Tech Content Creation with Richard Oliver Bray.
We were joined by Richard to talk about content creation, his creative process, what he thinks are important things to focus on and his views on different platforms.
- Richard Oliver Bray
- 27 mins
Tom: Hello and welcome to Episode 33 of the Make Things Better Podcast. Today I'm joined by Richard Oliver Bray. Welcome on, Richard.
Richard: Thanks for having me. It's good to be here. Good to talk to you.
Tom: Yeah, brilliant. Thanks for coming on. I've wanted to record with you for quite a while now, a few months. I've been waiting for the better lighting equipment and what not.
Richard: It looks really good. I really like it. I'm a bit jealous. I wish I had the same stuff at home. Maybe I'll get there.
Tom: I appreciate that. I'm sure I'm going to learn a lot from you today about content creation.
Richard: Too much pressure, too much pressure.
Tom: So yeah, what we're going to talk about today is content creation. So really excited to have you on, do you want to start off by introducing yourself a little bit?
Richard: Yeah, sure. So I'm Richard Oliver Bray as you mentioned, I'm a full time web developer, so I do full stack, but I do content on the side and I'm doing more content. I want to get more into it. So it's nice to talk to you to share tips and just to get to know what you're doing and share it with the world as well.
I move my hands a lot by the way, I will try to do it less, but if I do it too much just tell me off
Tom: I think its something I need to do more. Now I'm conscious of it. Because sometimes I'll go through a whole episode without moving my hands like this.
Richard: I think people are just like listening all the time, they don’t want to see hands.
So it's fine. If I move my hands too much, just cut them out.
Tom: I love that. So how did you get into content creation?
Richard: Yeah, so that's a really good question. I sent an email to my Mum ages ago and she basically sent me an email back, saying my English is really bad. She said you need to change your English and get better at writing. So I thought, okay, I'm going to do that. And the best way to get better at writing is just to write loads. So I wrote a bunch of articles to share my thoughts initially, and as I got more into web dev, I found a piece of technology called Jekyll, which is useful for making blogs.
But there wasn't a video on Jekyll and I love to learn with videos, so I made a tutorial, it did quite well, I made some more, and I think I like getting feedback from people saying “Hey, I've learned well through you, can you do more stuff.”. So I've just done more and more things and people seem to enjoy it. People seem to like my teaching style, so it’s just kind of grown from there.
It's mainly focused on web, web stuff. I've done some game stuff as well, it’s just trying to figure out how to do them both well. But yes, it's just basically my mum has spurred me on to share my knowledge in a bit of a weird way, but it works.
Tom: Yes, it sounds like it’s started off in a very natural way. So how long ago was that?
Richard: Oh, like ten years, I want to say. Yeah, I think I've been doing it more and more as time has gone on. But before it just once a month or once every two months, it was just something to do just for fun, really. It wasn't something I thought could be a potential career or something that could bring in money. I think it's just it's cool that nowadays people can make a living doing content and so it's nice that it's a possible option for me.
Tom: Yeah. And so nowadays, what do you enjoy about creating content in particular?
Richard: It’s still sharing knowledge. I think I like getting better at it. I think I like watching people who are really good and then going “Oh, I like the way they've done that. Can I do the same thing? I like the way they've got their camera or their lights or the way they're speaking. Can I copy the same thing?”
I think at the end it’s just knowledge sharing. If people understand what I'm teaching and people like get to see it and learn from it, then that's the main aim.
Tom: Yeah, brilliant. And so talking about that kind of creative process, like learning from other people.
What would you say is your process for sort of learning? Like how do you go about improving the quality of the content that you create?
Richard: Yeah. So there are three ways that I go about it and I've actually wrote them down and so I might get one wrong or just not say one, but that's if I remember.
So the first way is to service the community, so service the community that consume my content. And the way I do that is looking through the comments and listening to what they say, they might say “Oh, the camera's a bit off here”, or “I don’t understand this properly, can you speak better?”. One thing that I got that I didn't know was an issue was writing down code. People don't want to see the actual writing down and me correcting typos, they just want to see the result. So I've edited that out. So when I'm writing code, I just edit bits out and just show the results, which is really helpful. And also just asking what people want to see.
So do you want to see more game dev, web dev? Do you want to see this specific technology? The YouTube polls are really helpful for that. Twitter polls, I think LinedIn do them as well. I haven't tried them, but yeah, I have found YouTube ones really helpful. Surveys, Google forms, so asking people questions and getting them to fill it in. So yeah just asking the community, that's the first one.
The second one is gear. So I think gear is quite important. I think somewhere on YouTube they said having good audio is better than video. So I've got an okay camera. I mean an okay mic. So I can see Yeti here in the background. People watching you can't see it, but I've got a Yeti. I think it's good enough. And I know it’s not the best. I know you can get really good mics that are, I think they're like compressor mics or something like that. But I just have a regular Yeti USB mike that works well and a good camera and I watched a lot of videos on lights. So having like some coloured lights in the background. Well, what can you get? You can get these lights that are like a string or like I don’t know what you call them like a pole light and then they change colours so you can have like a rainbow light.
I haven’t gone that far, but I've got a floodlight, which changes colors. So yeah. So community, gear and speaking properly, I think that's a good one. So coming from South London, being born in South London, there are a few things that I don’t say properly. Like “Think” or “That” so just like speaking properly for the camera because not everyone speaks English and not everyone understands South Londonish.
So speaking properly for people who are American or German or Polish, and I think that's improved and helped me get better content wise.
Tom: Wow, they are really, really valuable tips, I love those and I think they are things that anyone could kind of apply because, you know, I could definitely do with speaking better. And I also know that our gear could definitely improve.
Richard: You’ve got amazing gear, you put yourself down.
Tom: I like the lighting. I think the audio though, I think you are right about that. Because I've noticed that the audio in this room isn't always the best. So that is something we could definitely improve. The first one then about generating sort of ideas for your content from your community, what would you recommend to someone who perhaps hasn't got to a point yet in their content creation career or whatever they're doing where they don't really have that community to generate ideas from, so they're not really getting comments or anything like that?
Richard: Yep, yep. So my area of expertise is tech content, so programming. So the stuff I'm going to tell you is based on my experience. I'm not sure how it will apply to other fields. But I’ll tell you anyway. So what I think has worked quite well for me is going to places where I think my community will be. So if I follow, I don't know, Mr. Beast he’s not a tech guy.
But let’s do that as an example. So Mr Beast might have a discord forum or server or whatever, so join his discord and see what questions people are asking. See what problems people have. If he has a Facebook page join that. What else is around? Google Plus is not a thing anymore but yeah, just like a social media platform where someone who you aspire to be like is on or the audience you want is on and I joined a lot of discord servers earlier and people ask questions to people who made the discord.
So I'm trying to think of a good example of someone who people might know who does tech.
So mkbhd, he's quite a big tech guy, so I imagine he's got like a forum. So if someone joins that who wants to make tech content, they can join this forum, they might see someone who wants a review of a Motorola phone and Marcus might not have done that. So you could do that.
And then you get his audience from there so that’s one tip.
Tom: Yeah, so YouTube comments as well right?
Richard: Yeah, YouTube comments that's a good one. You could follow his comments and see what they say you could scroll down in the comments and read them. Reply to them.
Tom: Can it be quite time consuming sort of going into these communities and sort of seeing what people want to learn about?
Richard: YeahI think there are two ways to look at things. So if you want to make content just for fun, then yeah, you can just not do that. Release once a fortnight, once every six months. Whatever at your own leisue. I think that’s fine but if you want to turn it into a business and make money from it, then you need to analyse competition, get some analytics, do the work, and it is time consuming and it will be at the start.
But the more you do it, the less time consuming it will be. And I think it's that mind shift that's important when you shift from hobby to “Okay I want to make a business”. Like a regular business would do this stuff, a regular business wouldn't go, “Oh, I'm not going to look at my data analytics or do any research”. So it's important if you want to change your content from hobby to business to have like a mindset of a business person.
Tom: Yeah, absolutely. And if you are sort of going through that transition, here's a tough question but what's your thoughts on frequency? Like how often do you think you should be posting to the different social media platforms?
Richard: Yeah. So again, I'm going to say my experience is different to everyone else, my area is different from what you might want to do. But I think it's not really about the frequency. I think frequency is important. It's important to post often, but doing it once a day is too much. Doing it once a month is too little, and I think it's down to how often you can produce quality content.
So if it takes you two weeks to do it, then release every two weeks. If it takes you a week then release every week. But I wouldn't post for the sake of posting. It has to be quality content.
Tom: Yeah. Great answer and how do you get to the point where you are producing quality content? Do you think you should sort of take the time to learn how to create content that's quality. Or do you sort of iteratively post content, that's maybe not to the best standard that it could be, until you get to a point where it is quality?
Richard: I think maybe the latter. So you do have to post often to get better. So the more you post, the better you'll get. But I think it's also important to take feedback in, especially when you’re new. So when you’re new you have to get better and try different things, see what works for someone else and it can get quite costly as well, especially if you are investing in a a mic and camera and all that stuff.
So it's important to do that, but slowly and not just all quickly at once. Yeah, I think for most creators, especially on YouTube, their first videos are really, really rubbish, so rubbish audio, rubbish quality and the more they've done the better they've got. Now I don't really know what the number is. If they've done like a 100 or or 1,000 videos to get really good, everyone's different.
But it's important to keep posting and just keep producing content.
Tom: Yeah, absolutely. And what platforms have you been posting on over the last like year or two? And which ones do you maybe enjoy creating content for in particular?
Richard: Yeah, so I've been on YouTube for the longest amount of time, but recently I've enjoyed posting on TikTok and I guess I’ve enjoyed posting short form in general you know YouTube shorts, Instagram reels and TikTok - the short form stuff is quite interesting to me because I can do it quite quickly, so I just find something I want to share.
So like a quick tip on programing, the editing is quite quick, because it’s like 60 seconds or less and I get quick feedback from TikTok, which is surprising because you wouldn't think people who code are on Tik Tok, but there are lots of them on there.
Tom: Yeah well I noticed that some of your videos had over 100,000 views on TikTok?
Richard: Yeah, yeah. Which is a shock to me, especially because TikTok is meant to be for kids, for teenagers who just play Fortnite and stuff. So what are they doing learning code. But yeah, they’ve got a lot of traction. And I've got a lot of comments, really good comments, really helpful comments as well. People know their stuff when it comes to code on TikTok and just in general.
So it's surprising and so will see how far I can push it, how long I can go on TikTok. But Tik Tok is doing well for me. YouTube is really good for, they’ve got really good analytics, really good for uploading videos, uploading shorts, really good community stuff. So you can do community posts, memberships, super, super creative emoji type things.
It's really good for that. But I'm not getting as much engagement on YouTube. I think maybe because it's popular, it’s saturated it’s meant to be the second most popular search engine, I think. Yeah. So maybe there’s too many people on there, but TikTok is doing quite well with me at the moment.
Tom: Do you think Tiktok's doing better because there's less creators sort of talking about code at this point?
Richard: I think so, there are less code influencers on TikTok.
Tom: But there’s still a lot of people who want to consume that content right?
Richard: Which is surprising to me. I don't understand how someone can learn to code in a 60 seconds video, but people want to do it, so I just give them the content.
Tom: Yeah. And you mentioned about like getting quite a lot of feedback on TikTok at the moment. Would you say you're learning things yourself from the viewers who are commenting?
Richard: It’s not really feedback on like camera stuff and audio stuff. It's more the code that I'm producing. So they might say, “oh, I've done this thing with another platform or another package and it's worked for me” or “Oh, this, this sucks. I want to do it this way.” I’ve find it quite interesting that they know so much and they have their own views and they've got such strong opinions on stuff I didn't know that I’d get that from TikTok. I thought I’d get that from YouTube but not TikTok
Tom: Yeah, it's really interesting. I when we uploaded a few videos talking about Next.js quite a few moments ago on TikTok. They did get a lot more views than anticipated. Yeah, so that was a bit surprising.
Richard: Yeah one thing I might want to try is the stream because you can do live TikToks. I don't know how that would work, but just try some live streams and see how that goes because I've done some livestreaming on YouTube and I did do Next.js. That's my most popular livestream video on YouTube is talking about Next.js, so I'll see about doing that on TikTok as well.
Tom: Yeah that’s interesting so what sorts of things would you talk about if you did a live stream on TikTok?
Richard: Just code. So I think the I record on TikTok is I do it on my laptop first and then upload it, so I’m going to try and find a way to hook up my kind of TikTok account to my computer camera, because I think most people use their phone camera. But if I do it that way I can do it the same way that I’m doing it normally. I can have my code editor on TikTok, my face on one side and just code and talk. And I think I might just build a simple site and people can leave comments and I can get feedback. I might not do it, it’s just an idea I’ve had but they’re quite popular.
Tom: Yeah that’s a good idea and what other tips would you give to people who want to get into content creation?
Richard: I guess it depends on the person right? So, I think it’s important to not be afraid to listen to your own voice, that’s quite an important thing. Not be afraid of looking at your own face on the camera because that’s quite important. But, if you’re past that, if you’re comfortable with your own voice or face or looking silly and making mistakes, then I think finding something that you like to talk about or like to give information on, that not a lot of people are doing. Or not a lot of people are doing in the way that you do it. Because doing something that someone else has done in the same way that you’re doing it will not get you a lot of views because they’ve done it longer than you and they’ve got people going to them instead of you.
But if you were to do something that is less popular or more specific, then again, with the tech example if I were to review every single camera and every single phone and every single laptop then there are people out there that do it much better than me. But if I were to focus on one type of phone or one type of laptop, so if I was to focus on… so you’ve got an apple watch? So if I was to do videos only on apple watches then you might watch that because that’s interesting to you. Instead of going to a regular YouTuber who does reviews. So that might work out well for someone who’s starting out just focusing on a niche or even a niche of a niche and just focusing on that.
Tom: Yeah and I suppose once you’ve gone quite niche and you’ve identified your audience you can either grow with that audience or expand upon that with other things that maybe that audience is already interested in.
Richard: Yeah I think the other things route is the one that works well for me with coding and stuff. So we spoke before we recorded but you were talking about doing a course and I think that works really well for people who have an audience, but not a massive audience like Mr Beast with millions of millions of dollars. If you have an audience that are dedicated to you then you can make a course and charge like I don’t know 25 pounds, 30 pounds for it and then you can make a decent living out of that if you have lots of courses.
And yeah there’s so much you can do with a dedicated audience. You can do so much and it grows from YouTube so.
Tom: Do you think you’d like to build a course or do something similar in the future?
Richard: So, I don’t know how much I can say. So I have worked on courses for other companies before and I am currently in the process of making courses for companies. In terms of my own course, I’d love to do that but I haven’t carved out the time. But yeah it does make sense because I have 8,500 followers on TikTok, 3,000 and a bit on YouTube. So I could say hey to all my collective followers and subscribers that I am going to release a course and some may pay and some may not pay. But, if I get 1% of 10,000 people paying for a course – that’s decent money I think.
Tom: Yeah absolutely, very interesting. It’s a changing world and if you do build that audience up and you have something of value to offer and your audience really like to listen to you in particular because they learn from your educational style then you’re kind of set in many ways.
Richard: I’ve got a thought just of of that, I don’t want to mess up your trail of thought but I have seen people who own companies, like CEO’s, have their own content on TikTok and YouTube and I think they use it to promote their product their start up. And that has worked quite well. So there are a few people that I follow who talking about coding and it turns out they are the CEO of a company. So they might own a company about AI or blogs and stuff and I think it’s a good way of advertising without paying for advertising if you create content. Which is what you are doing.
Tom: Yeah absolutely.
Richard: Yeah it does work quite well.
Tom: So do you think companies should be creating more content? Is that a good way for them to be doing their marketing nowadays?
Richard: I think so – 100%. Especially if you are unique, if you are a different company from everyone else. If you portray that with social media, with videos then you can attract more talent, or more specific talent to what you do. And people who might want to work with you, other companies might look at the videos and say hey this video looks quite cool. They have our same values, our same morals, let’s see if we can work with them. If you were to go with Google Ads or an agency, they may not capture your ethos or your company culture. They can’t capture it as well as you can within your company. So if you can portray that online then that does wonders.
Tom: So what are three things you would say you have learned in creating content over the last 10 years or so?
Richard: That’s a big questions. So just creating content in general?
Tom: Yeah so it’s tough because you’ve mentioned quite a lot already.
Richard: So actually I listen to quite a lot of business podcasts and they talk about audience a lot as well, but I think having that sort of mindset that this is a business can help. I’ve mentioned it before but it can help with the growth and with the direction to say, this is the goal. This is the aim that I have for my media and I am going to try and go towards that goal and it shapes what you do. I think one thing that I’ve seen, so I follow someone called Alex Hormozi. He’s quite a big business guy. He said something very important. He said that “The biggest thing that can cause a business to fail is distraction”. So doing the new and shiny. Doing the next big thing and the next big thing. So if you were to focus on the thing that is already doing well and focus on that and not get distracted by other things then that works really well.
And I think with my content or content in general, it’s easy to go “Oh that person has done that maybe we should do that”. But I think if you focus on what does well and keep on doing that then I think that can do really well. So for example, I’ve spoken about game dev and I’ve spoken about web dev on my YouTube channel. So web dev was doing well for a while so I thought I will just do that. But then people came back to me and said they wanted to see game dev, but I thought it didn’t do as well as web dev so I’ll just do that. But then the algorithm changed and my game dev stuff so started to get more traction. So I started to focus on game dev for long term content. And web dev for short term and that’s because people want it. And now I’m going to focus on that and whatever happens, whatever new tech comes, I’m going to focus on the game dev and I’m not going to do anything that distracts me from what my audience wants and so I have found that really useful advice.
Tom: Yeah that makes me thinks of markets and how you can sometimes have share prices that shoot up and then everyone tries to get involved and buy it but by that point they are too late. But, if you just stick to what you know then that can be better.
Richard: Yeah that’s a really good example. You put your money in stocks or isa’s and you’re not supposed to move it. If you just stick your money there then it grows well. So that’s a really good analogy.
Tom: So the final question is a broad one that we ask every guest. So what can people do to make things better and you can interpret this however you like?
Richard: I think focus on community. There are very few people who are called or have the desire to make the community around you better. So if you focus on the community around you that’s a good thing. Few people may go elsewhere and do really well there. But it is better to focus on what you know, who you know and what’s around you then to try and chase the next big thing.
Tom: So is that about keeping things local to your area or?
Richard: So yeah local to your area if you are working somewhere local to your area. But yeah areas you know. People you know. If you know ways you can improve the community, even a tiny bit. It doesn’t have to be through your work. It can be I’m going to volunteer somewhere or give my time to the elderly. I think if you can improve the community that’s making things better.
Tom: Absolutely, I love that – that’s brilliant. So yeah thanks so much for coming on the podcast.
Richard: Yeah thanks for having me, this has been fun. I hope I’ve spoken well enough for the transcript.
Tom: Yeah absolutely, better than me. So where can people find you?
Richard: Yeah this is stuff I listen to all the time. So I am on YouTube, if you search on YouTube for Richard Oliver Bray. TikTok as well. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn. But yeah just google my name, you will see links for me around.
Tom: Awesome we will have all of the links in the description as well. Thanks a lot for watching, listening or reading. It’s been a pleasure talking to you Richard and we hope you have an amazing rest of your day.
Links to Richard's Social Media
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