I get asked frequently by fellow programmers why I started writing online and if they should do the same. Let me tell you one thing right from the start: Yes, you should!
Writing as a programmer has a lot of benefits like additional income, personal development, increased reputation, and more. You don’t need to write 10,000 words every month. You don’t even have to write every day. And you definitely don’t need a background in writing or some hidden talent! You just need a reason for writing, and that’s what this article is about.
By starting to write online about what you do, you give other people the chance to get to know you and what skills you possess. It’s an excellent way of self-marketing and constantly leads to new opportunities — especially job-wise.
You don’t even need your own blog for this. You can use social media like Twitter or LinkedIn or one of the awesome platforms like Dev.to to share your work.
Another great reason to start writing as a programmer is with the intention of helping others. The demand for skilled developers is still high around the world, but access to learning material and money to buy it are definitely not.
By creating content in the form of blog posts, tutorials, or ebooks, you can help other people discover and learn new things and improve their skills.
It is totally up to you whether you want to charge for it or not, but especially in the beginning, I would recommend creating something for free. Not only is it going to help you become a better writer, but it’s a good way to build up a reputation, it’s fun, and helping others is always a great form of motivation.
This is actually the reason why I started writing online. I wanted to do it for myself — to share my thoughts and get feedback on them. But oftentimes, writing has some sort of therapeutic effect on me. My mind is always full of ideas and thoughts, and writing them down really helps me in many situations.
Don’t be afraid to share failure and things you regret but learned from. Life is not always sunny and there will always be people trying to drag others down. Even more so online, but don’t let them discourage you because when you write, you write for yourself!
Another valid reason for writing online is to gain public attention — whether for yourself, your product, or your company. A lot of people certainly write in the hope of becoming famous. And platforms like Twitter, Instagram, etc. support this with their clap and like systems. These small rewards can really be addictive and also dangerous.
I think it’s OK to write for the rush, but there are definitely better reasons for writing. I believe that if you start writing without looking at those likes too much, it will not only be less stressful to write, but it will pay off in the long term even more.
You also shouldn’t try to copy others too much. It’s fine to get inspiration, but in the end, you should find your own way of writing.
Your writing can generate a substantial amount of (side) income. I’ve managed to generate several thousand dollars each month writing on Medium about programming and tech:
But writing for money is an art in itself, in my opinion. It needs a special focus. The focus on making money. If you want to maximize your ROI, you need to align everything you write towards that goal. Things like reputation or education are just side effects — not the main purpose.
When writing for money, you need to make sure that your articles are constantly read by a lot of people. And I mean lots and lots of them. At least on Medium, you need high exposure of your articles but also interesting content because the time each person spends reading your articles is an important factor for the algorithm that determines your payouts. Medium publications are a great way to increase the reach of your articles, so you should try to get accepted as an author for at least one major publication!
Another option to get paid as a writer is applying for paid writer programs offered by internet businesses. Those are going to pay you a fixed amount, often between $100-$500 for one article.
Focusing on money and ROI is not so important if you choose a paid writer program. Your focus should rather be on meeting the criteria of the program in question.
There are many good reasons to start writing online. Some require a special focus for you to be successful and almost all of them benefit from each other.
But the best advice I can give you is to just start writing. Just do it, for whatever reason. Not tomorrow but today!