Interview: Nelson Jamal for this week’s webinar on YouTube content

Paul Everitt

Ever thought about publishing technology videos on YouTube but don’t really know where to start or how to get followers? This Thursday we are hosting Nelson Jamal to cover this very topic. Nelson has a broad catalog of popular, well-done videos — including JetBrains products — and went from 5k subscribers in January to over 100k eleven months later.

It’s easy to see why. Nelson puts a lot of work into his videos, but does so with kindness and humor. What’s his recipe for success on this? As a warmup to answering this in the webinar, we did a Q&A with Nelson Jamal.

First, let’s start with a spoiler. You’re announcing something during the webinar?

I have recorded a tutorial about PyCharm, which in my opinion is the best IDE for Python developers.

The tutorial covers the following:

  • How to properly configure PyCharm
  • Customizing Keymaps and Themes
  • How to properly search
  • The importance of keyboard shortcuts
  • Refactoring
  • Git Integration
  • Unit Testing
  • And much more

Upon completion of the tutorial, you will be so confident using PyCharm and write Python code like a pro.

The tutorial is 2 hours long and it will be available from this Wednesday on my YouTube channel and amigoscode.com if you would like to receive a certificate.

Tell us a little background about yourself.

DevOps engineer currently living in London. Originally from Guinea Bissau, a small country in West Africa. Football was my dream as a child but it was not meant to be. Still play football every now and then. I love teaching and inspiring people.

You have a short, fun video about a “day in the life of a software engineer” as your channel video. 10 months, 725k views! What prompted you to do that video?

As a Devops Engineer I mainly look after the infrastructure that powers all services across the organization. At Starling the culture is really nice. Everyone is nice to each other and more importantly we have fun. There is no blaming culture and we work together as a team to build software and fix issues when they happen.

My team is so diverse with lots of funny characters. I work with DevOps, Network and Security Engineers mainly. We work hard to deliver but still manage to have fun which is important. No one is putting pressure on us to deliver, we are professionals and we can be trusted.

What prompted the recording of the video was mainly for viewers to see the real life of a software engineer working in London. When I mean real I don’t mean watch me eating cereals and drink coffee, it was full transparency which a lot other videos don’t show.

I wanted to share what my life as a software engineer looks like. Which in a nutshell is coding, socialise, have fun and pray at work.

Before the two big questions, just nuts-and-bolts. What advice do you give for the actual making of a video?

For making a video I would say plan before recording. I mainly learn new technologies and frameworks, build a sample application that teaches real world use cases and not hello world projects. Once I build a little project, I can then break it down into videos, sections and move into recording.

To record my screen I have been using Camtasia for a few years now. I have always had interest in photography and currently I have Sony a7r2 with sigma 16mm lens. To be honest your smartphone is more than enough to record videos. I love photography and film making hence the choice.

That’s it, plan what to record, record screen, record myself for intros and edit.

For graphics and thumbnails I use Canva. This is an awesome free tool that you can use to create all of your artwork. It’s super easy to learn. Forget Photoshop.

On to the big one. How in the world did you grow your subscribers so fast?

Before last year I wasn’t taking YouTube seriously. I only uploaded content twice a year and in January 2020 I decided to take YouTube a bit more seriously and started experimenting with different types of videos and discovered the following:

People these days want to know you as a person and want to listen to what you have to say. I am not afraid of showing my other side. I was born muslim and like to show to viewers that being a muslim is no different than other religions. I am just a regular guy trying to make an impact in this society. Viewers love that.

I try to relate to the viewer as much as possible and make them feel that they are not alone in this journey.

I also did some interviews with people who become software engineers without a degree and viewers enjoyed it.

The main reason I was able to grow was because I experimented with different types of videos and found what works best for my channel. This might vary from channel to channel, but I would say experiment with new things until you find what works best.

My journey towards becoming a software engineer was not straightforward and because of that I know what most people struggle with. So I built a community both on Facebook and Discord and this is where we all help each other and keep the community engaged.

And the second big one: what is your thinking for converting views to income?

I try to give awesome, free and relevant content and let the content make its job. It is very important that when my students face any issues or questions in any of the courses that the community and I will be there to support. I think this plays a big role to convert views into income.

I also have an emailing list where I build email sequences for students enrolled to any of the courses. Through these emails I sent lots of education content, shared success stories and more importantly I use a lot of soft and hard sale techniques.

About the webinar: who is it for, who isn’t it for, what will people get out of it?

The webinar is for anyone that has some interest in teaching or people who want to learn how to make online. The webinar will teach viewers the skills needed to be successful as a content creator. I welcome anyone to this webinar as I hope to inspire and make viewers believe that can make your dreams become a reality.

You seem to have a passion for teaching. As the last point, what’s been the biggest joy for you in doing this?

The biggest joy is to see when students benefit through my content and I serve as an inspiration to others around the world. I have met so many people and made friends along the way. To be able to make a difference and inspire others is the biggest joy.

Bonus Round

How do you handle haters (that will always show up)?

I love haters. I always try my best to turn haters into lovers.

In which stage of their career can other software developers start making videos and sharing their passion on YouTube?

I think as you start your career you can start to create content.

You don’t need to master programming in order to teach. You can start with vlogs by sharing your journey and experiences. Then as you grow you can start teaching concepts that before you found difficult.

How long does it take to record a video?

It depends on the length of the video. I try to keep the length of videos between 4 to 7 minutes. This is the recommended length from experience and it’s easier to edit small chunks of videos.

Have you ever done a video where you thought it would not have enough audience and turned out to go very well? And the other way around?

Yes, the IntelliJ course on YouTube. The first weeks views were very low and for some reason started to pick up and become the top video on YouTube. On the other hand I have had many videos which I have put in a lot of effort and for some reason viewers did not enjoy as much as the other ones.

How do you choose the topic of your next video?

Research what people are looking for. YouTube is a great place to start. Then there are many websites I use such as Google Trends, Medium and other blog sites. I create lots of content based on what the Amigoscode community asks for.

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