" Why you should have a blog (and write in it) | Leticia Portella

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Why you should have a blog (and write in it)

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If you ever told me you are learning to code (or anything, really), chances are I told you you should have your blog and write in it. Although I discussed this topic in person with a lot of people, there are only small texts about it on blog posts I wrote about other topics ([1], [2]). This blog post is dedicated to why you should have your own (independent) blog. Because people have different ways of seeing the world I divided it into two sections of why:

I also wrote a section on common excuses that people give me to not write a blog post and my answers to them!

And finally, if you are convinced, there is a section dedicated to what to write about.

Philosophical reasons to have a blog

You should have your own place in the internet

If you notice, the internet of today is basically made of a couple of big websites that try to gather every content there is. Have you ever talked to an older person that thinks Facebook IS the internet? Yes, that’s exactly what I am talking about.

Having your independent blog is an excellent way to share what you think in a decentralized way, independent of any major company that may add a paywall to it (Medium, I am looking at you). On his post “why every person should have their own website on the internet”, Luciano Ramalho writes something that summarizes what I think:

“If everybody starts to create their own website, we will start the long and essential process of taking back the control of the Web: the Web is ours to use it as we like, and not to be controlled by half dozen of mega industries with their opaques algorithms.”

Share knowledge and increase opportunities

Writing is a way of sharing knowledge and a way to increase opportunities for learning to other people. Not everyone had access to a good university or the best books available. Sharing things you have learned can help others grow, can help change their lives and relate to your story or learn with you. Of course, not everyone has access to the internet, but it a good way of starting something for a greater good.

If you come from a country whose first language is not English, you can create opportunities for people that didn’t have the opportunity to learn that language! The best content is usually written in English, but for third world countries, learning English is quite a privilege, so imagine the impact of writing good content on your language!

Each person should drive their presence on the internet

More and more it becomes really hard to stay away from the internet and social media. It is important to create a digital presence that associates your name to good things and to what you want your name to be associated with. Creating a blog and sharing what you know is an excellent way to position yourself online, and making sure people know you for something better than just social media.

Selfish reasons to have a blog

Writing as a tool for learning

Writing is an excellent tool for learning. When you decide to write a blog post about what you are learning, not only you need to understand it well enough to make it clear, but also you need to create a structure for the post, which helps you structure your studies in the meantime.

Let’s take my blog post about the Julia Language as example. I needed to study the language for an episode of my podcast. After a couple of lines of code, I thought it was good enough, but then I decided to write the post. After that, I realized so much I haven’t studied yet! Who created the language and why? What is considered the best feature of the language? How can I integrate with Jupyter notebooks? And so on. I spent a few more hours understanding the language in order to create the post and this experience was so much better than just following some tutorial and write some lines of code.

Practice leads to perfection Like anything in life, you can only get better if you practice. Your first blog post will probably not be great, nor your second, maybe not even your third. But you should write them anyway. The more you write, the more you can improve your writing. You will need to read other blog posts and articles and incorporate different ways of writing to your own. You can only be a good writer, if you practice. So… practice on your own blog!

Feedback is a gift!

If you are insecure about writing a blog post, you can share it with your friend and ask for feedback! It is an excellent way of improving your writing while you are developing your skills. So use this opportunity to learn how to take constructive criticism. It is important to understand that feedback is a gift, and that a person took time from their lives and gave you feedback to help you improve. So use your blog posts to get feedback from your friends (and even people that comment on your posts) and learn how to grow through it. You can only gain from it!

Build your career

In today’s world, being visible is an excellent way to stand out and get better jobs in better companies. In tech there are several ways of doing this, you can organize meetups, give talks in conferences, have a Youtube channel, a podcast, etc. However, not everyone wants or is comfortable with this kind of exposure. In my opinion, a blog is the best way of share your work with minimal personal exposure. You don’t even need to add a personal photo to have one! You can improve your career even if you are too shy to give a talk 😉

Common excuses not to write

ExcuseMy answer
“I am not an expert”That’s ok! You don’t have to be an expert to explain something you know! On every blog post that I am not completely sure of what I am writing I make it explicit that this is based on my knowledge. Just make sure to be open to criticism and feedback.
“Everybody know this”Even if something was written a thousand times, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about it. I usually search for different articles on a single topic to help me understand something! Not always what was written before works for everyone. Maybe what you wrote will be good for a specific person. And that’s all you need
“What if I make mistakes?”No problem at all. Life is full of mistakes. Make sure you add a comment on the beginning of an old post or even change the text. You don’t have to be right all the time and you didn’t write in stone. If you make a mistake, go back and fix it. You will only grow from the experience
“I have nothing to write about”I made a whole section about it 😉

What to write?

If you are here I am assuming I was able to convince you to start blogging! Congratulations! That’s a huge step! Here are the topics you can write about (based on my personal experience):

  • You can share a part of your life that was important to you and that can be used as inspiration by others!
  • When you see something online (like a Twitter thread) that talks about something that deserves to be more than a transient topic in someone’s timeline
    • Example: One guy asked on Twitter for arguments he could use to convince his company to engage in a tech community. The answers were so amazing that I thought it would give an excellent blog post!
  • When you want to study something and want to structure your thoughts
    • Example: I wrote a blog post about Julia language so I would know the minimum of the language to interview a guest on my podcast. Without the blog post, I was through with my studies after a couple of lines of code, but when I decided to write a blog post about it I realized how much I was missing and started all over!
  • When you had some interesting experience
    • Example: my first 6 months at Stripe were a surreal experience that I loved! It was something so different from what I have lived as an onboarding experience so far that I thought it was an amazing thing to share with my friends.
  • When it took you more than an hour to find an answer for a problem
    • Example: I needed to add a relationship model to an SQLAlchemy table that already existed. This problem took me 3 days and I asked for help from multiple people. The final answer was extremely simple, but I decided to write it anyway. A couple of months ago someone commented that I saved their day because of my blog post.
  • When it took you more than 5 minutes to answer a question someone made you
    • Example: One time a guy came to my Telegram and asked me: “should I have my blog in Medium or somewhere else?” My answer to him was long and detailed and took me several minutes, so I decided to write about it on a blog post.

Hope you enjoyed the post and let me know if you started a blog after reading it! Happy writing! ❤