How I Published My First Technical Video Course

Author: Shane Larson
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The story of how I published my first technical video course about building Node.js microservices.

Earlier this year I was approached by an editor from Packt Publishing, a print-on-demand publishing company based in the UK. Packt was looking for a technical person to create a video course that they could market on multiple platforms online. They told me there is a high demand for technical tutorials to help programmers learn faster.

They say that you make your own luck, and I have always believed that's a true statement. I am sometimes amazed at how opportunities appear to people when you create the right environment for it. If you're willing to work hard towards a goal, take pride in your work, and maintain a positive outlook, it creates the right conditions for luck to occur!

So after a collaborative interview with the awesome editors at Packt, I signed a contract to create the course, Building Microservices with Node.js.

It took me a bit longer than expected to build the course. It's hard to find time for a project like this when you have a full time job, have kids, and are building a cabin in the woods of Alaska. That kind of time commitment can be a real drag on you, especially when it's winter in Alaska and you haven't seen the sun in two weeks!

To be honest there was a point where I wasn't sure this was for me. I actually almost gave up on it completely, and I did I would have lost my investment of my time and even some money that I had put into the project. It helped to get a little encouragement from Shashank, my acquisition editor. Plus, there was a commitment and promise that I had made as well.

In terms of equipment I went to Best Buy and bought a Blue Snowball microphone, which worked really well with my laptop. The mic quality is pretty good overall, but if you were wanting to really go pro in this area, there are definitely better options.

I also purchased Camtasia, which is an amazing product made by the company that makes Snagit. With Camtasia, I was able to record my presentations in video, overdub my voice with the mic, and edit the videos. It was pretty expensive, at around $250, but it is the best product in this class that I've seen. Techsmith makes awesome products and Camtasia is worth every penny spent.

As a side note, my publisher uses a great service called Panopto, a video platform with businesses and universities in mind. It comes with some decent video editing software, and allows you to create a privately owned video library. Think of it like your own private YouTube, except the content can be made private and remain behind a secure login. Businesses could use this for training, or to create subscription video products. Universities could use the platform as a way to store lectures and associate them with classes. I didn't have to pay to use Panopto thanks to my publisher, but I was impressed with the concept.

In terms of time invested, let's just say that this takes a lot of work! Every course may be different in length, and each person will have their own production rate of speed. When planning your time, remember that you will likely spend at least as much time researching the concepts you're teaching as you will spend filming.

There is also time invested in creating source code for the project and sometimes standing up servers in the cloud in order to test your concepts. If you do this, my recommendation is to keep the supplemental material as simple as possible while still getting the point across. It does not have to be perfect.

In the end I was able to get myself out of the fabled "dip" (See Seth Godin's Book) when I came to a point of decision about the project. I made the call to keep chugging away at it, regardless of outcome. So finally, I finished the course.

There is a process of editing and judging your material as the publisher stages your content for the product launch. Then after some time, depending on how much works needs to be done, and any business decisions that need to be made, the video course was released to the public!

The immediate reward was the satisfaction of knowing that I am now a published author. It didn't hurt to get the cash advance also! I'm expecting to see some royalties as well. Other than that, the amount of knowledge I gained in creating this course provided me with immeasurable value. It was truly a learning and growing experience for me. It was especially cool to see the course published at Safari Books Online, because I use that service for work.

Since the project completed, I've signed two more contracts with Packt. I am currently creating "Mastering Microservices in Node.js", and I will soon be working on a project called "Containerization the Kubernetes Way". I am really looking forward to continuing this journey, and I am happy with how this has gone.

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