How Writing on Medium Changed My Life

Benefits of content creation from the perspective of someone “failing” at it

I’ve been writing on Medium for a year now. I started making YouTube videos consistently slightly after. Over the past year, I’ve been improvising my way through the content creation scene. I had no expertise in actually making videos or writing articles. I had the technical knowledge, communication, along with a desire to document and share what I learned. So I got started.

Now normally when content creators talk about the benefits of creating content you come across the following benefits:

  1. (Passive) Income: Monetization from affiliate marketing, ad revenue, and paid sponsorships amount to a pretty decent income if you’re successful. Add to that the fact that this income is largely passive (a video will keep making you money once it’s published), and you can see why many pursue content creation.
  2. Fame: Reaching millions of people is definitely a huge perk. It’s gratifying to know that your words reach and help so many across the globe. Knowing that people of different areas and backgrounds follow your content (and the positive messages) is a huge incentive for a lot of people.
  3. Branding: If your content does well, it gives you the credentials of an expert in that field. This can be great for success in the future and open a lot of doors.
  4. Helping People: Another plus of being a content creator are the messages you receive. Knowing you help people across the world is a huge plus. Scroll down to the comments section of 3Blue1Brown, Professor Leonard and you’ll see what I mean. Great channels like Plain Bagel for finance were created in order to help people understand complex topics and not get swept in bubbles.

Now that I’ve created content for around a year, I can say this: I have failed to get any of these benefits (except for number 4, and slightly number 3). I have not had any sponsors reach out to pay me. Nor am I anywhere close to being famous. While more people have come to acknowledge my machine learning ability, I’m not yet a globally acknowledged expert. And while I do have conversations like the one you see where people engage with my content and find it helpful, I haven’t gotten comment sections full of it. But even with all that, I can say that my content creation, especially on Medium has made a lasting positive impact on my life. In this article, I will share the benefits that bigger and more successful creators miss. Following are the benefits of content creation from the perspective of a growing creator like myself.

Exposure

A huge benefit of creating content has been the exposure I have received. As more people have found my work useful, I have started to be invited to various conferences and events in the AI Space. I’ve been able to come across different tools, ideas, and people. This has many benefits. Firstly, I can network with various people and organizations doing very interesting things. And I have some value to provide to them while I’m talking to them. Secondly, this gives me a finger on the pulse of the industry. Multiple Auto-ML startups have asked me to test their tools and provide feedback on them. Having my ear to the ground like this has helped me in my content creation, data analysis work, and in developing my own tool.

Learning

Hard as it may be to believe creating content has helped me become better at Machine Learning. Wanting to be consistent with creating content means I’m on the lookout to learn new ideas and concepts. I have to stay on my toes to read more papers, learn new concepts, and figure out connections. All of this keeps me sharp. I come across new ideas, learn new techniques. Take this example of a conversation I had with Paul, a follower of my work.

Paul read my article, “Learnings from SimCLR: A framework Contrastive Learning for Visual Representations” and shared his experience in Contrastive Learning and SimCLR. Thus I was able to learn so much from his experience. If I ever got into Cancer research (almost did) or any other imbalanced classification problem, I will have his insights as a starting point.

Something Interesting to Lead With

My content creation is something I can often use to start conversations with people I’m interested in. As I’m writing this article, I am in the process of negotiating an arrangement with an extremely well-respected finance institution. I can’t talk about the details till things are finalized. But here is a snippet of the conversation.

They found my content because I reached out to them and told them how my content creation (and thus my Machine Learning skills) were a perfect complement to their financial analysis.

Documentation

Leading off the last point, breaking down the machine learning research has been very useful to me when it comes to documenting what I do know. These articles are proof of my knowledge and ability to understand complex topics. It’s also very useful to me because now I can point to articles and videos when I want to go into more detail about topics. For example, when I tutor people for coding interviews, I often point them to my articles, my substack, and my YouTube videos on the topics. Recently, I was talking to my manager about possible ways to frame a particular situation. And the situation reminded me of something I’d read in an article and written about. So I shared it with him, and he took a look at the article.

I myself go back to my articles and videos to refer to some ideas or processes I had come across. If I think an idea has potential, I will reread my annotated papers going over what I thought of the experiment setup and how I believe it could be extended.

Better Communication, Thinking, and Articulation

This is a no-brainer. As you practice writing and speaking, your communication skills will improve. Recently, my video on Permutation Based Feature Importance became the top-ranking video recommended by Google Search for the topic. I was very proud of this. So I decided to rewatch it, out of nostalgia, pride, and happiness.

Rewatching it was interesting. I noticed some times where I stuttered or tripped over my words. I also noted how many opportunities where I missed chances to go over different applications, talk about how I used it during my work experience and cool things the viewer might be interested in. All in all, I was not as fluent in the video as I am in my more recent videos.

Making videos has lead me to become better at speaking, both scripted and off the cuff. Writing and framing my ideas definitely come to me a lot easier now as opposed to when I first started on Medium.

I’ve also gotten more thoughtful when I approach things I read. When I go over papers for my articles, I often spend a lot of time thinking about the assumptions the authors make, the nature of their data, how applicable their approach would be to a large variety of problems, and I might improve upon their approach. This has carried into my daily life, and I find myself thinking more about such things when I come across new ideas.

Closing

I honestly never expected to do as well it did. While I’m not the biggest creator by any stretch of the imagination, Medium (and the other content) has been very useful to my life. The reception has been positive, and I will definitely continue to improve my content and add more variety to help a larger variety of people. If you have any feedback let me know.

If you’re on the fence about creating any kind of content, I’d suggest trying it out. Even if you’re not traditionally successful, this can be very helpful to you (as it was to me).

Reach out to me

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I write high-performing code and scripts for organizations to help them generate more revenue, identify areas of investment, isolate redundancies, and automate