Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Nick Walter and I teach online courses for a living. My goal besides educating is to reach $1 million teaching online in a twelve month period. I’m currently focused on technology classes, but maybe one day I’ll dip into business stuff. Specifically, my courses are on iPhone apps, and other products in the Apple world.
How did you become so infatuated with iOS Development?
Back in 2010, I had just got back from a mormon mission trip and as a welcome home gift my dad got me a brand new iPhone 4, which had just come out three days earlier. While I was gone on my mission all this app stuff started coming out and created a whole new world for me. I was blown away by all the things you could do with these apps. It actually seemed like there was “an app for everything”, and I was excited to get into it. The first app I built was a mini golf scorecard.
What influenced you to become a teacher?
It started in 2014 when apple came out with a new programming language called Swift.
People familiar with the programming world know that companies don’t come out with new programming languages all the time. For them to come out with their own language was completely out of nowhere, so it shocked everybody.
The first day this language was available, Apple was so secretive that nobody knew about it until they released it, so everyone was starting on page 1. There was no expert on it, so I decided I would be the expert and teach a class on it. I filmed my first class that very day.
Tell us how Kickstarter and Udemy have helped you achieve your vision? Could you see any alternative method?
To be honest I don’t really have a concrete vision. I have settled into making a million bucks teaching online. As far as kickstarter, there is nothing better–it is money for something that doesn’t exist yet. There is no better way to validate that you are going to build something people want, than for people to pay you for something that doesn’t even exist.
Udemy is awesome and is the best marketplace that I’ve found to date. I like to experiment and try different ones out. Ultimately, I mentally review different places and strategies to sell, and so far Udemy is king.
What are the key factors involved in being an effective online teacher? How do you streamline your teaching process to get your point across?
You really have to get in the mind of a student. Lucky for me, when I was first trying to get into making apps, it was a hard process. Trying to learn from online tutorials and blogs from people that didn’t really know what it was like to be a beginner. Since that was a painful time trying to learn how to make apps, the beginner’s mindset was fresh in my mind. Now when I teach I remember how that was and I have an edge knowing what it is like to be a beginner.
I’ve done a couple of courses now, and it is nice because every time I do a new course I will do support over the next months or year, and I really learn what people get hung up on. This makes me much more careful because I know what I taught poorly, so I can get better as I progress.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I’m definitely a laid back guy, so I try to talk as if my students are in the same room as me. I do try to be very descriptive. I remember a friend of mine said “I hate when I’m in a class and someone says okay now we are going to do this…and they fast-forward the video. Why not just do it in real-time with everyone?” Now I will do even mundane things in real-time.
How does “virtual teaching” differ from classroom-based teaching?
I’ve never been a classroom-based teacher. During my mission I was teaching people about God, but not about programming. I guess a positive that I love, though, is that virtual teaching can be done anywhere. I’ve been in Vegas, Oregon, and even cruise ship, and have been able to work on my videos. I don’t have to be present when the material is taught. I make it wherever and whenever I want, and the students watch it wherever and whenever they want–a huge win-win.
Because you aren’t in direct feedback with your audience, how do you cater the program to your audience’s changing needs?
I’d actually argue that I am in direct feedback with my audience. Udemy and other places I sell the course have ways they can contact me. I also have chat rooms for the courses. There is a lot of people that are pretty vocal about what they like and don’t like, which is great. When people pay money for stuff they expect some level of customer service and I am grateful people express issues they have, so I can try and tackle those issues.
What are some cool apps that your students have created?
Just recently a guy made a “Countdown to Disney” app, which counted down the time until their trip to Disneyland. While it is just an app that says they are going to Disneyland on X date, in X amount of time, it is the fact that it is his app that he can play around with, change the background, and do whatever he pleases with it that is so cool.
Another student made an app that records your baby’s first noise. It gave your typical recording app a good “face-lift”. In his first month he made $400! That was neat because he took an existing app and catered it to a specific audience. It also served his need because he had just become a father.
I love it when students make apps that fulfill their needs, which is how I got started by making an app for my mini golf scoring needs.
Where do you see the future of apps going, being that there is “an app for everything”?
There is an app for everything, but there also isn’t. I truly don’t think there will ever be an end to app-making becasue there is always a new take or addition to every app to make it better. However, I will say that it is hard to make a living as an independent app developer. It is very difficult to hit a “home run”. Most money is when you are a part of a bigger company that creates apps. All in all, there isn’t an app for everything yet.
What is something you’ve had to learn on your own that you’d like to pass on to the next Creative?
Things don’t have to be perfect before you release them. Especially if it’s a digital thing like a website or a course. Get it out to the people and then you can make it better. I’ve had too many things that never saw the light of day because I didn’t think it was perfect.