Sometime around 2012, I decided that as I made a living from making websites, it was probably a good idea to set-up a website to demonstrate my skills. Over a weekend, I knocked up a very ugly and basic HTML page that had my CV on it.
A few months later, I started working on a project using a VERY useless CMS product that didn’t really work and wasn’t fit for purpose. At the time, the project was so frustrating because there were no user guides, no documentation, and no one had blogged anything about it. On that project, I had to figure out everything myself. My memory is terrible, so I quickly upgraded my one-page website to use a free blogging platform to include a few posts about how to troubleshoot some of the issue using this archaic CMS, to remind myself later on down the line in case I needed to solve the same problem in the future. Up until that point my website maybe had 1 hit a month but after writing about 15 blogs I started getting maybe 20-50 views a month… the big time I know! I thought to have a tiny amount of traffic on my site was pretty cool, so every now and again I’d write a post here and there.
After that project finished, I started working with Episerver and in the back of my head, I always thought it would be cool to be an EMVP, or, at a minimum for my business, be a known player in the game. I worked with a few EMVP’s and I decided if I wanted to compete with these guys, I’d have to up my game somehow. At a minimum, getting some form of recognition from the London community as an Episerver expert would, hopefully, help me land contracts more easily.
When I sat down to create my brilliant mastermind plan to achieve Episerver world domination, the best (only) way I came up with was to just try and help as many people as I could with their problems. If I had a work problem that I couldn’t figure out easily, or find a blog post that I could read and digest easily, I wrote something about it and shared it with the world.
Forward on a few years, to the beginning of 2016, Episerver randomly emailed me and told me that I was going to be a new EMVP for my help with the Episerver community, which was a bit of a surprise.
After looking around, I don’t think there’s too much information out there to help people figure out how to get EMVP status themselves, so I thought I’d write this. Below lists some simple steps that I used to create this website and get an Episerver MVP status.
What Can I Do To Become an EMVP?
The below quote comes from the EMVP email I received from Episerver when I was awarded my EMVP status
EMVP status is given to extraordinary individuals that publicly and selflessly do a big effort to help the Episerver developer community. Answering forum posts are one way, blogging is another. We also look at sharing code, participating / running open source projects around Episerver, public speaking, videos, arranging meetups and much, much more.
If you are reading this and thinking you just want to copy what I’ve done… then that should prove there are a number of ways to become an EMVP. My first tip is finding the thing you like to do. If you like answering forum questions, go for it. If you like writing code and contributing, choose that and publish some NuGet packages, if you like public speaking, volunteer to speak at Episerver meet-ups.
It’s all about passion and consistency!
Consistency is the key to a lot of people’s success. It’s not exciting or some secret magic silver bullet tip to success, but it works. If you walk into any gym, you will almost always see some huge pea-headed ripped guy in the corner, curling some weights with his veins looking like they might pop any minute. These guys weren’t born that way, they got there by going to the gym 7 days a week and eating the right food.
Becoming an expert in any field takes the same dedication, you need to make a habit of showing up every day, and make it a point to not let anyone else outwork you. To turn up and train every day you need to have passion. If you don’t care enough you might answer a few forum posts and after a few weeks, give up.
Contributing towards a community is something you do because you are passionate about it. If you enjoy helping others, then you do it consistently, by regularly showing up and working hard because you want to… not because you have to.
Becoming an Episerver MVP is very similar, you need to consistently work towards helping the community daily/weekly. This is a much better strategy than waiting until nominations come around in December time and to start working towards it for a few weeks.
Spending time answering people’s emails, writing and coming up with new ideas is time-consuming and can be stressful to juggle with your normal 9-5 job. If you relate this journey to my gym comparison, it’s like walking into the gym in January after you haven’t worked out all year long and wondering why you are expecting to be ripped by February.
Become selfless not selfish
My best advice is that you shouldn’t start something just to obtain an EMVP status. I started writing and helping people without any thought at all of getting an EMVP award. Realize that most of the MVP’s would all do these things even if there wasn’t an MVP program. It’s just a unique character attribute to possess where you want to help others and not keep all this information to yourself.
Set Daily/Weekly Goals
Anything that is easy to come by is pretty meaningless and nothing in life comes free. If you want to become an EMVP you simply have to commit a period of time, every day or week to work towards your goal.
What I do is whenever anyone asks me a question in my working day, is make a note of it and then after I get home in the evening, once or twice a week, whack on Netflix, get a working code sample in my sample site and then write a quick blog post about it and I do this every week.
Today, for example, someone emailed me and asked for help in order to build an A to Z control in Umbraco. I sat down and spent 10-15 minutes replying by email, detailing a basic outline and some code samples so he could understand the problem and hopefully figure out how to solve it. I’ll now use that reply as the basis of a blog post to share more knowledge with the rest of the world, I’ll upload a sample site on Github and send the link to the person in question. I don’t expect anything in return, well maybe a thank you, I just do it to help someone out. It’s that process that usually results in 80% of the posts you might read on my site being published.
Schedule Time In Your Calendar and stick to it
This sounds silly but it worked for me. I set aside every Tuesday and Wednesday evening to work at home on posts that interest me, between 9 and midnight and then committed to doing that week after week.
When the time comes to work on knowledge sharing, hopefully, you will already have a plan of what you are going to do. You may want to commit to 15 minutes a day, or a few hours a week. It’s whatever works for you.
Jump on Episerver World and/or Stack Overflow and help others to work through their issues. You may not know the answer, but maybe you can help lead someone in the right direction. Research how someone should fix it. In this process of researching, you’ll learn a lot more about Episerver. This continual improvement outside of your work project will also have the benefit of making you more knowledgeable about the product as well. Make sure to set up your notifications to come directly to your email inbox so you can see what’s new and respond promptly to ones that you previously were helping with.
Use this time to build an Episerver module, package it in a Nuget package and share it with the world. If you keep having to re-do the same thing on different projects, that’s definitely a good starting point. Chances are that other people will want to use it. You will also need to support it as well i.e. bugs, new features, updating to work with newer releases of Episerver.
If you live in a city, join meetup.com and visit a local Episerver meet-up and offer to do a presentation. If you do not have a local Episerver meet-up, then consider starting one up.
So remember, if you want to help the community and start on this route, do it because Episerver is your passion and you love to help the world NOT because you have to. Next, set aside time each week to take time out of your day and help other people.
Good luck 🙂