In the old days, when you wanted to learn about photography or you bought a new gadget, you went to the bookstore – in person – and you bought a book. Maybe if you had some spare time, you joined a local user group, and if you had all kinds of time, you’d sign up for a college course.
Over the last several years, the consumer gadget training market – yes, there actually is such a thing – has evolved at a breakneck pace. When you want to learn photography, you’ve got some amazing options:
- Free email newsletters like Photojojo
- Free videos on YouTube like Remember The Egg
- Ebooks like Digital Photography School
- And all the way up at the expert level, in-depth video training like the Stan Winston School
No matter how you like to learn, or what your budget is, there’s a bunch of choices.
Adding Individual Options in the SQL Server Market
Over a decade ago, when I got started with SQL Server, I perused the bookshelves at my local computer store. I’d think hard about how to spend my $50, and then I read. If I was lucky, the book came with a demo CD with code samples, too.
These days, the market is shifting fast. Here’s some of the recent offerings from individuals – not companies – in the SQL Server market:
- Klaus Aschenbrenner’s new SQLpassion Online Academy – 1-hour videos for $24.90 where Klaus covers a single topic like parameter sniffing, index impact analysis, or choosing the right clustered key.
- Edwin Sarmiento’s new HA/DR Deep Dive on Udemy – this new 11-hour, $315 course offers videos about the transaction log, recovery models, mirroring, log shipping, and even multi-site clustering.
- Allan Hirt’s recent self-published project for a Mission Critical SQL Server book – he’s written HA/DR books before, and now he’s tackling a self-published one.
I really love seeing more individuals provide their own unique take on SQL Server learning. It’s a huge market, it’s got nowhere to go but up, and it’s going to encourage more people to sharpen their skills. We’re evolving our own offerings across a range of learning options too, all inspired by offerings in the consumer gadget training market:
- A free 6-month DBA training plan
- Free webcasts every Tuesday, plus archives available in our YouTube channel
- Training videos from $29 to $299
- In-person training classes for 2-3 days
And I’ve come to a conclusion:
Training Products Are the New Blogs
When I wrote How to Start a Blog in 2008, I pushed readers to become writers:
“If you want to make a personal investment of your time in order to gain long-term career traction, then start by writing your own blog under your own domain name. It’s not going to pay off for a while – in fact, it’s going to cost you around $100 per year, and it’s going to suck up some of your time….. I highly recommend starting with your own personal blog under your own control, though, to build your own brand and benefit your career.”
I certainly can’t lay claim to the blogs that were started afterwards, but I get a little excited inside every time I saw someone start up a new SQL Server blog and thank me. Today, the SQL Server blogosphere is incredibly rich – we have so many wonderful individual voices.
A few years from now, the SQL Server training market will be just as vibrant. Paid training isn’t dead, even though book publishers are really struggling. Instead, years from now, we’ll have a wide variety of for-pay books, videos, and tutorials – all put on by individuals who use a variety of ways to deliver that material.
Just as I encouraged you then to start your own blog on your own domain name, I’ll encourage you now to manage your own training products on your own web site. It’s really tempting to sell your training material through someone else’s storefront, and it can be a quicker route to short-term money, but that’s not where long-term success lives.
When You Own Your Own Training Site
Here’s some of the fun things we’ve been doing with our own online training:
Use your own branding. Make the videos look like you want them to look, and develop your own style. We have a funky, hand-crafted style with drawings, handouts, tests, and animations, but that isn’t for everybody. If you want to emphasize something completely different in your branding, you get that capability when you run the store.
Give access to your clients. When we do a SQL Critical Care session to help folks improve performance and reliability, we pick a list of relevant training videos, and set them up with access. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Run one-time promotions. We’ve got a hilarious blog post coming where Kendra’s going to bet you $20 that you have a problem on your server. If you don’t, then you get a $20-off coupon. When we launch new videos, we try experiments like buy-one-get-one offers. You get this kind of pricing flexibility when you run the store.
Give prizes to user group attendees. When I present at a user group, I can give away one-time coupon codes good for $100 off any videos of mine, or I can put together special recorded versions of the training I just gave, and let folks access that. It’s much more cost-effective for you as a presenter instead of buying books or Starbucks cards to give away.
It’s more work – just like running your own blog is more work. But if you dream of being your own boss, doing your own thing as a consultant, you need a product. Online training videos and ebooks might just be that product.