This week we interview Jorge Ferreiro, a maker from Spain that has built a content creation machine to help inspire developers to pick up careers in tech.
Hi Jorge! Welcome to this week’s Maker Spotlight. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’re building!
Hey Sergio! Thanks for bringing me over, man. I am a huge fan of the Makerlog community!
I'm a Software Developer and product maker from Spain. I've been working in tech companies like Amazon, doing backend with Java, or Eventbrite (my current company) doing mainly frontend with React. My background is full stack with React and Node.JS, and nowadays I’m learning more about serverless architectures for my personal projects (big fan of Firebase!).
I combine a full-time job with creating and launching side hustles in my spare time like Developers In Depth (that I live-streamed how I did it) and another product that will come soon 🥰. I also create content for my YouTube channel (programming, maker tips, and live streams), and I do public speaking gigs too. I decided to do fewer presentations in 2020 to focus on shipping products (priorities!).
Having a full-time job and side hustles are by far the most stressful and hard stuff to deal with, especially since I want to be my best version in both worlds. Most of the time I don’t have as much time as I want to work on my personal projects, so I've made a couple of sacrifices along the way, like seeing my friends less often or sleeping fewer hours. Overall a more unbalanced lifestyle. It pays off when I see the result of the stuff I’m doing but being an entrepreneur has ups and downs. In any case, I'm always trying to improve on how I manage my time and priorities, so I’d say it’s a long-life learning process.
How’d you get started in the making world?
I think unconsciously I've been a maker since I was 10, when I started to learn to code and build crappy websites. Still, I think I took this seriously when I launched Music4deejays at the age of 17, a music streaming app to discover young and emerging artists that got around 56k downloads.
Since then, I've been doing a couple of products like Dailyfocus, an aggregator of your social life to be more productive. Clotim, an app that recommends what to wear based on the weather around you and, more recently Developers In Depth, a community for young developers to grow your tech career.
Don't tell my parents, but I think my dad and mom have been one of my main inspirations and drivers to be an entrepreneur, and I think their spirit has made my sisters and me always create and do stuff. I have a fun story with my dad and my old computer that I'll tell you one day, hahaha.
How did you discover Makerlog?
I discovered Makerlog totally by chance in 2019 while researching about people building products as side hustles. At the end of last year, I got a promotion in my company, and I reflected on myself and where I wanted to go in life. I took a trip to a city in Spain (Valencia) and spent five days eating paella, taking pictures and writing docs about me, my life, and my ambitions. Out of this trip, I decided that in 2020 I wanted to get back to the entrepreneurship roots that I've been missing for quite a lot. So I came up with a plan of what projects I wanted to get out of the door as well as defining who I am and how I want to impact others (through teaching or content creation).
What are your stats as of today?
Being super honest with you, I'm probably -$10.000 given all the investments that I've done so far, hahaha. Right now, I'm working hard to make products that I can monetize. But I believe that for making profits, I need to build communities and do investments first (video equipment, production costs, home office, hostings, trips, etc.). Just for fun facts, I earned 10$ of a donation for Developers In Depth, and 5$ of Amazon affiliates. #Rich hahaha.
In terms of vanity metrics, I grew my YouTube channel from 200 subs into 680 this year (408 in 5 months), 35000 views, 2200 watching hours and raised my Twitter account 2x in the last year, not a vast count of followers, but proud of it. Most importantly is that it’s growing at a good pace.
You’re building a personal brand around software engineering. How’d you discover your passion for it?
It was random, to be honest. I was an avid video games player, and one day my sister accidentally broke my PlayStation 2. Since I didn't have money to repair it, I needed to find another hobby. My sister had a PC at home, and I started to research how to build a forum for wrestling (yes, WWE haha).
The reason why I end it up loving programming so much is because of the ability to be a "creator." I can do whatever I want right now, execute it, and play with it live. It's the same as when you are painting or designing a house, with the benefit of instant feedback and low-money entry barriers.
What inspired you to begin building a personal brand/content creation machine around your passion?
People usually don't like to share their process, either because they are working for a company with an NDA or because they don't like it. This year, I started again to build products as a maker, and I thought that sharing the process on YouTube could help my community grow and learn from them as well.
I did a couple of tests, had so much fun, so I decided to keep doing it. Like many things I do in my life, I started for fun, and keep doing because I enjoy it so much.
In terms of personal brand, I find that term a bit funny hehe. I guess I have one, but I think many people are trying to build their brand to be famous and increase their egos. Instead of that, I believe in building a community around myself of people who are passionate about shipping products and level up their engineering skills by learning over the content I produce.
Personal brands can be temporary, but building a community around your inner world sticks longer. If I grow, I want to make other people around me grow as well. In late 2019 I decided to go-all-in to build a community around me of other people with ideas and passion for making them happen. Some advices that I always apply to myself:
- Be accessible: I am always open to listen to new ideas. If I can, I will join in building the product, or provide insights over it, as well as mentoring if I have the time. Mentors have helped me to grow a lot, so I like to give back as well.
- Be helpful. I wholeheartedly believe that to get help; you need first to help. Anytime that I can, I help my community and the people around me. I help in different ways: Speaking at an event, sponsoring a hackathon like Garuda Hacks, or merely providing feedback over a project or career growth.
- Be authentic. What you see in my live streams or videos is who I am. I’m spontaneous, crazy, and sometimes a bit all over the place, haha. I know some people will not like that, but others do. I think the most important thing for me is to be authentic and do whatever makes me happy, without worrying whether that is cool for others or not.
Now, you’re building a project called Developers In Depth. What’s it about?
Developers in Depth is a community of young developers to grow your tech career. We produce high-quality interviews with top leaders in the tech industry, and we share their tips and lessons learned for people starting their careers or who want to grow. If it's the first time hearing about DID, I suggest you check this interview with Rahma Javed, Director of engineering at Deliveroo.
It's the first project part of a bigger ambition that I have in mind. I think there is lots of space to improve the way people think about their careers in tech.
How’d the idea for Developers In Depth occur?
5 AM. August 2016. It's the first time sharing this story, haha! I was learning for the September exams, and then I got this idea. I was frustrated at the school that nobody told me what was to be a Software Developer and how to build a successful career in tech. I started to ask people on Linkedin and learned a lot, so decided I should do that publicly!
As you see, it's been four years until I made Developers In Depth a reality, and the reason for that is that sometimes I don't can’t implement an idea, either because of time or resources. What I do, however, is to write a note or record a video explaining what this idea is about and why I should build this. Then in late 2019 I did a couple of prototypes and went all in in 2020.
What are the biggest obstacles you’ve faced building Developers In Depth?
Production costs. The strategy behind Developers In Depth has been to record high-quality videos in the interview's workspace, to try to be real and make the interviewee comfortable. However, this has some implicit costs like flights, Airbnb's, transportation, food.
Video editing / revisions. Each interview has around 1-hour footage that we split up into two videos: 360 (15 questions, 5 minutes, 360 degrees) and in-depth, a long format interview. Watch the material, edit it, review it, edit it again. Video editing has been by far the part that has slow us down. After editing a couple of videos, I delegated that to video editors, but even with that, I'm putting many hours to make sure the content is ready to go.
Bring a diverse talent to the show. In the beginning, I had to convince many people why they should believe in our project. Now things are more natural, but it's always a challenge to find the right people. My statement with Developers In Depth is to bring different stories and perspectives to the show. An excellent example is Rahma's Javed (Ex Microsoft and Director of Engineering at Deliveroo.) or Jess Pumphrey (Senior Eng at Microsoft). Two amazing leaders in technology.
What are your plans in the future?
As I said earlier I think Developers In Depth is the first project of a couple of ideas I wanna explore in the same space. In the short-medium term I want to explore partnerships with other projects out there so we can create synergies with Developers In Depth and their projects (example of this could be bootcamps and other software development academies)
Then I wanna keep exploring more ideas like “Developers In Depth Live”, to do interviews through livestream. We did some experiments in the past with Marcos Iglesias (Lyft) and saw good results, so we should definitely keep exploring this. This could cut the production budget like crazy.
For my YouTube, I want to keep producing content for my audience and explore some collaborations I have in mind. In the meantime, keep doing live streams to share some projects I’m working on.
In the long term, my dream is to invest money in other young talented people to make their ideas happen. But before that, my medium-term dream is to build products that change people's lives and be able to dedicate myself entirely to it.
Now, about you. What’s your workflow like? You create a lot of content!
I usually dedicate weekends to recording videos and editing. During the week I try to allocate my nights for coding, that's the drawback of having a full-time job that I can't advance as fast as I can on my projects, but I think overall I try to keep myself accountable and I am shipping stuff that I feel proud of.
Every month I establish what kind of content I want to produce for next month. Some videos are short, and I can do them in a short span (live streams). However, there are other videos like "Day in the life of a Software Engineer" where I go crazy and spend too much time recording, editing, etc.
Do not try to force yourself to do videos if you don't like that. Another story if you are afraid to do it, in that case, F$$K it! Put you in front of the camera. So it depends really on your situation.
My tip is always to balance more complex projects with short-term wins. My second tip is to find whatever you are more comfortable with. Some people love writing; others love talking to a camera or a microphone. Do not try to force yourself to do videos if you don't like that. Another story if you are afraid to do it, in that case, F$$K it! Put you in front of the camera. So it depends really on your situation.
How do you stay productive while creating so much?
The most important thing is to pick your battles. For example, If I try to create content for Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Linkedin, My blog, and so on, I'll go crazy. So my main focus right now is on YouTube (Twitter is more for learning purposes and fun). But yeah, I think people tend to waste their energies all over the place, but that will make you not focus on a specific project.
I also think it’s important to start your day the night before. In terms of routine, feel free to check my video “Day in the life of a Software Engineer”, you can get a good sense of what a day in my life looks like. But it’s a combination of meeting and coding. Working from Home has helped me to have less interruptions but overall I always try to have a good control of my priorities.
Another thing that helps me out is to share what I am doing with close friends and my followers. It's great to share my progress and get feedback on it or people like the stuff I am working on.
Given said, I recently bought a new computer, and I started to play Fortnite, so my productivity is going down hahaha. If any of your readers want to play a game, DM me! haha
Let’s talk marketing! How do you market your content?
I think there is an area of improvement for me in marketing my content. For example, I don't have much time to promote Developers In Depth as I want.
In any case, I usually plan out the marketing before creating a piece of content. I put the time to understand: who is going to be my target audience and what benefit they will get from my content.
In terms of distribution channels, I think YouTube gets the right amount of synergies from Google and other services. So I always keep an eye to all the metrics that my videos and content are generating to try to understand what other ideas I can make. Another tip is trying to see what's hot and new using Google trends or watching other content creators.
Also - with these tumultuous times, it’s also important to ask: how are you handling the coronavirus crisis?
It's an unfortunate situation. I see people around me losing their jobs and also coworkers who were laid off and don't have a job now.
In my case, I got a boost in my productivity and shipped new products and content. I built Developers in Depth in the middle of the lockdown. Now I have more time and fewer distractions to work on products and creating content.
It also helps that I don't waste one hour daily on the commute to the office, and people have more time to work on projects. Also, because people were locked down, they wanted to be entertained. I think my followers appreciate that I'm putting out content frequently.
As a reflection, I think that a tragic global pandemic will open the door to new business opportunities, and I think the people who listen to the market will be able to make a considerable impact and lots of money.
What have been the biggest takeaways from your experience as a maker? What are the biggest lessons?
Entrepreneurship is hard as f**k, but at the same time, you have full control of your time, your product, and the decisions you make. So totally worth it. The trickiest part is finding the product-market fit.
It’s a fantastic learning opportunity. I’m learning about marketing, content creation, more technologies like Firebase.
Be frugal to control your expenses. An excellent example of this for me would be to realize that DID videos need a significant investment, and I can inspire people, in the same way, doing online interviews.
Partner up with other folks. Lately, I’ve been working with amazing designers and other people who compliment my skill sets. Being a maker is not a 1-person game. A good example of this would be livestreaming how I built a product with my friends on a weekend.
What do you suggest to anyone who wants to start learning coding?
I've always applied a project-driven approach to learn new things. I learn on-the-go based on the needs of the project I want to build. That does not mean that I don't study something just for the sake of intellectual curiosity.
My main advice for anyone who wants to get into programming is picking a project they are passionate about and researching how to make things work. It's more fun and stimulating than doing boring TODO lists apps or stuff like that. So find a project that excites you, then figure out how to build it! 😂 The same applies when I want to learn new technology.
Also, watching how others think and do coding is fantastic. You can understand how people in the industry do stuff and learn from tips and tricks that you may not have thought of before. As a bit of spam (haha), I do live coding quite often on my YouTube. For example, I built my most recent project through a live session.
I personally learn so much from my viewers and subscribers. It’s a continues learning process.
Well, slightly off topic, but as tradition we ask makers to share the music genre or playlist that motivates them.
Man! I am a DJ and producer in my spare time so that I can talk to you for HOURS about music! I am very eclectic, to be honest! Electro House or EDM music is by far my preference, but to be honest, I listen to all kinds, house, progressive, techno, drum and bass, rock, pop, mombatoon, Latino… In case you are curious, I did a live DJ session to celebrate my birthday. Let me know guys what you think! haha
As always, closing question: What advice would you give other makers out there?
Help each other, learn from each other, build together. This is not a one-person game. We should partner up. Can you imagine a unicorn startup that was born out of the makers community? Let’s work to make that happen!