Sunday, June 14, 2009

The benefits of technical blogging

[This was originally posted at]

By some estimates, there are over 50 million blogs. Granted, many of these are barely maintained, and they cover all topics (not just software engineering), but clearly there's something to this whole blogging thing. Keep in mind that the vast majority of these blogs are not profitable - so the authors are writing as hobbyists and not paid professionals. Millions of people - and thousands of software engineers - blog because there are a lot of benefits to it:
  1. Record smaller thoughts to build up for a larger project like an article or even a book.
  2. Instant gratification - Blogs let you publish your writing instantly, which is gratifying (as opposed to the lag time for an article or book)
  3. Ability to share your thoughts with the world - and likewise get feedback on them.
  4. Practice at writing, beyond just the quick email or IM context.
  5. Provides an outlet for all the miscellaneous thoughts and code a developer comes across
  6. Gets you to think deeper about ideas, knowing that you need to at least polish it to the level of a few paragraphs for public consumption. This helps you learn the topic yourself, as one of the best ways to learn is to teach the content to others.
  7. Thought Leadership - some people (especially consultants where this is a resume credential) really like this. Good blog posts also build credibility.
  8. Confidence booster - putting your thoughts out there to potentially millions of people requires courage, and repeatedly doing that (and growing from the feedback) builds confidence.
  9. Write anything on any topic, regardless of what you're currently working on.
  10. It helps others. For example, sometimes I post the most obscure syntax errors I find - and other people were troubled with the exact same issue, and actually find the post useful.
  11. Blogging acts like a personal journal. I've gotten a kick out of seeing how some of my thoughts have evolved over the last 5 years.
  12. Low barrier to entry - because blogs are (effectively) free, you can write small chunks, you can write anything you'd like, and you can automatically publish it, there's a very low barrier to get started.

Should you blog even if you don't get traffic? I think yes - if you enjoy it (such as for any of the reasons mentioned above). Traffic comes and goes, and the weirdest entries get tons of traffic while the other entries (that I expect to be popular) are almost ignored.

Related: Do you have time to blog?

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