This post is dedicated to all the "newbies" out there!
You probably saw the title and thought to yourself "I have nothing to share! Who would find any value in what I write?"
I thought the same thing
But I took a leap, wrote my first post right here on dev.to, and was actually surprised when someone liked it. Someone saved it to their Reading List. Someone even gave me a unicorn!!
More major than that though... Nobody told me I was stupid, or that what I wrote was of no value. I kept writing posts weekly and people started commenting, liking, and following me. People care what we have to say, even as newbies!
I'm writing this post today to give you some reasons why you can have the same experience and at the same time boost your learning, and potentially jump start your career. Also, I hope I can convince you to start a blog of your own.
Writing Can Increase Your Learning Potential and Boost Your Career
Writing publicly about a topic forces you to consider what you know from all kinds of different angles; these angles may be different depending on what kind of post you choose to write. Writing also gives you an excellent reason to practice new-to-you technologies or really dig down to hone your skills in a particular language or framework.
Tutorial-style posts force you to explain how to perform a set of potentially difficult steps in such a way that a person with less knowledge on the topic can follow them from start to finish. You must consider what requirements should be listed and whether any prerequisites should be written by you (or referred to in another tutorial) or simply be mentioned before you begin. Taking a higher-level topic and explaining it at a lower level requires your mind to create different - and stronger - connections and as such, your comprehension and vocabulary on the topic will increase. It demonstrates complete mastery of a subject when you can break it down into lay-man's terms for another person.
Technical articles, on the other hand, require deeper consideration than a tutorial because the audience will likely be more knowledgeable in the topic and seeking to learn something new from a reputable source. Research is a necessity to ensure you're writing about the latest state of the technology and that what you've written is based on truth and not an assumption made as you learned. These articles may be placed under more scrutiny as you develop your technical writing skills to maintain the integrity of online sources, but as a new developer you shouldn't let this sway you. People may comment with corrections - take these as their helping you learn and succeed, not as them trying to bring you down. Most of us are out there wanting to help each other improve!
There are many other kinds of blog posts that can be written, a few of which include "something cool I learned", personal experiences, book reviews, interviews, guest posts, or interesting observations.
The quality of your content matters, but the topic and post type doesn't usually hold as much weight. Whatever you choose to write, be sure to add a link to your blog on your LinkedIn account and maybe even mention it on your resume. Employers and technical recruiters are looking not only for competent programmers, but also for good communicators. Writing technical blog posts can demonstrate your skills in the field and tutorials/how-to posts will give them an idea of how you break down topics for others.
You may also notice over time that you've begun to build a bit of an online presence and network. People who work in similar languages will find the information you share valuable and consequently, you will likely find value in what they've written. It's become a connected world and any of these people could end up being your team member, manager, or even interviewer - sharing your thoughts in comments on their posts (and responding well to their comments on yours) is an excellent habit to build.
Finally, the most immediate and possibly most important benefit you'll see when you start writing regular posts (weekly or more frequent is best) is personal - you will likely notice an increase in self-confidence as you realize you do have something to share that is valuable to someone else. Your "I have nothing to share!" will evolve to "Whoa, this many people want to read more of what I've written?!" You will start watching for interesting topics to share each iteration, researching them, and spending time refining your thoughts before publishing. This will lead to levels of mastery that you could have never imagined.
So get out there and start writing! It doesn't need to be a long post. It doesn't need to be incredibly technical. Just write, and make it a regular habit. You can simply start with "Hello I'm _____, and this is my journey."
Top comments (34)
FTFY: "Developers should start a blog if they want to, and not blog if they have better things to do with their time".
Few people are good writers, and can engage an audience. If you want to write, do so, but otherwise don't worry about blogging. There really is nothing worse than a blog written because somebody feels like they should 'put something out there', and not because they're passionate and enthusiastic about actual writing.
And having done a lot of hiring for a large and prominent tech finance dept, I can tell you that not once has anyone been hired because of their blog, and nobody has ever been rejected because they don't have one. The same goes for having a github repo, if you were wondering. 😉
While you may not have seen it in your industry, I've seen a TON of cases where people have been hired for their blog.
I cannot recommend blogging enough as a career strategy, or at least as a tool in your career toolbox.
To be more accurate, it's not really about the blog itself. It's about showing initiative, expertise, and ability to communicate. That puts you miles ahead.
The blog doesn't have to be "good", it can be just a random collection of thoughts, and that's still a valuable and powerful addition to your online presence.
Well said, that's kind of the angle I was shooting for!
Indeed, well said! ☺️
"it can be just a random collection of thoughts" that describes me perfectly.
Disagree with this too (well, the last point). 😉
Having a bad blog is 1000 times worse than having no blog. If you can't write, don't. I haven't heard of people failing interviews because of a lack of OSS or blogging, but I've certainly seen CVs rejected after their blog was linked and the content deemed to have demonstrated that the person isn't great. The same goes for old blogs: if you haven't added to your site for years and all the content is about old tech that's no longer relevant, don't link it in your CV.
True, if someone has no love for writing they won't get much benefit out of it. But my personal experience has been that hiring managers (the two who became my bosses) said it was my technical communication and focus in soft skills that made them choose me over the other candidates.
My intention is to encourage those who may want to write, but fear they have nothing to share because they are not experts in the field. I imagined that people who aren't interested probably wouldn't even click this in the first place. ;)
True. Writing a blog certainly won't do any harm. I'm just cautious because there's this toxic myth in our industry that to be successful you have to have 6 OSS projects on the go, be contributing to another 20, writing at least one tech blog, engaging on twitter, and learning a bazillion new technologies in your evenings and weekends. 😁
The way to become a writer is to write, just as the way to become a programmer is to code. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Developers have a poor reputation for being able to write well and this is how to overcome it.
And there's no better place to start than here. For reasons I haven't yet been able to fathom, the readers of Dev.to posts are among the nicest you can hope to have. Even where criticism is given it's usually wrapped up in encouragement. I've only recently started to post and I'm amazed by the positive reactions I get. Although my articles tend to be somewhat longer than the average I haven't yet had a single TL;DR. So yes, keep it up.
I was amazed at the positive reactions I've received as well! Dev.to is one of the best online communities I've come across
Thanks, I created my own WordPress-based blog when still in the college after inspired by many great technical articles written by professional programmers. Recently, I have just graduated and worked for a local company for a few months and written blog in any free time.
So guys, if you are a Junior dev or college student, just do write blogs. You don't need to write about only technical, IT stuff, you can write whatever you want: life experience, lifestyle tips, opinion about surrounding events,...
If you run out of an idea to write, you can ask an author for translating his/her articles into English or your native language, you can put the original link in your one.
You don't need your blog to show off with recruiters, just practice writing skills because it helps you a lot in writing a document, technical guidelines, search skills (for explaining concepts in your blog) and learn something from searching stuff.
Thank you for reading my bad comment lol
Great comment! I love when people opt to write about their personal experiences and lifestyle tips as a portion of their technical blog. We are complex people with many aspects to our lives! Seeing the other layers of people is incredibly interesting.
Hi, thank you for this post, was really inspiring. I'm un the first year of Computer Science, and I started my blog to show and to reinforce my knowledge.
Any tip will be much apreciated: lautarolobo.xyz
Thank you for the comment! That's really exciting to be in your first year - get ready for an exciting and challenging road!
I think my biggest tip would be to write regularly to really see benefits. I keep myself on a weekly schedule and release a post every Friday, but it doesn't need to be that often. You could do once a month or however often suits you.
Also, don't be afraid to write things and keep them to yourself! Writing things out plays a big part in the learning process, especially if you have time to write it out by hand too.
And one last thing - don't take it too seriously! You're ultimately writing to help yourself learn and it shouldn't be miserable. I like to alternate technical and less-technical topics. One week I wrote about Rubber Duck Debugging and people showed me their ducks! :)
So glad you answered Rachel!
I have my next blog post already done, waiting for the date to be uploaded :D
I write a few ideas per week, my next topic is already there, and I hope to upload a new post every 15 days, I think is a realistic objective.
Also, I use that web page as a play ground! Adding Ruby here or there and working on tags and social buttons and so.
I'm heading to a Neural Networks workshop this Thursday, may be if I learn something new there I can write bout it, what do you think about writing about a talk, workshop, or event that you participate? I mean, you are writing about something that other people sayd, feels like a knowledge heist (?), do you think that is anything wrong in that?
Writing about experiences like meetups, talks, and conventions is a great topic for your blog! There's a very successful C++ podcast (cppcast) that has a large portion of their episodes based on the same thing. They talk about their favorite speakers, what they learned, and whatnot.
As for knowledge heist, as long as you aren't using someone's words as your own there's no fear of plageurism or stealing. Your goal is to learn and hopefully benefit someone else in the process (why you shared it), and sometimes the unique way you write something will make it click for someone else. If your article or a passage looks similar to someone else's, just be sure to give them credit. One of my posts is an update to another blogger's post from years before to account for changes in Visual Studio since then, and it's now become a six-part Salesforce series that I continue to build onto!
Happy writing, friend. I am excited to read your posts and especially look forward to anything you have to teach us about neural networks. I've always found that topic incredibly interesting!
I was always worrying that my English is not good enough since I'm not a native speaker or maybe that I don't understand the topic deep enough so I was always procrastinating writting blogs.
It's been 3 years since I have started my dev career and 2 days ago I finally got to write my first blog post.
I was so surprised that people actually care about what I write and they even asked for the real life example so I promised them that I will explain it on my next coming blogpost.
So I totally agree with what you said :)
Sometimes language barriers can be hard, but with the internet everything is so diverse now that I think everyone's grown more understanding about it. A bonus for you - not only will your technical skills improve as you write, your mastery of English will too!
Also if you're really concerned about something coming out correctly, I bet you could find someone who would be willing to help if you put out a call for a proof reader, for whole articles or just for portions of writing.
Glad you finally started blogging, I look forward to reading your work!
I'm a newbie and I blog primarily for three reasons. Firstly, it keeps me honest; picking a subject that you think you know creates an impetus to brush up lest you like to look foolish. The second, someone is reading what you wrote and it may be that low-hanging branch over that pit of quicksand. I know that's melodramatic but a lot of people are overwhelmed by FOMO (fear of missing out) and think they have to learn all the things, which is not remotely feasible. Lastly, it does help my career stuff but not just in the way highlighted. Your blogging and research lead to deeper knowledge of the things you're using so when you are asked about it on an interview, you have a lot to say and it's accurate.
I would also like to add writing is a form of communication and engineers are notoriously poor communicators and we need all the practice we can get.
Absolutely Kevin! I love to hear from other newbies who have had success with writing, and you make a good point about interviewing well thanks to the research done on a topic.
I think that "low hanging branch" was the main reason I started writing blogs even though I thought I wasn't ready... I came across some articles that were simple, but were exactly what I needed to solve my problem, and I wanted to give back in some way!
Such an awesome post! I thought the exact same thing as a web dev newbie, and when I got started blogging on Medium, it really did feel like no one was paying attention. Then I came here and everyone was so supportive! My first post somehow blew up and I got some great comments about even better ways to use the tool I was explaining. Bottom line: if you ever get excited about something you're doing, just shout it from the rooftops, especially here :)
Like many things, the best way to get better is to practice. Reading other blogs, learning how to write and actually doing it can surely only help you improve.
Showing the initiative is a plus point.
Showing your developing technical knowledge is another.
Showing your improving writing and communication skills is a final win - and in fact blogging is likely the only way you can really demonstrate this skill to potential employers.
I wrote my journey type of first blog post yesterday. Planning on continuing to write more. I have a few drafts saved with ideas and what to write about in each.
Even though i think they are more on the side of personal blogging versus a technical blog im still going to post them to the dev community.
One is on motivation, one on my experience with the flow state & one about my plans to start a side business 2 weeks in my first dev job.
Then hopefully soon I'll write something about MVVM which im using at work. Especially since it was really confusing to me in the beginning.
Thanks for the great article, very helpful!
That is excellent! Some of my posts have been more personal as well, I don't see any issue with that. Your ideas sound great, especially the one about starting a side business! I look forward to reading them!
Thanks... Will take a step towards it
I cannot agree more and I hope this post gets a lot of views. It's a valuable message.
Writing online is an extremely powerful move, both for your career and for your own personal development.
Thank you! It has certainly served me well so far, and I'm hoping to inspire others to hopefully have the same success :)
I like your post!!
I have a blog where I write posts about my learning journey and, despite the fact I'm not great at writing (never been, not even in my native language which is Italian), I find it helpful because when you are explaining something that you have done at the same time you are reinforcing your understanding.
Thank you for sharing your personal experience !!!
Thank you! I think, as long as you keep practicing - whatever language you do it in - you'll continue to improve! And as long as it helps you reinforce your understanding and learn, that doesn't even matter anyways. Keep up the great work! :)
Hi Rachel, thank you so much for this inspiring post!
The part about writing as a way to hone my skills and learning new technologies sounds like a really good idea!
Even more than that, what really stood out to me is when you mention "People care what we have to say, even as newbies!" This really makes me what to stop being afraid, stop overthinking and just start writing! :)
This an awesome post, I really encourage developers to start their own technical blog due to the communication advantage of blogging regularly.
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