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How do you choose a subject to stick to on your blog?

marcelocg profile image Marcelo Gonçalves ・1 min read

I am interested in so many subjects that it makes it difficult for me to choose one to blog about.

If you take the dev world alone, I love talking and reading about containers, microservices, API gateways, data structures, algorithms, Java, Spring, Flutter, Go, Rust, React, Next.js, Jamstack, NoSQL, Kafka... Yes, I am a generalist. That's what 25 years of CompSci do to you.

It doesn't stop there. I love Game Dev! Shaders, procedural generation, 3D modeling, sound design... speaking of which remembers me of my recent passion for samplers and synthesizers, musical production, piano, music theory, drums... And a bazillion other random things like cars and motorsports, knowledge organization techniques like Zettelkasten, personal finance and investments, well... you get the idea.

How do you guys stick to a narrow range of subjects to blog about? Am I getting crazy, a kind of knowledge addicted junkie? Should I create N blogs to spread the word about whichever comes into my radar?

Discussion

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jennrmillerdev profile image
Jen Miller

I think you should write about what interests you. Writing content you aren't interested about is a major demotivator and not sustainable.

While some people many push 'writing' as a form of 'personal brand' creation, it's also a huge consumer of time and takes away from other things that i) is more enjoyable to you and ii) other meaningful tasks to help your career.

While there is an advantage on sounding like a "subject matter expert" on the topics you want to find employment with, it really depends on the topic at hand - some topics are so oversaturated, they don't really stand out during a candidate evaluation.

No evaluator has the time to review all the blog postings of a developer. At most, they gaze over the topics and see if anything catches their eye. So its important to be realistic on the impact of a blog (early on) and be meaningful of the time spent.

I don't think you should create N blogs, the overhead in managing that many sites will be a huge pain. It might make sense to divide your postings in a tech vs non-tech blog, but I wouldn't divide further (at least to start).

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bhupesh profile image
Bhupesh Varshney 👾

I second this, writing just for the sake of increasing traffic & building a brand is just a shear waste of time.

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marcelocg profile image
Marcelo Gonçalves Author

Yes, after a night of sleep I thought about it too. My main concern is learning more and making it available for whoever may need and benefit from that. I am not aiming for building an audience in the sense of making money, or fame... Thanks!

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marcelocg profile image
Marcelo Gonçalves Author

Interesting point of view. Thank you, Jen. I never checked candidates blog posts a recruiter. Do you think it is really a tool on getting employed? Maybe Github repos make more sense...

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jennrmillerdev profile image
Jen Miller

So I think blogs are not a silver bullet that they are often portrayed. They help people in different ways, which may or may not help in getting a job. It probably won't hurt in any way, but it might not make a huge difference either - or specifically, the time it takes to maintain a blog might not be worth it unless you gain personal enjoyment from it (like a hobby).

It also depends on the kind of work you want to do and where you are on your career. Specifically, are you blogging to build a personal brand that you might leverage into a business at some later point?

In the end, appearing to be a SME of a subject (in your case, the Java ecosystem or devops) will help but most recruiters will be looking at your 20+ years of exp stop at that.

When developers like myself get asked to evaluate and interview candidates, though, I do look at a person's site and blog (if they do have one), its never a must have since many great developers don't have blogs. The content matters since it may have a direct relevance to the job.

But it all comes back to what you want to do and how much time you want to commit.

When people ask me if blogs are worth it, I say, "yes", but writing isn't free, it comes with a cost - time. Time that could be spent resting, recharging, doing hobbies, etc. Some people enjoy tweeting, gaining a following, and writing content for their followers. Others enjoy writing about what they enjoy doing.

If you enjoy doing something, that passion shows though. While writing purely for building a personal brand will help later on, if you don't get enjoyment, it can be hugely demotivating early on (and might cause you to stop). In the end, personal brand helps, but it depends on what you want to do.

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Stephanie Morillo

It depends a lot on the goals for your blog. :) If you're using it just to share anything and everything, there is no harm in writing on a variety of topics. But if you're using it to position yourself for a particular role or space, then it definitely matters since you can't be everything to everyone.

For example: if the goal of your blog is to document your journey learning JavaScript, then it makes sense to write about anything related to JS and different frameworks, like React, Angular, etc. Then, there's the audience. Who do you want your audience to be? I wrote a blog post about the three different types of audiences who read developer content that is a good place to start.

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marcelocg profile image
Marcelo Gonçalves Author

Nice, Stephanie! Thanks for pointing me to that! An interesting north to follow!

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radiomorillo profile image
Stephanie Morillo

You're most welcome!

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hunterpp profile image
Hunter Peress

I too am a generalist. I suspect P types are generalists....and maybe Intuitive types as well (I am both)

I also am of two thoughts on the matter.

It IS good to go deep on a topic and when you have an overwhelming urge to go deep...you know feel and and know it instantly. However, as generalists we require constant streams of new activities....so having an outlet to explore is necessary! That outlet can be a 2nd blog, part of the first blog....a group of people....something.

Also, as generalists...its ok to have a blog that is whatever the freak you want. Make the blog about you.

Stop being scared of not fitting into a mold ;-) DO YOU ;-)

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marcelocg profile image
Marcelo Gonçalves Author

Thank you, Hunter! It's so good to hear from who knows exactly how it feels! I think you are right. Nothing stops from doing what I want...

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fallenstedt profile image
Alex Fallenstedt

"I am interested in so many subjects that it makes it difficult for me to choose one to blog about. "

What matters most is choosing anything that you have experience in. The experience you have is unique, and people will seek your experience on a subject. The value you can provide is what you're experienced with.

I released this article 24 hours ago, and it already has 1.5K views. I've gained followers on twitter. Even though this is was an experience from last year, it's something people value because interviewing is hard.
dev.to/fallenstedt/three-steps-i-t...

Start providing value, and keep an eye on metrics from your content. You'll discover what viewers demand from you.

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igorfil profile image
Igor Fil

I think it might make sense to start with "why". Why do you write a blog?

If it is "because I enjoy it", then it makes sense to just do what you like. If you are good and have outreach to an audience, people will follow you.

If, on the other hand, it is about being recognized as an expert in a particular field, than writing about one particular topic would make sense. But you mentioned that you are interested in so many things, right? It would be hard to find enough time to become an expert in all of them.

Personally for me it is the first, I write about what I am interested in. If someone finds it interesting - great.

Hope my 5 cents would be helpful :)

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marcelocg profile image
Marcelo Gonçalves Author

Yes, Igor, it totally makes sense. Thanks for stopping by. Your point is in line with other points in the comments.

I am "old" and not into that urge to be recognized. I believe writing is one the best ways to learn. And it may teach other people as a side effect, which is great. And fun!

I have been studying about and trying to apply the Zettelkasten method. It sure helps to alleviate the need to process and output your thoughts and the final result is writing!

I decided to simply write, whatever it is. My original problem comes down to where to publish what I write. Tech will go here, I am sure.

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richardburd profile image
Richard Burd

I try to blog about things people will find helpful, and try to explain them as parsimoniously as possible using intuitive graphics.

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jessekphillips profile image
Jesse Phillips

I didn't. Obviously I am restricting dev.to posts to technical, but I struggle to blog anyway.

You can use tags, but sadly I don't see a way to filter on a person and tag.