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Why Every Professional Should Consider BloggingI often argue that professionals should share their knowledge online via blogging.The catch is that virtually anything worthwhile in life takes time and effort, and bloggingis not an exception to this statement. So before committing your energy to such anendeavor, you may rightfully stop and wonder what’s in it for you. Is blogging reallyworth it?In this article, I briefly illustrate some of the main benefits that directly derive fromrunning a technical blog.1. Blogging can improve your communication skillsCommunication and writing, much like programming, are skills honed throughcountless hours of practice. As you work hard at articulating your thoughts into words,you’ll find that the process ends up improving your ability to express yourself. Andcommunication is key, almost regardless of your profession.Over time, you’ll become a faster and better technical writer, who’s able to come up withan insightful essay or tutorial in just an hour or two.Even better, you’ll be able to concisely formulate confusing or undefined thoughts intoexact words. Vague thoughts that you considered in your head will either prove to bevalid and gain strength throughout the process of formalizing them into words, orquickly fall apart as flawed ideas once you see them on the screen.This habit will make you not only a better communicator, but also a better, clearerthinker.2. Blogging can improve your technical skillsOne of the most successful learning technique I know is to try to teach what you’recurrently learning yourself to other people.The process of explaining something to others quickly solidifies your knowledge andoutlines its shortcomings, exposing your own doubts about the material you’re studying.This is why writing down and paraphrasing a book, something bright student often do,is a powerful technique that helps retain and clarify your understanding of theinformation you’re gathering.As a blogger, you are likely to improve your technical skills because you are forced toresearch further topics in order to properly share them with the public. You might becorrected by commenters who know more about the subject than you do, and learn a lotfrom them in the process. As well you may learn more as others expand on what you hadto say within their blogs, or perhaps force you to answer more questions about the topicthan you thought about in the first place.
As I mentioned in my book, blogging is just as much as teaching as it is about starting aconversation. These conversations will often help increase your expertise and well-roundedness.The collaborative power of blogging was truly highlighted and pushed to the limit by theFields medalist Professor Timothy Gowers with his Polymath Project, in which his blogand commenting section was used to figure out unsolved mathematical problemscollaboratively.3. Blogging can provide you with a repository for your knowledgeSome people like to use personal wikis for this purpose, but blogging can be an excellentway to keep track of information you intend to retrieve at a later stage. For examplemany programmers use their own old posts to find particular snippets of code, the exactsteps to configure a server, or a given URL for a useful service they blogged about.At times you’ll find that googling for a given problem will bring up an article from yourown blog that you may very well have forgotten about. (And if that post doesn’t solveyour problem, you can curse your past self for not providing more details back when youwrote it.)Looking back at your old posts is also a great way to keep track of progress, and haveaccess to a timeline of what you were dealing with, thinking, and doing at a givenmoment in the past. It’s fun to look back once in a while and introspect about how faryou’ve come. This can often provide you with glimpses of insight about where yourcareer and professional interests are headed.4. Blogging can help make powerful connectionsTechnical blogging injects you into an online community of fellow professionals who arepassionate about the topic they are writing about. If you are contributing valuableinformation and insight, and link to others, you’ll likely end up on the radar of thesepeople, and ultimately connect with other world class players in your field.Blogging is certainly cheaper than flying across the world non-stop to meet all thesefolks at expensive conferences (though blogging is not a substitute for in-person humaninteraction).Society functions through people interacting, connecting, and networking. How you usethis opportunity is up to you, but it can definitely be a boost for your career, business, oreven life in general to be in touch with other experts in the field of your choice.5. Blogging can help you make friendsEven better than powerful acquaintances are friends. As a prominent blogger you’ll getto meet and interact with a wealth of people online. If you’re social and available toothers, you’ll end up making friends (influential and less influential ones alike) online.
I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve come to know thanks to my technical blogs.Sometimes it’s a case of someone who comments often and you get to know them betterthrough this route. Other times it is a fellow blogger. Often, it’s someone who noticedyou through your blog and gets in touch via email. If you are fairly popular in your field,you may even get the occasional ego boosting, “Oh, I follow your blog” when introducingyourself at meetups or trade conferences.6. Blogging can provide you with a second incomeMost bloggers live under the false assumption that you can’t make serious money fromrunning a blog on the side. They understand that if you dedicate yourself full-time, thereis money to be made, but they severely underestimate how much revenue you cangenerate with just a couple of hours of your time per week. They’ve tried or heard horrorstories from people making mere pennies with AdSense, and assume that they can’tmonetize their own blog unless they’re really famous.A few hundred dollars a month from your blog is absolutely within the reach of anyprofessional out there. If you do everything right, and put in the work required, yourblog can even make you thousands of dollars, both directly and indirectly.My technical blogs make me a few thousand dollars every month, and I often end up nottouching them for weeks at the time. Blogging is not passive income, but if you knowwhat you are doing, all the content you produce compounds and ends up providing youwith a substantial income – even when you neglect the blog for a few weeks or months ata time.Blogging can provide you with some serious extra income that you can then use tofinance your hobby, buy gadgets, pay off debt, or do whatever else you desire. It’s areally nice feeling to receive a few extra checks each month, and it will further motivateyou to continue blogging.In my book I cover in great detail how I go about monetizing my blogs, but I’ll also talkmore about this subject on this site (subscribe via feed or email if you’d like to benotified of such future articles).7. Blogging can score you freebiesPublishers and PR firms have become aware of the influence bloggers have on targetedaudiences. Even as a mildly successful blogger, you can expect to be contacted by amultitude of people offering you freebies. Depending on your niche and field, theseoffers will typically be for books, but it’s not uncommon to receive offers for other items,including tickets for conferences, gadgets, software, etc.
As long as you disclose your affiliation (in a way that makes the FTC happy), it’s actuallyvery nice to routinely receive freebies of this kind. If you like what you receive, you canthen blog about that product and review it for your readers.Often, if you establish good relationships with publishers and PR firms, you can evenorganize giveaway contests which benefit your readers, not just yourself.8. Blogging can advance your careerA few of the previous benefits I mentioned have already revealed how blogging can havea positive impact in your career. However, I’d like to stress just how much blogging canopen certain doors for you. Every post you make is a new opportunity to get people tonotice you on a professional level.Because of my blogs, but primarily my programming one, I’ve received countless joboffers over the years, including some from a selection of the largest and most soughtafter companies in the world. Some offered me generous relocation packages to the US,and a few went so far as to offer me the job, no questions asked (e.g., they didn’t evenrequire a formal interview, they had sized me up enough through my blog writing).I got my job at IBM in Canada mainly thanks to my blog (at the time I was still inEurope).Whether blogging allows you to find a new job, customers, partners, investors,publishers who are interested in having you authoring a book, or something elseentirely, it is certainly a great career booster.In fact, my number one piece of advice for new professionals who are interested inbuilding their careers is to start blogging today.9. Blogging can make you popular in your fieldMost professionals work hard because they want to be successful and gain recogniztionin their field. Blogging aides with that and can make small celebrities out of regularprofessionals. For those in the tech world, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Nameslike Joel Spolsky, Derek Sivers, Steve Yegge, and Scott Hanselman come to mind.I’m reminded of Joey Roth’s “Charlatan, Martyr, Hustler” poster. If you do incrediblework but nobody knows about it you are a martyr. If you accomplish nothing and do nowork, but talk a sweet talk, you are a charlatan. If you can walk the walk, and talk thetalk, then you are a hustler.Blogging helps you ensure that you can talk the talk and reach the right audience, onceyou have walked the walk.10. Blogging can help you reach and teach a wide audienceThe number one reason to blog for many people, is the desire to share their knowledgeand teach others.
For some, even in the technical realm, it’s a matter of politics. For example, an Agiledevelopment professional may actually want to influence the community and advocatehis theories and ideas about the process of developing software, so that they(potentially) become widespread.Others, may use this teaching tool to promote their technical projects. An example, alsofrom the software development world, is blogging to help people become aware, loyal,and eventually proficient in an open source tool that you created.