Basic Joomla tutorials by Tim Davis
In the Magazine's October issue, Anja showed us where to find the best video tutorials to learn Joomla. One of the sites mentioned is the YouTube channel Basic Joomla Videos, by Tim Davis. An interesting thing about this channel is finding videos of the most different topics, always in a close and simple tone. That is why, on this occasion, we reached Tim to ask him how he does to carry out his channel.
Thank you, Tim, for finding the time to answer our questions. Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Toronto, but for 25 years have lived in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, a city on an island in the Pacific. This year Susan and I will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary. We have three children, each married to people we really like and admire. Between them all, we have 5 grandchildren, the latest due to be born in June.
How did you start to work with Joomla?
If you count having an address on Geocities as a web page, my first website was in the mid-90s. But, in 1998 I registered my first domain and started making my websites with Microsoft FrontPage and then Dreamweaver. I didn’t really like the look of my sites because they were always boxy and square compared to others I admired.
At the same time, I had an email newsletter which was growing steadily with new subscribers and I had to change hosting companies to one that would let me send more email. That company’s hosting control panel included “Fantastico” and I began checking out the different programs I could install with that. I tried one called “WordPress” but I couldn’t make any sense of it.
Then I installed another program called “Mambo” and it immediately clicked with me. Discovering the template system, a light went on and I knew I could make nice looking sites too! I bought a nice Mambo template, installed it, and was freed to focus on managing content - the thing I really wanted and needed to do.
It wasn’t long after that that I became aware of some fight over something within Mambo and learned that a new program was going to be forked. I frankly didn’t understand most of the issues, but from what I could discern it seemed to me the best people (and argument) to stick with was to go in this new direction, which of course was named, “Joomla!”
How did the idea of making video tutorials come about?
By the late ’00s, I was helping more and more people to build their own websites, some even for money. When I trained them, I soon realized their minds quickly reached the point of saturation and then they would sit there, pretending to take things in so as to not look stupid. That’s when I started recording our sessions so they could watch them over and over as needed - or use them sleep-aid if they wanted.
Speaking of sleep, it was also quite monotonous for me to show the basics to different people over and over again. So I started making some basic videos about Joomla and posting them to my personal YouTube account. The first one ever was on May 14, 2010; “How to login into the admin area of Joomla.” However, the catalyst for starting a YouTube channel dedicated to Joomla was my own struggles to get help with Joomla.
Having ever only taken one course on computer programming (when I was 13-years-old and in grade 9), when I encountered a problem with something in Joomla I found it extremely hard to understand and follow the solutions posted on the Joomla forums, extension forums, and/or template forums. Of course, part of the problem was my lack of training and experience in coding. However, the other part was that programmers and developers were helping/instructing with concepts and language that was obvious to them, but unknown to rubes like me.
We all do the same thing when we help others in areas we know very well - everything seems obvious to the person who knows how to do it. But after taking 2 hours to figure out how to do something in Joomla, it occurred to me to make a video to show someone else like me how to do it in 10 minutes and save them the struggle I had just gone through. So on November 25, 2013, I created the Basic Joomla Tutorials channel, https://www.youtube.com/basicjoomla
How do the topics you publish come up?
There are a few things that inspire me for video topics.
I’m still learning things - sometimes just as slowly - so there are still plenty of topics to cover from that!
Also, in the last three years, the greatest source for topic ideas has been mySites.guru. That really helped me cut my teeth learning about Joomla security and easier site maintenance - so much so it inspired me to start my regular “Maintenance Monday” series.
I also get video topic ideas from my clients, questions I see on FaceBook, and from visitors and the wonderful regulars on my channel.
On your YouTube channel there are videos from at least 7 years ago, how do you keep up with the pace of publication?
The first thing I want everyone to understand about running a YouTube channel is that if you keep making videos, eventually something good is going to happen. I’m not saying everyone will have or attain everything they dream that having a YouTube channel will bring, but it will lead to good things. You may become a better speaker, develop new skills and services you can market, or make some new friends.
One of my favorite things to come out of my channel is the wonderful menagerie of regular viewers, who I now consider friends, who regularly watch my live streams. Every Wednesday they tune in to see me work on something or interview someone something and to share what they are working on or some better way I can do something, or fix what I have broken, lol. It was also through my YouTube channel that I clicked into an epic friendship/bromance with Chetan Madaan, of Joomdev, and that has shaped my business and my life too.
A second thing to understand about keeping up with the pace of running a YouTube channel is that you have to be passionate about the topic of your channel because it’s a lot of hard work to do YouTube “right” - something I am still striving for. I am passionate about Joomla and that helps me keep up with, and continue to pursue, what the channel demands when my pillow and warm bed is beckoning.
And to be completely transparent, another motivation to keep up the pace of publication is the income my channel generates. It has been just over three years since I went full time with my consulting business and I am almost back to making what I did in the role I retired from. In 2020, 30% of my income came from business related to my YouTube channel. Again, realistically that is from a 7-year-old channel which now has 369 videos, 184k views, and over 1.5 years of total watch time. But in a tough year when I lost my biggest client of 10 years, and other clients cut back because of COVID, I am grateful to God for that 30%.
It's not the same to upload a pre-recorded video as to do things live, how do you prepare the “Watch me work” videos?
Lol, the honest answer is that I don’t prepare them enough!
I actually find live streaming much easier than making pre-recorded videos. One reason for that is because I have a high production standard for the pre-recorded videos and getting into the “slow down!” mindset of planning, recording, and editing the videos is hard for me.
Which leads into the second reason I find live streaming easier: I have always been more of a relationship-oriented person than a task-oriented person. It is far easier for me to “be” than to “do,” and live streams lend themselves to that.
The truth is, though, if you watched my “Plans for Success in 2021” live stream, I realize that I need to get back to making more pre-recorded tutorials. I’m still going to do the weekly “Watch Me Work” live streams for the fun and the friends and all the girls I get (only two of those things are true) but making more pre-recorded and polished videos will be better for the channel, and I think for my contribution to the Joomla community as well.
Are you ready for a whole new batch of Joomla 4 videos?
I am almost as giddy as a school girl when I think about making Joomla 4 videos!
My plan is to begin a new series of videos in which I build a new site from scratch, step by step with all of my go-to settings, extensions, templates, and tools. It will be a great way for me to learn Joomla 4.
What is the Joomla 4 topic you are most looking forward to?
There are actually two I am most looking forward to.
The first topic is how to upgrade from Joomla 3.10 to Joomla 4. I am keen on that one because I think it will be most helpful to a key demographic of Joomla users; people who aren't necessarily passionate about Joomla but who are looking for how to update to J4 instead of giving in to the siren call to just start over in something else.
The second topic is the Joomla 4 Workflow feature. I know what its purpose is, I’ve read a bit about it, watched parts of videos about it, and even mucked around with it on a live stream, but it hasn’t clicked in my mind yet. I want to learn it so I can offer it to my existing clients, pitch it to different clients I might not otherwise be able to pitch to, and then explain and demonstrate it to other people like me, the very kind of people I started my channel for.