2 years ago, in October 2018, after a rather inspirational trip to France, I decided to start my blog at EricDecanini.com where I talk about all things Android. Currently, the blog has over 4k unique monthly visitors, and although this isn’t to the same scale as names like Reywanderlich per se, it’s doing pretty well.
I owe a lot of my current success to my blog. In a community of developers which is now more competitive than it’s ever been, and when I was searching for what would become my current job over the summer last year, I wasn’t in the greatest position.
Me, a 19 year old, I hadn’t gone to uni so I don’t have a degree, and although I had some solid experience doing Android Development before this point, having done contract work for different companies and even won an award for one of my apps in the Essex Digital Awards, the biggest obstacle I had to face was having zero commercial experience.
To many employers out there, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, not having worked in software development full time means zero commercial experience. Period.
Eventually, I landed a solid mid-level job at END. Clothing but if I hadn’t reaped all the benefits I had from running my blog for 2 years at this point, the best I could even dream of would have been an apprenticeship.
And it’s not only standing out that makes a blog worth it, but a good few other reasons as well.
And because of these 3 reasons, I think it’s almost a mistake for a software developer to not have a blog.
So enough of the chitchat, let’s get right into it.
Benefit 1: Making a name
This one I believe is the most obvious one, and what most people think about when it comes to benefits of having a blog. Now let’s talk about this in two scenarios.
The first one is when you have a lot of traffic. Let’s say you have over ten thousand visitors checking out your blog every month. First of all, you should be proud yourself. You’re probably at that point because you’ve put in the effort to consistently roll out good content that provides value to your readers, or you’ve written one post so well that it went viral.
At this point, you’re basically a god of the software development world. You might be applying for jobs where your prospective employer already knows of you. And if permanent jobs aren’t your thing, maybe you prefer doing contract jobs or you’re a software developer entrepreneur, well guess what, you’ve already marketed yourself well through your blog, you have an audience looking out for you so these become easier as well.
Now the second scenario is kind of when you’re just starting out, probably the first couple of years of your blog, where you’re still trying to get more content out there, find your style, and mark your place in the community. Well guess what, you can apply for a job and mention your blog on your CV and instantly, you already stand out among the other CVs that are being looked at.
Then maybe your prospective employer will open up your blog and see that you’re rolling out posts consistently every week or every two weeks. This says a lot about you. First, it shows that you know your stuff, whether you actually do or not, you know, it makes it look as if, but more importantly, it shows that you commit yourself to something and stick to it. It shows that when you say something, those words have meaning.
Now in either scenario, what could amplify this effect even more is if you find a niche, you know, something you specialise in and something more specific for people to know you for. Maybe you could be that guy who knows React from the inside out, and even though another developer has had more time developing with React, because it’s your niche, you’ve probably read even deeper into the workings of React allowing you to perform all sorts of tricks that most other developers wouldn’t have even thought of.
But most importantly, people know you’re amazing with React. Just like that, you’ve become the big fish in the small pond, and makes you stand out even more.
Benefit 2: Discovering your interests
This sort of ties in with my last point from the previous benefit. Finding your niche is great for all the reasons I’ve just talked about, but the problem most developers will face is they don’t know what to specialise in.
Now as you talk more about your field, you explore more technologies in your area, you start to realise what you like and don’t like. I started my blog by talking about Firebase and while I still love it to this date, it’s no longer the thing I love most about Android Development. That goes to Architectural Patterns.
I also know what I don’t like in Android Development, those being XML drawables and Recycler Views. Trust me, I can never remember how to implement the simplest of these things. I gotta head to StackOverflow every time I want to create an XML drawable with rounded corners.
And you might go through the same kind of development. There might be things you think you like, but as you look into it more, or just look at other things, you might find that there are technologies out there that you simply enjoy more.
Or perhaps you already know your likes and dislikes all too well. In that case, starting your blog should be much easier.
Benefit 3: Learning
When you’re running your blog, you will have to commit to some sort of schedule. Usually, one post a week or every 2 weeks at the very least.
And you won’t always know what to blog about. There’s only so much you can pull from your own knowledge. Very quickly, you’ll get to the point where you have to do your own research, and that’s great.
One of the best ways to learn something and retain that knowledge is to put it into any form of teaching, and guess what, your blog is one of them.
Not only is it good for retention of that knowledge, but consider the mere fact that you forced yourself to learn new things that you wouldn’t have otherwise gone out to learn if you didn’t have to write a post about it. Very quickly, the extent of your knowledge expands massively.
And for this reason is why I’d say that this is arguably the greatest benefit of having a blog. More than the little extra credit I got from having a blog when I was looking for my current job, it was the all the learning I forced myself to do despite having college to worry about, that even made me qualified to be a mid-level developer in the first place.
Had some Maths homework to finish over the weekend? Nah, Nic can wait. I gotta write a blog post. Now what do employers want to see in an Android Developer this year? Ahh, Retrofit, let’s go for it.
If it weren’t for my blog, I would’ve been looking for a job without even knowing Retrofit, Android’s de facto way of making API calls, which is used in pretty much every single app ever. Do you know how detrimental that would have been?
So maybe this isn’t the first time you’ve considered starting a blog, and even now, the fact that you’re even watching video probably means that you still have doubts or excuses in the back of your head. Let’s go over a few of the common ones.
“I’m not experienced enough to be a blogger”.
Now you might be saying this because you think you’re not experienced as either a writer or a software developer. Let me tell you now, that does not matter. First, let’s talk about as a writer. Most of the successful bloggers out there did not start out as the most experienced in either of their fields. I myself was horrible when I was first starting out. I mean, have you seen some of my first articles. Sure, they’re content I guess, but not even close to the quality I’m able to write my posts at today. Quality takes time to learn, and the only way to get better is to experience doing it firsthand.
Now having the right experience as a software developer, well here’s the rule you have to follow. No matter how much or how little experience you have as a software developer, people can get value from what you have to say.
All you have to do to teach something is be one step ahead of other people. You don’t need to know the most about a topic to be in the right position to blog about it. You just need to be one step ahead of people who don’t know it or don’t know something about it.
What you may find is that your primary audience will be people who are closer to your skill level as you will naturally be talking in a language they would understand. If you’re a junior developer, you can talk about things simply enough for other juniors to understand. If you’re a senior, then you can be talking about the nitty-gritty stuff that seniors want to find out
But this doesn’t always have to be the case either. Because you’re blogging about a topic, chances are you’ve done some research into that topic, read the documentation from top to bottom, and picked out things that other more experienced devs wouldn’t have known about. A good example of this from my blog is my post on Managing Firebase Costs.
“I don’t know what to talk about”
Everyone gets writer’s block. The most experienced journalists, youtubers, everyone, it happens to the best of us. But when you haven’t talked about much yet to begin with, you literally have the world to talk about.
The trick here is to not overthink it. If you have a topic you want to talk about, go and write a blog post on it. Focus on what you want to talk about, and not what you think other people want, because chances are, the things you want to talk about are what others want to see from you.
As for what you can be writing about, there is no shortage of topics or discussions to be had. Once again, it helps if you found your niche, but if so or otherwise, there are a number of different types of posts you can create.
Tutorials, how-to’s, news roundups, cheat sheets, how you solved a particular problem, a multi-part series on a much bigger topic, book and product reviews, predictions about the future, product comparisons, even funny parody posts. The list is endless.
“I don’t have the time to commit to writing posts regularly”
Come on, really. You and I both know that’s the lamest excuse on the planet. You don’t need an Elon Musk level of commitment to keep a blog going. Just a few hours every week or every 2 weeks at the very least, depending on how you set your schedule.
Sure, you MIGHT have to sacrifice a little performance in other areas of your life. For example, I was still in college when I started my blog, and it goes without saying, I didn’t have the highest grades in college. The closer I was getting to end of college, the more intense it was getting, but the more I also decided to shift my focus towards my blog.
Sure, maybe I could have gotten higher grades in college if I devoted those hours every week solving math problems and studying about how black holes work, but in the end, my grades didn’t matter in the slightest. What did land me my job however, was my blog.
I do sincerely hope I’ve convinced you. The man who convinced me to start out as a blogger is John Sonmez from Simple Programmer. Much of what I’ve talked about in this video were stuff I learned from his own videos so I’ll link to his channel down below, but more importantly, he’s done a free blogging course that comes through your email which will tell you how to get started from setting up the technicalities of your website and blog, to figuring out how you can start dishing out articles as a blogger. It’s how I started as well so link to that in the description.
Disclaimer I’m not associated with John or Simple Programmer in any way, apart from being a massive fan of his work.
So that’s it for the video. If you enjoyed, give it a like and subscribe so I can get good gucci going on for my channel and I’ll see you in the next video.