Multithreaded Income Podcast

In this episode, Kevin Griffin converses with software consultant and trainer Steve Smith, also known as Ardalis. They discuss Steve’s successful consulting and training company, Nimble Pros, and his vast experience with Pluralsight and the creation of various tech courses. Steve offers valuable insight for developers looking to get started with their course content. He highlights the importance of choosing 'evergreen' topics and establishing yourself as an authority in your field. Furthermore, he discusses the logic behind having multiple income streams, including commercial rentals. They also mention Steve's new courses on Dome Train and his growing YouTube channel.

Steve on Twitter:
Steve on Pluralsight:
Nimble Pros:

Join our discord at

Creators & Guests

Kevin Griffin
♥ Family. Microsoft MVP. Consultant/Trainer focused on #dotnet #aspnetcore #web #azure. VP at @dotnetfdn @revconf Mastodon: - He/Him
Steve "ardalis" Smith
Speaker. Author. Combat Veteran. Mentor. Trainer. NimblePros. devBetter. WeeklyDevTips. /ardalis everywhere. he/him. on bsky

What is Multithreaded Income Podcast?

In the "Multithreaded Income Podcast," host Kevin Griffin navigates the nuanced landscape of generating multiple income streams as a technologist. Aimed at professionals who wish to diversify their revenue while maintaining a focus on technology, this podcast dives deep into unconventional strategies, untapped opportunities, and actionable advice.

It's time for the multi
threaded income podcast.

We're like insurance for a
turbulent tech landscape.

I'm your host, Kevin Griffin.

Join me as I chat with people all around
the industry who are using their skills

to build multiple threads of income.

Let us support you in your career
by joining our discord at mti.

to slash discord.

Now let's get started.

Kevin Griffin: Welcome back to the show.


I'm joined by my friend, Steve Smith.

How are you doing today?


Steve Smith: I'm doing awesome.

How are you doing?

Kevin Griffin: Doing great.

I'm so thankful that you
could be on the show today.

Uh, we are going to talk about
a variety of different topics.

We were just having a
discussion off, off mic.

So I think folks are
really in for a treat.

But Steve, for the Odd case
that no one knows who you are.

You mind giving us kind of the
spiel of who Steve Smith is and

what you've been working on.

Steve Smith: Sure.

So I'm Steve Smith.

I go by our Dallas online because
Steve Smith is one of the more

generic names out there and there's
a bunch of us even in the dev space.

Uh, so you'll find me on, on Twitter,
GitHub, YouTube, wherever as our Dallas.

Uh, I do software, uh, consulting
and training, uh, have a company

called nimble pros that my wife
and I run with a small team.

We help companies write
better software faster.

Uh, we're working with a lot of
companies now that have legacy dot net

apps that they're trying to move to
the cloud or move to dot net eight.

Um, and that's, you know, a good
opportunity for us because we can

help them redesign their apps and
learn better practices along the way.

And, um, really, really add a lot
of value to these companies that

already have working software,
but want to make it better.

Um, I've been doing training for a long
time, uh, since 2002 or so, uh, been

doing independent training for software
development teams and on plural site since

about 2010, which makes me one of the.

Uh, more seasoned authors there,
uh, and just published my, my latest

course, uh, less than a month ago on,
uh, refactoring to solid C sharp code,

uh, which takes some pretty nasty real
world looking code and, and looks at

how to refactor that kind of stuff.

So that's, uh, that's it
for me for now, I think.

Kevin Griffin: Uh, let's
talk about our Dallas.

What's the origin of that name?

Steve Smith: Sure.

I had a, uh, tabletop role playing
game, um, that I was playing in back

in the nineties and I had a paladin
character and I came up with a name

and I just named him our Dallas.

And, um, he was one of
my favorite characters.

And I, you know, was playing with
him for a while with, with our group.

Uh, and then around that time, uh,
Blizzard was, was coming out with

games like Diablo, uh, and, and
Blizzard online and, and stuff.

So I needed a name for that.

So I was like, I'll just be our Dallas.

Cause you know, trying to get S Smith
or something is, is a fool's errand.

So, uh, Uh, eventually I just
kept using it for various things

because it was usually available.

Uh, and, and so it became
my sort of online identity.

Uh, and I answer to our Dallas now,
cause that's just kind of my, my brand.

I have our Dallas.

com and all that.


Kevin Griffin: I love it because
you were mentioning Steve Smith.

It's a, it's a, I always
say that's a common name.

Uh, We were having a conversation
a couple episodes ago with James Q.

Quick and he was talking about, he
uses the Q very specifically because

if you were ever to Google for James
Quick and numerous other people other

than him show up in the search results

Steve Smith: right.

I, I used to have the top result for
Steve Smith, but that was a long time ago.

Kevin Griffin: long time ago, uh, do.

Do you find, I know you've been
running a website, your blog for,

for a lot of years, um, are a lot of
your incoming searches specifically

that people are searching for
what does our Dallas say about X?

Steve Smith: Um, well, they don't
show you the search terms anymore

in the analytics like they used to.

Uh, so it's hard to say.


But yeah, I mean, I get a lot of, uh,
of hits for things that are articles

I wrote many, many years ago, and
some of my most popular posts are

not even really development related.

It's like how to do this stupid thing
in Excel, like, you know, that that one

always gets a ton of traffic every month,

Kevin Griffin: It's always the
stuff that you don't think is going

to be big traffic, but over time
it, it adds up, pays dividends.

Steve Smith: and there's, there's a much
bigger audience of people that use Excel

than that are like net developers, right?

By orders of magnitude.

So, of course, it gets a lot of traffic.

Kevin Griffin: Well, let's start
the conversation about Nimble Pros.

You gave me a little bit of a primer
earlier, but let's talk about how

Nimble Pros kind of got its start
and what is it built into today?

Steve Smith: Sure.

So we're on NimblePros 2.

0 now because we kind of restarted it.

Um, but the, uh, the original company
was founded, I think, in 2008.

And at the time my wife and I were
running a, an advertising company.

Um, but they catered to
developer, uh, websites.

And so we had, uh, a
website called ASPLions.

com that some folks may remember.

Uh, it was kind of before people
had blogs and things, it was

a place to publish articles.

And, and we had ads on there from various
component vendors and, and Microsoft

would advertise there and stuff.

Uh, and we, we started an ad company
sort of managing these ads for that

site and a bunch of similar sites.

Um, and that became our, our full time.


Um, and around then I was, I was
getting into speaking at conferences

and it wasn't unusual that people would
come up to me after a conference talk

and say, Hey, that was really great.

Can you help us with that in our company?

And I would have to say, no, I don't, I
don't, I don't do that consulting thing.

I've got this company and
we sell ads and whatever.

And, um, and it seemed pretty obvious
after a few of those, that's like,

we're leaving money on the table.

How could we capitalize on this?

And at the same time we were struggling
trying to um, Build our features as fast

as we wanted to for the ad business,
because we're competing with like

Google and other places that do ads.

And so it was, it was hard
for a small shop to keep up.

Um, and so we got the idea that we
would just start a consulting company

and we'd be able to take on these,
these folks that wanted consulting.

Um, and when our consultants weren't busy
with other clients, they could be building

the ad, uh, software for the ad company.

And that worked pretty
well for a few years.

Um, ultimately we ended up selling.

The ad company in 2009, uh, and, and
that was to, uh, the code project.

And I went and worked for
them for a couple of years.

And Michelle ran nimble
pros for a few years there.

Uh, and then right, as I was wrapping that
up and coming back to nimble pros, we sold

them a pros to tell Eric, uh, and, and
tell Eric, you know, bought the company.

And we went and worked for them
for a few years until they got

acquired themselves by progress.

And they spun off the consulting arm
and basically just let everyone go.

So, uh, a few years passed.

All our team went and
worked at different places.

Um, and then, you know, we, we started
picking up some of them, uh, again,

uh, I was working myself just under
the our Dallas name at that point.

I was our Dallas services.

Um, but then we rebranded back to
nimble pros, uh, a few years ago.

So, and we have a few of our previous
members have come back and rejoined.

Kevin Griffin: How big is your team?

Steve Smith: Uh, there's
10 of us right now.

Kevin Griffin: 10 of us?


For a lot of people getting started,
one of the, the hardest question to

answer is I want to start consulting.

I'm gonna start freelancing.

Where do I find clients?

How do I get started finding clients?

How do, how do people
know what I offer it?

If you were to give advice to someone
that's starting fresh, what's the best

way to find some of those initial clients?

Steve Smith: Sure.

I mean, I'm always trying
to find clients also, right?

You don't that task only gets
harder as you grow because you

have more and more mouths to feed,
um, and, and people to keep busy.

Um, but, but the advice that I would
give you from the start is to get

as much content out there that is
establishing yourself as an authority on a

particular task and a particular problem.

Um, ideally an expensive problem, right?

A problem that, that companies
want to throw money at to solve.

Uh, and that is.

The best way to get yourself to stand out
from other people, because if you just

try and market yourself as, Hey, I'm a
JavaScript developer, or I'm a front end

developer, I'm a dot net developer, right?

That no one, no one needs
a dot net developer, right?

They need a developer that
knows their particular set of

circumstances, their domain, their,
their stack, their tech, right?

They don't need a front end developer.

They need, you know, the best react
developer around that can come in

and clean up all the mess they've
made with their react application.


And so if you bill yourself as like,
I build react applications, right.

Or I fix react apps or,
you know, I, I make entity

framework, you know, run right.

And, and fast, like now you're
talking, cause now you've got a

value that you bring that isn't just
generic and isn't just off the shelf.

Um, and the way you establish that.

I think, um, so you should be writing,
writing blogs or you should be on YouTube

or you should be on Twitter or ideally all
of the above, but, you know, pick whatever

the easiest ones are for you to do, uh,
and find a way to get your, your content

out there, uh, which will help people.

But you'll help you because as you,
as you develop content, you have

to really understand it or at least
understand it better, uh, in order to

articulate it, uh, to people, right, in
order to share it in a meaningful way.

Um, and, and so there's a quote I love
called to teach is to learn twice.

And so like every time you write
a blog post or you make a YouTube

video or something, you show someone
how to solve some problem, your

understanding of that problem increases.

So it's helping you and of course helping
other people and elevating their trust

in you and their, their understanding
that you're, you're an authority,

you know what you're talking about.

You're that guy that a girl that
has that blog or has that book that

you wrote or whatever it might be.

Kevin Griffin: Yeah.

I love that advice.

I've seen that with a lot
of stuff I've written and.

Courses I've done on, so
we're talking dot net.

I've done a lot around signal art
and real time web and the number of

engagements I've pulled in specifically
because of articles and courses

I've built is kind of astounding.

Like you say it out loud and
people say that's great advice.

That's never going to work for
me, but totally works if you put

the time and the effort into it

Steve Smith: there's, there's a book
I'd recommend, um, called content

marketing, um, or inbound marketing.

I think there's actually a couple
of books, but both, both of

those ideas, if you just Google
for them, um, are, are great.

Uh, and the, and the general idea about
that type of marketing versus outbound

marketing and, and like advertising and,
and pay for click ads and things like

that is that if, if you're in the pay for
click business, you just, you know, you

optimize your Google ad spend every month.

You're at the mercy of someone who doesn't
know how to do that and doesn't know

the value of things, but has a bunch
of money showing up and just completely

derailing your, your strategy, right?

Maybe they got a bunch of, of
investment money from, from, you know,

some, some sponsor or some startup.

Uh, and, and they're like, Hey,
I've got a million dollars.

I don't know what I'm doing.

I'm going to buy all these keywords.


And they just blow you out of the water
because now all the keywords that you'd

highly optimized for, uh, overnight,
they're 10 times as expensive, right?

With content marketing,
that'll never happen.


If you have a bunch of content that
all establishes you as an authority and

you got a bunch of, you know, traffic
coming to you because of that content,

no one's going to just overnight get
rid of that, except maybe Google, if

they change their algorithm and decide
to like drop your website or something.

But, you know, you're not gonna be at
the mercy of somebody else's ad spend.

Kevin Griffin: It's interesting
because I just read an article.

It was a hacker news, uh, or read a
thread, and they were talking about

how someone went to one of their
competitors, pulled their site map

and had a I write targeted articles to
everything that they were ranking for.

And over the course of a couple
weeks, stole a whole bunch of

ranking on certain keywords.

So it's

Steve Smith: So maybe it is
getting easier to steal even the

Kevin Griffin: It might be getting
easier, but it's not, it's not

going to be high quality stuff.

I think that's the real key is
if you're writing anything, like

your stuff is really high quality.

I see your stuff referenced everywhere.

And that's the type of level
that you want to get to.

You want to get to the point where
someone goes, I know exactly what

you need for a particular problem.

Go read this post that our Dallas posted.

Uh, cause he talks about it goes
scroll about halfway down and they.

Because I, I think a lot of
posts, uh, you do this often.

They're these tomes of here's how
you solve these hard problems that

the documentation isn't covering.

Do, do you have your site
and you also have NimblePros?

Does NimblePros put out its own articles

Steve Smith: Yeah,

Kevin Griffin: you do your own articles?

Steve Smith: And I published some
things on nimble press, but most

of the stuff I still post to mine.

Um, just out of habit or
anything, and I've got a, my own

brand and following and stuff.

Kevin Griffin: Yeah,

Steve Smith: uh, nimble for us has its
own YouTube channel on its own blog.

It's, it's got its own set of things
and, and most of our employees,

uh, do their, their things there.

And then we're looking to build
that up more and then in 2024, uh,

actually using stuff like what we're
doing right here with a squad cast or

Riverside FM or other tools like that.

It makes it easier to do.

More dynamic, you know, group based,
uh, discussion based videos, uh,

which I'd like to get into more.

Kevin Griffin: yeah, that sounds fun.

There's not enough of that out
there, uh, at least from people

that really know what they're doing.

Steve Smith: It can be hard for
folks that aren't comfortable.

Um, and so, you know, a lot of people, you
know, presenting their ideas in public to,

to say, well, you should just go start a
YouTube video, like our YouTube channel.

Like what, where do I even start?

That's crazy.

Like, you know, that that's way out
of a lot of developers comfort zone.

Um, but if you were to say, Hey, you
want to just come on camera and, you

know, spend 20 minutes talking about
how you did X with, you know, that

problem, then like, yeah, I can do that.

You know, I don't know if I
don't have to do any of the work.

I just have to show up and talk and,
you know, hopefully not sound like an

idiot and we can always edit it later.

It's not live.

Um, and so that lowers
the bar quite a bit.


Um, that's part of why I'd like to,
to, to delve more into that with nimble

pros, cause I can have, uh, various
team members or even clients if they're,

if they're up for it, you know, come
on and just let, let's talk about this

cool thing we did, um, and, and, and
not have it be as big of a hurdle to do.

Kevin Griffin: I think imposter
syndrome factors into it a lot as well,

because I, I feel like a lot of things
I could, I should write about that.

I should do videos on, I should
potentially do courses on.

I, the hard problems that
I come around solving.

I don't want to write this article and
say, and this is how I solve this problem.

And I feel really smart at the end
and then have someone come in and

go, well, why'd you do all that?

You could have just done X and.

So take my days or weeks or months worth
of time, pain and experience and dwell

it down to, well, if you had just done
this one little thing, you wouldn't

have had to worry about all that.

That's my biggest fear, is someone coming
in and being a little bit smarter than me.

And Kind of showing me that I
just I was completely wrong, which

I guess is a good thing, right?


Steve Smith: mean, yeah, like if he, if
you stood at a background for a minute

and you thought about like, well, the
worst possible outcome is that you learn

a better, easier way to do the thing.


That's not that bad.

Like, okay, guess what
your next blog article is.

Hey, I tried that suggestion
and you know what?

It works.

And here's how you do it the easy way.

Like, you know, that's just run with it.

You know, every, everybody's
learning all the time.

Nobody knows it all.

Kevin Griffin: Well, let's pivot a
little bit to speaking of learning.

Let's talk about some of your
coursework with Pluralsight.

So you've been with Pluralsight
for a very long time.

You said you were kind of one
of the original group of folks.

How many courses have you
done with Pluralsight?

Steve Smith: Ooh, uh, don't know.

Kevin Griffin: Oh, I asked you the hard

Steve Smith: it's, it's
been a, it's been a few.

In fact, at the moment, there's
a bug on their site that doesn't

even show all my courses.

So if I go to their thing, it's not
going to show my most recent one.

But it says 24.

Oh, and it is there.

Oh, they fixed it.


So yeah, 24, 24 courses.

Kevin Griffin: So I think the kind of
the question we throw back and forth on

the podcast and a lot of people in our,
our discord as well is doing a course

for a marketplace like Pluralsight's
a really good marketplace versus doing

something self published on your own.

Or, um, there's even these new little
like off skirt, uh, Marketplaces that

will do a little bit of the marketing
stuff for you, but you still own

a hundred percent of the content.

Steve Smith: Hmm.

Kevin Griffin: So all your courses have
been primarily through Pluralsight.

How has the experience of working through
Pluralsight been for you and for 24

courses, I assume it's been pretty good.

Steve Smith: It's been mostly good.

Um, you know, there's been things that
along the way that have annoyed me or,

uh, you know, rubbed me the wrong way.

Um, overall it's, it's been
very, very profitable for me.

Uh, and, and part of that is
because I got in at the right time.

Part of that is that I
chose the right topics.

Uh, uh, The thing that I strategically
did that looking back at really paid

off was to choose evergreen topics
that have a long tail that don't have

a version number attached to them.

So, you know, if I do a course on solid
principles, they're not going to come

out with solid principles version 2 next
year and version 3 the year after that.

Whereas if I'm trying to talk about
angular, uh, or react, it's like, you

know, no one's going to watch that course
after 2 years because there's going

to be a newer, better version of it.

Um, That's come out and I'm going to
have to constantly be redoing the same

course over and over just to keep up
instead of finding new courses that

can kind of expand my, my reach.

Um, so, so that was part of
my, uh, success, I think is

attributed to that decision.

Uh, and in plural sites, just done
a tremendous job of, of, you know,

getting market share, uh, acquiring
competitors and doing other things.

They they've had some rocky.

Times themselves with, with layoffs and,
you know, they went public and then it

went back private and that's, you know,
had some organizational changes and

things, but, you know, on the whole,
it's, it's been a very successful.

Uh, company in a very successful
relationship with, with me, um, overall.

Kevin Griffin: From a topic standpoint,
how flexible have you been kind of

choosing what topics you want to do?

Is that mostly guided by your
intentions or what Pluralsight is

specifically looking to, to cover?

Like a, like a traditional
book publisher might.

Steve Smith: Yeah.

I mean, there, there has to be an overlap
there of things that, things I know

and things I want to talk about and
things Pluralsight thinks that their

audience wants to, wants to get more of.

Um, and in the early days it was easier
because they just wanted content.

They were like, whatever you
want to do, talk about it.

Like we need to build up our library so
we can sell the subscription to people and

they'll see that we have a bunch of stuff
and we're getting new stuff all the time.

Um, and so in the earlier
days, 2009, 2012 and in there.

You know, it was easier, uh, to pick
your topics and then as plural site grew

and became more popular both with their
audience, but also with authors, um,

the available spaces in which you could
find content started to get tougher.

Like everybody had kind
of staked out their area.

Uh, and it wasn't unusual that
someone would publish a course that

really like stepped on somebody
else's toes and and that author

didn't even know that was coming.

And it was, you know, it caused
some animosity or some surprise

that, you know, suddenly Pluralsight
would publish this thing when,

like, I already have this thing.

Why are you?

Why are you publishing a
thing that destroys my thing?

Um, and that's hard, right?

If you were, if you were If you're a
Pluralsight, if you're in their shoes,

like it's, it's difficult to, to
thread the needle on that sometimes,

because you want to have new content
and you want to focus the content

on, you know, different audiences.

Like maybe there was a course
for C sharp, but now we have

one for Java or, or whatever.


Um, even if it's conceptually the same
thing, uh, you know, they could still

support having two courses on it.

Um, so, so there was, there was
some of that, but, uh, overall,

uh, I've had the most say on,
on what I wanted to talk about.

I just, I sometimes had to, you know, make
it fit into what they were looking for.

Uh, an example would be, uh, at
one point I did a talk on, or a

course on refactoring for Azure.

Uh, and you know what refactoring
for Azure isn't really any

different than refactoring.


Like, it doesn't matter
if you're using Azure.

It's just refactoring.

You're making the code work better.

Um, but they really wanted one for
Azure because Microsoft was pushing them

to build this Azure, uh, skill tree,
this, this, you know, learning path.

Um, and so they wanted to have that in
that learning path and it had to have

for Azure, like, you know, be that focus.

Um, and so I did that because they asked
me to, um, and, and, you know, I wanted

to be in that path that, you know,
ostensibly was going to have all these,

all these people beating a path to it.

Um, And, and it was, it was fine.


And it was largely similar to other
refactoring courses I'd already done,

but we, you know, designed a little
bit more with, with Azure in mind.

So there, there, there's some times
when I've done stuff for, uh, more at

their request than what I wanted to do.

Um, but it was still in the domain of
things that I generally would talk about.

Kevin Griffin: Do you think there's
room for someone who's never done

a course before it might be getting
their start in the community, going

to something like Pluralsight or
should they start looking at doing

content elsewhere and then eventually
try to graduate the Pluralsight?

Steve Smith: There's, there's
a bar to get into Pluralsight.

I mean, they don't just take, uh,
anyone that wants to, they, they have a.

You know, if submit a video and some
other things, and some of it's just

purely mechanical, it's like, you know,
uh, are you able to articulate clearly?

Do you have a decent microphone?

Is your recording set up?


All that stuff.

Um, and even that weeds out
a bunch of people, I'm sure.

Uh, and there's people that really
want to do it, that will submit,

you know, over and over again
until, until they get it right.

Um, so just because they say no, once I
wouldn't be discouraged forever, right?

You know, fix whatever feedback
they give you and, and come back in

three or six months and try again.

Um, I certainly wouldn't.


Argue against trying to submit for
pluralsight, but even if you are accepted

as an author They only have a limited
selection of things that they're looking

for right now And it might not be what
you're good at or what you want to teach

So I wouldn't I wouldn't caution against
getting in there and seeing what they

have Available for topics and seeing
if it's anything that you want to talk

about Um, but if there's not, don't
sit and wait until that becomes true.

Like go, go do your thing somewhere else.

Um, you know, that's, that's the
more important thing is to produce

the content, uh, and, and build that
audience of, of people that see that

you know what you're talking about.

Kevin Griffin: One of the things
I really like about Pluralsight,

and I think I kind of want to talk
about for anyone that might be

interested in building a course is.

Pluralsight authors do a really
good job of telling the story of

working with the technology or
trying to solve a series of problems.

What type of process do you have for
setting up an outline, telling that

story, figuring out what videos you have
to record, what order you have to record

them, and getting that information in
a way that people can actually learn?

Steve Smith: Um, these days,
Pluralsight is a lot more prescriptive

about that than they used to be.

So they will, uh, as part of their
process, they will have an outline

and they will just ask you to kind
of fill in some, some pieces of it.

And then they'll have a tech editor
kind of look it over and, and, you

know, verify that it's the right.

Uh, stuff they want to cover.

Um, and they may have certain
keywords that they want you to hit.

They may have certain learning objectives
that they want to hit because they've

been talking to their customers and their
customers are saying, Hey, we really

want our employees to know X, Y, and Z.

And so those X, Y, Z bullet points become
learning objectives for your course.

Um, and, and that wasn't always the case.

I mean, it used to be
authors had a lot more.

Uh, it was more author driven
of what, what the story was

and how you wanted to tell it.

Uh, and, and, you know, there's, there's
pros and cons to that, obviously,

but they do kind of force you to
do some of that thought up front.

So, uh, you do have an idea
going in of, of this is how many

modules there's going to be.

And here's the different
sections within those modules.

And that kind of is the outline of, of the
course, um, from, from that standpoint.

Uh, and then they've, they've got data
that tells you things like, you know,

how long should modules be, how long
should demos and clips be, and you can.

Kind of bend those rules if you need
to, but it's sort of like, you know,

your general guidance is that they
should be, you know, between X and Y

minutes long and then things like that.

So that kind of helps guide you toward
a more consistent product that, you

know, is, is generally going to be
successful with, with their audience.

Kevin Griffin: Has there been any course
that you've done on Pluralsight and

actually you don't have to answer this if
you don't want to that you thought about

maybe doing as your own self published
course or taken to another platform?

Steve Smith: Well, um.

That did happen when NET
Core was first coming out.

I was doing a lot of work with
the documentation for ASP.

NET Core when it was new, when it was
still beta, it was called Project K, and

it wasn't called Core or anything yet.

And one of the reasons why I was doing
that was because I really wanted to get

into having one of those fundamentals
courses, you know, having ASP.

NET Core fundamentals.

Because then, and even today, Those
courses get a lot of views on plural

site, and that's how you get paid is
by how many people watch your course.

Uh, and so, you know, I really
wanted to be the authority on asp.

net core when it was new, when everybody
was going to jump in and try and learn it.

Uh, so I could get that
fundamentals course.

And, uh, when.

At that time, when, when Pluralsight
was thinking about what they wanted to

do, they, they basically said, well,
we're going to have this, this RFP

process, and we're going to have a
blind, uh, selection based on based on

proposals that we get, uh, and we'll
pick whichever one has the best proposal

and not consider who the author is.

And I'm like, How does
that make any sense?


Like I'm the guy I'm the one
writing the documentation for this.

I've been doing it for like a year and
you know, whatever random person writes a

proposal that you happen to like better,
you know, if somebody else writes a

better proposal, tell me what's in it.

Now I'll do that, right?

But I know what I'm doing.

And then the other thing was they
said, well, we're not actually

going to do a fundamentals course.

We're going to do a bunch of little
courses that are broken up, and we're not

going to let anybody do, you know, ASP
course stuff unless they're part of this

path that we're prescribing and creating.

And we're going to be
super strict about it.

Um, and then, you know, I didn't get the
course that I wanted the intro course.

And then I also, you know, around that
same time, like, as it's launching,

another author published a big, long
course on how to build a website.


And, and had done it all with ASP.

NET Core, right?

And it wasn't an ASP.

NET Core course, but it
was still like an ASP.

NET Core course, right?

Uh, and I was like, Oh, wait,
I thought we weren't doing it.

Oh, well, well, they
got special permission.

Like what?


So that, that kind of thing kind
of rubbed me the wrong way to the

point that I was like, you know what?

I'm going to make my ASP.

NET Core course.

Cause I really want to do this.

Uh, and so I did go and self publish it.

In fact, we, uh, my wife and
I, and two other co founders.

We started a training company, um, called
called DevIQ and DevIQ still exists.

It's a, it's a domain
I've had for a long time.

Um, and it's a reference site,
but for a couple of years there,

it was, it was also a training
company and had some courses on it.

Uh, and so we worked on
that for a couple of years.

Kevin Griffin: So how did
the course on Dev IQ work?

Steve Smith: Well, it took me a few
months to build the thing, right?

I had to come up with a new theme
and slide templates and everything.

Cause it had to have its own
look and brand and all that.

And then I built this course ASP.

net core quickstart, uh, build a
homepage just for that course as a

landing page to drive people to it.

Uh, sold it for a reasonable price.

I forget if it was like 50 bucks
or 75 bucks or 90 or something

like that wasn't terrible.

Um, And, and I was able to get almost
a dozen people to buy it per month

for, for like, you know, a year or two.

And, uh, that, that
was, that was not great.

Um, and the thing that was really galling
is, is while we're working on this for

a couple of years and, and we're trying
to build this company and try and build

content for it and try and get third
party content, um, Every quarter, I

would get a check from Pluralsight for
the courses I'd done prior to that, and

those checks were getting bigger, even
though I wasn't recording anything new,

even though it was old content, the
checks were still getting bigger because

Pluralsight was still acquiring more
customers and getting more subscribers.

Um, and I was just, you know, thinking,
you know what, if I'd published

another course on Pluralsight, I would
have, you know, had even more money.

Um, and so eventually,
you know, DevIQ was not.

Making enough money.

And, uh, you know, it didn't turn out
to be a good long term, uh, company.

And part of that was because it was being
done by four people as a side project.

Nobody was all in.

Uh, we didn't have any buddy
that was dedicated to marketing.

We didn't have any third party,
uh, money that was helping us, uh,

get marketing or do any kind of
advertising or anything like that.

Uh, and so bootstrapping that
kind of company and that kind

of environment with that kind of
Competition, uh, was really tough.

Um, and, and so, you know, things,
things have changed a little bit today.

Uh, in fact, uh, the new newest training
company on the block that I know of is

dome train that Nick Chapsis is doing.

Um, and I think it's having more success
than we had with DevIQ, but largely that's

because Nick has over 200, 000 subscribers
on YouTube and is able to drive a

sizable number of them to those courses.

So, um, I'm actually doing a course, uh,
for, for him, um, on, on modular monoliths

that I'm going to have early next year.

Kevin Griffin: Looking forward to that.

I've heard Nick, uh, promoting it and,
uh, I haven't looked at any of the

courses yet, but I, it's on my short
list to, to go pick a couple of them up.

Um, really touching on what.

I think the essence of your whole DevIQ
journey is it's all in marketing, like

as developers and technologists, it's
really easy for us to build things and

it's hard for us to market things
and it's hard for us to go out

and say, here's the thing I built.

Please go buy it.

And it definitely is a benefit to some of
these marketplaces, whether you're using

Blurl site or, or someone else is that
they do a lot of the marketing for you.

And yeah, you get a reduced cut
for the work you've done, but say.

10, 000 people go through
your Pluralsight course.

Uh, how much work do you have
to do to get 10, 000 people to

go through your DevIQ course?

And it's probably exponentially more

Steve Smith: right.

Kevin Griffin: and you have
other things to work on.

Steve Smith: And, and Pluralsight can
say, Hey, just buy the subscription

for 29 bucks a month or whatever.

And you've got, you know, 10, 000 courses.

You could pick and choose whatever you
want as opposed to like, Hey, here's this

one off website with one course that,
you know, you can buy and you, and it's

not just the subscription based ones.

You're competing with Udemy too,
who's going to be, you know,

taking a similar course and
making it 90 percent off one day.

Uh, just because and, and people know
that, so they'll wait for the sale.

Uh, and so it's, it's tough if you, if
you are not already a well known big

name in, in the topic area that you're
at, uh, it would be difficult for, for

most people to just jump in and do that.

Um, and, and there are people that
do it successfully, like Nick is one

and Tim Corey is another, uh, where
they've built up a large audience on

YouTube, where they have a fan base.

They have people that trust them
and know that they're an authority

on what they talk about, and then
they can go and sell training.


But if you try and sell the
training first and nobody knows

who you are, good luck, right?

It's going to be a tough, tough road.

Kevin Griffin: think we've said it
before on the podcast, not, we all

can't be a West boss and just put out
a, uh, course one day and buy a Ferrari.

The next it's, it's not how it works.


Steve Smith: Yeah.

To become an overnight
success takes years.

Kevin Griffin: So kind of talking
along the way, um, has there been

anything that you've started work on?

And we talked about dev
IQ that didn't work.

Has there been anything else that
you started that didn't quite work

out the way that you wanted it to?

Steve Smith: I have tons of
ideas of, uh, businesses or, or

websites or projects that, that,
uh, we're working on all the time.

Uh, and, and most of them
never turn into anything.

Uh, there, there's all kinds of like
internal utilities that, that we build

for like Nimble pros, um, that I'm
like, you know what, I'll bet a bunch

of other people could use this too.

What if we just made this
a software as a service?

Uh, and it's, it's easy to
build an internal tool that

only you have to use and know.

Uh, it gets a lot harder when it's
like, okay, but now we have to

support licensing and we have to make
sure the thing is up all the time.

And, you know, turning something into
a product is, is a much bigger lift.

Um, and that's hard when you've
got clients that, you know, are

paying the bills and, and want your,
your folks to be working on that.

So, um, that's, that's
been a challenge for me.

Uh, and I would say a failure of, of
being able to actually produce, uh.

An actual product, uh, I've been
successful with open source stuff.

I've got lots of new get packages out
there that have lots of downloads, but

I'm actually selling something or even,
or even getting something where you have

to sign up, even if it's free, right?

Uh, I don't, I don't have
anything like that yet.

Uh, and that's something that I'd like
to eventually be able to do is build a,

a SAS product or, or, or just a product
product that, you know, we could sell

licenses for, uh, as opposed to selling
hours or, or something like that.

Kevin Griffin: I I'm the same way.

If I can get away from selling hours,
my life would be so much easier.

You know, quote so much easier.

Uh, I'm definitely in that camp.

Steve, what's next?

Any, what's your next big initiative
thing you like to spend your time on?

Steve Smith: Um, I'm learning more
and more about modular monoliths

and how that ties into, uh,
microservices and clean architecture.

And between those three things, that's
where most of the applications of

the folks I talked to kind of fall.

Uh, a lot of folks are still
into microservices and you can

build successful microservices.

In fact, one of the products I
want to build is in that space.

Um, But most companies and most
applications don't need that.

Uh, and so teaching people how to
build maintainable, uh, monoliths, if

you will, uh, is, is something I've
become increasingly passionate about.

And that's part of why I'm doing
that course for, for dome train.

Um, and that's kind of what I'm
focused on right now in, in my training

is, you know, clean architecture
and, and modular monoliths.

Um, And then, you know, just,
just trying to keep helping

developers write better software.

I'm, I'm having fun with my YouTube
channel, uh, started doing more

of that, uh, here in Q4 of 2023.

Uh, and it's, it's kind of cool to see
that kind of pickup because, um, I've

only been doing it for a little while.

I've got like five videos published in
the last three months or something, but,

um, starting to get like a regular cadence
of trying to publish one a week and, uh,

really seeing the views start to tick
up and getting a bunch more subscribers.

So that's, that's always nice.


The vanity metrics help.

Kevin Griffin: Then you get
enough YouTube subscribers.

You don't need dome training anymore.

You just go release your own thing.

And the circle of life
has completed itself.

Steve Smith: Yeah.


As soon as I get, you know, a quarter
million subscribers like Nick has, uh,

that shouldn't take any time at all.

Kevin Griffin: Yeah.

Steve Smith: like 5, 500 now,
so it's, I'm, I'm, I'm a, what,

2 percent of the way there.

Kevin Griffin: You have more than zero,
which I think is a good starting point.

And I 5, 500 is nothing
really to squawk at.

And like, I, I think mine that I don't
do any effort on has a thousand and.

But there's a number of people
out there that have five and four.

Those are bots, right?

And they're they're happy just
kind of doing the building

blocks of YouTube channel.

So I wish you luck and we'll
make sure we put your YouTube

channel in the show notes.

So if anyone wants to go subscribe to
our Dallas and Learn some more about dot

net cloud and, uh, modular monoliths.

I like that term because I
think that describes what we're

doing on our team right now.

And so I might pick your course
up as soon as you're done with it.

So go, uh, go work on it.

Steve Smith: That's right.

Kevin Griffin: Steve.

Anything else we haven't talked about?

Steve Smith: Uh, well we didn't talk
about other non tech businesses,

which we could if you want, but
I know we're getting long here.

Um, so that, that could be a,
a quick topic if you wanted.

Uh, other than that, um, no,
I think, I think we're good.

Kevin Griffin: All right, let's spend
a minute on non tech businesses.

Just kind of as Steve.

Um, an overview

Steve Smith: Yeah.

So a couple things that we've done, my
wife and I is, uh, we needed a, an office

for our company and we rented it first.

And then we kind of outgrew that space.

Uh, the, the, the key thing we
ran out of was parking spots.

Uh, and so we went looking for other
offices to rent and we came across

this, this somewhat dilapidated building
that was a bunch of small offices with

already had tenants and some vacancies.

Uh, and it was really cheap.

It was, you know, way less than,
you know, most of the other

office buildings in the, in way.

Uh, and, and it was so cheap that
we almost couldn't pass it up.

So we ended up buying it and even
though it was a little bit of a money

pit to fix up, um, it was nice that it
already had existing tenants cause we

were able to put nimble pros in there.

Uh, and, and we would be in one space,
we'd be renovating some other space.

We'd have tenants in another space
and then we'd have everything shift

around and move so that we could,
you know, keep renovating different

parts of the building as, as we moved
around and as tenants moved around.

And having the tenants, it was like,
uh, if, if you were to buy a duplex

and live in one and rent out the other,
where like they're kind of paying your

mortgage, that was what we were doing.

But on a commercial tenant space.

So those other tenants were paying
a good chunk of the mortgage.

So it wasn't as expensive for the business
as it would have been for us to just go

buy a building or even just to go rent.

It was cheaper than what we were
paying in rent at the end of the day.

Uh, not counting the upfront cash cost.

Um, and we did something
similar with a vacation rental.

Um, Where, uh, we, you know, after
the housing bust, we were lucky

to find a vacation rental that
was, uh, having a short sale.

And so we bought it for significantly
less than, than the previous owner had

bought it for like three years earlier.

Uh, and, and then, you know, renting
that out, there's a, there's a rental

company that handles everything.

Uh, and it kind of like pays for its, its
mortgage and everything from the rentals.

So, um, it doesn't make us a lot
of money, you know, uh, but it

does at least cover its own costs.

And so over time we're
building that equity.

Kevin Griffin: and it is, it
sounds like it's all part of

a bigger financial strategy.

So you're not putting all
your eggs in one basket.

Steve Smith: Right, right.


So it's, it's all about
residual income, right?

So we, we, uh, don't want to be in a
position where if suddenly one thing

dries up, uh, you know, had the rental,
uh, commercial rental market tanks or

something like, Oh no, um, you know,
that, that's not where all our eggs are.


Or, or if I can't find any business for
consulting, like we've still got other,

you know, income coming in from other
streams, uh, be very unlikely that all of

them would suddenly disappear overnight.

So, you know, that's, that's, it's all
a hedge against, uh, future uncertainty.


Kevin Griffin: I think that's also, I
think it's really good for folks out

there to hear that successful people
usually have a couple of different

things going on and they're not putting
All the eggs in one basket, because

like you said, you never know what's
going to happen to, to this economy.

Um, but with all that said, Steve,
anything to promote before we wrap up?

Steve Smith: Nope.

Just a YouTube course and, uh, or
YouTube channel and some of the courses

I'm working on would be great to
get more people checking those out.

Kevin Griffin: Yeah, we'll
get links to all those.

And so Steve can get the,
the checks in the mail.

Well, Steve, I appreciate having you
on the show and we'll have to have you

back in a year or so and see how your
new courses on Dome Train are doing.


With that, everyone, thanks for listening.

We'll see y'all next week.

You've been listening to the
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I've been your host Kevin Griffin
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Cha ching!