I’ve got some exciting news. I’m launching my first-ever online product or service!
As many of you may know, I’ve been blogging for years, and on Twitter, doing some freelance writing, lots of community stuff, training, getting involved in forums, it’s been all kind of service oriented. I’ve done a lot for free in the community; I’ve been paid by many different people, some service gigs and things like that, but I’ve never built something with my own hands and then tried to market and sell it. I’m finally able to do that now that I’ve quit my job. It’s been a crazy week so far just trying to keep this ball rolling.
The service is called TechSnips. This is an online service that provides really short targeted, laser-focused even, screencasts on a number of different things. You’ll see snips, what I call screencast. We can have anywhere from something on PowerShell. Like “How do I create a DNS record with PowerShell?” Or, “How do I remove a Hyper-V virtual machine with PowerShell?” “How do I deploy an Azure app service with PowerShell or with a UI?” There’s even lots of stuff on Active Directory, on Pester, VMware, we’ve had some themed content there.
The screencasts are all really short focused on a particular scenario. The whole idea of TechSnips is to kind of turn the traditional training model on its head. It reminds me of T-Mobile, how they say they’re the uncarrier tech, TechSnips is kind of like the untrainer. You will get training from these snips because they are so laser-focused on a particular scenario, they’re not, ‘How to learn PowerShell.’ Or, ‘How to learn Product X.’ ‘Getting started with food,’ or whatever you want to call it. It’s not training, these are short screencasts. Our shortest one is only 52 seconds. They are anywhere from 30 seconds all the ways up to maybe 10 – 15 minutes at the very max.
They're built in a way that there are no slides, they just get down to brass tacks immediately. I’ve taken a lot of courses and I’ve done a lot of courses and generally, you have to build up all this background ahead of time. You have to build up the why and you can’t go deeply into the how and you end up staring at a slide for a few minutes and you’re zoning out. It’s just a waste of time.
Even if it’s a demo, where you see somebody on a screencast going around and clicking and typing things and showing you things, 9 times out of 10, you’ll always have somebody that feels the need to go into depth on something and just stop what they’re doing on the screen and yammer on and on about why they’re doing that. About all the thousand different scenarios you could run into while doing it, and it just gets old. Naturally, you kind of zone out. You want to be able to just learn or figure out something now.
Not Your Typical Training
TechSnips is not training, it’s not necessarily about learning. That’s going to be a side benefit of it but it’s all about solving an immediate problem for a subscriber. Let me give you an example, let’s say you’re at your job and your manager drops something in your lap that says, “I need you to create a bunch of Active Directory users from the CSV file” that would be a snip. The snip would be “How to create users from a CSV information from Active Directory.” It’s all about scenarios.
Each snip is going to be about if somebody goes to Google and types ‘how do I do this’, ‘how to do this thing’. That’s what a snip is going to be about. For example, a snip is not going to be necessarily about something like ‘Getting started with Windows Server 2016’. That would be horrendous; that would not work whatsoever, because that’s very, very vague. Snips are very specific, they’re a specific scenario.
We’re not ever going to have a ‘getting started with this’ or ‘learning how to do this’, learning and getting started are banned in TechSnips titles. Every TechSnips title is going to start with ‘how to do this thing’, they’re always going to be less than 10 maybe, at its extreme max, 15 minutes. They’re all going to be very, very focused.
Many People to Learn From
The great thing is, it’s not just going to be me, I’ve contributed a few snips out there but I’ve been able to recruit dozens of other contributors and I’ll continue to do so. I’m kind of the facilitator in this; I’ve built the platform and I’m actively still (if you’re interested) accepting contributors to that and I’ll have a link at the end where you can go to sign up if you want.
It’s all about having other contributors do these snips because one thing that I’ve seen with getting started with doing courses and getting involved with courses like Pluralsight, Udemy, or any other skill training sites, is they’re really hard to get started. You have to go through this long kind of drawn-out audition process, you have to come up with an outline, you have to make sure all the modules fit together in a subsequent order. It’s more involved, it’s a great experience; I definitely recommend somebody doing it.
For somebody who hasn’t done anything like that before, short focused screencasts, that are not necessarily dependent on each other, are a lot easier to do. You can explain everything there is to know about, ‘how to create an Active Directory user’, that’s it, focused and not have any kind of dependency on that whatsoever. There’s really not any outline to do. The good contributors know they’re going to do stuff that they know a lot about. They worked on that stuff in the industry for a long time and they could probably just do it off the top of their head.
I’ve done dozens already, just off the top of my head, without any preparation because I know the content, I know the topics so well. That’s what I’ve seen a lot of people do, they know the topic so well that they could just bust these out in no time. They immediately go through a process.
I do screen some audition videos, once people go through the very, very short audition process, at that point, it’s me removing all the barriers for other people to do these snips. I comment and review every one of them, once we go back and forth if they need to re-record, they go and do that. If not, I have a few editors that I have that edit everything, the contributors don’t have to edit anything whatsoever.
The editor goes through and edits out all the ums and ahhs and flubs and the silence, and adds all the call-outs to the videos. At that point, I just have to publish it to the platform and then it’s available to new subscribers. For contributors, it’s a really good idea. I would have loved to have something like this when I was first starting. The best part about being a contributor is you get paid. I’m not going to have people go through this and not get paid anything, that’s not ethically right.
Being a Contributor
Contributors get paid by me sharing a percentage of the revenue with each contributor. If there are a few details in there of how much you get paid, it’s all going to be royalty based. So, contributors don’t get paid up front. I want to treat people that are helping me with this as partners, so you get paid essentially when I get paid. If the site doesn’t make any money, I don’t make any money, I actually lose a lot of money because of all my fixed costs but you don’t make any money as well.
I really want to bring on partners and every month as your videos get more popular, then you’re able to make more and more money based on the number of views that your videos get.
For subscribers, if you don’t want to go that route, contributors get a 50% discount, just because you’re a contributor and you’re teaching things doesn’t mean you know everything. You’re always going to have to learn everything. If you don’t want to be a contributor, that’s perfectly fine. You can do a subscription model, right now we have three plans. If you’re just an IT professional, sysadmin, software developer, anything like that, you can come in and have a personal subscription and with an all-you-can-eat sort of thing you can come to the site, type in ‘how to fix this thing’ and chances are a screencast will pop up by myself or one of our contributors will show you exactly what you need to know.
And there are other models where if you’re an IT Director, IT manager, CIO, somebody in a management position, we also have a business subscription to where you can buy subscriptions for your team or your department and everybody kind of have a shared subscription that way.
It’s really been a great experience so far. It’s been so much work being able to do the marketing and the product creation, build some of the dozens of snips that I’ve had to do, some demonstrations, finding the editors to do recruiting, other people creating, slack channels helping contributors, hiring a site designer.
It’s so much work but it’s so rewarding at this point because I am a born entrepreneur. I believe that with every part of my body. I’m a born entrepreneur and even if this mission succeeds or fails, I’m just glad I did it.
I see a need for this sort of thing in the marketplace, in the IT industry and I really hope it’s going to be something. I just hope that it doesn’t flop. Come June 5th, by the way, is the official public launch but you can sign up to the email list and get a pre-launch sneak preview before. But, TechSnips, go other there and sign up and see what it’s all about. If you like it, subscribe and let me know, give me feedback, let me know how you like it. Thanks!