I was just reading Andrew Chen’s latest posting, where he distills many of the things he’s learned from blogging over a decade.
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This reminded me that I’ve been blogging that long as well. And to be sure it has brought great benefits. In the way that public speaking gives you visibility, but also forces you to communicate better, form your voice, and so on.
All the great things you gain by talking to other people, and getting into the conversation.
1. Understand your audience
I struggled with this when I first started blogging. As any engineer might approach things, I thought I should publish technical material. What better way to show what I know. And further how I can help a customer.
What I didn’t realize is that all of your readers aren’t technical. So it goes a long way if you can appeal to a broader audience.
I found that my readers fell into a few big categories.
1. Fellow engineers & peers
2. Hiring managers & startup CTOs
3. Recruiters & other publishers
This really helped me divide up the types of content I would write, some directed towards each of the different audiences.
2. Tell your story
I’ve written often about why I wrote the book on Oracle. In it I outlined a long arc of datacenter evolution which started with the maturity of Linux, and today provides the bedrock of the cloud that is Amazon Web Services among others.
What this also allowed me to do is tell my own history.
Related: 5 reasons devops should blog
3. Form your voice
Forming your voice is different than speaking to specific audiences. It’s about having opinions & getting into the line of fire. Being passionate about a subject, you’re sure to care & sit on one side or the other of a particular argument.
For example I argued the Android ecosystem was broken. Although Google has fixed some of these problems, many remain as a symptom of the platform itself.
I also argued with Fred Wilson’s estimation of Apple being overvalued. At the time in May 2014 the price was at $85. Now it sits comfortably at $177.
4. Put yourself out there
Putting yourself out there isn’t easy. You’ll be open to criticism. And sometimes you’ll be wrong. But by challenging yourself in this way you’ll grow too. And prospects will notice this. More than engineering might, and power at the keyboard, your perspective of what’s happening in computing generally, and what is on the horizon is invaluable to customers.
5. Learn & Share
Writing howtos is a great challenge too. By forcing yourself to teach something, you in turn learn the material better. You become better at executing, and formulating solutions.
As you share knowledge, you’ll also learn from others. As the disqus.com comments on my site can attest. Sure you get much of this same value from having an active account on Reddit.com, but your own real estate carries even more weight for your personal brand.
Related: Why you should always be publishing