Blogging has been a labor of love for me for a little over five years now. I started a blog to get my own ideas written down, to document my own experiences with technology and to try to give back to an industry who had helped me improve my own skills. But blogging hasn’t been an easy thing all of the time and often comes with challenges. If you’re new to blogging and thinking about getting started, this post may help you figure out how you want to blog and if you’re an experienced blogger, I expect that you can relate to this post.
Before talking about some challenges, I wanted to reiterate that blogging does come with some perks.
- Added Skills – There are soft skills that blogging has helped me with such as vocabulary, grammar and getting used to explaining things through pictures. Maybe for you grammar police out there, it still looks like I can’t write a coherent sentence, but imagine how bad of a writer I’d be if I didn’t write as often. My day job benefits from these skills since I write designs and documentation for customers and must articulate points in much the same way. In addition to this, I’m diving into technologies more deeply than I might normally, because I’m expecting to have to explain it in a post later to someone else. Being able to explain how to, or how should you, do something takes a deeper level of knowledge so this is a benefit.
- Networking – I’ve met a lot of great people because of my blogging. Being introduced to the Tech Field Day team has opened many doors, and just being involved in social media has been amazing. If it weren’t for my blog, I don’t know how involved I would have gotten in social media, but now that I am, I touch base with a lot of fellow bloggers, or people I’ve met at conferences. Blogging can open some doors for you if you’re looking for work and this point is not lost on me.
- Community Awards – Vendor programs such as VMware vExperts, Cisco Champions or Microsoft MVPs, is a nice perk if you routinely cover solutions in those ecosystems. While this isn’t a reason to blog, it is a nice thing to be acknowledged from a vendor and get access to licensing, or new products ahead of the rest of the pack.
Balancing the Blogging Difficulties
It’s not all sunshine and cake by the ocean though. There are plenty of reasons that people don’t blog.
- Time Away From Family – I have a great family that knows the importance of blogging for an outlet and as a benefit to my career. But writing a blog, researching technologies, and going to community events can put a real strain on relationships as well. It’s one thing to have a demanding job, but an entirely other thing to spend additional time writing a blog. I think I’ve failed in regards to this balance in the past by spending too much time blogging and not enough time ensuring that my personal responsibilities are met.
- Fear of Criticism – If you want to blog, you have to write things. I know this is a very profound statement, but you have to lay out what knowledge you have on the webpage for everyone to see. This can be a very intimidating prospect for new bloggers. What if I write something that’s inaccurate? What if I write something and people realize how little I know? What if people make mean comments about a post I worked hard writing? Well, all of these things can happen. You have to find that right balance about what you want to write about and what level of criticism you’re willing to take. I will tell you that the criticism can be very humbling at times, but if used correctly can also make you better at your job.
- Employer Conflicts – This will certainly be different for every employer. Does your company have a blog that they expect you to write for? If they do, how do you know what content goes on your blog vs the companies blog? If you’re writing up some cool new code or a runbook, what content is yours to use and what could be considered intellectual property by your employer. These are sometimes tough decisions that need to be dealt with. If you’ve already got an established blog, I’d recommend having some discussions with your employer when you interview for a new position to get this straightened out going in.
Why do it?
For me, its a way to document my training activity and give me a reference point for where I’m at technically. I can’t list all of the times I’ve gone to do something and found my own blog as a great technical resource to remind me how things were done and why I did them. Maybe this is a selfish reason but its one of the big ones. The other reason blogging is important to me is out of a sense of duty. When I was a Systems Administrator, I spent a lot of time on blogs figuring out how to do stuff for work. They were lighthearted, more direct, versions of technical documentation where the operator would tell you what really worked vs what should have worked. Being able to provide this type of resource to other Systems Administrators seems like something I owe to the community.
During my career, I’ve had different job roles ranging from level 1 technical support up to being a Senior Solutions Architect for a consulting company. My focus has changed and so have the types of blogs I’ve read. When I was starting with vSphere I read yellow-bricks.com and frankdenneman.nl. Later I found Wahlnetwork.com and virtuallyghetto.com to be the most useful to me. And now Keith Townsend’s linkedin posts or CTOAdvisor posts are the most relevant to me personally. I’d like to thank these bloggers and more for taking the risks and balancing the difficulties for the betterment of the community, regardless of the reasons they decided to start blogging. Thank you.
If you have bloggers that you appreciate, you still have an opportunity to go vote for them at vsphere-land.com. Go show them your appreciation.