The Relican’s Chris Sean talks to special guest Justin Chau about all things successful streaming and social media as a self-taught dev. If you’ve been thinking about getting into such business, this episode is a must-listen!
Should you find a burning need to share your thoughts or rants about the show, please spray them at firstname.lastname@example.org. While you’re going to all the trouble of shipping us some bytes, please consider taking a moment to let us know what you’d like to hear on the show in the future. Despite the all-caps flaming you will receive in response, please know that we are sincerely interested in your feedback; we aim to appease. Follow us on the Twitters: @LaunchiesShow.
Jonan Scheffler: Hello and welcome to Launchies, proudly brought to you by New Relic's developer relations team, The Relicans. The Launchies podcast is about supporting new developers and telling their stories, and helping you make the next step in what we certainly hope is a very long and healthy career in software. You can find the show notes for this episode along with all of The Relicans podcasts on developer.newrelic.com/podcasts. We're so glad you're here. Enjoy the show.
Chris Sean Debatos: What is up, everyone? Welcome to another Launchies podcast. Welcome to another episode. My name is Chris Sean. And in this episode today, I got the one, the only Justin Chau. Justin Chau, I want to welcome you to this podcast. Welcome. [Claps]
Justin Chau: Well, thank you for having me, Chris. This is a pleasure.
Chris Sean: [Laughs] Are you sure it's a pleasure?
Justin: Oh, 100%. Why would it not be?
Chris Sean: For sure. It better be. I'm just joking. But Justin, a longtime friend, I guess you could say. I've known you for a year, but it feels like a lot longer. Actually, I've known you for longer than a year. How have you been?
Justin: I've been doing good, man, just relaxing, making content, learning how to code still, but it's been going really good. I've already seen some pretty huge milestones in growth in 2021. So it's going good. How about you?
Chris Sean: I'm doing well. Man, your growth has been pretty fast. I wonder who helped you a little bit too? [Laughs]
Justin: Oh, okay.
Chris Sean: Okay. My bad, I'm just joking. [Laughs] Dude, you've been putting so much effort. It's amazing to see the amount of content you’re putting out. Wow.
Justin: It's a nonstop grind. You know better than anybody it's like, the more you put out, the more growth you see. So I'm really, really just trying to stick to it.
Chris Sean: It's all about quantity.
Chris Sean: The content will not always be amazing, but if you just keep putting out content -- which I need to do starting next week. [Chuckles] That's awesome. Well, for those who do not know you, can you please introduce yourself?
Justin: Sure. My name is Justin Chau. I am more appropriately known on social media by chau_codes or just Chau Codes. I started Instagram back in 2019 started documenting my journey on being a self-taught dev, and ever since then, I've been branching out to other social media. So I'm pretty much a self-taught web developer and continue to document my journey on all social media platforms that I have, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, all that. So that's pretty much a short intro to me, and that's what I'm all about.
Chris Sean: One of the reasons I really wanted you to be on here number one, I know you. Number two, I really know you. [Laughs] And Number three, I know your journey, the journey you're on. I know your deepest, darkest secrets [Laughs], and other than that, honestly, it's inspiring to see what you're overcoming and your growth. So you are a developer; you've done freelance projects. People have paid you to code. But you don't have a full-time job yet, but you do something else full-time, which is content creation.
Chris Sean: Your stream has been insane, the growth, wow. So now I'm streaming like crazy. I got 55 people in my last one. I'm trying to blow that up. I'm trying to catch up with you. I'm keeping up with you, Justin Chau. [Laughs].
Justin: Hey, 55 is still good. You're right behind me. I just got 80 on my streams.
Chris Sean: That's the problem: behind. [Laughter] I'm a little competitive, but it's okay, behind.
Justin: You, competitive? No.
Chris Sean: [Laughs] You've seen me. We've played games together. But yeah, your stream's growing, your Instagram, again, is growing. It's crazy, by the way. You do take amazing pictures.
Justin: Thank you.
Chris Sean: And your YouTube subscriptions are growing too.
Justin: So fast. I mean on all platforms --
Chris Sean: What do you have right now?
Justin: I just hit 15K as of a couple of days ago on YouTube.
Chris Sean: 15K?
Chris Sean: How many videos are you uploading a week, three, four?
Justin: On average, two. I like to stay around two.
Chris Sean: So I need to upload four, okay. [Laughs]
Justin: Yes, you do. You need to catch up.
Chris Sean: I'm a little behind. Okay, I deserve that.
Justin: Let’s do it, Chris Sean.
Chris Sean: [Laughs] So my question then as someone who's still trying to find that permanent full-time job with no jobs permanent, to be honest, how has being a content creator or building your own brand helped you?
Justin: It's a good question. Obviously, the biggest door that content creation has opened for me is the networking. You are now a big part of the community in a sense, and I'd say that very loosely. I don't want to say I'm a big person in the community, but you're now this person that people know about. And that opens up doors to talking to hiring managers, talking to other engineers or people who are already working, such as yourself. If I had not done content creation, we would never have met. I would have still been someone who watched your YouTube videos all the time or done tutorials in the background. So being able to create content and then open myself up to another community which is the content creation community, allows me to talk to more people, connect with more people. And in turn, that helps with referrals. It helps with getting information in terms of the interview process, which is what I had to go through recently and different things like that. So being able to communicate and talk directly with a lot of the people in our community has been what has changed the game for me in terms of the job hunt and growing as a developer in general.
Chris Sean: For sure. People who never knew about you know about you now.
Chris Sean: How many people follow you on Instagram?
Chris Sean: Do you know how many people fill up a Lakers NBA stadium?
Justin: I don't.
Chris Sean: Let's just say it's 15,000, 20,000. When you watch it on TV, that's a lot of people, 50,000 people know you, which is more than double that.
Justin: Now that you say that, it's humbling in a way.
Chris Sean: 15,000 people subscribed to you on YouTube, and that's filling up almost you're selling out in a stadium.
Justin: That's crazy.
Chris Sean: 80,000 people know me, so that's different. [Laughs]
Justin: Yeah, right, humble flex.
Chris Sean: But it's crazy when you think about it like that.
Justin: It is. You don't ever quantify, or you never put it into that kind of analogy. You just think, okay, 45K that's a lot of people, but when you put it into the context of an NBA stadium or a court, that's wild to me because obviously, when you watch the Lakers or any showtime team, The Warriors, Celtics, whatever, when those stadiums are sold out and packed, that's a lot of people. And to imagine I have a following, and we have a following that's more than if not the same as that, that's wild.
Chris Sean: And I genuinely think that's the best way to network is through social media more than LinkedIn.
Chris Sean: LinkedIn has good content, but I don't see it as something that helped me get a job.
Justin: So you could treat LinkedIn as somewhat of a social media platform now with all the posts that you're doing there and things like that. It's definitely what it's intended for is connecting with people, connecting directly with recruiters, hiring managers, putting out your work, and selling yourself in terms of being competitive in the space for software development or whatever it is you're trying to get into. I think that LinkedIn is underlooked as far as a social media platform like Twitter or Instagram, right? It can work that way.
Chris Sean: Yeah, that's true. It can, but I think many people think that is the only way, or Craigslist or indeed.com is the only way, and it's not the only way to get a job. And that's why I really think building a brand is so important because when you look at, let's say, NBA stadium, that's a lot of people, but imagine if you built a brand of 20,000 people following you. Some people will be like, "I don't have a million, I don't have 100,000 followers," but 20,000 is 20,000. That's 20,000 people; if they hear a situation that you're in that's difficult, they can help you out. That's literally the reason I got my last few jobs is because I have 10,000 people following me on Twitter. I tweet it out, but retweets are powerful. [Laughs]
Justin: 100%. And there are different aspects of social media, but that's the thing is what you're saying like for you, I kind of in a sense you could say, quote, unquote 'copied you' but in my own way. You put yourself out there in the form of video or in the form of tweets or in the form of pictures, and you now present yourself in a way where people can resonate with you, resonate with your story or connect with you in a different way because your story means something to them. And then that way, you can talk to people more directly in a less formal manner, if that makes sense. It's not like I would go up to a recruiter or a hiring manager; the way I would talk to them is very different to the way I talk to people on Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter. It's informal but very, very direct, and it's in a way where we can connect on a certain wavelength, and that in turn creates a connection where they're like, "Oh, I really like Chris." He's a person I could go to a bar and get a drink with.” It's that kind of feel that way we can create.
Chris Sean: I don't drink, by the way. [Laughs]
Justin: Well, it was just an example. I know you don’t.
Chris Sean: It's true, though. I didn't tell anyone this, one of my last jobs I got that job literally because they saw my YouTube channel. I wasn't the best coder, I'm not, and I want to be, but I'm not the best yet. But he watched my videos, and I asked him a year and a half after he hired me, "Why did you hire me?" He said, "Well, I saw your YouTube videos. I saw your post on Instagram. And I just saw that you're a genuine person." And when you interview a person in interviews, you can't always see everything about that person. Everyone pretends to be something they're not in interviews. A lot of people do it. You want to impress them, so you have to show the better side of yourself. But on vlogs or in social media, you show all of you, and that's how they get to know you and help them make the decision like, hey, this person is that person I'm going to hire them. I could see the real them. Also, if you have a brand and you work for a company, guess what? That company gets more noticed in the world because of you.
Justin: You bring a sense of clout, or you bring a sense of exposure with you. Your audience is following your journey for a reason, and so whenever you jump ship or move to a different company, well, they're kind of going with you. That's part of the journey, which is super, super cool. And in a role like DevRel, that's big getting that audience to move with you and expose themselves to different products or expose themselves to different workflows, different things like that. And it's super, super cool to see the audience move with you and give you the feedback and just show their support regardless.
Chris Sean: It's amazing. And so in this episode, I really want to focus on brand building, I guess because I haven't been in the game in a while because I haven't uploaded in a month, but man, you're creating so much content. How are you doing all of this? Are you documenting your journey? Are you just -- do you have a girlfriend that's giving advice or a friend that’s giving you advice? How is this working out, man? Please let me know. Give me your secret.
Justin: I'll spill the secrets right now.
Chris Sean: Whoa. Okay.
Justin: So you and me both have talked about this off-stream, and we've talked about this on our own time, but we both are fans of GaryVee. And the thing that I'm sure you've caught on and what I've caught on with is that documenting versus creating is always the way to go. That's how you can create the most content is just by documenting whatever it is you're doing. Even if it's boring, like you said, quantity is a little bit more important even though quality might take a hit. Obviously, you want to shoot for more quality sometimes but if you want to really bust out content, documenting the journey is always the way to go. That's just how I've been able to bust out as much content as I've been able to because I'm talking about the day-to-day. I'm talking about the struggles. I'm talking about what I'm currently doing, what I'm going for, the goals that I have, some of the tips that I've come across. That's kind of the day-to-day what goes on, on my mind. Whatever comes to my mind, I write it down, and that becomes a video or with the streaming, reproducing content. It's that little pyramid that GaryVee came up with. You can have multiple pieces of content within things like a podcast, things like a stream just redistributing them to different platforms; that’s the other way. The other one would be yes; I do have people in my circle that definitely have ideas. Getting an outside perspective of what it is your brand looks like and saying, "Okay, I like what you're doing right now. I think you could be doing more of X and Y because you're only doing Z." Does that make sense?
Chris Sean: Yep. That helps a lot.
Justin: So much, because you’re only one person.
Chris Sean: I've never had that. I wish I would have that.
Justin: I mean, there's you and me.
Chris Sean: Oh yeah, it's true. I do. I have you, thank you. [Laughs]
Justin: Yeah, you do absolutely. We're a tag team. But having outside eyes helps so much because, as content creators, we're usually starting out with just us. It's only a single creator; you never really have a team until you eventually hit that point where you need a team. That's when the real creativity starts to burst is because you have different minds working. But if you can get a small circle that -- I've been able to have, and I've been very blessed to have multiple people that are with me in the journey saying, "I think that a lot of people in your audience would like it if they saw this or if you did that, or if you did more of this." So that's definitely been helpful in terms of creating more content and creating ideas. And then, at that point, it's just finding the time to execute and finding the way I want to execute it in and most of the time just talking-head video, getting a little bit of B-roll here and there, and that's about it.
Chris Sean: That's it. That's literally it. And that's what I've been doing for years. I think for me, I think it's a point for me to mention this too because I didn't upload for a month. Writer's block is real.
Justin: Oh, 100%.
Chris Sean: When you stop for so long, and you get out of that routine of thinking of content, because now when I think about it, I could have created so much content on many different things and then learned from it like my brother living with me, or I don't know, do something with him. There are so many ways you could create content. You just have to actively think it out, purposely plan something, plan around whatever you're doing. And it's a full-time job.
Justin: 100%. I don't think people really understand if they're not in the space how hard it is to create content.
Chris Sean: Oh my.
Justin: There are so many small details to it, from drafting an idea, visualizing how it's going to look, sound design, making sure audio and video settings are all set, making sure that when you're editing it all that everything just matches well, audio sync, all the small details that people overlook. There's a lot of work that goes into it, especially when we're working by ourselves.
Chris Sean: A lot of work. It's a lot of work, but it's doable.
Chris Sean: It takes time, in the beginning, to learn to edit, to do Lightroom, Photoshop, take pictures, how to get the best angle of yourself, which I’ve figured out. [Laughs] It's a lot you have to learn, but it's so useful. It gets easier in time.
Justin: I'll always use a gym analogy. You don't get better until you put in more reps.
Chris Sean: Do you go to the gym?
Chris Sean: Oh, okay. Nice.
Justin: Actively. I also train. So there is that, I'm a coach. So I have that aspect of me as well is that I'm able to teach other people and watch them progress. But that's the thing, is when I get to see people progress, you noticed that the only way people progress is once they put in the repetitions then you start to create those connections in your brain of oh, this is how you do something, or this is how that works. This is how that should feel. You start to, over time, create little, small workflows and different ways of doing things in order to optimize that specific aspect. So, for example, editing, we all have our different workflows, and you only ever figure it out by doing it more and more and more and failing, which is also very huge in content creation because there's a lot of failure that goes into that. And you don't know if something's necessarily good until you put it out. If it's not good, well, then you know what not to do. So there is a lot of trial and error with content creation, and I feel like that's what discourages a lot of people is that they don't want to fail and put themselves out there into the spotlight.
Chris Sean: That is huge, though. That's one of the main reasons that I didn't upload a lot of videos sometimes because I'm like, that's not good enough.
Justin: Oh, 100%.
Chris Sean: There have been so many times where I could have just uploaded. What I did the last video I uploaded one week ago -- I don't even remember what I talked about. [Laughs] I just talked to the camera. It took me probably the whole day to turn on the camera, and I spoke to it, edited it in one hour, uploaded it. And it's so much easier than you realize. It didn't get as many views because I haven't upload consistently. It will get as many views eventually. It's only got 5K views but --
Chris Sean: What are you talking about? You get that now.
Justin: Kind of, almost. I'm averaging 3K now, which is great.
Chris Sean: My bad, my bad. [Laughs]
Justin: That's the thing. So recently, actually today, this morning, I uploaded a video that I took while I was traveling --
Chris Sean: It's doing well, by the way.
Justin: Yeah, hopefully. But it was one where I didn't think I was going to upload. I literally turned on the camera -- I was in the airport in Indiana.
Chris Sean: Yeah, I watched it.
Justin: Did you actually?
Chris Sean: Yeah, I did. I watched it.
Justin: I was literally in the airport. I tried to choose a spot where there weren't too many people so I could take my mask off. But of course, I chose the area where there was so much lighting that it was bleeding in the background, and I couldn't see it because I'm vlogging. So I don't have flip-out like some people.
Chris Sean: Yeah, it's a Sony.
Justin: Yeah, it's a Sony. I don't have the a7S, unfortunately, not yet. But I recorded. The audio was great, whatever, blah, blah, blah. But the lighting is what screwed with me. And I also didn't script that video. I thought about it off the cuff and was like, okay, I'm going to record this video. I think this is a good one; I recorded it. It was okay in terms of the message. I had to edit it a little bit, but the lighting is what made me really angry. I was like, oh man, I could have chosen a better spot, a different angle, face away from the window, so I didn't have to deal with that. But then you deal with people yadda, yadda, yadda. And that was one where I literally texted someone. I was just like, "Look, I don't know if the message is really there, and I'm really mad about the lighting. I don't know if I'm going to upload it." And it just took a little bit out of me, but I was just like, you know what? No, I'm going to put it up. I'm going to put it up, regardless if it doesn't do well, well, onto the next one. People are just going to forget about it. They'll watch it if they want to; they’ll close out of it if they want to. But regardless, I need to put this video up because I put the time in to make it; if it's not good, I know what not to do. I know that if I'm in an airport, never face the window. Done, lesson learned.
Chris Sean: Unless you have a filter.
Justin: Unless you have an ND filter. Yes.
Chris Sean: Yeah, that can help, but still, the lighting is still super off.
Chris Sean: So from what you're saying just --
Justin: Just do it.
Chris Sean: I need to do that. You know what? I'm busy today. I'm streaming today. But even after that, I'm just going to talk to the camera.
Chris Sean: And talk about everything I spoke with you today prior to this podcast.
Justin: Even then, there's content within that. I've noticed even if you're working or you can't talk to the camera, time-lapse something.
Chris Sean: Yeah, that's what I would do all the time, literally time-lapse everything. And while doing a time-lapse, “All your content that is so boring looks so much more fun.” People tell me, “How do you make coding look so much fun?” It's not as fun as it looks, but you have to make it look cool. [Laughs]
Justin: It can be, but I'm just documenting the journey. What am I doing right now? I'm coding. So set up the phone, put it behind me, put it in time-lapse mode, let it run. And then when I'm done, put some nice little lo-fi or whatever music I want to put over it, and there is content.
Chris Sean: That's it.
Justin: It's not hard. Everyone has a cell phone. Everyone has a desk, hopefully, and you can just record that's it.
Chris Sean: I made videos in my car for two years.
Justin: Thank you.
Chris Sean: Sitting in my car because I used to live in my car and then I would have clothes in the background. [Laughs]
Justin: Exactly. You don't need a crazy setup like we have anymore; you don't. You can vlog and start a YouTube channel just with your cell phone. My iPhone can shoot in 4K
Chris Sean: Dude, the iPhones now I got the new one. Oh my gosh, the picture quality is amazing.
Chris Sean: It is. I'm like, wow, where was this when I started filming five years ago? [Laughs]
Justin: I know. Why do I have to look around for a DSLR, right? You don't. You don't need special equipment. All you need to do is hit record. That is it, and you're off to the races. It's just a matter of actually doing it.
Chris Sean: Yeah. That's it, just start. What have you seen people doing that they shouldn't be doing other than me not uploading? I needed a break. I really did. But what do you see people doing that they shouldn't be doing?
Justin: That's a good question.
Chris Sean: I think this is really important. I'll go. I'll share some things. People are not putting enough effort into thumbnails.
Justin: Yes, that's huge.
Chris Sean: Lazy titles, not putting effort in the titles.
Justin: You made me realize that.
Chris Sean: I said that to you, right?
Justin: You did. I remember.
Justin: The font has to be good too.
Chris Sean: Yeah. Dude, I remember our very first conversation was exactly that, maybe not our very first, but I remember there being a conversation when we first connected was, “Dude, you don't understand how impactful titles and thumbnails are.” I was like, “What?” And so if you literally go back to some of my YouTube videos, go back to my old ones, there's a shift. You'll know when I started talking to Chris when you start seeing the change in the thumbnails and titles.
Chris Sean: [Laughs]
Justin: Dude, it's crazy. It's absolutely insane how much it actually helps. So again, it loops back to what we were talking about how much work goes into it. The hardest part, regardless of shooting the video, was actually making a thumbnail and a title that works.
Chris Sean: Yeah, that's it. You have to think of the title first.
Justin: Because the title can break everything. If the keywords, the way it sounds when you want to roll it up your tongue, and things like that, if it doesn't mesh well, it's not going to work. People are not going to see your video unless you have a big enough following to where the title doesn't matter all that much, but when you're trying to grow, titles matter.
Chris Sean: There was a friend I was talking to. They were asking for advice, and they were like, “What should I title this video that talks about code?” And they thought about putting code in the title, not the letter code, but actual code like
Justin: Oh no.
Chris Sean: [Laughs] And I told them, "No, it doesn't work like that." "But people who know code will watch it," but that's not -- It's like making a video or making a podcast even on Instagram; the first lines of your post on Instagram will pull people in. You want to get a tweet viral? The first few letters are important. Why do you watch a movie? The trailer is really good. Why do you watch a trailer, though? Because of the thumbnail. Let's say Google Play or Netflix; you see the image, and then you look at the title; that is what pulls you.
Justin: It's first impressions. It's the same thing that I say about people when they want to grow on Instagram. Instagram is very visual-heavy; it’s pictures. People don't stop scrolling because of what they see in a caption. If your photo doesn't make someone stop scrolling, well, then it's not a good photo, or it wasn't impactful enough or interesting enough to make someone stop. That's what you need to do on every platform, including YouTube. No one knows what the video is about until they click it, but why do they click it? Because it looked interesting based off the thumbnail or the title
Chris Sean: That is it. That is literally it. And the thing is, even if the video isn't that good, if you hit that topic, you're doing better than most.
Justin: Exactly. It's all about getting first impressions and catching people's eyes. If there was a tip that I could give everybody, and I think that would make people more successful in terms of growing a following is make your initial first impression impactful enough to make people stop. If I'm going to make a picture on Instagram, and for people that don’t follow me, it's just my setup. I try to take aesthetically pleasing photos of my setup at home. If that wasn't aesthetically pleasing or bright enough to where people were like, "Whoa, what was that? I need to go back up. I need to see that. What was that? What's on his desk?" It's not even the intricacies of the desk. The overall picture itself makes people stop. That's what they then focus on in terms of, oh, what's he saying in this caption, or what's that on his desk? Let me ask a question in the comments. That's what you need to focus on.
Chris Sean: One person who is amazing at thumbnails, and I can't catch up to that is Andres Vidoza.
Justin: I knew you're going to say it.
Chris Sean: That's pure talent.
Justin: He's on a whole other level.
Chris Sean: Pure talent.
Justin: It's that Photoshop game.
Chris Sean: It is amazing. I don't have the time to learn all that, so I need to hire someone to make that. I'm literally considering maybe someone I know from California could move with me to Nashville when I move there... [Laughs]
Justin: You definitely should ask him. He sounds like a real good candidate.
Chris Sean: Really?
Justin: He sounds like a cool guy. I think he would be up for it.
Chris Sean: [Laughs] Oh, you're so funny.
Justin: I could talk to him if you want to.
Chris Sean: Yeah, please talk to him.
Justin: I got you. My people will get to your people. We'll figure it out.
Chris Sean: Will do. [Laughs] But all right. So, what's another thing that people need to stop doing?
Justin: I think they need to stop focusing on a lot of things at once, if that makes sense. I don't know how else to say that. In a sense, when you're first starting out, it needs to be niched down. You get the people who are focusing so much on lifestyle, tech, code, clothing. I'm like, "Well, what are you doing?" Focusing on one thing that you want your brand to be about, and that's it.
Chris Sean: Yep. I agree. I've been doing literally the exact same videos.
Chris Sean: Forever, AKA my life.
Justin: Right. So then when you're first starting out, capture who you want to talk to, and you got to do that by niching down. If I'm posting a piece of content that's about coding and then the next day I'm posting things about shoes, it's just not what they were expecting. The people that are watching my content were expecting something with code, not with shoes.
Chris Sean: That's true. For example, let's say you go to the History Channel. You don't go to History Channel to watch Korean drama. I love Korean drama. That's the only thing I watch. I don't know what else to say. If you want to watch good dramas, you go to Korean drama channels or Netflix or whatever to watch all of that, which is true. That makes so much sense. Even talk about the same topic and go more in detail on it. Even when it comes to code, someone was asking me for advice, and they were asking, “I want to talk about high-level code.” So okay, to be honest, on YouTube, everyone talks about basic code. No one really goes into really difficult stuff. And so this person was saying, "I want to be the one to do that." And I'm like, "Yeah, do it." And then, they asked me what topics and they wanted to go over. And so I talked to them about it, and I said, "Okay, this is a good topic, but no one's going to click on it." And they were like, "Yeah, but the high-level people will.” I responded saying, "True, but you don't want to just be found by people who are really good developers. You still want to build a bond." So they just wanted to talk about code, but I told them you need to build a relationship with your subscribers on Instagram, on YouTube because that's how you get them to stay, and that's how you grow a brand.
Justin: Right. Exactly. Here's the thing, just to bounce off of that, for example, in my Instagram, there are two different things that are going on in that, and it’s one, the setup photos two, the captions are based off of my journey. Every single day that I post, you can expect the same exact thing from when I started in 2019 all the way till now; it’s the exact same thing. Sure, I think that what we can say is that when you're first starting out, and you're growing your following, it's safe to say that you need to niche down and stick to a certain topic. But once you get to a certain point, people start to invest in you. So there's that personal brand aspect of how do you -- and this goes back to -- because someone was telling me, this is the small circle coming in, and being like, "Yo, you need to do more of this," and I'm like, "Okay." So they're just like, "I like what you're doing. There's the setup part; there’s the caption part. But I think what people would like is to get to know you now more. They know what you're about. You've grown a following; you're at 45K. People know you. People know what to expect now. I think people want to get to know you more. So why don't you just do more posts about you or branch out into different lifestyles?" So that's the thing is people too early on are focusing on a broader aspect of themselves when they should focus on just one. So if you're in the development scene, do the same thing, focusing on just development for a little bit at a time until your following gets to a point where you're like, okay, people know I'm a developer. When people hear my name, they instantly think coder. Now, let me take my social media and branch out a little bit more and get a little bit more broad if that's what you want to do. But regardless, I think you need to have a niche that you stick to and not branch out too early. And that's what people do is they branch out way too early, and it just doesn't work in terms of capturing an audience if that's what your end goal is.
Chris Sean: And let me add, what people need to stop doing too is comparing.
Justin: Oh, that's a big one.
Chris Sean: Stop comparing yourself to other YouTubers. They started before you; they got lucky in some cases, very lucky in some videos that went viral. I know so many friends who went viral who uploaded videos after me. I've never had a video that went viral instantly, but that's fine. And so that's actually one of the reasons why I don't watch many, other than you, I don't watch other coding YouTubers on there because I don't want to compare, and it discourages me, and I don't want -- I know myself, and so that's what I do. I don't watch all the people, not because I think I'm better than them, it's because I need to focus on me, and I know what will discourage me and stop me from doing what I'm doing.
Justin: 100%, and I can attest to that. The one thing that I've noticed is in becoming a content creator is I've become more of a creator and less of a consumer.
Chris Sean: Very true.
Justin: And same thing. I watch yours and maybe a couple of other people, but I don't watch much because I don't want to fall into that oh, wow, I really like what he's doing, or I really like that she's talking about this, that seems cool. I want to talk about what she's talking about. You fall into that trap, and then the whole thing about the imposter syndrome that you and me talk about a lot is you start to feel like the way that this person's video just looks so cool I don't know if I can make that or their editing style and their transitions it's just so good. Their filmmaking and cinematography is just on a whole other level. Why would anybody watch me? But it's like, people are going to watch you for you. So don't focus on what other people want to do. Curate your own style. You are you. You're not going to steal or use someone else's style to build your brand that isn't necessarily your brand. You're now becoming a subset of another creator. And why would you want to do that? Be unique to you. Like I said, be more of a creator than a consumer. That's the one thing that you touched on that is perfect and beautiful is that people get too stuck on comparing themselves, and that's what makes people stop as well is that once they feel inadequate with themselves or they feel like they can't quote, unquote 'catch up' with another creator, it's game over because mentally, you've lost already.
Chris Sean: Yeah, I agree 100%. That's so huge and in anything, even as a developer.
Justin: Oh, even more so as a dev. When you start comparing yourself as a developer, that is just a breaking point for people because it's very technical, and it could feel like you are not sound enough to build a web app or make an API or something, then it's game over. You start to quit, and you start to doubt yourself. There are so many people; there are definitely gatekeepers in the community as well, so that doesn't help. But you have to be, again, your own person, confident in your skills, and regardless of where you are, remind yourself that people have started somewhere. No one ever started where they are currently now. You're looking at someone who's put in so much work and time into being that person that you see now. So that's why you can't focus on that aspect because you're looking at what is almost a finished product but will never be a finished product.
Chris Sean: Exactly, brand building. But just being a content creator is so fun, but it comes with cons like comparing yourself. And another question I think what people are afraid of more than anything I think is the negative comments. People, you do need to have tough skin for this.
Justin: Sure. 100%.
Chris Sean: I think everyone's talked back to some mean people on comments like I have and like everyone has. And I stopped because I can't waste my time with that stuff anymore. But I did not have thick skin in the beginning. Everything hit me very personally in all those comments for a long time, and it's not easy. But I think one thing to remember is that there will always be haters out there. The people leaving negative comments on your videos, on your Instagram posts, or whatever, are not doing what you're doing.
Chris Sean: They're watchers. I'm not saying they're not doing anything in their life, but a lot of the time, is that these people are watchers, not doers. That's why they're leaving comments on your content that they're watching. They're a consumer; they're not someone who creates things for people to consume.
Justin: Right. And that's definitely a hard aspect of content creation that I feel like a lot of people -- it depends on your upbringing. It depends on how you handle those kinds of situations. So it's very subjective. It really depends. For me personally, and I'm sure you can attest to this as well, we were bullied very early on in our lives for being and looking a certain way. As Asians, we definitely hear a lot of comments that are very degrading in a certain way when you're growing up, in school, and things like that. So for me, I was exposed to that kind of culture and comments very early on in my life. So going into content creation, it was a little easier for me to deal with those kinds of things. I wasn't as fazed when you got a hater. And I'm a weird person when it comes to them because it actually excites me when I get a hater. It pushes me.
Chris Sean: And when you do make it, man, it is the best feeling.
Justin: So good. There's a quote, "Success is the best revenge."
Chris Sean: It is. I'm not going to lie, at least every couple of weeks now, I think about all the negative things that people have said to me, even friends, "You're not a real developer. You didn't go to college. I'm going to USC; you’re a college dropout." And in a humble way, I'm just saying, "Well, I made it further than you have." [Laughs] When that happens, it's not that I’m better than them; it’s just you're using that to give you that energy to push even harder to prove them wrong.
Justin: Exactly, exactly.
Chris Sean: And when you make it, it feels good.
Justin: Dude, those actions speak louder than words, and it feels good. When you get those haters, it's just like, I don't care who you are. You could be a senior engineer for all I care. I don't know why you're commenting on my post the way that you want to, but I'm just going to keep doing what pisses you off so I can see more of you because you're clearly interested in some sort of way.
Justin: Exactly. It doesn't matter. Why are we so focused on the small details?
Chris Sean: But that stuff hit me. I let that get under my skin. But now, when I think about it, it's like those comments don't even matter. Don't let that determine who you are or who you can be.
Justin: Yeah, exactly. Again, you are on your own journey. No one else should be able to dictate how you go about that. If someone is commenting on your journey in a negative way, what does it have to do with them? You're not becoming a dev to please them. You're going to be a dev to please yourself, show yourself you're capable of doing something that you set your mind to but also pleasing the hiring managers and the recruiters that you're trying to impress that's it, or the companies that you're trying to join. If someone on the internet wants to say something negative or wants to criticize you for something that you've done or said, so be it, who cares?
And it's easier said than done for sure. It can definitely get under people's skin, and I can understand and empathize with it hurting because sometimes they do hurt. It's unsolicited. There was nothing that warranted them to say it. They just want to say it to make you feel insecure and stoop down to their level. And unfortunately, it's going to happen all the time. It's never going to go away; that negative aspect on social media because of how open the internet is will be there for as long as we're all alive, so you just have to deal with it.
Chris Sean: I’ll tell you the way I look at it. I go to Google Play. I pay for movies on there all the time on googleplay.com. You can watch movies, and there are reviews everywhere. There are movies that people don't like that I love, and they trash them. A walk to Remember is the best movie ever, okay? [Laughs] And then I see all these negative comments, and I'm like, these people don't even have taste. And you have to remember that you're just like a movie in the world. [Laughs] I know it's a weird comparison.
Justin: I get it, though.
Chris Sean: Not everyone will like you. That's okay. Everyone will have their own opinions.
Justin: The one analogy that you reminded me of was every day we write words in our book. We have a book that's being written right now. And over time, as you age, you finish chapters. So the question is, what are you putting in your book? And whatever goes in your book, some people may not like it, and they can choose not to read it. So for the people that are willing to read it, who cares if they don't want to? Your book is your book. It should not be influenced by the people who don't want to read it.
Chris Sean: Exactly. I agree, 100%. It's true. And so the last thing we'll talk about is brand building. What is the best part?
Justin: The best part, the freedom, the freedom to create.
Chris Sean: No publisher telling you what to not to post or what to post.
Justin: No boss, no supervisor, nobody telling me how to do what I want to do. I have the freedom to express my creativity the way that I want to, and that's what I love. There's no scheduling; I put out when I want to. I do what I want to on my own terms on my own time. And that's the beauty of content creation is that everybody is unique in their own ways, and you now get to see that on a platform publicly, and that's what I love about it.
Chris Sean: The freedom is nice. I work for a company; I have my own company, and I do YouTube. No one can tell me how to produce the content I want to create for my channels, and that's freedom that no one can take away from you. And I think secondly, is just the community you get to build. People look forward to your videos. People look forward to your posts. People message you to thank you. That's crazy. You never know. You could find your future wife out there doing this. [Laughter]
Justin: Content creation could take you to some crazy places.
Chris Sean: Yeah, it really can. People have flown me out to different states to just film my life in their office. And it's crazy just the community you build, the opportunities that come up. It's amazing, but I think the best part for me personally is that you can just be you.
Justin: Oh, 100%.
Chris Sean: When you build your own brand, you're not trying to -- well, some people do, but for me personally, I'm myself. I've never changed. I say the same thing over and over again, but people like me for me, and that's the best part. People love me for me. There are people who hated me for me, but there are a lot more people who love me for who I am, and that's amazing.
Justin: I love that part where -- We talked about this before we went live. You and me both know each other. We're both content creators, but we can literally just vibe together on a similar wavelength and just be ourselves. There's nothing formal about the connection that we have. We can be very, very much so ourselves and just enjoy it, and it reflects itself in the content in that the way that we talk to each other is exactly how we are if we were talking to the camera.
Chris Sean: That's actually really true.
Chris Sean: Yeah. That’s so funny.
Justin: It would be very similar, very similar characteristics. I don't have to put on a front when I'm making my content. It may be censored a little bit, right? There's a filter.
Chris Sean: You are a little more energetic on YouTube. I am too.
Justin: Yes, exactly.
Chris Sean: You have to be.
Justin: But that's about it. I can be me. You would know; people would know if you're not being you.
Chris Sean: You can't keep that up forever.
Justin: If you put on a front the whole time unless you're an actor, I mean, I could be. Hollywood, hit me up. [Chuckles] Where is my casting call at? People would catch on, and you would not be genuine. That's the one thing about personal branding is that you're genuine. If you're genuine, people will follow; that's the beauty. When you're a genuine person, you don't have to act. You could literally just turn on a camera, be you, and people like it.
Chris Sean: Yeah. That is the best part. And that's the reason I love doing it for so long is that I will just be me, and I love talking about myself. [Laughs] People listen.
Justin: Of course you do. I ain't surprised.
Chris Sean: [Laughs] Oh, man. Well, Justin, this has been fun.
Justin: Always fun.
Chris Sean: It's always fun talking to you, and thank you for coming onto the podcast. Are there any last words you want to share with the listeners out there?
Justin: Create, stay humble, work, stay on your path. You guys know your unique paths. You guys know what you want to do with life. You guys know exactly what it is you want and need, so just keep doing you. Keep working, and after listening to this whole episode, I hope you guys have a better direction, but we want to see you guys succeed. So just keep working at it. You guys got it.
Chris Sean: 100% and building a brand as a developer will take you further. There's someone who told me, an executive at another company told me because of the brand that I have personally, that he says he can picture me having a job for a very long time. I'm not saying it's true, but why wouldn't it be true? Build a brand for yourself. It will change your life.
Justin: Well said.
Chris Sean: Thanks, Justin.
Justin: Thank you, sir, for having me on.
Chris Sean: Have a good one.
Justin: Have a good one too.
Jonan: Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. You can find the show notes for this episode along with all of the rest of The Relicans podcasts on therelicans.com. In fact, most anything The Relicans get up to online will be on that site. Right now, we're running a hackathon in partnership with dev.to called Hack the Planet, where we're giving away $20,000 in cash prizes along with many other fabulous gifts simply for participating. You'll also find news there shortly of FutureStack, our upcoming conference here at New Relic. We would love to have you join us. We'll see you next week. Take care.