Hi, I’m Dave and This is How I Work

Our contributors are hard at working building snips and courses for our training partners but surprisingly enough they already have a life outside of TechSnips!

To bring to light our contributors are real human beings, we’re putting on a blog post series entitled How I Work where we get a glimpse into the humans behind the TechSnips contributor.

Today, it’s Dave’s Pinkawa’s turn.

Where are you located?

Currently in a suburb of Chicago called Crystal Lake, IL.

What are your current gigs?

Full-time Systems Administrator
I also teach CompTIA courses at a local community college once a week (12-week classes, up to 3 times per year)
TechSnips Contributor

What’s one word to describe your work?

Ever-changing (Technically two words? Oh well!)

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?

OneNote – Miscellaneous note taking, very organizable, and easy to store in any cloud storage provider (OneDrive / Google Drive, etc)
Google Calendar – Life is crazy, but made so much easier with shared calendars even in my personal life.
ToDoist – Where the calendar helps keep my brain organized long-term, ToDoist is treated like my bullet journal for the coming next 7 days. The nicest part for me is re-occurring events, like reminders for workout days, garbage pickup, etc that can be set.
PowerShell – My go-to for just about everything work-wise if I can help it. I attribute much of my career growth to taking on this language.

What does your workspace look like?

At home, I have an office space carved out for myself just off of the family room.
2 monitors, gaming PC, and a shelf stuffed with IT related books I’ve accumulated over the years.

What’s a typical workweek look like?

Lately, it’s been Mondays and Fridays working from home, with Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday in the office.
On nights/weeks that I have class, I typically work from the office because it’s closer to campus (even if it’s on a Monday)

What do you like the best about your role?

The challenge of proper prioritization. Every day there is a new task at hand, and by some stroke of luck, I can context-switch my brain very efficiently.

What’s something about you that no one knows about?

I’m a certified scuba diver, that will probably never scuba dive again!
Having passed my final dive test with my class, all of whom were fine, I experienced decompression sickness!

What do you listen to while you work?

Soundcloud / Amazon Music have been my go-to for a while, listening to podcasts of various DJs or sets of their music from festivals.
When I listen to music while working, it can’t have lyrics otherwise it’s distracting for me.
Artists I’ve liked for this lately: Nora En Pure, Eric Prydz, Above & Beyond

What do you wish you could change about your work?

While I get to partake in creating scripted solutions for problems, oftentimes my day is spent discussing problems and how to solve them instead of being hands-on in the console. My current goal is to up the ratio of time spent scripting vs. time spent answering emails, etc.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?

The PowerShell Summit was an amazing and eye-opening experience, which has been great to share with co-workers and other community members about the learnings there.

How TechSnips Does Courses

If you’ve ever subscribed to or purchased content on e-learning services like Pluralsight, CBT Nuggets, LinkedIn Learning (Lynda), Udemy, et al., you’ve been a student of an e-learning course. These courses aim to help students learn a particular skill, help them pass a certification exam or enter an entirely new profession. A course can be just about anything, especially on Udemy!

Every successful e-learning course has lots of students and a single or a handful of instructors. A wildly popular course could have millions of students yet an only instructor (author). The chances of being a student on a course are a whole lot more likely than being the course author.

At TechSnips, we help IT professionals, developers, tech pros of all walks of life transform from one of the many (students) to one of the few (instructors). We help subject matter experts (SMEs) turn the knowledge in their head into a well-thought-out course that will potentially help millions of students learn a new skill to get that promotion, pass that certification exam to get a new job or just get a jump start on a new hobby!

Snips vs. Courses

Before we get into courses, it’s important you first understand our split snip vs. course programs. If you’ve seen our website, techsnips.io, you’ll see here nor there a course. TechSnips.io hosts short, how-to videos that get right to the point and teach a task. We call these videos snips. Snips are perfect if an IT pro knows what his problem is just not how to do it. Snips teach how to perform a task. Courses, on the other hand, explain how to build a skill.

Snips are the perfect solution in a pinch for that system administrator that can’t figure out how to upload files to Microsoft Azure, install a PowerShell module or how to back up a virtual machine. These are all tasks. Courses, on the other hand, teach skills that may or may not be groups of snips combined with slides, quizzes, etc.

A snip teaches how to repair a car transmission; a course teaches how to become a mechanic. Task vs. skill. Learning how to fix a car transmission is an important task every mechanic needs to learn, but it’s not nearly everything a mechanic needs to know to become ASE certified.

TechSnips still maintains our snip platform and will continue to do so but will not be the primary business focus for the time being.

E-Learning Training Companies

Previously, I mentioned companies like Pluralsight, LinkedIn Learning (Lynda), Udemy and others. These companies provide courses directly to their customers. Each company has a two-sided market; students and instructors. To attract customers (students), these companies must produce great courses. But to create great courses, they need experts (instructors) that can teach them. They can and do hire full-time instructors but also hire many contractors to develop these courses.

Each training company built and maintains its own platform, has its own students and markets their individual courses to acquire as many customers as possible.

These companies invest lots of money acquiring both instructors and students creating a large match-making service.

TechSnips is not a training company although we do tend to dabble in our own courses from time to time. Our primary focus is on filling a gap in our training company partners’ content libraries by providing access to many different experts capable of producing many different courses.

We work directly with training companies, not against them to provide a “Courses as a Service” platform by automating and removing every logistical task necessary to create a course. We strive to let experts teach their skills and handle the rest.

Working Directly with Training Companies

Typically, when an e-learning company needs a course created, they will reach out to individual authors in an attempt to woo a subject matter expert to build the course for them. Or, a potential course author will reach out to the training company and pitch course ideas to see if the training company will bite. Either way, the relationship is always 1:1 between a single author and the training company.

On the surface, this 1:1 relationship sounds simple until a course newbie really gets into it. They will soon be overwhelmed by course logistics.

  • What kind of outline are you looking for?
  • What kind of instructional style do you want?
  • When do I need to put in slides?
  • What slide template do I use again?
  • Do you always need a course introduction?
  • Holy hell, I’ve got to build my own demo environment?
  • Now, a module is part of a course, and a lesson is part of a module, right?
  • Do you need the videos in MP4, AVI or MOV format?
  • What’s the framerate supposed to be?
  • How long should the course be? Do you have a max length per lesson?
  • What is “scope” and how does it relate to courses and individual lessons?
  • What exactly does this contract I’m signing mean?
  • You mean to tell me I have to be a video editor too on top of all of this?
  • …and on and on.

I went through all of this when I was first producing courses for various companies and to be honest, I hated it. I loved coming up with the scenarios and teaching, but I hated all of the logistics that went into ensuring the course was packaged precisely how the training company wanted it.

I especially hated doing my own editing. I tried to outsource as much as possible, but I would then have to train contractors on the exact specifications the company needed, remember to pay them and still handle all of the paperwork with the training company. I wished there was a better way…

Where TechSnips Comes In

Training companies will always have their own specific requirements, and these hoops will still have to be jumped through, but we believe the author shouldn’t have to. We think a subject matter expert should do what they do best; be an expert in the subject they’re teaching! Crazy concept, huh?

We believe that it’s entirely unnecessary for an expert to concern him or herself with all of the logistics that go into course production. Instead, we want an expert to teach. That’s it. Plain and simple. All of the other rigamarole that goes into getting a course laid out and submitted to a training company shouldn’t even come into the picture.

Spreading the Workload

I’ve seen it many times. When you lay a pre-created 3-hour course outline in front of a tech expert that’s never authored a course before, their eyes glaze over. Even though the first part (coming up the outline) is completed for them, time building demo environments, building slides and a lot of deep thinking all come to a head and freeze them up. “That…..will take me a few months!”, they say. …and they’re right if they’re on their own.

What makes TechSnips unique is our contributor community. We have nearly 100 experts in our community now and growing that can help. Courses are typically created by a single author and for a good reason. It’s hard to delegate responsibilities to multiple people, but we believe we’ve cracked that nut.

TechSnips has a model that allows us to assign multiple authors to a single course all using a single platform and payments evenly split by the amount of work each author puts in. We’re even working on multiple authors per lesson! Imagine getting that sweet, sweet passive income from a course when all you’ve done is create the scripts the course presenter then records in the video. It’s possible as a TechSnips course author.

Creating a Course from Scratch

If you’ve never been involved in creating an e-learning course, the process is the same regardless if you’re creating courses for Pluralsight, LinkedIn Learning (Lynda), CBT Nuggets or any other large training company.

In a tiny nutshell, the overall stages to publish a course are:

  • Course pitch (working with the company to determine what course they want)
  • Course summary (creating an overall review of what the course is about)
  • Course proposal (building an outline of sections, lessons, abstracts, etc.)
  • Approval (working with the company to agree on your proposal)
  • Paperwork (reading and signing legal contracts)
  • Demos (building demo environments, coming up with scripts and recording)
  • Slides (building slide decks and recording slides)
  • Editing (after recording, ensuring the video flows nicely)
  • Submitting demo/slides (sending demos/slides to the company)
  • Demos/slides approval (performing any edits/re-records necessary)
  • Publishing the course (company publishes your course on their platform)
  • Getting paid (Yay! We’re done!)

We at TechSnips understand these stages intimately and have designed an automated system to account for all of them allowing all of our course authors to only worry about the absolute minimum. However, we’re not going to gloss over the fact that creating a course whether you’re partnering with TechSnips or not requires work.

Effort Required to Build a Course

With talk of all this work, are you scared yet? I hope not! Producing courses with TechSnips alleviates a ton of work, but we’re not going to build the course for you! You’re the expert; we’re just the platform.

Before we too far into this topic, I have to let you know that everyone is different. Please don’t join a course and 200 hours into it, gripe to me telling me I told you that it was only going to take 20 hours if you’ve decided to boil the ocean! I can only provide numbers based on my personal experience.

Let’s break down the applicable stages from the section above that entail doing some work on the part of the course author. Remember, these are rough numbers from my personal experience from producing or helping produce ~30 different courses. These numbers are also in man hours. They do not include time waiting for a response from the training company.

Based on a typical 2-hour course, here is a breakdown by stage in hours both by working with the training company alone or and as a TechSnips contributor:

Stage No Help from TechSnips As a TechSnips Contributor
Course pitch .5 0
Course summary 1 .5
Course proposal 2 1
Course approval 1 .5
Paperwork .5 .25
Demos 50 25
Slides* 20 15
Editing 20 0
Submitting demos/slides 2 2
Demos/slides approval 2 1

We reduce the course author’s workload in every stage. Through services like mentoring/coaching presentation skills, providing prebuilt lab environments, removing all editing required and providing a single platform linked to multiple training companies, we expedite from pitch to payment.

*We help out with slides as well and may eventually take this down to 0. A tech expert doesn’t need to be a PowerPoint ninja too!

Get Started Today

If you’re currently not a TechSnips contributor or are and have yet to get started on your first course, what are you waiting for? Go outside, pick up some snow and let’s see what kind of monster we can build together!

Join Us!

Passive Income: The Holy Grail of Money-Making

Imagine for a minute getting paid to do nothing. Every month, money just appears in your checking account without a finger lifted on your part. It’s like clockwork. Every month, the money comes in. The amount may vary month-to-month but usually stays around the same. This monthly account deposit is everyone’s best friend; passive income.

Many people think the only way to make money is to trade in their time. Whether you have a full-time job working 40 hours/week or are a consultant charging $150/hr, the amount of money you receive is dependent on the amount of time you put in. Work more, get paid more whether you’re going into overtime or burning the midnight oil as a consultant or contractor.

If you’ve never experienced passive income before, getting paid every month when you haven’t stepped foot outside your door to go to work seems crazy. It almost looks too good to be true but, I assure you, it’s not. It’s merely extending the payment model you’re used to over a long period. The work still must be done, but you are paid not based on your time but on the value your work delivers.

Passive income is a general term that refers to putting in work for a limited amount of time and getting paid for that work for years to come. Passive income can be achieved lots of ways from building software or an online service and providing a self-service checkout, writing a book and collecting royalties, writing an eBook and hosting it on a platform like Leanpub and receiving a share of the revenue, having blog sponsors or any other activity that requires work upfront with payments over time.

The Snowball Story

A great metaphor to explain passive income is to compare it to a snowball.

Imagine you’re outside on a snowy day, pick up some snow and make a snowball. The snow is that wet, sticky snow, so you’re able to create this snowball easily. Holding the snowball in your hand, it weighs no more than a few ounces. This is the money you receive from royalties your first month via your first course. Cute but nothing to write home about.

That snowball in your hand reminds you of the mountains, so you decide you need to climb Mt. Everest to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Just go with me here. You battle the elements and take your little snowball with you to the top as a reminder of where you came from.

Once you’re at the top, you then decide to free your little snowball and roll it down the mountain. At first, it merrily bounces along down the mountain but soon begins to grow mowing down shrubs, grow some more where it’s now pummeling small trees, roll down a few more thousand feet and it’s taking out entire basecamps! By the time it gets to the bottom of the mountain, it’s on a mission and soon takes out tiny Tibetan towns.

Your once cute little snowball has morphed into a monster consuming everything in its path. Now imagine that snowball is your money and the altitude is time. The farther down the mountain the snowball goes, the more work you do and the more value you create exponentially growing your snowball and the bigger your bank account gets. In this metaphor the snowball eventually stops; it’s simple physics. But in our real, passive income example, the money keeps coming in month after month forever!

Building Passive Income with E-learning Courses

Passive income comes in many forms, but here at TechSnips, we provide this nirvana-like service in the way of e-learning courses. The TechSnips Course program partners with leading training companies that need online courses and we also publish our own. Regardless of where the course is posted, it will always be made for sale and will always be consumed by students over time.

A course provides value to consumers not once or twice, but, typically, for years. Since that value is spread out over time, TechSnips and you, get paid for the work that we put into building that course over that timespan.

For a course to be successful, it needs to meet three rough criteria:

  • It has to be marketed well and in front of potential students
  • It has to be packaged well
  • It has to be a well-produced, quality course that students can learn from

TechSnips and our partners take care of the first two criteria, and the third is up to you. We help you build the best course possible, but it’s ultimately up to you to make the course awesome. To develop your monster snowball, the key is quantity. The equation is simple; the more courses you produce, the more money you make and the longer your passive income will continue over time.

Let’s Talk Numbers

We’re talking passive income here, but we also need to speak to the upfront payments you get when authoring courses with TechSnips. When a course is completed, you will receive anywhere from $800 to $2000+. If you’ve decided to go lone ranger on the course and are the sole author, that entire amount is yours. If not, that amount is then split between any other authors that are also assigned to that course.

The upfront payment isn’t bad but hardly worth the 30-50+ hours of work that may go into a 2-hour course. The real money is in the passive income!

A snowball can start its journey at various sizes, and no two snowballs will take the same route down the mountain just like course royalties and revenue sharing. The size of the monster at the bottom depends on a multitude of factors, but it all comes down to popularity. The amount of passive income you receive depends on how favorited your course is with its audience.

For example, Pluralsight uses its own platform to host courses for students and pays royalties based on minutes viewed. Packt, on the other hand, distributes their courses amongst many different platforms and pays you based on a percentage of revenue earned from your course. Either way, you get paid more if your course is popular and less if no one wants to watch it.

Once you’re approved as a TechSnips course author, you can build courses for many different training companies all with a single platform.

It’s tough to determine how much you can anticipate receiving per month in passive income. The number all depends on the TechSnips course partner, the time of year, how good the partner is at marketing your course, if your course is aimed at beginners, intermediate or experts and more. With that being said, I can provide a big range. If you are the sole author on a course, you can expect anywhere from $20 – $2000/month. I told you it was a big range! I can’t, with a good conscience, tell you exactly how much you will make.

How much you make solely depends on your ability to teach a great course and how many courses you produce.

Get Started Today!

If you’re currently not a TechSnips contributor or are and have yet to get started on your first course and are not presently seeing passive income, what are you waiting for? Go outside, pick up some snow and let’s see what kind of monster we can build together!

Join us!