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Good things happen to those that blog

tosbourn profile image Toby Osbourn ・4 min read

In this post, I want to explain why I think most technical folk would benefit from a blog that they keep fairly up to date. I originally posted this few years ago here and have made some small edits for this version.

For some context for people who don't know me, I am not a professional blogger or anything like that, I kind of enjoy writing but at my core, I am a developer, I like tinkering with stuff and swapping things around to figure out why stuff works. This means that my experience has largely been writing about dev stuff, primarily for other developers and future me when I forget about something.

So, what good things have happened to me that I think can happen to you as a result of blogging?

Job Opportunities

A blog as kind of like a self-updating CV, it talks about projects you have worked on and challenges you have overcome, it even timestamps things for you to give people an idea of how long you have been into a particular field of interest.

At a job interview wouldn't it be excellent if you were asked a question and one of the references you gave in your answer was a blog post you had already written? It shows a potential employer that you are keen enough about the industry and are already knee deep in the challenges they are currently facing.

In terms of getting noticed, I have found a blog to really help, folk looking for folk to work with or hire are generally pretty lazy (like all people!) and they are going to pick the path of least resistance, if someone comes to them and tasks them with finding someone in technology x who lives in location y, you can be damn sure that is going straight into a google search and if they can find a local dev with knowledge of that stack, you know you will be getting contacted.

I'm now contracting, and the majority of potential clients haven't been looking specifically to hire us, but know of us because of the blog.

Writing Opportunities

This is one of my favourite things that has come out of me blogging and that is more writing! I have two quick examples for this;

The first was I was asked to write for the IEEE journal because of an article I put together about StackOverflow had I not of written the article, it would never have been retweeted by the founders and the person who contacted me to write an article would never have known I existed.

The second is that it was a quick post I had written about Bootstrap's Typeahead functionality which made Packt Publishing contact me about writing a book on Twitter's Typeahead functionality. The only factor in them first contacting me was that blog post, there was nothing else on the internet that would suggest I even knew what typeahead functionality even was. (the book is now very out of date!)

Money and Free Stuff

If you blog about problems that you are facing that are non-trivial (there isn't already a standard solution that is easily searchable) then chances are people will find your blog when they come looking for the same problem, that being the case having a couple of non-obtrusive adverts is a nice way to make a modest amount of passive income, it certainly pays for domain name renewal and stuff like that.

Some of the free stuff I have been offered whilst blogging includes;

  • Free copies of books to review
  • Free passes to conferences so long as I do a write up
  • Free and early access to software to give my thoughts on it

I have a very modest amount of traffic and it isn't well known by any stretch of the imagination, but I have to say I turn down more stuff than I ever imagined I would be offered.

Community Karma

Helping people is nice and feels good, if something took you a long time and you write about the steps you took in order to help someone else out you get a nice feeling when people send you comments saying things like "You saved me a days work", or even just a "Thanks!"

If you work on or with Open Source software then you already have so many people to thank that make your life so much easier every day and I think leaving little clues to help people figure out there own issues is one way you can give back to the community.

Solidified Thoughts

I find that blogging really helps solidify my thoughts on something, it is one thing to read something and think you understand it, but when you try and write about it yourself you will find you need to pause and consider what you are trying to say and what is going to be the best way to say it. Also, if you have strayed in your thinking there will surely be someone in the comments that will point you back in the right direction.

Typing and Writing Skills

As I am sure the slew of grammatical errors in this post will likely attest to, I am in no way an expert at writing, but even I have to admit as I look back at earlier posts that this is something I have improved upon as I have written more. Likewise with typing - sure I am a developer by trade so I need to be in front of a keyboard a lot, but typing in programming languages is vastly different from typing in English.

Procrastination

Sometimes you just don't want to do any real work, but you do want to do something productive, I have found that occasionally banging out a quick blog post gives you that quick productivity fix without actually accomplishing anything on your to-do list (do you think this blog post has been on my to-do list? It has not!).

This isn't an ideal way to work 100% of the time, but once in a while I don't think hurts.

Do you like blogging?

Share your blog in the comments below!

Posted on by:

tosbourn profile

Toby Osbourn

@tosbourn

I'm a CTO/Developer who is available for hire. I like talking about how to get the most out of developers and Ruby.

Discussion

markdown guide
 

Would love to see a follow up on this on 'how to self host your blog', there seems to be quite a few ways and options on how to do it and it would be great to hear for example how you've created and are managing yours. :)

illsoonhaveablogtoo.com

 

Thanks! I will try and write something at some point!

 

Great! Looking forward to reading it!

 

I started my blog because it was so rare that I could find an "all in one place" repository of solutions to the problems I was facing. I simply assumed that, if I had to solve the problem once, I was either going to need to solve it again ...or (more likely) tell others how to solve it. I'm borderline anti-social, so, it's always just been easier to tell people, "read this: lemme know if you still have questions when you're done".

Still amuses me when coworkers email/Slack/SMS me to tell me, "I had this really weird problem I needed to solve, and when I googled it, your page was the only one that provided me a detailed and easy-to-follow solution for my problem."

 

I've been technical blogging off and on for a while now. I've got a miles-long Trello card FULL of blog post ideas. While I'm writing one, I'll find several different topics that I could go more in depth on.

Most of the time though, It's just me reiterating to myself to solidify topics and a place for me to come back and refresh on things.

Check it out: Harner Designs Blog

 

Thanks for writing this. All your points are too real I myself can relate. I started actively blogging last year and I can’t count the number of times I’ve had someone thanking me or saying my post helped them. The joy that brings is part of what keeps me going. Here’s a link to my blog giftegwuenu.dev

 

I agree with you, and I've started blogging a couple of months ago right here in dev.to but the last days I've been a bit tight with time and left the posts apart, I got some posts in mind I want to write about.
I'll take it back as soon as possible.

 

Nice article. I’ve been blogging for a few years and what surprised me was how much a simple blog post can drive traffic to your site , especially when you write an article about a specific problem you were having.

I tend to write a post on my blog and then cross post it on dev.to as there is a very welcoming audience here.

C.S. Rhymes blog

 

I agree with all of this (even if I haven’t experienced it all). But I’d say the solidifying is the biggest benefit. If you’re learning something new being able to explain it to others increases your recall and understanding tenfold.

 

Sometimes you just don't want to do any real work, but you do want to do something productive

This is too real! Sometimes I have the urge to be doing something but everything on my to-do list seems too daunting or will take longer than the amount of time before that next meeting.

Maybe I'll try to channel that into more blog posts moving forward!

 

Hi Toby, thanks for writing this. I've been nervous about getting started blogging for quite some time now and your post has made me commit to giving it a go!

 

That is excellent to hear; please share a link when you do!

 
 

Posts like this made me start my own blog: lautarolobo.xyz/

I'll be cross posting here (and in FCC and Hackernoon) soon.

Thanks Toby!

[Is Norman your uncle or something?]

 

I think about blogging all the time but have no clue what I'd write about. I envy those with the ability to see opportunities in their everyday work that others would be interested in