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How Blogging Changed My Programming Career

 
Concurrency and parallelism in Ruby is represented by threads Photo by James Pond on Unsplash


This is my 50th post published on this blog. To celebrate, I’ll go all meta and describe the ins and outs of my “blogger’s career”. Read on if you ever wanted to start writing but never got around to actually hitting the publish button. This post aims to encourage you that blogging can be loads of fun and open up a whole range of opportunities for your career.

Your best online portfolio

I’ve started blogging when I failed to score the “dream” job. I’ve decided to increase my future chances by appearing more professional as an author of a technical blog. My first posts were answers to questions that kept popping up during interviews.

I know that some companies, e.g., software houses, forbid their employees to share details about clients that they’ve worked for. It means that after spending a couple of years in the software house, you could have not much to show to score a better job. A collection of technical blog posts could be your ticket to a more senior/lead/principal position.

The value of being wrong on the internet

Working on a blog post allows you to investigate different technical topics deeper than you would otherwise. There’s no better way to learn something than to try to explain it to random strangers from the internet. I often setup throwaway projects, submit open-source PRs, and read up on eBooks when doing the research for my posts.

I send most of my posts for proofreading to friends before publication. They usually catch most of the errors, but it’s not a tragedy even if they don’t.

If you publish a technical post and someone points out your error, you’ve just learned something new. I regularly improve my posts based on comments from social platforms. For me, especially Reddit is a great source of valuable comments. By publishing online, you can easily trigger internet experts to share their wisdom with you.

Build it on your own ground

I think it’s critical to publish your content on the platform that you own. For the first one or two posts, you could use something like Medium. Once you decide you enjoy the process of blogging, then migrating to your custom domain and server is the only reasonable choice.

I’d recommend registering a domain that’s somewhat related to your real name. Fancy brands and pseudonyms come and go, and we’re talking a long game here.

Just please, please don’t stay on Medium! It’s terrible for your personal brand and SEO. Regularly publishing there is a wasted effort. Check out this blog post for more info about why.

There are many cases of arbitrary censorship on social media nowadays. If you publish on a platform that you don’t control, you risk losing the results of your hard work for whatever strange reason. It’s significantly less probable to lose your domain, but you still could get banned by Google and lose all organic traffic.

The only resource that no IT giant could take away from you is a mailing list. Unfortunately, I’m not an expert on building one. I’ve only managed to gather a couple of hundred subscribers in over three years.

Jump-start any new project

I quit my full-time job half a year ago. I’ve since been paying my bills from the sponsorship of this blog and profit from Abot for Slack. Having those two sources of base “passive” income allowed me to take a step towards working as a consultant instead of a developer. Check out this excellent book by Jonathan Start for more info about the difference between the two.

I’m pretty sure that if it wasn’t for the viralish blog post my Slack bot would have never taken off. Based on the comments it received, I’ve refined the app’s features and business model to a much more profitable format.

Currently, the primary commercial purpose of this blog is to serve as a content-marketing platform to advertise my Rails performance and security audits. It has been slowly picking up speed, and if this keeps up, I might not have to come back to working 9 to 5 anytime soon. Currently, my Rails audit adverts on this blog receive clicks every single day. I’d have to spend significant $$$ on Google Ads to generate similar paid traffic.

This domain also allows me to keep the SEO gods happy by backlinking to my other projects and passing some of its authority.

What I’m trying to say is that a domain getting steady organic visitors is an invaluable resource. It allows you to pour traffic towards any future project that you might come up with. When you start writing, you won’t know the ultimate purpose of your blog. The possibilities are kind of endless.

Summary

Gradually growing your own place on the internet could be the single best investment in your future career. Just do it a single step at a time. When I published my first post three years ago, I never thought blogging would become a significant part of my everyday work and income. Or that I’d ever reach 50th blog post and keep going.




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