more than all of my equipment put together. So I wanted to show that you don't need to spend $500+ on a DSLR, hundreds more on a microphone & tripod to start vlogging; I wanted to show that vlogging is more accessible than that, you can start with your smartphone & work from there.
You can watch this video by going here.
It's been quite a while since I've last posted in the blog. I've been really focused on getting a main gig. It took a while to really nail-down the direction I want to go in, and I'm moving forward with a renewed sense of focus. So I'm plugging away & keeping the faith that something will shake out at the end.
I realized that as I progress in this freelancing career, I will need some way to keep it organized. I have difficulty handling more than a few situations at once, as far as keeping track of specifics, so I've been looking into project management software. I've been trying out a handful of options that look like they may do the trick, but it's going to take some trial & error (mostly error) to develop a long-term solution.
I just started a channel on YouTube, and it took some internal back & forth for some time to reach this decision. I chose Vimeo because of their hands-off approach to content management...but it also has a fraction of the audience that YouTube does. I was very wary of going with YouTube from all the stories of people's channels being taken down, and especially after the shooting that took place at their HQ. After reading through their guidelines, I am confident that I can avoid the biggest pitfalls and provide ample evidence if I have any slip-ups.
So I a have a couple ideas for new videos, and I will be using the project management software to keep track & see how it feels using it. Part of my workflow will involve writing a blog post about my experience creating the video, so more content is coming out!
I've noticed a few things in the short time that I've started vlogging.
I, like many people, am self-conscious when it comes to talking to a camera. It took a few years of doing a podcast to work through my self-consciousness over just my voice being recorded. I started recording videos of me talking to myself while walking in a park in January of this year. I used my previous smartphone and pointed it up while holding it around stomach level. It's not the most flattering shot, but it was enough to get past the "talking when being video-taped" part. By the way, none of those videos will be available online, I'm not sure if they're appropriate for even private viewing.
When I noticed myself getting excited to do it, I purchased a small handheld tripod that would allow me to shoot at eye-level with little difficulty. I was at the point where I could start incorporating shot composition into my process without causing me to go into a panic.
I recently made a purchase to upgrade to a nicer camera, which also has image stabilization. It's definitely not Steadicam-level stable, heck, even consumer-level handheld gimbals give a smoother picture, but it's an improvement over the smartphone. There are other pain points behind making the purchase, but I won't go into the details.
Just in the time that I've been posting these on Vimeo, I've been making less & less cuts. I'm sure there's more than one factor, but I am feeling more & more comfortable in front of the camera, hopefully that comes through on the other end. In the vlog that I recorded last Friday, I continued to talk as people walked by me. In previous videos, I pause & wait for them to pass before resuming.
I think doing the travel vlog on the Denver Light Rail had a lot to do with that. As I went through that process, I noticed how little everyone actually cared. They may have looked at me for a second or two, but then went on with whatever they were doing. I noticed that my thought process as I started felt really familiar; I did the same thing when cosplaying at Denver Comic Con, and I've done that quite a bit. So that taught me that I can work through this as well.
Definitely some exciting chapters up ahead!
I just re-introduced myself to HTML, which I haven't really touched since I made a site on Geocities in the early 2000's. Based on what I've seen so far, there haven't been many changes, but I also haven't really gone that deep. I see more attributes in terms of reading the kind of device being used to help make it a more unified experience.
I've spent more time familiarizing myself with CSS, which didn't have very wide adoption when I used Geocities. CSS is much simpler than I originally thought. It has very simple syntax, how it processes the code is really straight-forward, and it's really clear to see how it integrates with HTML.
I'm currently working on a portfolio site that at least matches the device-responsiveness of my current site and has a bit of pop to it. I'm getting started with Bootstrap, and I kind of feel like a cheat by using a framework, but I'm going to use it until I hear that it's bad practice. A lot of smart people have worked on that library, so why not stand on the shoulders of giants?
I'm really excited to see what I can do going forward.
I'm Ryan, a freelance content creator & web developer from Colorado.