Four years ago I was a dedicated IT professional. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, ate breakfast and went to work routinely everyday. I would occasionally chat with coworkers about the latest happenings and get down to the most recent matters at hand. That's all changed.
Throughout my 20 years in IT, I have learned a lot by following this routine every day. Between all of the jobs I've had over the years I've been able to accumulate a lot of knowledge (some good, some bad). I've leveraged this knowledge to progress in my career and to increase my income incrementally. A potential employer loved seeing lots of experience on my resume, and every time I'd make the jump to another job I would always get a 10% or more bump in yearly salary.
However, unbeknownst to me, I held the golden ticket to much more significant opportunities locked away in my noggin - my knowledge.
On a whim, I decided to start a public blog about what I was dealing with at work. I started it because I enjoyed what I was working on. I felt that if I could step away from the daily grind a bit and document the successes I had at work, it'd not only act as documentation for myself but might help others in the process.
I started blogging and also tweeting quite a bit about the topics I was interested in and some of the unique scenarios I had encountered. In short order, it took off. Google picked it up, and I was soon answering questions about all kinds of IT topics. It was so rewarding! Little did I know, this was just the beginning.
Before I knew it, I was not only blogging but doing online courses, presenting tech demonstrations on YouTube and writing on lots of other sites besides my own. I was hooked!
Fast-forward four years, and I've now got multiple online courses published, a YouTube channel, a complete eBook and a print book due out next year. Times sure have changed. I've tapped into my knowledge well and have begun monetizing it!
Contributing to a Community
Throughout my knowledge-sharing journey, I've learned that first giving back with no expectations of payment is crucial. I didn't start out making money from my knowledge. I merely wanted to share freely (and still do) what I'm able to learn and to share with others.
Being around like-minded people is intoxicating. It not only gives you the motivation to do more and push harder but it also allows you to make connections with others. Through these connections, you build friendships and comradery, but you put yourself in a position to have more opportunities come your way.
Through my community connections, I was able to get a job making double what my previous job paid. Being part of a community allows you to help others, make friends and potentially make career advancements in the process!
My community is IT. Geeks have never been known to be extroverts. One of the most common barriers to sharing knowledge is self-confidence. Lots of people in my community don't think they're good enough. The reason all come down to one thing; lack of self-confidence.
To share your knowledge means exposing yourself to some degree. To write a blog post, record a screencast and post it on YouTube or reply to a question on a forum opens yourself up to some level of criticism. There is always that chance of some random, anonymous person on the Internet attempting to discredit your statements. But, in my experience, those haters make up less than 1% of the feedback you will receive.
The enormous percentage of people you interact with online will be appreciative you're taking the time to share your thoughts. They will thank you for helping them with a problem they've been struggling with. You do know lots of things others do not. Never assume that whatever knowledge you have is a commodity; it's not. You have valuable knowledge to share!
Screencasting as a Knowledge-sharing Tool
As I've already talked about, there are lots of ways to share your knowledge, but they all boil down to contributing content in three forms; written, audio and video.
There have been numerous studies published on what makes the most impact online, and studies have shown that video is the best. Whether that video is shot with an iPhone demonstrating how to make the perfect basket underwater or a recording of your computer screen while narrating; a video is attention-grabbing. People's attention spans are short. Video allows you to capture and keep that attention by providing constant video movement and interesting/entertaining audio. It's a lot easier to close a browser tab with a bunch of text rather than seeing constant action in a video!
Screencasting, in particular, is powerful for my niche. Since 100% of the content I produce is on the computer, screencasting is the best medium for me. Screencasting allows me to explain complicated technical scenarios so much easier than the written word. People are visual beings. If you can help them visualize what a solution may look like, they're able to understand your message so much better.
Where to Start: Find a Platform
You've got the knowledge and decided on the type of content you'd like to share. Now what?
You've got to find a platform. You need to find where that knowledge is going to go. What platform you choose all depends on your goal. Determine whatever medium is most comfortable for you. However, if you're in tech and most of your knowledge is via a computer, I'd like to introduce you to a new video platform called TechSnips.
TechSnips is a screencasting platform for anyone with techy knowledge that allows you to record short, 1-15 minute screencasts and get paid for them. If you're sharing knowledge via video, you could use a platform like YouTube, but you'll find that you're amongst a sea of content. Differentiating yourself there is hard.
A platform like TechSnips is different than YouTube because all screencasts are professionally edited at no cost to you. You also become part of a community in of itself of like-minded techies that you can learn from and make connections with! Consider being a TechSnips contributor as being in an exclusive club. Being a part of a community like the TechSnips contributor community will help promote your content and get paid in the process!
If you'd like more information about this topic, I encourage you first to check out a session I did recently entitled How to Accelerate Your Career and Others by Proving You're a Badass. This is a talk I did in an attempt to inspire others to share knowledge and what benefits it provides. It covers everything we've gone over here and shows you my rise in the ranks by sharing my experience and getting involved in a community.