How to develop a developer in a small and not very IT city

Hi, my name is Seryozha, I'm 31 years old, I live in Bryansk – and this is definitely not the technological capital of the world. The first IT conference in ten years was held in our city this October, and the names of local companies, with the exception of a couple of federal outsourcers, are unlikely to tell you anything. Nevertheless, living in a real province itself, I was able to publish a number of books on programming (and they even generate income), become a guest of foreign podcasts, and began as a speaker to go to various conferences.

No, this is not a story about how unique I am. A few years ago, I did not know what SOLID is – and when asked to decrypt the abbreviation, I honestly asked: “What is this?” For many years I swam with the flow until I settled in a cozy “swamp”. But then he woke up and, it seems, in a few years was able to get out on solid ground. Do not repeat my mistakes)

I hope that something from my experience will come in handy (the solutions are simple and do not require much effort and investment). And I really want other guys who were able to grow up without leaving their small homeland to share their tips in the comments.

How to start to degrade, but not succumb

Perhaps the only thing in which my path in IT differs from the typical story “I got carried away with computers at school, got the first book on programming – went to the programmer at the institute”, this is my knowledge of English since childhood.

We lived not to say richly, but even before school, parents began to send me to some classes. And the school was chosen with in-depth study of English – so that it is foreign every day. And still sent to the tutor after class. In short, in high school I could write and read very tolerably.

In the next 10 years, English was almost useless to me.

Are there any articles? And if I find it?)

Like college education. No, I am grateful to everyone, but they taught us a little and something. Not fully understanding what to do with the fragmentary knowledge of C, C ++, PHP, .NET, algorithms, and even neural networks, I tried to get into a couple of offices – but after reading the documentation, I was depressed. Then classmates and called outsource.

We received well – and there was no motivation to leave. Read, watch and learn something – in principle, too.

The five of us sat in an office in Bryansk, and the guys in Moscow got orders for us.

And in one day it was over – the office closed. And so, when after 5 years I had to look for a new job in it, I quickly realized that I was not pulling. In good companies, where you could go to the same remote place, they asked about some things about which I had not heard or could not say a word.

Honestly admitted to himself: yes, he degraded. I decided that I would not knock on everyone in a row, but I would pull up my knowledge and try to join a team where the guys will be stronger than me (as a result, it turned out). He wrote down everything that he did not know, and sat down for study.

Why keep your technical blog: and how not to score if no one reads you in the first year

So, from the interviews, I still have notes with a bunch of new unknown words. Finding this-for-once-exactly-temporary job for 40,000, I began to dig into books and articles in the evenings. English, which, surprisingly, was not forgotten (thanks to parents and 10 years of daily activities in youth), turned out to be very helpful. I quickly realized that there is more information on foreign information and it is more relevant.

But how can I systematize it and, if anything, find the right one? We need to keep a note – and so that it is accessible from any device, you can put it on the network. The format of the blog suited this task. I read in English, so I began to write in it: it’s more concise, it’s easier. In the first year there were no problems with choosing topics: I figured out what I’ll write about. Because it’s a technical post, you don’t need inspiration with it: you can easily sketch out a page and a half in the evening (well, if the topic is complicated, in a few evenings). The fact that at first it was few people read did not bother me – I did it for myself.

You will not know something if you write a blog article about it. The principle, open then, still works.

A year later, when the issue of a new and this time good work was resolved, the desire to write was not lost. But there was a desire to share knowledge – asynchrony became more and more relevant, and I tried ReactPHP on one of the combat missions. There was practically no information about the technology even in English, so I decided to describe my experience with it: I wrote an article, went to twitter, tagged the developers account – and they retweeted the material. This began to give good traffic to the blog. And then I worked out a scheme: bypassing with a new link PHPtoday, Reddit, HackerNews, AwesomePHP and other more or less noticeable resources. Do not enter into discussions, do not respond to haters so as not to waste time – just post a link. The link gives links to the blog, and that’s all I need.

A couple of times I got into the selection of PHP Weekly – this is about 14k addresses. It seems that Roman Pronsky noticed me there – and now he takes my materials in PHP Annotated Monthly in the Jetbrains blog and “PHP Digest” on Habré (by the way, the project has an excellent channel in telegram)

So far enough. So I wrote my tool for developing long-lived applications. And here we have improved the practice of code review in the team … The blog went the third year, a few thousand people visit it a month. All for good reason!

Of course, in addition to the desire to share useful things, I also pursue pragmatic goals. I well remembered the lesson of four years ago: and the next time, if it happens (pah-pah and three times a tree), I should not knock on employers. They should come to me and want to hire me. A personal blog is a good tool for building the so-called personal brand. But we have not tried this video yet)

How and why to write screencasts in English

The blog audience gradually grew, and I became interested in self-education: I took courses, looked at tutorials. In particular, he began to pay for content. And this content prompted me to think: the guys show the screens, write something in the IDE and speak into the microphone. This is not rocket science – in principle, I also can and can)

My channel’s sponsor is Busya the cat.

Moreover, it’s more convenient for one to read, for others to watch. So the idea came up to process part of the articles from the blog into screencasts. As with the texts, I decided to do it “as for myself”. At that time, I was subscribed to Jeffrey Waye and his Laracasts – I liked how he, unlike many others, went into detail. No “here I have a typo in the code, but I didn’t rewrite it” or “and here we have something installed for 5 minutes, well, nothing, we'll wait.” I was lucky – I found his mini-course on how to make normal screencasts, studied the whole kitchen – software, the procedure, installation recommendations, and sat down to start my channel.

Channel performance: almost 1.3k subscribers, the most popular video has already gained more than 9k views.

They say that in the production of TV shows 1 day of work is 1 minute of the result. In screencasts, 1 minute of video is about an hour of work. First I select a theme, then open the IDE and start coding. After checking that the code works, I’m writing a movie script. Then I write a video according to the script – only a picture, without sound. Then I separately write the voice acting – and only then I mount it, somewhere cutting off “eee” and “meee” in the audio track, and somewhere – correcting the little things in the frame.

What does all this give?

They began to invite to conduct webinars in English. Screencasts have become an excellent promotion tool: the ReactPHP topic is still quite narrow, there are few experts on it, so I'm one of the first to issue Google. And the video format allows you to quickly evaluate how I submit material orally.

A trifle, but nice)

As a result, one morning you go to the mail – and NomadPHP (about 3k people in the community) offer you to conduct a webinar. A few months later, when Bryansk envelops the evening, you sit down at the laptop, check your faithful microphone for 1450 rubles and start broadcasting to the audience of guys from different countries. And the leader from Nevada says that your accent is better than his (nevertheless foreigners know how to compliment). The topic of the second lecture was already proposed by me – and the guys liked it so much that they quickly organized a new webinar.

Started calling in podcasts. At first – in English. Although I read and write normally, in my life I went a little and did not particularly speak with native speakers. And thanks to all these activities, PHP Roundtable called me.

3 people – and one must speak with them in a foreign language. Worried wildly. Just shortly before that, my daughter was born, so I was worried about shouting against the background: so that at the time of recording, the wife took the baby for a walk – good, it was in the summer.

Otherwise, everything went technically standard for podcasts: agreed on a time, a list of topics, phoned half an hour before the broadcast, checked everything, and then recorded through a video call with a local voice backup.

Russian-speaking podcasts are also calling: thanks to Peter Myazin for the invitation and interest in ReactPHP!

I release books. When someone hears that I have written several books, they are amazed.

They were not published – I just compiled the articles in PDF, uploaded to Amazon and a couple of other sites, well, I began to wait. More precisely, as – two times they came to me with the sentence “let us make you a paper version”, but I wrapped up such requests. From a self-assembled electronic copy, I take almost everything to myself, and with a paper copy from the publisher, I would receive only 5%.

Probably, the proceeds from the books do not cover my time as a senior developer, but there are definitely enough pleasant things for my daughter)

That's how it was: at one point, a lot of content on individual topics accumulated. I thought that it’s probably not convenient for someone to climb to a third-party site and look for individual materials there. But to open the file on the computer and find the table of contents will be easy. I will get additional coverage. Spent 4 months in the evenings to reorganize the articles into a single structure with smooth transitions, put it as a single file – and then wrote a new article, at the end of which I mentioned the book. And an hour later the first purchases went. This conversion is very pleased. Since the idea arrives or the material is recruited, I repeat the procedure again.

Once I was really locked up – but I wrote to those guys and they immediately deleted a copy of the book. I set prices low – on average, from 6 bucks. Who wants, he throws it from above.

New (interesting) acquaintances. Alexey Pyltsin, who translated the PHP documentation into Russian, volunteered to translate one of my books. Another useful acquaintance is Anton Morev, he has a good experience of speaking and has someone to consult with. People come up regularly at the meetings and say: “Thank you, I read your blog, the article really helped.” This is very cool motivating, thank you guys!

He began to speak at meetings and conferences. This is a fresh experience: there is no strong IT party in the city, in the summer I was already thinking of writing to guys from the Rostov PHP community, but here specially trained people appeared in the company who began to move the topic with mitaps and our participation in conferences.

With Sasha Makarov (previously also worked for us at Skyeng) at the BiF-2019 in Belgorod.

As a result, in a couple of months I went from the first report in my life to an independent application for a large conference (and they took me, they will pay for the road and accommodation, all in an adult way). It turned out that now part of the weekend a month my wife and daughter do not see me – but from my previous experiments, my beloved knows how this affects my “capitalization”. Do not think, I’m not looking for work, but I have already raised my salary in the company;)


And almost all of this – over the past year and a half. A few years ago, I could not answer at the interview what SOLID is … And here is what I want to say: if I could, anyone can.

Do not stand still) And tell your stories in the comments.

p.s. If you are also from Bryansk, join the IT chat and go to meetings – on November 28 the first meeting of the local community will be held.

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