It Works On My Machine...

Read about my personal journey of starting, & maintaining a YouTube channel, and how I'm doing right now

Published 10 months ago . 8 min read
TSC.png

Day 0. Television was full of death stats. Newspaper was shut down for the coming few weeks. Memes were all 'bout the strict police and the eerie lockdown. And I was confused on how to setup Visual Studio Code to write the traditional Hello World C program. Everything looked gloomy and saddening, apart from the fact that we don’t need to attend college for a few days.

That moment, I realized something. It isn’t that fear of being tested positive, or staying home all the time, makes you sick of quarantine, but its the fact that the only means of interaction, which is the media and the social media, is full of shock, awe, terror and freakin stats, makes you worry 'bout being home (Don’t mind me swearing upon stats, I hated it back in high school)

Hence, I decided to detach. Break the bonkers. Switch from sorrow. And cuddle with quarantine. So, for a change, I did the very same thing that I've been doing for the past 6 months - programming.

I was that, 'it-works-on-my-machine' coder back then. I started to learn new technologies, experimented with projects, watch oodles of crash courses and live streams and it was too late when I discovered that I was stuck in the tutorial hell (damn you, YouTube). And was suffering from imposter syndrome (and improper posture syndrome too). And was also hungry for some laptop swag and stickers. Let’s not talk about my laptop-stickers' fetish though.

So I started to figure out a way out of the tutorial hell. Many thoughts passed by, like "how 'bout gaming?", “watch more Netflix" etc. Nothing seemed to work out. One fine night, came the thought, “how 'bout your own tutorials?”. Everything started to take shape. You don’t feel low for being on the listening and the clapping side, if you sing occasionally too.

2_genius.jpeg

Big-Brain-Time and brain fart coaxed, and my coding YouTube channel commenced. And lemme tell you, I am as skinny as a rake. And I wasn’t and am not sorry or sorrowed 'bout it. So I took the privilege to name my channel - TheSkinnyCoder. I let my parents know 'bout my new endeavour, and expected them to laugh. They didn’t. They encouraged me instead. That was too much of good parenting for that day.

I made sure I wasn’t hasty making this decision. Being a little bent toward OCD, I like it doing the right way if I’m into it. And trying to do something the right way sucks. So I questioned myself, "Why do you want to start a programming channel now all of a sudden?". The only answer I was able to retrieve is - uniqueness. You don’t need to do stuff that many people aren’t into, to be unique. You just gotta do what you feel like doing. That itself is unique, because who’s really following their heart? After the immediate acceptance of my proposal to myself, I designed my logo and chose the brand colours — Yellow and Black, thanks to the Inglorious Basterds.

I'm the fellow of the films. So I wanted that, what I called it, a launch trailer for my YouTube channel. My parents laughed this time.

"You want to make a trailer for the launch of a coding YouTube channel?", repeated the exact same thing that I told and laughed hysterically, my friends, family, and cousins. So...did I make a trailer? YES. Am I happy 'bout that decision? NO. But yeah, I was glad that I followed my instinct, and experimented, and learnt.

I made tutorials 'bout the stuff I learnt, as I learnt. That was when I realized, if you wanna master a skill, you gotta be as sure as the tutor who teaches it. *That fear of being proven wrong for providing falsy content, will make the content creators excel as learners. *I digested that the devil is in the details.

Days passed, and I realized that this flirtatious front I started with my YouTube channel, to get diverted from the devastating truths of the present day stats, was now a serious relationship. I did it for me, I like it. I am good at it. And I feel alive when I do it.

3_liked_it.jpeg

Now that I was done with Step 0 (programmer counting shameless plug alert)...like any other good Indian, I directly switched to the Step 3, which is begging for subscribers, skipping the crucial steps 1 and 2, which are being consistent with the content, and being persistent with the publicity, respectively. And the results were so Indian...I uploaded 8 videos in 8 months, with ear-piercing keyboard thuds throughout the tutorials, voice-deafening wind noise, hundreds of blank "aaaa"s and thousands of clueless "okay"s. Tremendous.

4_expect.jpeg

So like a good Russian this time, I tried to hack the votes. Learnt how to build bots to bang the likes and views go bonkers. YouTube slapped me with a “we don’t do that here...” line, introducing the second most annoying thing in the world to me, after Instagram’s personal UI updates, the vexatious YouTube algorithm.

5_dont_do.jpeg

When we talk about the YouTube algorithm, it’s nothing less of a Nolan’s film by itself. It’s like the online classes, you think you’re understanding something, but you actually aren’t. The tags you put in the description doesn’t pile up the view count. Neither does the subscribers count, nor does the duration of the video.

Making programming tutorials isn’t easy. Making any YouTube tutorial isn’t easy. Screw this, making a YouTube video isn’t easy in the first place. Lemme be frank, if you wanna sound like John Williams, you gotta compromise the comforts and declare vengeance on the ventilation. And recording as you teach, while swimming in that sweat? It’s like peeing with a boner. Nothing is under control. YouTubers and content creators perform these feats, only to let ‘the algorithm' decide what to do with the end product. Atleast I thought so.

I started to lose hope. And patience. Videos hardly travelled outside my family and friends circle. My channel was in a state where most of the subs were distant relatives, who forward stuff about re-birth and luck on WhatsApp. Friends adviced me things like "stick hot chicks' pics on the thumbnails, you’d get more views", and family suggested me to concentrate more on Data Structures and Algorithms and less on 'The Algorithm' (Cz someone told them those would fetch jobs smooth, and I hate that sucker).

Everything changes, when you have something of your own, something unique, and your circle doesn’t. You visit your friends, you expect them to gossip, and all they talk 'bout is the channel. You go to the drawing room, to spend time with your family (*which programmers do when there’s a powercut), and all they ask is 'bout the growth of your channel.*

Yet, I didn’t give up. I was persistent and choosy with the content. I practiced watching English movies without subtitles. Being an Indian, who studied from a school where people hardly communicated in English, it was tough to convey what I wanted to teach. But I still wasn’t giving up, cz I was sure of my method teaching, practical examples and the code structure.

Fast forward to a random day, post online classes' commencement. Those were the days when memes were all 'bout the faculty, and the faculty were all 'bout the calls’ audio quality, and the audio quality was all about exhausting the internet scrolling through the memes 'bout the faculty. An infinite loop. Coming to me, I put on weight, both in muscle and in the brain, not at all perfectly balanced, as all things should be…the reason being the same - coding for 25 hours a day. TheSkinnyCoder ain’t skinny anymore.

6_balanced.jpeg

If it wasn’t for the quarantine, I wouldn’t have found this ample a time and amplitude of a learning curve. I was successfully able to freelance and intern using my mystic skills.

Juniors started to query 'bout the stuff they didn’t know. TheSkinnyCoder thriced its subs count (joke’s on you, it went from 115 to 350). Parents started to tell guests that I’m a YouTuber, and then a programmer. I was and am into clarifying and helping the 'it-works-on-my-machine' guys.

And that was when I realized... everything works, like the code on your machine, if the environment is like your machine. YOUR machine. You gotta own it. Or atleast make it feel like that.

I learnt to tune stuff, to make it feel more acquainted and less awkward. Stuff like better video thumbnails, basic editing, managing time between Java Applets for college and JS Apps for passion, investing in mics, having a precise recording schedule and an ounce of cockiness. This is all it takes, to make it work. And guess what...

Day 300. Television is full of death stats. Newspaper is still shut down like from the past few weeks. Memes are all 'bout the careless citizen on roads and the skeptical vaccine.