This has come up several times in the past few weeks in talking with colleagues. So, per my rule, I’m writing a blog post about it. One of my rules is: if I’ve been asked for information or my opinion on something more than a few times, I’ll write it down!
Now, I’ve talked about professional development before, and even on this topic. However, I think I can simplify this concept. Here are two aspects you should consider, if you are a professional. What I’m saying here is that if you are a professional that is more than 2 years out of school, you should definitely keep a blog for several reasons…
Transition from being a consumer, to being a provider
Early in our careers, we need help learning. We “consume” information. We search on StackOverflow, we find blog posts, we watch YouTube videos, we read books, etc. We consume, consume, consume from “providers” – for our own selfish goals! Haha, I don’t mean that you/we are bad for doing this, but I’m just pointing out that it’s all very one-sided. We take, take, take and don’t ever give anything back. This is because we are still learning. That does not mean however, that we don’t already know some very valuable things. These are things that could help others which we are NOT sharing!
You now know more than someone in college. So, start being a “provider” of information to them, at the very least. If you are older than 30, then it’s just downright selfish for you to hoard all of the information you have in your head! 🙂 Here’s another way to think about this:
If you are 25 years old…
If you are 38 years old…
If you are 55 years old…
Throughout your entire career, there will always be people more advanced than you, and there will be people less-skilled than you. So, instead of just consuming from those higher than you, ALSO start paying it forward to the people below you.
If you are more than a year or two out of college, I am saying to you – it’s time to start giving back.
The “But I’m not an expert!” excuse:
I hear this one a lot. Everyone downplays their abilities and skills, mainly because from their perspective, all the things they know, are now mundane to them. But to other people, that knowledge is not!
Secondly, who on the internet IS an expert? I certainly am not. However, if I go through the process of learning something which can save someone else some time, why not share it?
Which leads me to the main point of this post – WHY?!
6 Main reasons for keeping a blog:
For me, there are several very beneficial reasons for keeping a blog:
- External Brain: It’s a place to write down notes to yourself. It’s a place where you can reach from any computer, phone, or tablet. Always forget the syntax of that one command? Make a blog post and it will always be available to you.
- Don’t Repeat Yourself: If you are in a service or mentor role where you provide support to others, you will find that you are asked the same question over and over. I love helping people, but this is not a good use of my time. Instead, I try to write a blog post covering every detail about that issue. Then, when the next person asks, I say “I wrote a blog post about it here, take a look, and if you have any questions, just let me know”. If I did a good job on the post, they come back and say “Thanks, that’s what I needed!”
- Way Better Than A Resume: when I look through a stack of resumes, they all look the same. When I see a resume that has a URL of a blog? I stop immediately and go check it out. Seeing what someone has done over the past few years, seeing how they communicate, etc – will tell me 1000x more than a resume ever will. So, if/when you are looking to make a career change, the blog you’ve been keeping for the past couple of years can (and should) be your biggest asset. It can (and should) be one of the things that sets you apart from the rest of the stack of resumes!
- Opportunities: I’ve gotten unsolicited free swag for writing a positive article/post on products. I’ve received licenses for software, for simply doing a product review. I’ve networked with many people too who have contacted me through my blog.
- Monetization: If you set up your own blog, you can add advertisements to it (like you see in this blog post). If your site eventually gets enough traffic, this can turn into some extra money.
- Oh, and you might help random people on the internet: the first thing people think of when writing a blog, is this reason. However, this is really a nice-to-have, and need not be your main reason for keeping a blog. I mean, if your content is useful, that’s great! But if it’s information that others simply don’t need – it almost doesn’t matter, because it’s still useful for most of the other reasons above!
The bottom line here is, if you are a professional – you really should have a blog. Start using it as your external brain. Start showing off what you are working on, what you are reading, or what problems you’ve recently solved. Start giving back to the community from which you’ve taken so much! 🙂
Seriously, I hope you will consider it. We will all be the better of for it. Especially you people that are 10+ years into your career, you have learned a remarkable amount of information, it would be great if you shared it!