This article is not going to be technical. Instead, I will show you why, as a software developer, you should write a developer blog, how it will get you ahead and how to get started.
I am still pretty much at the beginning of my blogger career: I only started last year in October, and this is my eighth article. So far, I've written quite irregularly and blamed my full-time job, my wife, and my children. That should be over now – other developers are demonstrating that it works, anyway. From now on, I will publish at least two articles per month – and from October (I need some practice), at least one per week. Therefore I commit myself "publicly" to doing this.
Why should developers write a blog?
There are many reasons to write a developer blog and many advantages that such a blog can bring to your career and also to your life in general:
Show others what you can do!
With your blog, you show other developers and potential decision-makers what you can do. Therefore, your blog can give you a valuable career boost:
- It can help you get your dream job: Imagine your new boss knows your blog – the interview should be only a formality then.
- Your blog can help you work towards a promotion.
- If you're a freelancer, you can win clients through your blog.
- In the best case, clients will even come to you.
- You have the chance to be invited as a speaker, which further enhances all the above effects.
How is it supposed to work if nobody knows your developer blog? Be patient: Over time, you will build a network or expand your existing one. And that will get you more and more readers.
You are going to learn a lot
Nothing in our business is as important as continuous training. By writing your blog, you will learn:
- By writing about something you've learned, you'll consolidate what you've learned.
- You'll automatically get more involved with the topics you're writing about and get deeper into the subject – instead of just scratching the surface.
- For the sake of writing alone, you will familiarize yourself with new topics that interest you.
- You'll always remember the articles you've written yourself. Even if you don't know the details anymore, you will be able to recall them very quickly when faced with a similar task.
You'll develop soft skills
In addition to the technical topics, you will also develop and improve so-called "soft skills":
- You'll learn to market yourself.
- You will learn to write better, to express yourself better – which in turn will make you a better developer.
- If English is not your native language, and if you blog in English, you will improve your English – but you should always have your texts proofread by a native speaker.
- By writing regularly over a long period, you will learn to be more disciplined.
- You will become more confident and learn to deal with criticism better.
You're helping others
Not only will you advance yourself, but others as well:
- You will help other developers to complete challenges that you have already mastered.
- Support other developers in making better decisions, for example, by working out the advantages and disadvantages of specific solutions for certain tasks.
- You can surprise other developers with new approaches and inspire them.
Build yourself an extra income
With a little patience, you can even build up a passive extra income, that is, an income that you earn on the side from your developer blog, for example, through affiliate links or by having readers pay for certain parts of your content (e.g., online courses).
This content – and other products, such as a book you could write for example – can be promoted through your blog.
And last but not least:
You're going to have fun
Even if you have to put a lot of energy into your developer blog at the beginning – writing will gradually become more natural and, after a short time, it will be fun for you. And at some point, you will be able to reap the fruits of your labor.
Don't doubt yourself!
Despite the many advantages, some developers have doubts as to whether a blog is right for them. If you are one of them, first of all: don't worry! Read this section – I hope I can take away some of your doubts.
Are you already convinced and motivated? Then you can skip this section and go directly to the next section, "How do I start?"
"I'm far from being experienced enough."
There is always someone who does not have as much experience as you do and who can learn from you. And it's even better from you than from someone with much more knowledge because it is much easier to follow the thoughts and explanations of someone who is only a few steps ahead than of someone who has many more years of experience and writes at a much higher level.
For example, while installing Linux on my laptop, I came across forum posts by Linux professionals in which I didn't understand a word. I then tried to prepare this information in my words, so that even a Linux beginner understands it: Manjaro tutorial: BIOS, UEFI, MBR, GPT, GRUB, SED, LUKS
"I can't write well enough."
Then you'll learn it. And that's by just doing it. If I've learned one thing from other bloggers, it's that the more you write, the easier it gets to express your ideas and views. You'll get better with every article – automatically.
And faster – I hope. First, I wanted to commit myself to write one article per week. However, I noticed that I am currently still too untrained for this and need several hours for a single piece (mainly since I also translate it into English and have it proofread). So I decided to write two articles per month for now and after three months, one per week.
"I'm afraid of criticism."
Yes, the risk of being criticized exists. You may have done something objectively wrong, you may have confused facts, or missed a spelling mistake despite proofreading several times. Mistakes are a part of the game. Always think about the child that falls a thousand times and gets up a thousand times without being discouraged until it has learned to walk.
It can also happen that your readers have a different opinion than you. The good news is that you can learn to deal with criticism.
Not every criticism is the same: On the one hand, your readers can point out an error in a friendly and matter-of-fact way. In this case, the feedback is appropriate. Just look at it positively: You learn something and get the opportunity to improve your article (don't forget to thank your reader).
Then, of course, there are the trolls who have no purpose in their lives other than to insult and hurt others. Just ignore them! Delete their comments and don't waste any more time on them.
"I wrote a few articles, but nothing happened."
That's quite normal. Building a blog requires a lot of patience. It will take several months and regular publications until you see relevant traffic on your blog. Be patient and keep going!
In the first months, it helps many people to not pay attention to statistics like sessions, users, or page impressions.
Don't give your doubts a chance to keep you from your cause!
[Update from November 8, 2019] I hope the following screenshot motivates you: After one year, impressions and clicks (*) increase significantly – and I only wrote regularly after I published this article on June 19, 2019 – about five months ago.
(*) Due to the legal situation in the EU, I only have reliable data provided by the Search Console. Since October 1, 2019, Google Analytics may no longer be used without the explicit consent of the visitor.
How do I start my developer blog?
I read a lot about the topic and worked through several tutorials. But instead of writing yet another tutorial, I'd like to recommend the one that helped me the most. So if you don't know how and where to start, have a look at the following – free! – email course by John Somnez, founder and author of the highly successful developer blog, Simple Programmer:
After registration, you will receive a total of five emails within three weeks, which will explain step by step:
- how to collect and filter ideas for your blog,
- why you should specialize in a specific topic,
- how to set up a hosted WordPress blog (see alternatively, my article series about setting up WordPress on a dedicated server),
- how to collect ideas for your articles,
- why consistent writing is so important,
- how to create a schedule and stick to it – and finally,
- how to get traffic to your developer blog.
In the end, you have to write a blog post about the course as a homework assignment. You're reading my implementation of this task right now.
After participating, there is also a 50 percent discount voucher on the course "10 Ways to Make Money from Your Blog," in which John presents ten ways to earn money with your blog.
Today I've introduced to you the benefits of a developer blog, I've hopefully taken away your worries and recommended John Somnez's email course, How to Create a Blog That Boosts Your Software Development Career, as an introduction.
If I inspired you to start your blog, please contact me. Send me a link via the comment function, or email me at [email protected], I'd love to have a look at your blog.
Do you know any other reasons to write a developer blog? Again, I'm looking forward to your comments.
And now: Get going and stay tuned – happy blogging!