Effective Communication Through Content Creation

Kent talks about how you can communicate ideas effectively by creating content in multiple mediums.

People learn in different ways. By recording your content in multiple mediums you are enabling a larger portion of your audience to learn more effectively.

But, creating content isn't just for brand-building, it is also an effective way to solidify knowledge for yourself. If you are asking yourself at what skill level should you start creating content then you should remember that creating content is for anyone who wants to learn and not forget stuff.

Transcript

Michael Chan:
Hey, Kent.

Kent C. Dodds:
Hey, Michael.

Michael Chan:
So I want to talk with you about your content creation and just content creation in general, your philosophy, all that kind of stuff. I think Eve Porcello put it my favorite way in that she calls you Kent Content Dodds, that the-

Kent C. Dodds:
Nice.

Michael Chan:
... C must stand for content just because you're so prolific in putting stuff out into the world. And I want to get a glimpse into how you think about content, kind of how you think about your content pipeline. We've talked in previous episodes about this concept of double dipping on content a lot and sharing what you know, all that kinda stuff. So I want to get your just worldview on content creation. I guess to get into it first though, what does content mean to you, right? Because it's kind of this, I feel, maybe like a newfangled word. Up till recently we would just call it a blog post or a video or whatever, but now it's hashtag content. So what does content mean to you in the abstract?

Kent C. Dodds:
So first of all, I just want to say that hopefully this episode is helpful to people who want to be content creators themselves, but also people who experience my content and they can see how they can consume my content in the best way and make the most of it. And the second thing I wanted to make sure is clear is that I'm not just wearing a shirt that has my picture on it. And I didn't plan this at all actually. I have a system, and I just grabbed the next shirt. And yeah. So this is a tweet of mine. Anyway, we don't need to go into that. It's something about [crosstalk 00:01:39].

Michael Chan:
For those listening we'll link the tweet.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. That's a good idea. Let's link to tweet. Anyway, so content to me is communication. It's a way to effectively communicate some idea or concept. One thing that really frustrates me about language in general is that it is so imperfect. We're really bad at taking ideas and impressions and emotions and whatever in our brain and transferring it to another person's brain. We make do and we've learned a lot over the years of humanity, but that's not a natural thing for us to do. And there's so much lost in translation, especially if you're actually translating languages. So that is a challenge. And it's kind of frustrating to me. This is actually why I'm both terrified and also excited about the neuro link idea or wiring our brain-

Michael Chan:
Oh, sure.

Kent C. Dodds:
... so we can communicate perfectly, right? I'm terrified for very obvious reasons, but I'm really excited to be able to just do away with the whole language thing so I can communicate directly to you exactly what I'm thinking. That'll be awesome. So the challenge of doing that communication is the idea of content creation. I have this concept in my mind and I want to effectively communicate that concept to someone else, and the medium that we do that is content. So yeah, in one way whether it's just a conversation and it's a one on one conversation, that's content. It's not really something that it can be shared. And so it's not normally something you'd think is content but it is, or if it's a podcast or a blog or a vlog or anything, any mechanism that you're using to communicate ideas, that is content.

Michael Chan:
Interesting. So in programming, that might be an experience that you had recently, like solving a particular problem. It might be something that you're discovering with open source, kind of maybe just sharing an idea that you had that maybe is not fleshed out and kind of talking through that videos, podcasts like this one, just kind of any type of thing where you're trying to communicate an idea from one brain or a couple of brains and share that with other brands.

Kent C. Dodds:
With more brains. It's all about the brains, man. The apocalypse is coming and we want your brains. Yeah. So more nonstandard forms of content that I create are workshop material. So technically this workshop material is supposed to be delivered by somebody, like by me because I created the content, or created the material, whatever you want to call that I guess. I see that as a form of content because the way that I create this material is intended to be very self driven, and people should be able to go through it by themselves. And people do. So we're having this conversation before Epic React has been released and there've been plenty of people who've gone through all of the Epic React's material on their own and been successful at it and giving me great feedback and even pull requests and stuff.

Kent C. Dodds:
But yeah, so that's another example of content that maybe it's not as straightforward as watching a video or reading a tutorial or whatever but it can give you just as much bang for... Yeah, a lot of learning experience in going through that type of content. And I think also my Discord channel, those conversations, that is content. Not exactly accessible and I would say that each form of content has different levels of accessibility. So our conversation right now, we're creating content. This is a podcast. It's only accessible to people who can hear, not accessible to... We're going to have transcripts. So I'm glad. And if you're reading those transcripts right now you're welcome. We're glad that we can do that. But yeah, each, each form of content will have a different level of accessibility and you can adjust that accessibility by doing stuff like transcripts or by communicating the same idea with different forms of content, which is something I do a lot as well. So yeah, there are a lot of different forms of content, just all about communicating these ideas.

Michael Chan:
Interesting. So I want to kind of go from the... I feel like we've covered the abstract and I want to kind of go into the concrete. So specifically you've made Epic React, the course and there's a lot of material there that's going to be a little bit more watch a video, maybe do these exercises, all those kinds of... a training type of content. But then also we're doing this podcast. And I'm sure that you'll probably write blog posts as you continue to do that. So how do you see each of those playing a role in the Epic React ecosystem, right? So you're building up this thing and then what is the intentionality behind having so many different ways into that course or so many things surrounding that course?

Kent C. Dodds:
We often talk about how everybody learns differently and I believe that's true, but sometimes we make the mistake of assuming that because we all learn the best differently then you just need to find the way that you learn and learn that way. And I think that is wrong. And so I think that you need to have that idea communicated to you in multiple different ways for it to really connect with you.

Michael Chan:
Sure.

Kent C. Dodds:
Zero sum game is not the thing I'm looking for, but that's kind of the idea, is you're not 100% an audio learner and-

Michael Chan:
Sure.

Kent C. Dodds:
... it's impossible for you to learn these other ways. And even if it were, I still would want to have multiple forms of content to reach everybody. But I think that having multiple ways to communicate these ideas is an effective way to make sure that there's nothing lost in the cracks. And on top of that, we can communicate in different ways with this podcast. And then I typically do when I'm recording a video or writing a blog post or whatever as well, sometimes we say things differently or typically I get really long winded when I'm talking like this. And so I'll say more things or just say things in multiple ways because it's kind of off the cuff.

Kent C. Dodds:
So yeah, the idea behind just not just saying, "Hey, here's 30 videos to go learn about React. And here's my course," that wasn't enough for me. I wanted to make something that... So yeah, like, "Here's 30 videos for this concept, but then there's a bunch of other surrounding material to make sure that you really get it before you go ahead and try and put it into practice," which is when you'll actually learn that stuff.

Michael Chan:
Listen, something that I find super fun about the non neural link version of learning, right, is that there's so many interesting things that happen in that conversation, right? You and I both have distinctly different experiences in programming, different vantage points for how we kind of consume certain patterns or whatever. And it's in the conversation that you're able to get more perspectives, and maybe someone who learns the way that I do kind of identifies the way that I think about it. But then someone who identifies with a concept the way you do, they get more out of it. And so I find that really fun and I'm super excited about you doing the Discord thing, because I think that you're going to get even more those kinds of diverse opinions and thoughts and all that of stuff.

Michael Chan:
So it's interesting, all of the different pieces and kind of how they are necessary in order to build communal learning tools and kind of develop not just for me to you but as all of us, as React developers, as a crew of people going through the world trying to get better at this stuff and kind of bringing our own unique experiences to these concepts, the library kind of whatever's happening next.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, man. I am so excited about the Discord thing. Honestly, when we started planning Epic React to that was not really a part of it. It was when I did the masterclass and had people go through all of them back to back that I realized how important it is to have a group. And you're totally right. Having different people with different levels of experience and past experiences to communicate with each other about the concepts is just so valuable.

Kent C. Dodds:
So yeah, Discord, having those cohorts where you'll be able to be in a group, get to know each other having different perspectives and experiences and talking about, "All right. So we're going to go through this first module. We'll go through all the exercises. When we're all done let's regroup and talk about what we've learned and what we struggled with." And that's next level stuff. This Epic React is not just, "Here's 300 videos. Go enjoy that in your basement or whatever, or in your closet with your phone to your face or whatever." But it's a really hardcore, you were at the keyboard, you are experiencing this learning process and you're experiencing it with other people with different perspectives.

Kent C. Dodds:
And then on top of all of that, there's this extra content that you can consume together to really solidify the concepts and then also put all of those concepts into practice so you can really get it. So yeah, that's kind of how I think of effective content creation is one single form of this content is not effective at communicating this idea. I need to come at it from multiple angles with multiple sources of content to really communicate this idea effectively.

Michael Chan:
Interesting. So we've kind of talked about kind of what the goal is talking about communication and whatnot. I want to talk about how you have thought about this process as you've developed kind of your own content pipeline. So a little bit more about pipeline. When is the right time for someone to start sharing something. Is it after they have learned everything? Is it while they're learning? Is it right at the start of their journey? At what point do you think people should start thinking about incorporating content creation into their learning journey?

Kent C. Dodds:
Oh, man. Great question. I'm so glad you asked this. So content creation is how you solidify what you've learned. So my process, and we'll talk about this more with learning, but my general process is you consume some material, you apply that material and then you teach the lessons that you learned through those two processes. So without that last step, you're just not going to remember it nearly as well. And so that's kind of... This is the why behind content creation. When do we start doing that? You start doing that when you want to start not forgetting the stuff you're learning. So basically you start right once you've learned something. Right after you've built something and tried something out and that's when you start teaching or creating content. You don't have to want to be a teacher and educator but creating this content because it forces you into a different mindset.

Kent C. Dodds:
And so you start out as the consumer and then you're the producer because you're taking what you've learned, you're producing something. And then you're the educator. And you don't have to want to be a full time educator like me to benefit from that process. You don't even have to have a desire to be a product engineer to benefit from that process. I'm a full time educator. I don't spend time building products and shipping them to users. I have, otherwise I wouldn't have the experience that I do. And I eventually will start building more products and things too. I code a lot. But you don't have to spend a bunch of your time doing any one of these things to benefit from that process. So it's really important to round it out by educating. And there's a-

Michael Chan:
I think if I could add something to that real quick, I think that, from my perspective, my experience is quite a bit flipped from you. So the majority of my day is working with teams in products. And I do a tiny little bit of educating or communicating through React podcast, and in that communication is so critical still, right, communicating to other developers, writing blog posts, writing documentation, communicating to your product managers the idea and the why behind all of the things that you think are important. Technically we've covered a lot of that in your previous work experience. And this isn't just for people who want to make a name for themselves. This is really for anyone who wants to be the best developer that they can possibly be. Learning how to produce acts of communication is half of the skillset.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. That's very well said. Without the ability to effectively communicate, it is really difficult to get what you want and achieve the freedoms that you're looking for and everything. Yeah. Another common question that I get from people who do want to be educators, do want to start creating content that is consumed by the masses is they're really concerned that like, "Everything that I have that I know has already been taught dozens of times." Are you going to be the one to write the seven millionth blog post about what this in JavaScript means? A lot of people are worried about that. And for me, I never even thought about it. I was too naive. I had too much hubris. I don't know what it was, but that never really was a thought to me. I was just like, "I'm just going to teach the stuff I think is interesting." And then I built that. I did this thing and I want to teach you about it. But in retrospect, in trying to think through from those people's perspectives have you ever seen a Burger King next to a McDonald's? Always.

Michael Chan:
Yeah. Always. Yeah.

Kent C. Dodds:
Always. They're following each other everywhere. Or Wendy is following along. There are so many different burger joints that they just follow each other around and they can do it because there's a market for it. And in our industry of creating content, that's even easier because we don't have to do brick and mortar. It's not a huge investment. And then on top of that, the difference between us and a McDonald's is that just the process of creating the content gives us a huge amount of value, whereas for McDonald's just the process of creating the burger it doesn't do anything until somebody buys it. But for us, it doesn't matter if somebody buys it. We still get a lot of value out of it.

Kent C. Dodds:
And so don't worry about other people having created the content already. That is totally irrelevant. And on top of this, there's kind of... Actually, there's a corner somewhere in Texas, I think, where there are three Starbucks on that... They just need one more Starbucks they'll have a Starbucks in every corner. So not even different things, they're exactly the same, but they still can do it. And I think that there's something to that.

Michael Chan:
Yeah. Well, it brings up an interesting question of how... It seems to me such an important part of the content creation side of things is your identity as a person, right, and what you bring to that, because no matter how many times people talk about this or whatever, no one is going to explain it exactly. No one is going to explain component life cycles exactly like you. I mean, I think I used a food truck to explain component life cycles at one point or asynchronous set state or... I can't remember, but-

Kent C. Dodds:
Nice.

Michael Chan:
Everyone has their own set of interests and that's going to inform the way that you talk about these things. I'm kind of curious how much has kind of identity, your perspective, your history played into the way that you write.

Kent C. Dodds:
I'm trying to think of examples in my writing or just general content creation where there's part of me as a husband, a father. member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I think that it's so subtle. I wouldn't notice anything specific, but there are definitely things that I have experienced that have influenced the way that I communicate. And I'd say probably the biggest one is Start With Why by Simon Sinek. I'm not sure if that's his name. Yap. Fantastic concept, idea. Definitely recommended reading. When I'm creating a talk or a workshop or a blog post to anything I've kind of ingrained this now. I don't really think of it consciously anymore, but I try to think, okay, let's talk about why this even matters before we get...

Kent C. Dodds:
All of my open source projects, the first thing you read after getting through my mountain of badges and title of the project the first thing that you read is the problem. Let's describe the problem that this thing is intended to solve, and then we'll talk about this solution, the how. So we start with the why, and then the how, and then we get into API docs. So then we get into the what. So yeah, that has definitely steered the way that I communicate. And me as a person, I like to try and avoid being dogmatic, even though maybe some of my blog posts don't always seem that way because I'm like, "Stop doing this and start doing this."

Kent C. Dodds:
So sometimes I can be a little bit dogmatic, but I generally try to steer away from that. And it's more motivated out of a desire to appreciate the work of others. There are people who have worked on this library that I'm saying that maybe you should use something else. Yeah. So there are probably some things that are part of my character that influenced how I communicate things, I guess.

Michael Chan:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think that's really important in... Another thing I know you talked about it, which is creating value and not spam. And so I know that you have your own kind of ideas on this, but I think that if you don't think about this as kind of some type of personal way of communication, you can really kind of easily go into that spammy type thing of what are the hotkey words and how can I make it, I don't know, a five bullet point list. And that does feel kind of we've seen that before. So I'm kind of curious, ow do you keep from falling into that just following the trends and trying to make the buzz feed list of those things as fast as possible?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes the best way for me to communicate something is through a buzzfeed list. But I don't know. I think that people see that and it kind of turns them off. And so you do have to be careful with that. But in general, I don't really worry about it or think about my following or anything. I think most of the time when people create spam it's because they're motivated out of the wrong... They have the wrong motives. Okay? So their motives is increasing that follower account rather than just sharing something useful. And we talked about this on another episode about how Tesla doesn't advertise. They just put all that money into making their product really good and then it just kind of sells itself. And that's what I try to do. Well, I would be lying if I said that I don't think about how many followers I have. I am a-

Michael Chan:
Oh, sure.

Kent C. Dodds:
... fallen human and I have a pride issues and stuff. So I do think about that. But I wouldn't say that my content creation is motivated by that. I found my motive and it is to make the world a better place through software. And the concept that I create is motivated out of that. And the best way that I can do that is by creating content that people can understand. And so I create content people understand, and it just naturally gets shared. And so it's value, not spam. And some people see it as spam. Because I retweet my own stuff a lot if somebody says, "Hey, Kent, this talk was awesome" I'm like, "Sweet. Thanks." I retweet it. I don't even worry about the fact that maybe people think I look cocky for retweeting my own stuff.

Kent C. Dodds:
At first, I kind of did. I was worried people are going to think I'm just talking up my own stuff, but then I realized I wouldn't have created it if I didn't think it was valuable. It turns out it is. So I share valuable things with people and I can trust my own content to do that. So I share that without any fear of, yeah, people thinking that I'm just cocky, I guess.

Michael Chan:
Well, this is kind of a personal question, but I know in the War of Art, one of my favorite books, he talks about the requirement for creators to get to this place where they can separate what he calls you and you inc, where you can consider you as the person who does the work and then you as the person who markets, sells, and kind of runs the business of you inc. I'm curious, you mentioned having a little bit of fear about that in the early days, and then that kind of broke off. Have you found that in the stage that you're at now that you've kind of thought of Kent C. Dodds, the public persona as per pertains to Epic React and Twitter in content creation and all that kind of stuff as a different entity? Have you had to make that break in yourself?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. That's a great question, require some introspection on myself. It's kind of we talking about the other day with Will Smith and his kids like, "Don't who I am?" When I'm with my family or with my extended family, I'm just Ken. And even people at church, they don't call me Kent C. Dodds. They all just call me Kent Dodds or Brother Dodds or... It's a different world. When I go to a conference I'm Kent C. Dodds and some people will see me and recognize me and talk with me about stuff. And so yeah, there's definitely a difference between Kent Dodds and Kent C. Dodds. I don't know if I see myself differently. And I don't think that people who think differently about themselves are not being genuine, but I just try to be genuine.

Michael Chan:
Sure.

Kent C. Dodds:
I am who I am, and I try to improve who I am. I'm not complicit or satisfied, I guess, with where I am now and I try to be better. Yeah. That's an interesting question. I need to think more about this, maybe talk with my therapist about it. Who am I? Don't know.

Michael Chan:
I find it interesting because I know that in the course of our conversations you've mentioned from time to time that there are things that you are sad to let go of, right? You feel a sense of loss about not being able to reply to everyone or being able to get into a really big conversation with everyone who asks for your help. And so I know that that can be kind of emotionally exhausting for people who just wanted to share interesting things and then found themselves in a place where now they're an industry expert. Everyone is kind of tagging them in their other conversations. And it gets really overwhelming. And so I guess that's more of the thing is I know that a lot of times people who have been avid shares will kind of go... We'll lose them, right? `Like Why The Lucky Stiff and the Ruby community, right, kind of famously just disappeared one day and shut down all of their repos and public stuff. And it's because this stuff can be super overwhelming.

Michael Chan:
And so I know that on some level as you grow, you have to make these concessions that early on you're like, "I'm always going to reply to every comment, every reply. That's me. I'm that guy who does that." And at some point, you can't.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, yeah. That's true. And there is a part of me that dies every time somebody... Well, and what's worse, and I noticed this about myself, is when somebody adds me to a giant list of other accounts or something, and I don't even want to like the tweet, even if they're saying something nice. It gets exhausting, honestly. This is such a first world problem, a .5 world problem that, but it really... That doesn't change the fact that it is exhausting and it can be emotionally draining. I feel so weird complaining about my success. That's so stupid to do that, but it is. It is the way it is.

Michael Chan:
I guess I don't want to make it feel like you are complaining in any way, but I guess it's an interesting insight, something that I'm super fascinated by. And I'm glad that you're willing to talk about it because I think that this is something that we see with a lot of people that we've come to really appreciate their insights. It's so easy to, I guess, feel some level of ownership over them.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. I think-

Michael Chan:
And then-

Kent C. Dodds:
... lots of people do feel that way. Yeah.

Michael Chan:
I feel like maybe that's even kind of a very American thing, right? We want to feel like we were the person who rose that band to popularity or rose this person to power. And then when they sell out because they don't have the time to do everything they did-

Kent C. Dodds:
That can't do it anymore.

Michael Chan:
... when they were obscure we kind of feel betrayed a little bit. But yeah, I don't know. It's just something that I was interested in because I know that you've expressed sadness about that. And unfortunately you can't duplicate yourself yet. So [crosstalk 00:28:02] stuck there.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. Yeah. That's interesting.

Michael Chan:
Yeah. If you could duplicate yourself, what are the things that you would be most excited to pick back up again?

Kent C. Dodds:
Ooh, I don't know. I think if I could duplicate myself I don't think that I would because I'm pretty satisfied with... I guess this sounds wrong, but I'm pretty satisfied with not answering everybody. People will learn a lot more by not just having another person that will answer all their questions. I did not learn by asking Danny Ramapo all my questions. He and I kind of learned at the same time. So like Paul Irish or somebody like that. I asked some questions sometimes, but you're going to accomplish more in your life by digging deep and struggling through things. And so yeah, part of me is like, "I'm happy to help out with some things, but I think it's actually better for you to struggle with it," especially for questions that are like, "Hey, does this work?" My response is, "Well, did you try?"

Kent C. Dodds:
I'm surprised how many questions like that I get, but it's very often where the answer... Or somebody will watch my content or they'll read my blog posts and they'll say, "Well, did you try it this way?" And I say, "Well, did you try it that way?" And often I know the answer. It's like, "No, it doesn't work. And I can explain why."

Michael Chan:
Sure.

Kent C. Dodds:
But I'm way happier... And I see this as a form of content, it is a challenge issued. And it's a more challenging form of content for people to consume, but at the end of the day, they've actually consumed it and they've internalized it. So yeah, I'm much happier just saying, "Well, go ahead and try it and you'll see that it doesn't work and I want you to figure out why it doesn't work." You'll learn a lot from that. So yeah, it's kind of interesting.

Michael Chan:
So I think that that is actually a really good kind of segue back into content and creation. So let's say you're in that place. You're kind of learning things for the first time you have questions of your experts, you ask and you don't get a reply. You figure it out on your own, it feels amazing. Where's a good place to start sharing that now, the stack overflow, dev2, a blog? Where do you start?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. So the way that I share or communicate my ideas will vary. If I'm looking at conferences and I say, "Oh, this is a great conference about CSS. And I just learned this interesting thing about CSS. So I'm going to submit a talk," or I've got a meetup every single month... It's so easy. So I'll submit a talk. I am a weekly blogger. I'm always needing blog post ideas. And so typically that's the first thing that I jump into. As far as where I put that, pretty much since the beginning of my content creation I've always had this desire to make sure that I was the owner of my content.

Kent C. Dodds:
I actually started with Medium way back when they still allowed you to have a custom domain. I don't think they allow you to do that anymore or you have to be some special fancy person to do that. And so I put my Medium blog on blog.kencdodds.com. If I hadn't been able to do that, you would not have seen me on Medium period. I never would have put any content on Medium without that ability. And the reason for that is because I own the domain kencdodds.com. And so when I finally did decide to jump off of Medium because they were doing some really bad stuff, things I didn't agree with and I was on their platform, and when I decided to move to my own thing I could redirect all the URLs, all of those links that I'd been sharing for years and the other people and Google searches and everything, it all redirects now. And it took me a couple of days, It was not painless, but it works and it works great. So I strongly advise people to own their content.

Kent C. Dodds:
Now, you can't own your content on Twitter. Twitter owns all your tweets. You can't own your content on YouTube. YouTube owns all your videos, which is why I don't do a whole lot of content creation on YouTube anymore. I'm still trying to figure out where I'm going to put that type of content that I used to have on YouTube. But yeah, try to make sure that you are the owner of your content because if you disagree with the platform or if the platform disagrees with you, you have no recourse on what you do with that stuff.

Kent C. Dodds:
And that's another thing too, is one of the reasons why I am so happy to be with Egghead is the contract that I signed with the Egghead is I own the content. So at any moment I could say, "Egghead, you're doing stuff I'm not happy with. I'm taking all my content. I'm just going to put it on YouTube or I'll build my own thing. And it's mine." And contractually it's all my stuff. And that was really important to me early on. I'm really glad that's the way it is with Egghead. So yeah. Try to own your content wherever you put it, whatever form it takes. Try to be the one that has total control over it.

Michael Chan:
Yeah. So speaking of Egghead, something that you've done that I thought was really interesting is that you have this collection of videos that is just Ken's blog posts as videos. So I'm kind of curious, in terms of pipeline is that something you try to do for all of your content or at least all of the technical content that can be done in that way?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. I really love doing that. And typically what happens is I write the blog post and then I'll record the video. I haven't done it in a while just because I've been kind of busy. I probably should start it up again because I've been a little less busy and trying to find useful things to create and make good use of my time. But what's cool about it is I can put the video at the top and then the blog post below, even though Egghead actually has really awesome transcripts, for their courses especially. They have these enhanced transcripts. It's almost like a tutorial blog post. It's awesome. But yeah, I think having both of those forms of content to kind of give you a double whammy to really understand this stuff is really great.

Kent C. Dodds:
And I would like to do it more and I think it's very effective. I didn't really come up with the idea. I had seen it on Tyler McGinnis' blogs. He did that a lot. But yeah, Egghead has been an awesome place to host my video stuff. I just wouldn't put my random stream of thoughts, which is where YouTube typically was the home of.

Michael Chan:
Well, this is something that I've heard a lot of people say is that videos are really helpful on that first time through, but they're really kind of tricky to find your place again when you want to come back to that concept. And so I love what you're doing with the kind of video plus blog posts and kind of trying to make both of those the best of that type of medium because it gives you that initial boost of like, "Okay. I want to watch this whole thing from beginning to end and actually see the transformations," which is super hard in written content with code. But then later on when I just want to refresh on that, on point number three of seven I can come back, get to that quickly without having to scrub through a video and like, "Oh, was this mouse cursor from the left of the screen to the right of the screen the time that he talks about that thing or what?"

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. And video is notoriously difficult to keep updated, whereas blogs are way easy. You change the words. It's a lot easier and video is typically harder. So having both is really nice for that reason too. And one of the things, you mentioned that video, it's hard for people to find their place again. And that's so true. And this is one of the things I love about Egghead's style of bite-sized content where it may be hard to find your place in an hour and a half or four hours of content, but being able to just jump straight to the specific video and having it be so focused. So it's not like, "Hey everybody. We're so excited to have you. We're on lesson 7 of 300 on this really awesome course. And don't forget, let me reiterate all the things we've learned about already." But it's just [crosstalk 00:36:34]-

Michael Chan:
Sure. Like and subscribe.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, exactly. Smash that like button, wham that bell. Yeah. I think everybody who says that now says it in jest.

Michael Chan:
Yeah. So for someone who's kind of maybe concerned about jumping full into blogging or video stuff, maybe they don't have a lot of experience in that level of production, how do you feel about these kinds of tweet threads that we've been seeing, 5 or 10 points on use effect or things like that?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. I think they're really interesting. And I've kind of done that sometimes. I'll do that kind of thing. Normally it's a lead into something more because there's only so deep that you can go-

Michael Chan:
Sure.

Kent C. Dodds:
... in a tweet thread. I have mixed feelings about the delivery mechanism because you don't own your content on Twitter. You can't edit anything. So if you are wrong you can't fix it. And it's also very public. So if you're wrong, everybody is going to let you know. You don't moderate the comments. You don't have any control over that kind of thing. Of course, on my blog, I don't have comments. I say, "Go to Twitter to talk about this," where I don't moderate. I don't look. I don't get notified. I don't care. So yeah, I think it's great. It's an awesome medium. And being able to just naturally get followers on Twitter just because you're right there, I'll just follow you, is great.

Kent C. Dodds:
Even though I don't own my platform on Twitter having a lot of Twitter followers is beneficial. Every tweet that I tweet probably gets seen by a very small number of my following a small, small percentage like 10% or less, but... Twitter is not a great way to connect with your audience, but having a lot of people following you does increase the number of people who can connect.

Michael Chan:
Sure.

Kent C. Dodds:
And especially when you have something big to announce and everybody is excited about it, then that can be beneficial too. So I see that form of content. It's just another way that you can get your content out there. And I would recommend that you have somewhere for people to go who want to dive deeper.

Michael Chan:
Yeah. That was going to be my next question actually, it feels Twitter is pluses and minuses, right? It's very lossy communication with your audience, right? Because only a portion of your audience is ever going to see any single tweet that you write out. But then also you have this opportunity to go viral and for that to very much extend way past your audience, hence the t-shirt that you have on right now.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. That's right.

Michael Chan:
And so where should people be directing interested consumers as they create content? Is that a newsletter, something that's a little less lossy but maybe less viral as well?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. I think that this is a great opportunity to double dip your content or triple or quadruple or octuple. I don't know what that is. But you can communicate those same ideas in lots of different formats, and the end goal... And for my end goal, when I'm doing this, is to get people to commit to something. I have a call to action and normally that call to action is give me your email address so that I can solve that problem that I have with Twitter where only a very small percentage of the people who follow me there will see what I have to say. So if I have this enormous sale on a course I want everybody to know about it. It doesn't matter how many emails I send or how many tweets I send or anything. I will always have people at the end of that sale say, "I had no idea."

Kent C. Dodds:
And so even email, I don't have 100% of people opening my emails, but it's way higher. And so yeah, I would typically say whatever content you're creating try to get a commitment out of your followers. And this is not selfishly motivated either. I want you to understand this thing that I'm trying to communicate to you and you'll do a better job understanding that and the other things that I have to offer you if you make some commitments. So give me your email address, take a look at this course, watch this video, go to this next item of content which will then have another commitment for you. So wherever that is, have something that you are inviting your people to do. And I really am a big fan of mailing lists as a mechanism to stay connected with this audience that you have.

Michael Chan:
Yeah. We're kind of running out of time for this episode, but I want to ask how do you continue to motivate yourself when it feels maybe you're only talking to an audience of yourself, right? You start your newsletter and that number is zero for a week, two weeks, a month. And then it's your mom.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. "Mom, you're the one. Oh, my gosh." "Oh, I've been loving your blog posts." Yeah, that was my wife. So for me, I didn't start my newsletter until I already had a pretty good size of group of people who wanted to hear what I had to say. And I lucked out in a lot of different ways. I am unquestionably influenced by privilege there's a lot to that, but the advice that I can give with all of that context I'd say is to be consistent. I know that even if I start to do something new, let's say, I decided I'm going to do an AMA on my Discord, I have a pretty good size Discord as it is. So I'll have a couple of people show up. But if I say I'm going to do an AMA every day or every Monday at this time then I'm going to get way more people showing up after a while.

Kent C. Dodds:
A great example of this is Suz Hinton, Noopcat. She does a live stream on her Twitch channel every Sunday at 11:00 AM or some specific time. And her audience has just exploded because they have turned it into a part of their routine. And so whether you're doing a podcast or a blog or whatever it is having some sort of consistency will just naturally snowball itself. People will look forward to it. They'll make it part of their routine. I blog every week. I now do have office hours, so basically an AMA. I just started last week and I've already started seeing people expecting it and looking forward to it and scheduling it into their time.

Kent C. Dodds:
And so I would say for those folks, consistency is the key. Give people a reason to want that content and make it as easy as possible for them to get it by being consistent. And it will grow naturally. I did not pay for followers. I actually know people who have and it's just so weird to me, and they paid for this number of followers and they just stayed there. It's kind of funny. It happens over time and that consistency is what is going to maximize that or speed that process up for you.

Michael Chan:
I love that. Well, I think that in our next episode, which will be our final episode in the group, we're going to talk about how to continue learning. And I think that that's going to dovetail really nicely into kind of strategies for how people can start thinking about actually creating content as part of their learning journey. So thank you, Kent. I'm really excited to dive into the next one with you.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, me too. Thanks so much, Michael.