I’ve long held the belief that programmers should blog (if they feel so inclined, of course).
Granted, I write about how to do things programmatically using WordPress, and I plan to get back to doing that later this week with the new year back in full swing. But I stumbled across a post on The Practical Developer this morning that I couldn’t help but offer my thoughts on it.
The post, Untold Benefits of a Software Blog, is something that’s relevant to any of us in the programming space but I share it primarily for those of us in the WordPress space. (After all, that’s where I’m focused, right?)
And I share it because I thought I’d share a bit about what the blog has afforded me over the last few years of writing and sharing content on this site.
Why Programmers Should Blog
Before I list out my thoughts and comments on this, the article makes a good point that I don’t want to be missed. After all, I don’t know if you clicked the link or not. 🙂
Whoever said, “you do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother” never tried detailing their opinions to a text file.
I know that people dislike using phrases like “to your grandmother” or “mother” or “sister” or any of those – and I get it – so for the sake of this post, please substitute your personality of choice. It can just as easily be your father.
The point is, though, is that the idea of articulating what it is you think you understand what your building is put to the test when you’re writing it for the public to read.
That’s when you find out how well you understand it: If you can convey it in a clear and relatively concise manner, then I think you’ve got the idea.
I Blog Because…
With that said, though, here’s what blogging has afforded me:
- a public journey of my experience through programming, especially in WordPress,
- the ability to share my thoughts on various programming topics (and get valuable feedback on them),
- a place to talk about opinions that I might not have otherwise had challenged were it not for those reading it,
- meeting some of the smartest people I’ve ever met (through the comments, through Twitter, and through conferences),
- learning better ways to achieve a given task using a given language,
- a way to better articulate my thoughts in the written word and the spoken word,
- a love of writing words almost as much as writing code,
- invitations to speak on podcasts, at meetups, and at WordCamps,
- the ability to help build a business catering specifically to those who are using WordPress,
- a consistent habit of thinking through problems and how to convey them to readers (even before I start to write),
- learning more about myself and approach to certain topics (that sounds weird, but it’s true),
- the chance to partner with other teams and organizations on some really neat projects that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to meet,
- and so much more.
I was able to churn out this list in less than two minutes because that’s what blogging has afforded me. To be clear, I don’t write for those reasons above – those are the benefits of what’s come with it.
I write, in short, to have a public journal of the programming tasks I accomplish in my career. Think of it as an open notebook of sorts. Sure, I have the occasional post – like this one – that’s a little off-topic. But writing for this along allows me to do that.
The point is that if you’re on the fence about blogging or you aren’t sure what to write about, or you aren’t sure if you should blog, the answers are simple:
- Write about what you’re learning,
- Yes, you should blog.
And it’s easy to get started:
- Find a domain,
- Get some hosting,
- Install WordPress,
- Grab a theme,
- Write and press Publish.
It’s going to be weird at first. It might even be weird the 900th time. But the post linked above really does convey the benefits of it. And perhaps my own shortlist will help a bit, as well.
A Sidenote on Revenue
Blogging has valuable lessons long before you get your first readers or ad revenues. These are some of the most important ones.
To be clear, I never started this blog with the intent of advertising nor do I write for this purpose. Those are present to help support the site (and I’m planning on mixing that up a bit later this year).
The point I want to make is that if you’re blogging for those goals, then stop. It’s not adding anything educational or valuable to the plethora of blogs in our industry.
That’s Just Me
I know that all of us blog for different reasons and that many of us have our motivations.
But if you’re someone who’s writing to clarify your ideas better or to write companion pieces to talks you’ve given, then I think you’re adding a lot of value to an already crowded field of people looking to make easy money.
You’re holding yourself accountable to what you’ve learned, working to articulate it, and helping others all along the way. Furthermore, it affords opportunities that you may not be able to get otherwise.
So if you’re even considering blogging, the benefits far outweigh the cons. It’s a long game, but I urge you to do it. It’ll make you a better communicator; it’ll make you a better programmer. And that’s the long game worth playing.