Another year slipped by! They seem to come faster and faster, just as promised by all the old men in the comic strips I read when growing up.
I recently had a couple of conversations about blogging: how to start, why to do it, how to maintain it. I thought I’d capture some of my responses.
After over twelve years of blogging (that’s correct, in 2016 my blog is a teenager!), here are the three reasons that I keep at it.
- Writing crystallizes the mind. Writing a piece, especially a deep technical piece, clarifies my understanding of the problem (it’s similar to writing an email to the world, in some ways). Sometimes it will turn up items I hadn’t considered, or other questions to search on. It’s easy to hold a fuzzy concept in my mind, but when written down, the holes in my knowledge become more evident.
- Writing builds credibility. I have received a number of business inquiries from my writing. (I suspect there’d be more if my blog were more focused. The excellent “How to start blogging” course from John Sonmez is worth signing up for. The number one thing to have a successful blog is subject matter focus. But I have a hard time limiting myself to a single topic. Maybe I’m building credibility as a generalist?) And I’ve had a few people interview me for positions and mention they found this blog. It’s easy to say “I know technology XXX” in an interview or consulting situation, but I have found it to be powerful and credible to say “Ah yes, I’ve seen technology XXX before. I wrote a post about it six months ago. Let me send that to you.”
- Writing helps others. I have had friends mention that they were looking for solutions for something and stumbled across my blog. In fact, I’ve been looking for solutions to issues myself and stumbled onto a post from my blog, so even my future self thanks me for blogging. I don’t have many comments (real ones, at least. The spam, oh, the spam), but the ones that are left often thank me for helping them out. And I know I have been helped tremendously by posts written by others, so writing pays this help forward.
Of course, these reasons apply to almost all writing–whether magazine, comments on social networks, twitter, medium, answers on stack overflow or something else. So why continue to write on “Dan Moore!”? Well, I did try medium recently, and am relatively active on Twitter, HackerNews and StackOverflow, and slightly less active on other social sites like Reddit and Lobste.rs. All these platforms are great, but my beef with all of them is the same–you are trading control for audience. As long as I pay my hosting bill and keep my domain registered, my content will be ever-present. In addition, my blog can weave all over the place as my available time and interests change.
If you blog, I’d love to hear your reasons for doing so. If you don’t, would love to hear what is keeping you from doing so.