At WordCamp US 2016 I gave this talk, Blogging – The Best Thing I’ve Done as a Developer. This post contains the same general content in written form (for those like me who prefer reading instead of watching a video).
Benefits of Blogging
I’ve seen four primary benefits from my blogging:
- Platform Familiarity
- Brand Building
Historically, I would stop once I’d “solved” a problem. This didn’t always mean I fully understood the solution, merely that I’d gotten it to work. Before moving to programming full-time, I was a teacher and a truism in teaching is that to really understand a subject you should teach it. I’ve found writing posts forces me to better understand the topic, making me a better developer.
I’m not always good at remembering things and in web development (and WordPress programming) there are a lot of things to remember. This site allows me to take notes, assign them to categories, tag them based on their content, and they’re searchable. I don’t have to know the answer, I just need to know where to get the answer.
Additionally, it is a wonderful feeling when you search Google for an answer and find it on your own website.
I like helping others but this does take time and time is a limited resource. By posting my solution online, I can often help others by pointing them to my relevant blog post. Additionally, I help lots of people without ever actually interacting with them (you can see some wonderful feedback from members of the Genesis community in these comments).
Building your brand makes you more valuable as a developer. This value can help the company where you work, your own company, or yourself when you want to get hired at a new company.
Excuses for Not Blogging
I know there are lots of reasons not to blog. I’ve heard many (and said many myself).
I don’t have time
My blogging drives leads, helps me win projects, and saves me time looking things up all over again – I’m seeing an excellent Return on Investment (ROI) from blogging.
Every time I need to Increase the “Tested up to” Value for my Stop Emails Plugin on the WordPress repository, my blog post turns that 20 minute task into a 5 minute task. Even if a post doesn’t outline the steps you need to take, your own notes often allow you to quickly get back up to speed on an idea or concept you visited previously.
I don’t have anything to write about
If you spent more than 20 minutes trying to figure something out, it is a good candidate for a blog post. When you do figure it out, make it a draft post right away. Sometimes I find my answer in my drafts.
I will look dumb
Yes. You will make mistakes or post something that is flat out wrong. The good news is most of the web community is kind and supportive. I’ve gotten lots of comments, corrections, and improvements. Unfortunately, not everyone is nice. I always try to look for a positive spin in their words but if I can’t find one, I delete their comment. This is your blog, this is your home, you don’t need to tolerate disrespect.
Go Forth and Blog
There are lots of challenges in web development and more coming up each day. Even when a solution is known, it isn’t always well documented. I don’t want to have to try and figure everything out. I want high quality content from other developers to make my life easier, so selfishly I hope you’ll start blogging.