Blogging

In the past, I was never much of a writer. I liked the idea behind writing a story and creating a book. I tried a few times to write a book, but I always gave up when I got writer's block. Sometime around 2011 or 2012 I decided I wanted to put together a blog containing my knowledge of software development. Not necessarily for sharing with the world, but for my own reference. I can't begin to describe how many times I had to re-research a subject because I forgot how I did it the first time. I wanted to put it into my own blog, then I could just search my blog for the subject I remembered previously doing and blogging about.

After setting up a blog at blogger, I set out to create a list of subjects. I wasn't sure exactly which way my blog was going to go and so I thought that I could just start typing in my knowledge. That didn't work so good. At first, I was afraid that people would criticize, or possibly find issues with my blog posts (everyone has an opinion on how to develop software and some of it can be cult-like). After a few dozen posts, the writing became easier and I noticed that most people enjoyed the extra help. A few people have put in their comments (which I admit have been very constructive). For the most part, my blog was just a back-water blog with little notice.

Then I got wind that my company was in trouble and I might be out of a job. I decided to ramp up my blogging and try to get a sample of my knowledge into my blog for backing up what was on my resume. After I started working at DealerOn, I was in the habit of blogging once a week on the weekend. This might seem odd, but writing is easier once you get over the fear of writing. Basically, you just start typing what you're thinking (then you go back and spell-check, grammar check, etc.).

My work projects have turned into my blogging subjects. I do a lot of research and development at work and I like to get my knowledge in my blog to bring co-workers up to speed. Some of my knowledge goes into our department wiki. Anything that is not proprietary goes into my blog (or both). So lately, the subject has been about NHibernate and it's an add-on called Fluent. I have a backlog of subjects to blog about. That list never seems to go down. So there's no end in sight.

I've talked to co-workers about blogging and most seem to be stuck in the blogging stage that I started with: No motivation, not sure what to blog about, can't seem to get it rolling. I've known friends who have been stuck in that cycle for a long time. I guess you just acquire a passion for writing before you can make a blog take-off. I'm currently on a roll and I can sit down at any time and start typing up a blog post subject with ease. The only thing holding me back from creating a post every day or every hour is the fact that I don't have the physical time to do it.

Lately my blog has attracted a lot of traffic. I went from a few hundred hits a month to almost 5,000 hits a month (as of July 2014). I'm not big-time, but it motivates me to know that I'm making an impact. Part of my new traffic is coming from links from DealerOn's careers page. Part of it comes from the University of Maryland, where I've participated in Career fairs and given tech talks. That "gig" has led me to blogging about how to get a Computer Science career off the ground (since I'm in the unique position of having a successful career after struggling for a few years out of college).

My NHibernate subject has grown so large that I had to create a mini-wiki on this website so I could find subjects quicker. It has also drawn in a lot of .Net people looking to implement NHibernate into their projects. I try my best to provide working code. That's where most of my blogging time goes, into a working program that I blog about. I want to provide the information, but I also want to demonstrate it with an application that can be downloaded and experimented with.

My advice to anybody trying to start a blog: Make sure you have a deep subject that you're passionate about. Setup a blog. Start typing. Get the momentum going. Once it's going, it'll get easier. If you're in a technical field, or you're in college, especially if you're in college, get a blog going and get some posts detailing your knowledge of a subject. Blogs are becoming more common and potential employers will be checking your blog. Keep your blog on subject. Get information into your blog. This on-line information store can become an asset when you start to build your career. If your popularity rises, you might be able to turn your blog into a money maker. It all starts with your first post.