Enhance your career by blogging!

When I started my blog two years ago, I never would have thought how much it would help my career.  I can’t stress enough the importance of blogging to enhance your career.  And it’s a lot easier to do than you think.  I hope this blog post will encourage you to start!

Here are the reasons I blog:

  • I can document solutions I encounter for future use.  Sort of my own personal Google
  • It helps to improve my writing skills
  • I learn new technology by blogging about it.  The best way to learn is by teaching, especially when I don’t know enough about a topic
  • To raise my personal brand
  • It’s fun!
  • To prove to clients I know my stuff (credibility)
  • I enjoy sharing knowledge
  • It helps me to remember the things I blog about better because I am researching it and writing it
  • It’s a way for recruiters to find you
  • It’s a way to become “known” in the BI community
  • It’s a big plus if you are trying to become a SQL Server MVP
  • It helps as a consultant when I can use my blog as a solution to a customer’s problem
  • I use it as a replacement for client documentation.  They want you to document a solution, a work-around, etc.  Don’t just write-up something in an email or Word doc…blog it!

Creating a blog is real easy.  It took me only one afternoon to learn how to blog and to post my first one.  I use the web hosting company BlueHost (cost is $5/month), but you can find others at WordPress.org.  You can also use WordPress.com for free, but by using a web hosting company you get more WordPress features (more control of your site, use of more plug-ins).  For a comparison see WordPress.com and WordPress.org, WordPress.org vs WordPress.com – Which One Should I Use?, WordPress.com or WordPress.org? Which One’s Right for You?, and WordPress.com Or WordPress.Org…That Is The Question!

Note you can use your own domain name (i.e. www.jamesserra.com) when using a web hosting company as well as with WordPress.com (For $13/year…see Add a Domain).

These are the main reasons I hear why people don’t blog, and I said the same things before I finally started blogging.  Here they are, with my answers as to why they should not prevent you from blogging:

  1. “I can’t think of anything to blog about”.  I always have “Can I make this into a blog” in the back of my mind.  I keep a list of topics in OneNote (shared among all my computers as well as my iPhone).  That list quickly went from 5 items to 20, to 50, to 100, and now it sits at about 300.  Once you get in that blogging mindset, you will have plenty of topics.
  2. “I don’t know what to write about that others will find interesting”.  Not every blog you write has to be interesting to everyone.  Some blogs lots of people will find interesting, others only a few.  So what?  If you blog often, just about everyone will find at least some of your blogs useful.  Even if you are new to SQL Server, blog about what you learn or a problem you solve, as other people who are new to SQL Server will find your blogs helpful
  3. “I worry that I will plagiarise other blogs”.  I have written about 300 blogs, and there are maybe 3-4 blogs I wrote that where “original” and no one else had written about at the time.  My blogs are usually a mash-up of other blog posts I have read on a given topic.  Written in a way that I understand, and hopefully others who are like me will understand them better.  Almost every blog out there was covered by another blog.  But maybe my way of writing helps someone to understand a topic better than other blogs.  Or maybe someone found an answer to a problem on my blog that was also answered on other blogs but those other blogs did not show up on search results
  4. “I fear I will be vulnerable to comments\criticism.  After all, everyone in the world can see my blog and comment on it”.  Well, in the 2+ years I have been blogging, I have written about many things that I am not an expert on, and no one has viciously attacked a post of mine.  And if they did, I can always choose not to post their comment.  But hey, I know I may post something that is inaccurate, no matter how much I research a topic.  No big deal, if it’s pointed out I just correct my blog post.  That is the whole point of posting anyone, to share knowledge and have the help of others to correct any mistakes

Some tips:

  • Blog consistently, and at least once a week.  For the first year I blogged three times a week, and now blog twice a week
  • Create a twitter account if you don’t already have one and use the option in WordPress to publicize your blog post to twitter when it is posted.  This will get more visits to your blog site
  • Queue your blogs.  This way, in moments of inspiration, you can write a bunch of blogs and wait to publish them.  Schedule them for the same days and times (i.e. every Tuesday and Thursday at 10am).  Never do weekends
  • I frequently go back and edit posts, adding content and links after reading a good article/blog post on the same subject
  • Blogging can be a way for logging problems and solutions for clients

The WordPress add-ins I use:

  • Akismet: Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam
  • All in One SEO Pack: Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog
  • BackWPup: is a very easy way to do a complete backup of your entire WordPress site
  • Feedburner Email Widget: Allows you to add a Feedburner Email Subscription widget to one of your sidebars
  • flickrRSS: Allows you to integrate the photos from a Flickr RSS feed into your site
  • Google Analytics Dashboard: Google Analytics graph integration
  • Google Analytics Plugin: Optimized Google Analytics Plugin for WordPress
  • Google XML Sitemaps: This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com: Bring the power of the WordPress.com cloud to your self-hosted WordPress. Jetpack enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users
  • MobilePress: Turn your WordPress blog into a mobile website/blog
  • Primary Feedburner: Redirect your website feeds to feedburner
  • Social Media Widget: Adds links to all of your social media and sharing site profiles. Tons of icons come in 3 sizes, 4 icon styles, and 4 animations
  • Subscribe to Comments Reloaded: Subscribe to Comments Reloaded is a robust plugin that enables commenters to sign up for e-mail notifications. It includes a full-featured subscription manager that your commenters can use to unsubscribe to certain posts or suspend all notifications
  • SyntaxHighlighter Evolved: Easily post syntax-highlighted code to your site without having to modify the code at all. Uses Alex Gorbatchev’s SyntaxHighlighter
  • WordPress Editorial Calendar: The Editorial Calendar makes it possible to see all your posts and drag and drop them to manage your blog
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin: Returns a list of related entries based on a unique algorithm for display on your blog and RSS feeds
  • Weaver theme

More info:

Rock Stars, Normal People, and You

How to Start a Blog

Blogging for a Living

The Importance of Regular Blogging

The One Tip That Took My Blog To New Levels. Stop Caring.

THIS BLOG POST SHOWS I STOPPED CARING

Want a great blog? Should you stop caring or stop being afraid?

Blogging for Beginners

Why do we Blog? Looking back …

Writing a Technical Blog: Why to do it and what to write about

So you want to blog about SQL Server?

About James Serra

James currently works for Microsoft specializing in big data and data warehousing using the Analytics Platform System (APS), a Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) architecture. Previously he was an independent consultant working as a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence/MDM architect and developer, specializing in the Microsoft BI stack. He is a SQL Server MVP with over 25 years of IT experience.
This entry was posted in Blog, Career, SQLServerPedia Syndication. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Enhance your career by blogging!

  1. Lee Everest says:

    I’m either way on your statement ‘Enhance your career’. I blogged for almost seven years and did not find that my career was necessarily ‘enhanced’. Mostly, what I got was tired of the abundance of derogatory comments, nitpicking, and charlatans that frequent blog posts. We seem to be blessed with our share of holier-than-though types in the industry (many of whom I enjoy calling-out) who insist that a) they are the only ones who know anything about SQL Sever, and b) no one else should be writing about his or her experiences with SQL Server. They also seem to take it upon themselves to police the intertubes, as if they were called in some sort of spiritual way to do so.

    I actually had a pretty nice following and really enjoyed researching and posting on my findings, be they correct or not altogether correct. Couldn’t wait to write my next blog post! Too bad that our industry seems to lack individuals with class.

    • James Serra says:

      Hi Lee,

      Thanks for the comment. I have to say I have never had any problems with blog comments as you have. And it has definitely enhanced my career as it has built my personal brand and has resulted in a lot of recruiters contacting me. In addition, sometimes when I go to an interview the person doing the interview already knows me via my blog (which makes landing the position a bit easier). Is your blog still around? I can’t recall seeing any blogs that currently exist that has had to deal with the negative comments that you have.

      • Lee Everest says:

        Blog is not around, no.

        You would have to look at a number of blogs, and read the comments closely. I’ve found quite a few over the years. I’ve even seen one very popular SQL Server blog actually change part of the name of the blog as a response to a direct and derogatory comment towards the blog. I won’t mention names or provide links, but they are not difficult to spot.

  2. Nice post. I particular appreciate all of the links. I’ll have to read through a few of them as I have time.

    I started my blog last year and I’ve set myself a goal of one post a week. So far so good :). I particularly agree with the first and third reasons why you blog. I have one particular post about finding backups that I refer back to on a regular basis for one of the queries I put in it. I’ve also found that I remember the stuff I blog about better, if only because of the research I put into it. I have to admit I’m looking forward to the actual writing part getting easier!

  3. Martin Lee says:

    You’ve inspired me to blog. I’ll be sure to get more involved and to make the time to do so. Keep up the good work bro. :)

  4. Hi James,
    Thanks for a great post. Agree with all the reasoning here. Blogging has definitely helped me in my career. I now aim to write once a week and it’s going well so far. For me it has been about being out there, being vulnerable, make mistakes out in the open, learn to take them in my stride and move on. I haven’t had much trouble with negative comments. Most of them have been constructive feedback or at least that’s what I take from them. Undoubtedly, I have made some great connections through blogging.
    So let’s keep it going and good luck for your blog. I look forward to reading your future posts.
    Cheers, Simran

  5. Hi James,

    It’s was very inspiring to read this post, i’ve read quite a lot of your posts over the past few months.

    And I was very happy to see this particular post, as I have just taken up blogging 2 days ago. And what have hold me back is in fact the very reasons you mentioned. But no more, i’ll blog a few times a week from now on, and hope that people will find them interesting.

    Have a nice day, and if you’re at @sqlbits have a great time there ;o)

    Best regards
    Kenneth

    • James Serra says:

      Hi Kenneth,

      Glad my post has helped to inspire you to be a frequent blogger. I enjoyed your first two blog posts and look forward to reading your future posts.

  6. Prashanth says:

    Very good post and inspiration to new bloggers like me. Thanks for your time and Much appreciated words. Keep up the momentum.

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  9. Thank you, James! Actually many times before I felt like saying this having benefited from another one of your blogs, but this one finally made it for me – I am inspired to get on with it! I have started my own just a few months ago and so far the only comments come from spambots, but nevermind.
    Main thing here is, every line of your argument totally resonated in me – I do this most importantly because I am enjoying the ride, so any added benefit is certainly a nice to have! Thank you for the post and for doing this for yourself and the SQL community.

  10. Chris Barba says:

    This is great advice.
    I agree with everything you mentioned as why to blog.
    I started to keep track of cool tips and tricks I wanted to remember.
    After you’ve written enough code you start to forget what problems you have solved before.
    I am amazed when I talk with different IT professionals who think I’m weird for blogging.

  11. Celine Chole says:

    Hi James,

    I do not blog or work in the same field as you but I found your blog really useful anyway. I like all your tips even if I was surprised you advice to blog once a week, it is quite a lot when you have a full time job!

    Best,

  12. Tony Angiuli says:

    Great blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so
    many options out there that I’m totally confused .. Any ideas?
    Many thanks!

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