How I Decided to Join TechSnips and Became a Contributor

 

 

After the birth of my first son, I was feeling like I was at a crossroads in my career. I have been working in IT on my own and for many others for a while now (I built my first computer somewhere around 1999-2000) and have been exposed to many different types of environments and tasks. Since his arrival into my life, I have had a growing sense of responsibility to move beyond just having mentors, to being the mentor and teaching; from being the apprentice to becoming the master.

The Journey

Back in May, I was following quite a few industry peers who were tech bloggers, presenters, and evangelists. One of those peers is Adam Bertram. I had seen a few tweets about an opportunity to get involved in a new venture that centered on the IT pro and career advancement. Having just finished reading the book “Be The Master” by Don Jones, I was inspired to take a leap and do more, I just wasn’t sure exactly how. I responded to one of Adam’s messages. Not long after, I had received a message from him. He explained that he was developing a new business in which IT pros could gain some valuable exposure to the IT community, teach others and further their careers. Everyone had something worth teaching.

I left that conversation having been inspired and was convinced that this was an opportunity worthy of investing time in. Therefore, I began to think of something that I knew that I could teach. Having some experience with Group Policy, and a passion for PowerShell, I did something…

I Just Hit Record…

It sounds easy, and for the most part that is true. For many people, including myself, not so much. IT pros tend to be a little shy, and afraid to put themselves out there. Aside from occasionally being very active on some forums, I had never recorded myself. I have taught some people one on one, but never a group of random strangers on the Internet.

This was an undiscovered country for me.

To Boldly Go…

After a period of reflection on what I could possibly contribute that was in my mind worthy of teaching. Side note, everything is worth teaching! Not everyone who is in IT is at the same point in his or her career as you. I remember having a hard time with some topics and not having someone there to teach me, but I digress.

I searched my geek stash for any supplies I could find to aid in making a recording. A spare monitor here, a junk microphone there. Some free screen-recording software. With zero initial budget, there were some struggles. Specifically audio battles. With the help of @MichaelBender, I obtained a much more high-quality microphone that eliminated most of the poor sound quality that was keeping my demo from passing acceptance to become a snip contributor. I am forever grateful for that random act of kindness.

With newfound confidence and better audio, I regrouped and submitted another demo, and it was accepted. The first hurdle passed, I learned a lot and was inspired to keep going. So I made a short snip on How to Create a Starter Group Policy Object with PowerShell on Windows Server 2016 which demonstrates how to quickly create an empty Starter GPO that can be configured with baseline settings, creating a template of sorts for future use. With some guidance from Adam, @_BryceMcDonald and the TechSnips editing team, the final snip was polished and published. It was a milestone for my career:

I was now a professionally published contributor.

Conclusion

The feeling of knowing that I have left something valuable for someone to learn from has not faded. It’s driven me to also submit writings about Pester to the TechSnips.io blog, and to publish two additional snips since then with more in the works as time allows. I take great pride in telling people about what TechSnips has done for me and why my fellow IT pros should consider joining. We all have something worthy of teaching the next generation of IT pro. We all need to “Be the Master.” Help someone else. Just hit record, and see where it takes you.

How Did I Arrive at TechSnips?

Photo by Danka & Peter on Unsplash

Where I Came From

It’s been about 4 years since I decided that I was no longer content to simply use the Internet as a source of information. I knew at that time that I wanted to give back to the online IT community that had helped my career along for so many years. It seemed that the easiest way to begin was to start a blog. Since I already had one created, one that had been all but abandoned, I thought this was a good place to start.

So, in May 2014 I started blogging. I started off by writing once a week about what I had learned during my MSCE studies, as it gave me a good, constant source of ideas. A few months later, I decided to launch a second blog that would focus primarily on Windows Server and PowerShell tips & tricks, guides, lab setups, and walk-throughs. This is where I ran into a bit of a wall.

I was struggling to find ideas that I thought would be interesting to others. The “Imposter Syndrome” was in full force. I just didn’t think I had anything worth sharing, certainly nothing that hadn’t already been done before. That is where I finally stalled out and all but quit writing.

Over the next few years, my writings continued but were quite sporadic as I was still struggling to come up with ideas. It wasn’t until I read an article by Don Jones titled Become the Master, or Go Away that I realized just how much this imposter syndrome was holding me back.

It didn’t immediately break me out of my shell, but it did help me renew my interest in writing. I even thought about creating videos to go along with the blog posts. I still had the same problem though, no idea about what to write about.

How I Got Here

I have always found it interesting how timing plays such an important role in life, and this is one of those times. I had just finished reading “Be the Master” by Don Jones, and found myself resolved to start doing something right away. A few days later I read a guest post written by Adam Bertram on the blog hosted by Mike F. Robbins. The article, TechSnips is Looking for Content and Recruiting Contributors was a good read, and I felt that it was something I should seriously look at.

By the time I got to this part of the article: “You will learn presentation skills through feedback from myself and your peers…” I had already decided that this was something I was going to do. No doubt about it. A chance to record how-to videos sounded like a great idea. Then I read the words “and you will get paid”. This was the icing on the cake!

So, I clicked on the sign-up link, provided the required information, and submitted an audition video. Waiting to see if I would be accepted as a contributor was the longest 14 hours ever. I finally received the e-mail I had hoped for! I was accepted as a contributor to TechSnips, and I was even provided with feedback on this video so that I could improve the next video I recorded.

My Experience So Far

I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the first things I would learn about TechSnips is that everything moves quickly. It can be quite a refreshing change of pace if you’re used to things moving at a slower cadence. I have found that pace to be very motivating and quite exciting, and I love the fact that changes to TechSnips are made quickly and frequently as the business evolves. Keeping up with the changes was a challenge at first, but I quickly adjusted.

One of those changes that were made during my first few weeks was the introduction of contributor blog posts. The thing I enjoyed most about that change was the fact that Adam went from ‘No, I don’t think we are going to do blog posts’ to ‘yes we are, and here’s how we are going to do it’ inside of a single sentence. So, as you can see, changes are made rapidly.

The second lesson I learned was that there is always feedback being provided, and at every stage of the production process. For me, this advice is invaluable, as I am quite new to producing videos. The great thing about the advice is that it doesn’t just come from Adam but from everyone. If you have a question, whether it be about submitting a video, or setting up a recording environment on a budget, a quick post to the Slack channel will usually elicit a rapid response with helpful and valuable advice.

Having access to this group of professionals has been a wonderful learning experience, as everyone brings their own skills and unique point of view to the team.

TechSnips also successfully addressed the issue I was having with generating ideas. There is always a constant supply of ideas, both from the other contributors, subscribers and sometimes from Adam himself. Once I took a look through those lists of ideas, I realized just how much I had to offer the community. Imposter syndrome….deleted! Well, not entirely, but it isn’t as ever-present as it used to be.

The production quality at TechSnips impressed me right from day one. Every time I submit a video or a blog post, I think to myself “Yeah, that looks pretty good.” Then the editors get a hold of it and give it this incredibly polished look. I will confess to being happily surprised at how good that first video looked after the editing was complete. Now, I find myself anxiously awaiting the final product every time I submit a new video. I just can’t wait to see how good they look.

I am having an absolutely fantastic time with TechSnips! I haven’t had this much fun or felt this excited to work on a new project in a very long time. The sense of teamwork, constant advice, support, and being able to see my content published alongside the that of so many other professionals has been quite rewarding. I cannot think of anywhere better to spread my wings and learn some new skills. I have found everything I need here; Training, guidance, teamwork, ideas, and enough work and excitement to keep me coming back for more.

I would highly recommend to anyone who is thinking about publishing content to give TechSnips a try. There is nothing to lose from the attempt, and so very much to gain.

David Lamb is a Systems Administrator managing Windows servers and clients since 1995, spending a large portion of his career in the aviation industry. His first certification was the MCSE on Windows NT 4.0, earned in 2001. David lives in Alberta, Canada, and is currently spending his free time learning PowerShell, blogging, and pursuing the MCSE certification on Windows Server.