In today’s post, I’m going to write about how I’ve used this website to help me make more money. A few years’ ago, I was working on some very new and not widely used CMS product that had very bad documentation and virtually no information existed on-line about it. At the time, I recently launched a version of this website, a very one page static HTML site that had the outline of my CV on it. I thought it would be useful (mainly for myself) to write a few tutorials that covered how to set-up, configure and troubleshoot some common issues I had with this CMS, so I upgraded my site so to use a popular blogging platform, brought a theme and started tippy tapping away.
Over a period of years, I wrote more and more tutorials. As I work with a variety of technologies, I also started writing articles on different CMS platforms, general .NET technologies and packages. Since starting, my yearly visitors have doubled every year. Currently, this site receives around 7,000 unique viewers a month and there doesn’t seem to be any signs yet of traffic dipping any time soon.
When I started writing articles for this blog, I thought of it as a fun hobby to kill some time at work. After a few years of trying it out, I now think of blogging as a way to open doors and help you generate more income. In this tutorial, I’m going to cover 5 reasons you should consider starting your own blog.
1. Demonstrate Your Passion, Skills, and Expertise
I guess this was my main motivation when I started writing this blog. As a contractor, I usually have to find 2-4 contracts a year. This means I have to interview and compete to get work a lot more than a permanent position. As contracting pays a high salary, more often than not you will end up competing against the elite in a field (definitely not always, though!).
If I had to interview with other candidates that were equally skilled, I wanted a selling point that I could leverage to help me increase the odds of getting an offer. When negotiating over a day rate, the more offers you can get at the same time gives you a lot more leverage in terms of reconciliation and perks.
Having an online space gives you a platform to present your interests, skills and knowledge to the world. As a software developer, being able to demonstrate this in a job interview is probably the number one thing anyone can do to give them an edge over 70% of other applicants.
This is only my opinion, but I think a lot of developers don’t think they know enough, or are skilled enough to write things other people might read. When I started out, I didn’t think I was an ‘expert’ in anything, I just wrote stuff I liked. Roll on a few years and I was awarded an Episerver EMVP award for my contribution towards Episerver.
When I started writing about Episerver, I definitely had that little voice at the back of my head that said ‘There are other people out there who know a lot more about tech than me, why would anyone listen to me’. I think those sorts of feelings are pretty natural but it’s completely not true.
If you are reading this and you are struggling to think about what to write about, start by just writing about the things you need to solve at work. If you have a problem that you can’t find an answer online for, or you are learning a brand new programming language, package or bit of software, you can write about it.
So, we’ve talked about the benefits of demonstrating your passion, skill, and expertise but how does that make you cash money? If you have a blog, you are more likely to be found by future employers and recruiters. Weekly, I get 10-20 recruiter and employers email me about work and a large portion of that has come from Google searches. When people can see that you have some passion in your field and that you are willing to put a little bit more effort in than your peers, outside of the normal 9-5, you are well on the way to becoming more successful. So, a blog might not guarantee to make a certain amount of money directly, but, indirectly, as a software developer, I can say first hand that I’ve had a lot more opportunities that I would never have had without one.
2. Learn new Technologies and Soft Skills
Since I started writing tutorials and guides on programming, I have learned a lot more than I ever would have from just sitting back and letting fate decide what my skillset will look like. I wanted to get into Umbraco development, so I downloaded it and wrote some post about it. Six months later I applied for some Umbraco jobs with my only references as my blog posts and in the space of a week, I got offered two Umbraco contracts. One of which I’m currently working on at the time of writing this.
As a software developer, the tools and technologies we use change quicker than any other profession. To be good at your job and to make sure that your skills are relevant in the marketplace, writing about new technologies that are popular and have marketable skills, will keep you one step ahead of the competition.
I have seen a number of the developers over the years, who might stay at company for 6 years and while they are there, maintain the company’s platform, developed in an aging technology x. After a certain period of time, people get bored and change jobs, but now as technology x is so obsolete, that developer struggles to get a job offer and takes the first offer regardless of the salary, simply because the rest of the world has more relevant marketable skills.
Learning a new technology by writing articles about it on your blog, means you will have a more rounded CV and get classed as a better ‘full-stack’ developer. You’ll be able to apply for a wider range of jobs. To harp on an old point, the more offers you get at the same time, the higher your salary will be.
3. Building A Better Network
As a contractor, I’ve had many different roles over the years, sometimes I’ve helped big teams, other times I’ve worked as the only technical person in the company. A lot of my work has come through recommendations from people I know. These, coincidently, in my experience, have usually been the better ones as well. When you work on your own, it’s really hard to network. You might not think of blogging as a way to build your network, however, personally it’s definitely helped me connect with more developers, recruiters and employers.
When you write about technology and people read your posts, people will ask questions, add suggestions or comment with their opinions. When I’ve been to the Episerver meet-up, I always have people come up to me and introduce themselves as readers of my blog.
Just having a blog and writing opens up magical doors that allow you to talk to all kinds of people. Those new connections might one day be a potential employer, the person you help now might recommend you for a job later down the road. The more you can help people, the more likely it is you’ll advance in your career.
4. Get a deeper understanding by Teaching
I think everyone can admit to Google programming. Get a problem, find a stack overflow answer. Copy it blindly into your project, get your feature working, rinse and repeat. This process is great for getting some work down quickly now, but, in the long run, you really are cheating yourself. The only way to get a deep knowledge about something is to spend time thinking about it, discussing it and processing it.
When you sit down and write a blog post, you need to think more about a problem. You need to understand the topic in details, you need to have good references and in most cases you need to provide a code sample (that other people will look at!).
Writing regular posts about the problems you face at your work, will make you learn more and have a deeper understanding about your job. If you do this in your job, then after a while you will slowly gain more in-depth knowledge than your other peers. In my experience, having in-depth knowledge makes you more valuable and indispensable to a company. You end up being in a better position to negotiate a salary increase, or, you may get your contract renewed.
5. A Blog Can Turn Into A Business!
I’m definitely not at this level yet and neither is this site. I don’t think you should look to get into blogging if you want to make sure quick short term cash. If you look at bloggers like Pat Flynn, or other famous bloggers, some people are making mega money from blogging. In reality, you might not make a living from a blog but you might be able to make something after a while.
If you spend consistent time every day/week on something you create for yourself, then consequently you are also creating a product/brand that has some form of value. If your platform ever reaches the tipping point where it can generate you value in itself, you then have a monthly influx of visitors and you have a platform to market them courses, ebooks, products or whatever else you can think of to try and get money from them.
In today’s guide, I’ve talked about the advantages of blogging. There are a ton of resources and get quick rich scam sites that make it seem like if you start a blog today you will make money from it. From what I’ve found, having a blog does make you indirect money but until you get a good amount of traffic every month you won’t make the money you might think. For most of us though, the indirect routes can lead to thousands and thousnds of pounds over the course of your career, so it is something I highly recommend you think about.