I started the web dev site, Scotch.io. AMA!

Held on 8 September 2020, 5:00 pm

Hey hey. I'm Chris on Code and I have a passion for coding and turning that code into businesses. I started scotch.io (4M pageviews/month, $300,000 revenue/year) which was acquired by DigitalOcean.

I'm a Sr Developer Advocate at DigitalOcean and we have Hacktoberfest coming up in October!

Let's chat about anything coding, building/monetizing a business, most anything really!

Send over your questions in advance 👇 and I'll answer them Tuesday, September 8th, 10AM PT / 5PM GMT.

I've got some links where you can find and chat with me also:
Twitter: twitter.com/chrisoncode
Twitch: twitch.tv/chrisoncode
YouTube: youtube.com/c/chrisoncode
Discord: discord.gg/WVyUrcS

Jatin Rao's photo

Hey Chris,

Thanks for doing this AMA. I'm a big fan of your work 🦙

  1. What advice will you give to someone who's starting out as a content creator (blogging, streaming, etc.)?
Chris on Code's photo

So usually I'll say "just start". I've been trying to find more actionable advice though.

  • Start small
  • Set a goal of creating 1 piece of content per week
  • You already have the knowledge in your head to create 100 pieces of content.

Scotch.io, I was blogging for 8 months without ever getting any traffic. Create content because you get to write down/record what you love doing.

Anjal Binayak's photo

Chris on Code I am also new to blogging. I feel a strong sense of belief in the points you said

Apoorv Tyagi's photo

Hey Chris 👋, thanks for the AMA.

What one thing you can share that you didn't knew in the early days of building Scotch.io that would have helped you othwerwise?

Also what's the biggest thing one should keep in mind while building a product? Is it your product, your customer, your team?🙂

Chris on Code's photo

The biggest thing to keep in mind is the value you provide to customers.

It's easy to get bogged down with internal things like overengineering.

One thing that I knew in the beginning, it was all about the content and the value it provided. I forgot about that somewhere in the middle and focused too much on overengineering.

I redesigned the site a ton when I should've focused on content. Cite: scotch.io/bar-talk/announcing-scotch-v8-our..

Chris Bongers's photo

Hey Chris!

Awesome of you do to this AMA, I'm a big fan of Scotch.io!

What writing advice can you give to beginners that really works well for you?

Chris on Code's photo

Just be yourself! So cliche to say, but so true. People are coming to your writing because they want to see your take on a topic.

I also recommend never setting a word count requirement/limit. Use as few or as many words as possible to provide value to users.

Don't overthink your long sentences/language. People like images/code blocks/blockquotes/headers more anyway.

We built Scotch articles with a "skim factor" in mind. That's the way people read through articles, is to skim and jump straight to the images/code blocks/etc

Bolaji Ayodeji's photo

Hi Chris on Code, thanks for this amazing AMA.

You're an amazing video content creator and Twitch streamer, how did you get started?

Can you share a getting started guide, plan resource, and tools you used when you started?

I'll be happy to hear about your experience and what worked for you :)

Chris on Code's photo

I got started because somebody gave me a pirated version of Adobe's Dreamweaver. I saw the price tag on it and said "wow I should learn this cool thing". I saw how bad the HTML was on the WYSIWYG builder so I learned the code myself.

My getting started guide has always been "if I had to learn it, then I might as well put it on paper and write it down". This is how Scotch got started, as a personal coding diary of sorts.

I read a ton of Tuts Plus, CSS Tricks, Smashing Magazine, A List Apart, and more great blogs to get started.

Bolaji Ayodeji's photo

Thanks for sharing! Chris on Code

Rajan Panchal's photo

How did you promoted your site to get more traffic?

Chris on Code's photo

90% of our traffic is Google Search. I learned a ton about SEO. First and foremost, provide value to readers and Google somehow knows to translate that to ranking you higher.

We've never done any outbound ads or anything like that. In the early days, we did share to communities like Reddit webdev and Hacker News and stuff like that.

Creating good quality content brings the best marketing, word of mouth.

Syed Fazle Rahman's photo

Hey Chris 👋, thanks for the AMA.

The web monetization is on the rise. It's the hottest thing on the internet right now. What are your thoughts on it? Do you think it's the next big thing on the internet?

Chris on Code's photo

Monetization has always been prevalent in my mind. A progression I see a lot of creators have is to:

  • create awesome content
  • gain a following
  • then try to monetize their audience

I think it's a great progression and I love seeing creators learn to monetize the value they provide.

We'll see more and more of it as the world becomes more remote and more connected.

Samay Gandhi's photo

Thanks for the AMA Chris! As a developer who is starting out I wanted to know what was your inspiration for scotch.io when it started out to how it has transpired to become what it is. I am eager to understand the transformation that took place from its visualisation to realisation!

Chris on Code's photo

I never thought Scotch would be anything more than a personal blog.

In fact, Scotch.io was a placeholder domain. We always had planned to change it out, but then never did after we got a little traffic.

Scotch was built 1 article at a time, based on whatever fun stuff we were learning that month.

Ekomobong Otu's photo

Hey Chris, thanks for this AMA. Here is my questions:

What is your advice on surviving among other start-ups in the same Niche?

Pablo Picasso once said "Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal".

What happens when everyone is stealing the same idea?

Thanks again!

Show +1 replies
Ekomobong Otu's photo

Chris on Code Thanks for taking time to answer my Question. I appreciate.

Vamsi Rao's photo

Hey Chris, thanks for this AMA. Here are my questions:

  • What is the one biggest lesson you'd like to share with others from your journey?
  • How different has it been for you to work in an organization compared to before?
  • How did you make your first $ and how much of work did you have to put in for it?

Thanks again!

Chris on Code's photo

biggest lesson: focus on your core product and dont forget about it. spending time on things that dont provide value to your customers are a distraction

it has been a speed adjustment. it's different when you are the only one that needs knowledge about company processes. its a whole other game when there are multiple employees across multiple teams that need the same info. there are benefits and downsides to both

i sold a paper airplane as a kid. for scotch, the first dollar came in from adsense payout after we got some traffic. that was about a year of blogging.

Divine Philip's photo

Hello Chris. What was your journey into tech like? How did you start coding? and how did you get to this point?

Chris on Code's photo

I got started because somebody gave me a pirated version of Adobe's Dreamweaver. I saw the price tag on it and said "wow I should learn this cool thing". I saw how bad the HTML was on the WYSIWYG builder so I learned the code myself.

I got to this point by following my passion. Any time I wanted to learn about a certain technology, I'd play around with it and then write an article on it.

We were also lucky enough to have 500+ guest authors that wanted to do the same. It was a fun community to help build.

Micaiah Effiong's photo

What was your plan when you started Scotch.io? What ideas led to your success

Chris on Code's photo

scotch started as my own personal blog. i had no plans for success other than just "write down what i learned"

i think sharing the things i was learning kept the blog genuine and helped with our word of mouth. just a developer blogging to other developers

Vignesh M's photo

Hello Chris,

I have been blogging for two years but started doing it more on a weekly basis since July. But I am not getting much comment or engagement. So it feels like shouting to the void. I know it takes time, is there any coping mechanism that I can hang in with?

Chris on Code's photo

i understand this well. it took a while for scotch to gain any traffic and even longer until google ranked us higher.

look at your most successful articles and see if you can create a niche from those topics. if you're interested in that topic, you can write more on it and position yourself as a leading person in that topic

Obi Zim's photo

Thanks for doing this AMA

  1. How did you promote scotch.io to generate the traffic and revenue it has now?
Chris on Code's photo

google search gives us 90% of our traffic. so focusing on high quality articles that google will rank higher.

with traffic comes the revenue!

Subha Chanda's photo

Hi Chris! A big fan of Scotch.io here! 😁 Thank you for the AMA! I have got a few questions for you.

  • What is your advice on getting out of the tutorial hell?
  • Often time we feel like coding is not for us. How should we tackle such situations?
  • What is your pro-tip about engaging more people to a blog?
Chris on Code's photo
  1. Pick something that you need in your personal life and try to build it. One of the first things I ever built was a workout timer that I used for myself. Building and deploying fun tools for yourself can help with this.

  2. If you're feeling burnt out, know that it's cool to take a break (even a week long one) and recharge. If you're talking about struggling when learning, there's always that hard part when learning anything new, like a new language, skill, coding, whatever else.

healthcareevolve.ca/what-is-the-valley-of-d..

  1. The 1st question for each person should be "what are your goals?" If it's to grow a brand, get a job, make a little side money, then a blog is a very good idea. People's own goals will be the reason they blog. It only takes finding their goal and nudging in that direction.
Edidiong Asikpo's photo

Hello Chris,

When you start scotch.io, did you know it was going to become this great someday or did you just start it as your personal blog?

How did you create awareness about it? Thank you.

Chris on Code's photo

I started Scotch as a personal blog. A personal coding diary of sorts. Just took it 1 article at a time.

Google sends us 90% of our traffic. So writing good articles, providing value to readers, and having good SEO foundations, helped us spread awareness.

Also the community has been amazing with word of mouth and guest authors coming in to also write on their experiences.

Ido Shamun's photo

Hey Chris,

Thanks for having this AMA, it's super cool of you 🤩 How did you manage to grow your traffic not just in the beginning but even after several years when it's usually harder?

Chris on Code's photo

Growing traffic has always been about providing real value to readers.

A big thing to remember is to keep articles straight and to the point. The less complex articles usually do better for SEO since people are searching for that sort of stuff.

Ido Shamun's photo

So it's mainly about SEO or did you have other channels as well?

Dinys Monvoisin's photo

I wanted to ask a question, but all my questions are taken. ☹️

jon's photo

Sanity vs Strapi in terms of:

  • quickest up and running (less dev config needed)
  • dev experience for more advanced/complex content types & relationships
  • unique features, constraints, or gotchas to keep in mind?

Thanks Chris, your Make React Apps courses are great!

Chris on Code's photo

Sanity and Strapi are amazing. Especially with Sanity having their sanity.io/create

Sanity probably has the faster setup time. Strapi isn't far behind though.

Strapi does a great job being an app backend. Custom content types + relationships + ability to do custom things on models by diving into the code.

Sanity is amazing for sites like blogs, portfolios, ecommerce.

They are both great tools; all depends on what you're trying to build

Samuel Robertson's photo

Hey Chris,

What does a day in the life look like in your job at DigitalOcean?

Chris on Code's photo

we focus on 3 things: code, content, and community

i try to hit as many as possible within the same time period. so streaming is community. content is writing articles/making videos. code is building out fun demo apps

really its just having fun with the community all day long

Catalin Pit's photo

That sounds like a lot of fun, haha, Chris on Code!

Roy Jay's photo

Hi Chris,

I would like to ask about your experience using 8base as a backend. I have viewed your Games of Thrones React/8base course but have not completed it yet. Do you recommend 8base over other services such as AWS or Heroku?

Thanks!

Chris on Code's photo

Hey hey! That one wasn't me (it was twitter.com/codebeast) and I haven't messed with 8base myself.

Looks awesome though.

I'm a big fan of not setting up my own infrastructure if I can help it. Lowcode/nocode solutions help us focus on the frontend and our customers faster. I'm all for Firebase, 8base, Hasura, Nhost type solutions

Francois Beyers's photo

Hi Chris, thank you for doing this! What is you process in learning new technology to be able to teach it?

Chris on Code's photo
  1. read through all of the docs
  2. build out a hello world
  3. build out an app a little larger than a hello world

that's usually a good base to start with any new technology

Amarachi Emmanuela Azubuike's photo

Hey Chris, Thanks so much for doing this session.

Please how did you pull through

  1. building a traction for scotch.io.
  2. Onboarding developers to share content via the platform.

Thank you so much

Chris on Code's photo

Just kept writing what I was learning about and it resonated with developers luckily. Provide real value first and the rest (traffic, traction) will follow

I never did any outreach to attract new authors. It was all word of mouth and I love all the authors that have written with Scotch.

Corey O'Donnell's photo

Thanks for the AMA Chris on Code

  1. What was your planning process when you started scotch.io? Did you have a list of features you knew you wanted before you started building?

  2. I love hacktoberfest. I have done it for the past 3 years. What is it like being a Developer Advocate at DigitalOcean?

  3. If you had to replace your hands with something other than hands, hooks, or claws, what would you choose?

Chris on Code's photo
  1. it started as a personal blog. not too much planning. just writing down whatever fun stuff i learned when i was freelancing

  2. love hacktoberfest also! it's the best job in the world! we focus on 3 Cs, code content and community. basically building cool things and hanging out with the community. cant beat it.

  3. oooo great question. tentacles!

Omopariola Philip's photo

Hey Chris!

Thanks for putting this together

Have been following every if your tweets on twitter. A fan actually.

📌Making it big as a developer What's your story like and advice.

Chris on Code's photo

Thanks for the support! I have no big secret really. Just embracing the grind and writing 1 article at a time.

Scotch has been around 6 years now so it's definitely about consistency and trying to do something productive weekly!

Consistency is the big secret I guess

Bello Hadi's photo

Hi Chris it has always been on my mind to be a techpreneur what advice can you give for a person Like me

Chris on Code's photo

You're on the right path! Let necessity and problem solving guide your path. Find a real problem that you have and that some other people have and try to provide a solution to solve it.

Problem solving and providing value is the core of any good business

Crescellia Yu's photo

Could you share your last selfie? :D Sorry

Chris on Code's photo

I don't really take selfies but I do have this on Twitter!

twitter.com/chrisoncode/status/129758933410..

Crescellia Yu's photo

What advice do you have for developers who can speak good English but aren't motivated enough to start their own live streaming?

Chris on Code's photo

You don't have to live stream! There are so many great outlets to get content out from blogging to YouTube.

Do whatever you're most comfortable with

Crescellia Yu's photo

Hey Chris, I watched your Twitch stream in which you reviewed Hashnode. It was great!

Could you share your setup's picture? and also share some details about each device/tool that you use to stream videos.

Chris on Code's photo

Here's my entire setup gear: kit.co/chrisoncode/megadesk

I'll be moving at the end of the month and redoing my setup. I'll be posting a writeup about it then!

DevDojo's photo

Very cool that you're doing this AMA :)

During the journey of building Scotch.io, what is the biggest obstacle you had to overcome? And how did you overcome it?

You're the man ;)

Chris on Code's photo

2 big obstacles. learning to go from content creator to having guest authors and becoming more of an editor. it was a switch to more of a manager spot than a creator spot. i just learned to reprioritize my time.

i didn't focus on content, and spent too much time overengineering the blogging platform that scotch is on. refocused back onto the content and the readers

Mohd Shad Mirza's photo

Hey Chris!
Thanks for doing the AMA.

I wanted to know your thoughts on imposter syndrome and what we can do to deal with it. We often compare our growth with others and feel that we don't deserve the success we have. I would also like to mention the pressure of performing well at all times otherwise people will judge and might think we are not qualified for what we do.

I think most of us go through this feeling at some point in our lives and learn to handle it. I would like to know your suggestions for beginners on tackling this and moving ahead in their careers.

Also, have you ever had this feeling? If yes, what helped you?

Chris on Code's photo

with how connected we are these days, especially with twitter in the tech world, everybody is sharing their greatest achievements, etc, it can be very easy to feel like we aren't doing enough.

i can get caught in this cycle as well. lots of great creators are out there releasing amazing things seemingly daily.

imposter syndrome is amplified when you imagine a larger crowd. for me, i like to narrow the scope of what im doing and who will see my work. i treated scotch as a personal blog and thought "im doing this for myself and a couple readers; if more people come to check it out, then cool"

instead of mentally seeing your audience as 10,000 devs on twitter that could look down upon your work, narrow the scope to do what you're doing for yourself and maybe 5 close friends.

ultimately, the community is very positive and willing to help. its best to focus on the people that you can help instead of the naysayer. focus on the positive

everybody is learning as they go. treat others as if they are in the same boat as you, learning and getting better daily.