From Collaboration to Setting Goals: GPT-4’s Advice for Learning to Code and YouTube Success

  • 15 mins read

From Collaboration to Setting Goals: GPT-4’s Advice for Learning to Code and YouTube Success

The latest iteration of Chat GPT is finally here, and I, for one, have been loving it. Sure, the message cap sucks, but it seems to have a little more sense than our old friend GPT-3.5. I love using the chatbot to give me ideas for new content, create outlines for blog posts, solve coding bugs, and even the occasional life advice.

It excels in almost every area. The only thing I hate it for is writing. It’s a crap writer at the moment–giving me a little feeling of job security–but that might change in the near future. It might not catch every coding error either, and sometimes it generates random stuff that doesn’t make any sense. But its specialty, in my opinion, is dishing out thought-provoking advice.

If you follow my YouTube channel (if you just so happen to be one of my 249 subscribers), then you know that I haven’t been uploading that much lately. I’ve made excuses for it. All the classic ones like oh I have too much paying work to do, or I have too many open projects. But I know this is BS. I just can’t figure out how to motivate myself, even though I really love making videos.

So I consulted GPT-4—our new robot overlords/business coaches—for what to do. This blog post is going to be analyzing its advice, and putting a plan into action to make it happen. Let’s see if we come out the other end with some newfound motivation.

The Wise GPT-4 Speaketh

While GPT-4 is slow as heck right now, it’s worth waiting to hear the wise words of the AI. No doubt, it has devoured all the self-help and motivational material out there on the internet. Far more than I ever could in my lifetime. 

Let’s see what kind of advice the all-knowing AI guru has to offer a struggling content creator.

Me: 

“I make Youtube videos in the programming niche, or rather, I used to. I haven’t uploaded any new videos in a few months. Quite frankly, my production quality sucks, and I have not seen much results from the 25 videos that I uploaded in the past. Do you have any advice. How should I motivate myself to make more videos even if they are not good and don’t bring results. Do you have any advice, even unconventional advice?”

Chat GPT-4: 

“It’s great that you’re seeking advice to improve your YouTube channel and motivate yourself. Here are some unconventional tips to get you back on track and rekindle your passion for creating programming videos:

Embrace imperfection: Accept that you may not create perfect videos every time, and that’s okay. Focus on constant improvement rather than perfection. As you gain experience, your production quality will improve, and so will your results.

Find a unique angle: To stand out in the programming niche, explore a specific sub-niche, or present content in a unique or entertaining way. For example, you could mix programming with storytelling, humor, or real-life applications.

Collaborate with others: Reach out to other YouTubers in the programming niche and propose collaborations. Working with others can be motivating, and their audiences might find your content interesting too.

Set small, achievable goals: Break down your larger goals into smaller milestones. For example, aim to create and upload one high-quality video per week, and then increase the frequency as you get more comfortable.

Challenge yourself: Set personal challenges that keep you engaged and motivated. For example, try learning a new programming language and documenting your progress on your channel.

Create a series: Develop a series of videos that revolve around a central theme or project. This can provide you with a sense of direction and a roadmap for future content.

Redesign your environment: Change your workspace or invest in new equipment to make the video production process more enjoyable and efficient.

Engage with your audience: Interact with viewers in the comments section, ask for their input, and address their questions or suggestions in future videos. This can create a sense of community and keep you motivated.

Track your progress: Document your growth and improvements by maintaining a journal or spreadsheet. This can help you visualize your progress and boost your motivation.

Take breaks and reward yourself: Give yourself permission to take breaks when needed, and reward yourself for reaching milestones. This can help prevent burnout and maintain your motivation.

Remember, success on YouTube often takes time, so be patient and persistent. Keep learning from your experiences and refining your content strategy, and you’ll likely see improvements in both the quality of your videos and the results they generate.”

OK, sure.

It’s easy to stare at the screen for a few minutes in awe of modern technology, but while doing that, the actual advice tends to go in one ear and out the other.

But in an effort to see if this works, let’s put the plan into action. There are a lot of actionable tips here, even if they don’t dive into the specifics.

So, let’s find out the specifics and make a real plan.

Embrace Imperfection

The first piece of advice is more of a mindset thing than actual instructions. But it is so true! You’ll never get anywhere if you struggle to make everything perfect. If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll spend way too much time tweaking your plan, or your video, or your code, or whatever–instead of just getting it out there.

Fortunately, I’ve never been a perfectionist. I think it’s a losing mindset. Nothing is perfect. If you strive for something that doesn’t exist, you’re doomed to failure. 

However, imperfection is everywhere. It is abundant. Embrace it!

Do what you do. Hit the record button, start talking, hit the stop button when you’re done. Maybe edit it a tiny bit, but don’t dwell on the little details.

I like to think of the 1% rule: If you can get 1% better every day, you’ll be 38 times better by the end of the year. If I can make each video just slightly better each time, then it boils the whole process down to a numbers game.

When it comes to learning to code, you need to be proud of your little projects. The unimpressive things. You’ll get better the more you create. Don’t worry if something is perfect before pushing it to GitHub. In the beginning, no one is really looking at your code anyway.

Find a Unique Angle

I was already guilty of not following this advice from the start. My content is all over the place. I would get distracted by something and decide to do something completely different. 

You can’t tackle every topic under the sun. Well, maybe you can, but a little thing called SEO will keep you at the bottom of the stack if you do this. If you want to stand out, you need to niche down. I’m surprised that I wasn’t already doing this, because I know this, and I’ve known it for a long time. I’m a little embarrassed I forgot the whole concept when it came to YouTube.

Either way, I’m keen to take this advice. All I need to do is find that unique angle. Maybe I’ll ask GPT-4 for ideas. More on that later.

Collaborate With Others

I wasn’t excited to read this advice. Why? I’ll admit, I’m a bit asocial. Reaching out to strangers on the internet to collaborate on something that I’m already self-conscious about elicits a sense of dread. 

But ya know, GPT is right. And I even have the anecdotal evidence to back it up.

I have collaborated with others for the sake of learning and improving together in the past. And it’s worked wonders! 

Pair programming, joining competitions to build cool websites, or solving a coding puzzle in a Slack or Discord group, are all things that have worked for me in the past. Nothing motivated me quite like a little sense of community and knowing that I have someone in the same boat as me.

While these things work for learning to code, I never considered them for learning to YouTube. The only problem is, I look up to every other coder on YouTube as a mastermind, miles above me, or how do you say… on a pedestal? 

I’ll have to work on that part. In the meantime, I’ll have to find coding YouTubers that are still on the ground floor where I am. We’ll take the stairs together.

Set Small, Achievable Goals

I love this advice. I’ve heard it regurgitated by so many people that it might as well be gospel at this point. Why does everyone say this? Because it works.

If I think about it really hard, I’ve actually been living by this advice since I was 5 years old. As an inquisitive child, I loved the movie Lion King, and I can distinctly remember Rafiki telling Simba that:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

It wasn’t until a decade and a half later that I learned that this quote had been around since Lao Tsu allegedly dropped it on the world thousands of years ago.

Basically, you need to start small. You won’t even start if you are trying to tackle a monumental goal. But if you get little wins every day, every week, before long you’ll be inching closer and closer to the BIG goal.

In the case of YouTube, this might be recording one video a week, no matter who low-quality or trash I think it is, and just uploading it without worrying about it being perfect or how many views it gets.

In the case of learning coding or learning a programming language, this might be building one small project. If you’re learning JavaScript, that might be as small as creating a sticky header for your website, or if you’re learning web development, it might be as simple as making a one-page website with HTML, CSS, and a smidge of JS.

Either way, it’s superb advice.

Challenge yourself

Setting small goals is great, but if you continue putting in minimal effort, you won’t get anywhere. This is advice I don’t live by enough. 

Challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone and tackle a project that makes you scratch your head, is the key to growing. If you want to build something that you don’t know jack about, you just need to start. You need to struggle. You need to feel the pain.

I think they call it growing pains.

When I was learning programming (who am I kidding–I still am), there was one website I found that really made you live this advice. 

Code Wars

These guys have a whole bunch of challenges and coding puzzles, each with varying difficulty, that you can work out your programming muscles on. Start on the little challenges, minimum difficulty, and try to solve them without looking at other people’s answers. Eventually, you’ll work your way up and actually learn something. 

Additionally, you get that dopamine kick when you solve something. That’s the fuel to keep going.

Create a Series

I actually tried to do this. And here’s one point that I’m going to disagree with the great GPT on. Maybe it will come back to bite me.

Committing to a specific niche is enough for me. Do I really need to create a series? I mean, I tried that before and gave up because it felt like I was just regurgitating another guru-type course. As if I could see into the future, it looked like just another crappy JavaScript course out in the wild.

I need to think on this one. Perhaps combine it with the other advice here.

As for learning coding, I can translate this as: stick to one resource until you get something out of it. If you’re using freecodecamp to learn a new language, follow the tutorials in the track until you get to the end before saying it’s not working for you.

If you’re following the Odin Project (one of my all-time favorites by the way), then stick out the course until you actually complete a few of the projects. Trust me, the results don’t come at the beginning–they come at the end.

Redesign Your Environment

I can agree and disagree with this one. Yes, environment is key. You can’t get stuff done in a distracting, cluttered environment. You won’t get into flow if you’re in an unhappy space.

This is great advice. If you can, take it, and move on. Sure, clean off your desk, and get a comfortable chair. But, you don’t need a gigantic monitor, top-notch laptop, super expensive mic, camera, or expensive software to get started. 

You also don’t need to spend hours procrastinating by cleaning up and redesigning your environment. There comes a point when you just need to sit down and do the thing.

Engage With Your Audience

What audience? I can’t wait until I reach the point where I can take this advice.

But, if I’m being honest, some of my videos get comments. And, yes, I’m guilty of not responding half the time. 

You don’t have to look it up to know that engagement boosts SEO. I don’t know the specifics of how or why, but it does. It’s the case in every medium, not just YouTube. Commenting on something signals to the search engine that people actually dig this content. So it shows it to more people, and you get more comments, and the process continues.

This is advice that I can’t even argue with. Thanks for reminding me Chat-GPT.

Track Your Progress

You don’t know how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you started, or where you even are. This is common sense at this point, but it’s not something I have been actively engaged in when it comes to YouTube.

Besides setting goals and following through, you need to take a step back sometimes and look at where you are. YouTube has a lovely analytics system that helps with this process.

If you’re learning to do something else, like coding or software engineering, then the waters are a little murkier. The best thing to do is focus on your goals and make sure you’re working toward them. Keep a log of what you learn each day.

For goodness sake, start using GitHub. Or at least some kind of version control. This is priceless for tracking your progress. You can really get a close look at how far you’ve come over time. 

And let’s be honest, the best part is the satisfaction you get from filling out those little green squares every day.

Take Breaks and Reward Yourself

I’m guilty of not following this one, even though I know the benefits. The mistake I made was taking a break and rewarding myself… before I actually did the work. 

Or worse, I would do a little bit, and take a break that ended up lasting the whole day.

With YouTube, I would spend an hour in the morning making a video, then spend the next few hours scrolling through Reddit as a reward. 

The key here is to take small breaks. Little accomplishments, little rewards. 

I like to recommend the classic Pomodoro timer. You set a timer for 25 minutes. Work, work, work. When the timer dings, take a break for 5. Then get back to it.

For coding, this is trash advice. 25 minutes is just long enough to get focused and start working, at least for me it was. I switched this up to: work for an hour, take a break for 10 minutes. 

Most importantly, take a break and don’t look at a screen. Don’t let your brain get sucked into something else. Let yourself slowly become bored over those few minutes so that you’re itching to get back to work. 

Once again, this is advice I already took when it came to coding, but completely ignored when it came to my YouTube channel.

And that brings me to the last bit of advice, and this from me:

Take it seriously

Whether you’re working on a YouTube channel or learning to code, you have to take it seriously and realize that it is something important that matters. 

After letting GPT’s advice sink in for a little while, I realized that the reason I struggled with the YouTube channel was that I looked at it as a minor hobby that didn’t deserve much of my time. Something that I would squeeze into the few spare minutes I had here and there.

If you’re struggling with learning to code, or anything for that matter, make sure that you are not putting it behind other tasks. If you want to make something out of it, take it seriously. 

The stuff takes time (you’ve probably read this a million times), but motivational BS aside, there is no magic formula. You just need to make it a part of you and do it.

We all know he said it better: