From the mind of Sarah...
Why I Do This: About My Blog
August 05, 2019
Recently, my blog came up in a conversation, and the person with whom I was speaking asked me a bit more about my blog. During the course of the conversation, I realize that I don't really talk much about why I blog, and I figured it was about time I changed that.
How I Got Started Blogging
Let's start off by saying that as much as I love sharing my thoughts on the internet (hello LiveJournal, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and every other platform where I've overshared parts of my life), blogging as a developer was not originally my idea. During the course of my time at Fullstack Academy of Code, we were encouraged to become active members of the developer community, and one way that we were encouraged to get our names out there is by blogging.
For that first blog post, we were told to write a bit about ourselves and our journey to Fullstack. I tried to be very organic about that post and write it in the way I would tell the story to a new friend. The career success counselor who was working with our cohort was impressed by my writing, and I eventually made the decision to post that blog to Medium and share myself with the world.
My initial plan was to post somewhat regularly, but not on any schedule. But with the chaos of a coding bootcamp (and especially because I missed a lot of days of class for holidays and had a lot of catching up to do), I didn't really have the time. During our review week, the week between the workshop and project portions of the bootcamp, I found the time to write another post, and from then on I tried to post once a week or so.
As I went through my job search and started my first job, I continued posting weekly. But eventually I started losing interest and had a hard time finding the time to blog. I'd still post new blogs occasionally, but mostly I'd share older posts or just not pay attention to my blog at all. At the very end of 2018, I was considering making a change in my job, and I decided that as part of preparing for that, I wanted to start blogging again. And I've been pretty good at keeping up with it since then.
The General Theme of My Blog
My blog is very different than a lot of developer blogs because it's not particularly a technical blog. I will occasionally post something technical, but for the most part, I blog about my life as a developer. I post about the things I experience in my career, whether that's interactions with others at work, job searching, attending an event, or even learning some new tech. When I have a technical "win" or learn something that I feel is very important, I blog about that, but most of my blogs are non-technical and focus more on my life experiences. I process my thoughts by writing, and writing about my experiences helps me process those experiences and learn from them.
Sometimes I wonder whether I should be focusing more on technical content and less on life experiences. But at the end of the day, I see this blog as an overall picture of my experience as a developer, and being a developer is about a lot more than just being able to write code.
And then there's the other thing ... right now I'm not feeling totally confident in my technical skills. While I like to think that the reason this job search has taken so long is because the universe is trying to find me the right job, not just a job, but it's hard to feel confident in my technical skills when companies don't seem interested in adding my skills to their engineering team. Honestly, I probably should be writing more technical posts just to remind myself that I do still have the technical chops, but right now I feel like I have more non-technical thoughts to process.
That said ... I do sometimes have technical content that I want to share, but sometimes I'd rather share it right away than wait for my regular blogging schedule. Sometimes I'll post a "bonus" blog not on my regular schedule, but this week I decided to try something else - I posted my technical blog (about how I built a React app in less than an hour) exclusively on dev.to.
How I Choose Each Week's Topic
One of the hardest parts of maintaining a regular blog schedule is finding something to write about each week. Sometimes (like this week), a topic jumps out at me from an experience or conversation I had. Other weeks I have to spend a little more time thinking about it, but I do eventually find something recent to write about.
Some weeks nothing happens to inspire my blog. In weeks like that, I tend to look back at recent blogs to see if there's anything I want to follow up on. If not, I do tend to have a few topics that have no particular relevance to current events, but I do eventually want to write about. I also sometimes have partially written blogs waiting in my drafts (for example, there's a blog about self-care during a difficult job search that will be finished eventually), and if I really have no other ideas, I'll pull out one of these drafts and finish the post. I do, however, prefer to save those partially-written posts for weeks when I'm very busy and have less time to dedicate to writing a new post from scratch.
What Blogging Does For Me
The primary reason why I blog is for myself - my blogs are only worth the time I invest if I gain something from it. At Fullstack, we were encouraged to blog to gain visibility. But for me, that's not what I've found fulfilling in my blogging. I have always processed my thoughts by writing them out, and I find that writing blogs about the things I'm experiencing and learning really helps me process everything and figure out what I can take from these experiences into the future.
I also really enjoy writing in general (which is why I'd love to get a job at a company that really emphasizes writing good documentation), and blogging gives me an opportunity to do something I love (write) without taking me too far from my dev focus.
What I Think My Blogs Can Do For Others
My blog posts aren't entirely for me - if they were, I'd just save them somewhere on my computer and not share them on the internet. While I write for myself, I share my blogs because I do believe that others can benefit from reading about my experience.
I know that there are other people out there experiencing similar things to what I experience, and I hope that reading my blogs can help these people better process and learn from their situations. At the very least, I want people to see that all experiences are valid, and just because you don't see or experience something the way others do, that doesn't make your experience any less valid or less important.
I also hope that by sharing so much of myself, my experiences, and my knowledge, I can encourage others to share what matters to them - whether that's their experiences or their technical knowledge or a mixture of both. If someone tells me that my blogging helped inspire or encourage them to share their own experiences, that transforms my day and makes me feel like I truly have accomplished something.
Do I Think Others Should Blog?
The final topic I want to address is whether or not I feel that others should blog. The simple answer is: it depends on the person.
Some people benefit a lot from blogging. If you feel that you have something to share that can make the dev world (or your world) better, then write a blog post. If you think a blog is a great place to share your technical knowledge in one place so that you can come back and look at it again when you need more guidance or need to remember it, write that awesome technical blog post. If sharing your skills through blog posts helps you show the world what an amazing dev you are, share those skills!
If writing blog posts is something you absolutely dread doing, but "know" you need to do to be successful ... don't do it. You don't need to blog to be successful. You don't need to blog to be visible. There are so many ways to share your skills and make yourself known to other developers - find the ones that work best for you. Blogging doesn't have to be one of those things.
The reasons I blog are probably completely different from the reasons some other people blog. And that's okay. A blog is only as good as the value it gives the writer, and if you don't find value in writing a blog, it doesn't matter how many people enjoy reading it, it's just not worth the trouble. If you want to blog, go for it. Feel free to drop the link to your blog in the comments or shoot me a DM on twitter. But if you're not into blogging, that's okay too. It's not for everyone. Blogging should be a joy, not a burden.
As for me ... I'll just be here writing my blogs every week, sharing the things I experience and the things I learn. If people enjoy reading my blog, that's awesome, but if I only end up blogging for myself, that's okay too. I'll keep blogging as long as I feel that there is value in writing.