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My journey to becoming a web developer on YouTube
Owner/Founder of Real-world web development! 100% indie software dev; author of 5 books; helped over 1 million devs & counting!
・3 min read

The following is adapted from my book Tiny YouTube available on Amazon on paperback and Kindle.

I started my first YouTube channel in 2011.

Stationed overseas as an enlisted airman in the Air Force, I had just dropped an electro-funk EP and wanted to share my music with the world. So, I did what any other self-respecting indie musician does: I found a free video editor, threw down a few tracks next to some stock zombie footage and got to uploading.

Since then, I’ve had a few different channels that featured a variety of material, from vinyl collecting to kombucha reviews, and even a local weekly news program I produced.

But by 2016, things had changed.

While I enjoyed making videos for the world, I also spent a lot of time producing content. Not only that, a lot of videos featured some pretty valuable insider information! For example, I did videos on how to properly ship a vinyl record and how to sell vintage items on eBay with competitive pricing.

I felt like I was ready to go to the next level, but things were so unfocused.

How would I get an audience?

I didn’t know a lot of movers and shakers online, so who would spread the word? What would I even produce so that people would care? The 15 views on my Law and Order: SVU earrings review was exciting, but I knew I could do better...Especially because 10 of those views were mine.

Finally, in the spring of 2016, after a string of thoroughly random video uploads (a beer review, a how-to-configure-a-VPN tutorial, and a tasteless satire video published the same week), I decided to reframe my 20-subscriber channel and present my newest passion to the world: software development.

Specifically: web development.

Sure, I’d lose most of those subscribed to me but what did I really have to lose?

Soon thereafter, the RealToughCandy YouTube channel was born.

Since I was still in my learning phase as a software newbie, most of those early tech videos involved me complaining about something out of frustration.

As a self-taught developer, there was a lot to be frustrated about. There’s just so much to learn!

But fascinatingly, one of my rant videos ended up getting over 20,000 views in its first few months of existence. I was floored! That video alone ended up earning me over $100 in Google AdSense ad revenue. The irony was, once I started progressing in my career, I pulled most of those older videos because they were pretty bad.

Regardless, that was my first signal that a person could make money doing YouTube, even if she didn’t have many subscribers: I had under 1000 subs when that video started gaining traction.

As a software developer, coding things is my day job and it’s also part of my YouTube job where I share web development topics with the world.

My favorite part is hearing from people around the world who say "Thank you for your videos. You helped me ____."

Yeah, of course I enjoy getting paid. But far more importantly, I'm absolutely honored to play a positive role in so many peoples' dev journeys.

Reeee! These notes are so freakin' motivational.

To take it a step further –– you might be surprised to hear some of the things people watch on YouTube, but you might even be more surprised to learn that there’s an audience for what you do.

YouTube is by far my favorite part of my job as a self-employed software developer. For anybody thinking about taking the plunge, I say go for it!

You may be pleasantly surprised to see the places it takes you.

The RealToughCandy YouTube channel today:

Discussion (6)

fernandomaia profile image
Fernando Maia

Congrats on this journey! Doing something that you enjoy and getting good feedback must be really pleasant. Just subscribed to your YouTube channel.

realtoughcandy profile image Author

Thanks Fernando!

lizziekardon profile image

👏👏👏👏 subscribed.

realtoughcandy profile image Author

Awesome! Welcome aboard!

andrewbrooks profile image
Andrew Brooks 👨‍💻

I've actually been planning to start a web development YouTube channel as a way to teach others as well as myself in the process. Thanks for the extra motivation!

realtoughcandy profile image Author

Awesome!! Let me know when you launch it! I'm always keeping my antennae out for new dev channels. :)