Five reasons why I learn in public

Learning in public is something that I have recently started to do actively. I am learning graphic design to complement my web development skills, and jazz guitar because I happen to really enjoy jazz music. I post all my work and progress from my lessons on instagram (check it out here: @m_nyaga). I have been asked a number of questions about it, so I thought I’d explain it in a bit of detail.

Learning in public means making it publicly known that you are learning, and documenting your journey, usually on social media or on a blog or some other online platform. It is not only a powerful way to give meaning to what you are doing, but it also has many more succinct benefits to it. Here are some that I have seen myself.

Social Commitment

In a sentence, this means:

Tell so many people, that you’ll be too embarrassed to give up.

This sense of commitment reinforces your will to wake up early and take that class, and draws from your natural human instinct of not wanting to look like a loser. Though it’s not sustainable to be driven by what other people think of us, social commitment can help give you that extra bit of motivation when you can’t seem to roll out of bed.

Marketing yourself

Especially if you plan to monetize the skill, learning in public will help you market yourself even when you do not have a lot of experience.

People will catch a glimpse of your work in their usual strolls around the interwebs, and they will have you at the back of their minds. When they ever need someone with that skillset, you will be among the first options to cross their mind.

Additionally, learning in public will help you maintain a comprehensive portfolio of your work, which will come in handy when you finally want to put those skills to use.

Learning to learn

If you have read some of my earlier posts, you may know that I can have a perfectionism problem. A lot of times, I think that my work is crap.

There’s no better way to overcome your own constraints than to have to post your work online for the world to see. For example, sometimes, I will feel that one of my guitar recordings sounds off and I can’t seem to get it absolutely right, but I’ll post it anyway.

It helps me in 2 ways:

  1. I realise that sometimes my work is probably not as bad as I think
  2. I learn that I don’t have to be perfect, and that I will get better with consistent effort

It teaches me to embrace the process of learning and enjoy the journey.

Social Support

You’d be surprised at how many people actually give a damn about what you’re doing. On my first day of graphic design classes, I had someone I haven’t spoken to in years send me a message with some resources to help me get inspiration (thanks Nabil!). I have also received countless encouraging messages from strangers and friends alike since I started posting my guitar videos online.

Sometimes this makes the difference between skipping classes and being psyched for the next one. Looking at the bigger picture, these little contributions add up and can make the difference between becoming a pro and giving up halfway.


Learning in public is an effective way to leverage social media for what it was meant for: meeting people with similar interests.

Your content will naturally attract these people and you will learn a lot from interacting with them. They will criticise your mistakes and give you constructive feedback on your work. You may even make role models who will help you clearly envision where you want to be.

At the end of it all, you will be much better off than if you just picked up a book and read in a corner.

All in all, learning a new skill, losing weight, starting a blog, learning an instrument, playing a sport; doing anything meaningful with your time requires effort and commitment. It’s hard. Learning in public not only gives you the motivation to get through the hard parts, it also makes your investment in yourself become more valuable at the end of the day.

Are you learning something new? Join me and #learninpublic!


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Published in Techspiration + Ideas + Making It Happen.