May 18, 2021
Why teaching is the best way to learn for programmers
Ever since starting this blog and my YouTube channel I knew teaching had a special place in my heart. I don't consider myself the best at much of anything but having the confidence to put myself out there initially is something I'm pretty proud of. I find teaching to be the best way to learn. This article is about how I got started and why I think this way.
My path to teaching
Web-Crunch was born as a blog where I journaled about web design and development. I looked up to more impactful bloggers at the time like Chris Coyier, Jeffery Zeldman, and Dan Cederholm, and thought what they were doing was really cool.
Web-Crunch started with content that was pretty well generalized. Until I came up with an idea for a side project (A SaaS-based tutorial platform for Affinity-Serif design software) I wanted to build, I really commit to producing content seriously and regularly. That side project needed to generate traffic initially so I took to YouTube to start producing tutorials to aid in that effort.
Little did I know this started my teaching career/hobby. I'll be frank, Web-Crunch makes next to no money. I produced a course called Hello Rails that did decently, but besides that, there is very little money to show for all the effort. You'd think I would want to throw in the towel but I've actually never been more inspired to grow.
The funny thing about a project like this is that as it ages the audience scales organically a bit. More articles are indexed on search engines and more and more people land on specific tutorials I've produced which don't already exist out in the wild.
That audience is my primary driver to keep pushing. Hearing feedback from folks like you is amazing whether it's good or bad. Within the feedback are constant learnings which help me become better so I can become a better teacher.
It's a weird side effect from a side project I randomly started about 4 years ago now when I was freelancing more seriously as a designer/developer. I have no real method to my process other than trying to be consistent and doing things a little differently.
One unique thing I tend to do is pair a video with a blog post for each new article. This doubles the work but provides more value since I know some people like visuals while others like reading. I ultimately love to write so continuing to do is good practice and a weird form of therapy for me.
Share what you know
My advice for those interested in pursuing a similar path is to share what you know. This is especially true as you're in the process of learning it. Documenting your newfound knowledge makes it stick and also helps more people than you think if you post on a blog, YouTube channel, or something equivalent with public access.
While I don't recommend forcing it, I do recommend trying to hit publish on some channel about once a week. Don't beat yourself up if you miss a deadline. Create a new tutorial, a new series, or a quick programming tip. The trick is just to hit publish.
By teaching others you build trust in yourself and trust in your followers/peers. That trust is crucial for learning. Some teachers have a style that jives with certain individuals. If you find a group of students who collectively admire that style, embrace it and keep feeding the fire. Whether your goal is to build a successful blog or just be helpful, you can do that in a compounding fishing by teaching.
Ask for feedback and critiques
Gaining feedback both good and bad is GOOD! While some feedback might not be helpful, learn from other feedback that actually is.
Pay it forward and be active in your new community
If you get to a point where your content is shared/viewed by enough people you start to build a small community of students. By participating with and helping these students you can again earn more trust so they keep coming back for more when you teach something new. If you're interested in building a business out of something like this you could eventually (I'm talking years in) start to offer things for sale whether it's products or your time for consultations.
Hang in there
This type of path is not for the impatient. You absolutely need to enjoy teaching and learning in public for this method to work.