Blog Posts and Programming: 7 Reasons to Write
What can writing tech-related articles do for your career?
When I first started my journey at Flatiron School, I was informed that we were responsible for writing five blog posts about various aspects of coding, ranging from trends in the market to things like breaking down ORM and Ruby. I actually enjoy writing, so I didn’t mind it too much. For some, however, it can feel like extra weight to a program that already has a lot of bulk. In this post, I want to explore why posts like this can have several benefits and are very much what you make of them.
This may seem more of a fluff piece to some. With that in mind, I will say that if I didn’t believe in what I wrote, then I simply wouldn’t write it. The goal of this article is to bring some introspection to why writing posts about programming can be helpful, not only to students in the same boat, but also to technical writers as a whole. Without further ado, let’s begin!
1. Writing a Post Can Be Lucrative
First and foremost, this is probably going to be the most-viewed section of this article. It’s eye-grabbing and piques interest. If your articles follow suit and are written well, they can make money for you on sites like Medium. I’ve made a little less than ten dollars so far, so, while it’s not something that’s going to bring in the bills right away, it gives you some spare income for something you might end up having to do anyway.
As you gain notoriety in your posts, you increase the chance of earning more cash. It’s uncommon, though not unheard of, for some authors to make 500 dollars from their posts in a month on Medium. While you may not make as much as that, I think we can all agree that any extra money helps. So why not write something worth it?
2. Writing a Post Can Be a Resume Builder
When you’re entering the job market and fresh out of a boot camp or other form of educational institution, your portfolio is probably going to be the most important thing employers will be looking at. However, you can view blog posts as a sort of “spice” to that — if you have a lot of well-written articles, they’re only going to work in your favor.
This relates more to posts whose content is more technical in scope, but any thought-provoking article about the industry is sure to garner interest. Blog posts can be supplementary — for instance, I am in the middle of writing a series about regular expressions. I consider myself moderately skilled in their usage, but I don’t have anything particular in my portfolio at the moment that proves that. With my posts about this topic, although they don’t delve too deep into the logic, I have conveyed that I know how they work and how to apply that logic in different situations.
It’s a great way for potential employers to not only see additional knowledge that might not be explicitly on your skill list but also to see how you structure professional documents, which can be reflective of your organization as a whole.
3. Writing a Post Can Get You Published
This ties into the above two sections. I got incredibly lucky with my first post and was approached by someone at the publication Better Programming who asked to include it in their publication. Not only does this look great on a resume, but it also raises the chance of readers seeing your posts and making you some cash. More importantly, publishing can lead to new connections, establishing new friendships and opportunities you may otherwise not have come across.
4. Writing a Post Can Prompt You to Explore a Topic
A popular saying is that if you can explain a topic well in a way that makes sense, then you know a lot about said topic. I find that really true — in fact, note-taking can be seen as a supplement of this. Extending this logic to your posts gives you an insight into how much you actually know about a subject and how you convey your knowledge in the subject to an outside source. Being able to explain your thought process to others is a great communication skill, something touched upon more in the following section.
5. Writing a Post Improves Your Linguistic Skills
I think one of the best things a person can do for themselves is to learn a new skill. Writing is one of those easy-to-learn, hard-to-master sorts of talents, but doesn’t require that many resources for you to improve in it. If you have any sort of device used for word processing, whether it be a pen, phone, or computer like the one I’m typing on right now, then you have the opportunity to work on your writing style and hone it.
One of the best things about literature is that many authors have a distinct flair, imparted by not only their sentence structure but also their word choice. Word choice can completely change the tone of an article from bland and boring to thought-provoking and one that heightens the interest of readers on the topic. By writing successive articles — which really, is akin to practicing any other skill, such as playing the piano — you will learn more about the way you want to write, about what works, what doesn’t, and what can be improved.
I’d like to think that I come off sounding intelligent in what I author. A lot of that is due to my previous experience in writing, but also to the use of Google and thesauruses to find the exact word I need to get my point across. If you get published, it’s interesting to see how the editor refactors your post, to see what changes they make. While you may not agree with all the changes, it provides you with valuable feedback into how you structured everything and the linguistic decisions you made.
Writing articles about coding can come off as dry and cryptic, especially if you’re just entering the world of it. It’s your job as an author to make that post interesting and understandable to an audience. By practicing this skill, you will obviously get better at technical writing, but also at writing as a whole. This is an extremely valuable skill in any workplace environment — anyone who can communicate effectively and explicitly on a topic is sure to be the go-to person for assignments pertaining to that topic.
6. Writing a Post May Spark a New Interest
While it’s very hard to think of content to write about in the beginning of your journey as a technical writer, you’ll undoubtedly come across some topic that at least mildly interests you (otherwise, why the heck are you writing about it?). It doesn’t even have to be something super specific. It could be about the organization of code, or what you feel is an unexplored topic (which is why I wrote about regex in the first place). From there, you may find that your interest in that topic increases or possibly discover a related field that you want to learn about.
Teaching yourself new things about that topic will give you two benefits: something to write, and an increased understanding and proficiency in that skill, further differentiating you from other people in this field. Having something unique on your resume can make you more marketable. It’s very possible some employers will gravitate more towards with you if one of your interests heavily aligns with that company’s goals or business strategy.
7. Writing Your Post Helps Someone Else
This should be obvious, and while it may not affect you directly like the other sections I’ve written here, it’s a fact nonetheless. I have run into some posts on here that really helped put something in perspective, and I’m thankful for the person who wrote that content. I’m not going to give you some feel-good, after-school-special sort of nonsense. The main reason you’re writing these posts in the first place is to either explain a concept to readers, to elaborate on an already established topic, or to give an opinion about something. Therefore, what you write can have an effect on readers. Since you’re already at the keyboard, why not make whatever you’re working on the most beneficial thing it can be?
One of the main reasons my posts are so thorough is so that readers can understand — in plain English — what the hell I’m talking about and how they can use what I’ve written to create code of their own. One of my largest frustrations is that when I’m looking for information on how a certain piece of code works, I find many explanations become so convoluted and distorted that it feels as if I’m traversing a black hole. You get foreign segments of code that you’ve never seen before that aren’t even elaborated upon or some kind of nonfunctioning metaphor that just takes up space on the page and does nothing to actually elucidate whatever the person is trying to say.
I absolutely hate running into that and the time wasted in looking for something well written that actually makes sense. My goal in any post I author is to make the point as clear as humanly possible. It’s why many of them are really procedural in structure and almost overly detailed at points.
To prevent yourself from rambling and to get back to the point, one of the most important things you need to consider when writing a post is that other people are going to read it. Keep that in mind, and you’ll find yourself making sure that what you’ve written is organized, understandable, and a useful piece of information. That will only make it better for those who consume it.
As I stated in the introduction, the objective of this post is to make us, as authors, think about why we’re writing these posts in the first place and how they can benefit us and the readers who take them in.
All seven reasons are points you can refer to during your writing process, whether it be from buzzwords you think will improve the popularity of your post to your choice of words in a sentence. I implore all of you — even if you don’t think you have the talent, because it will come — to keep writing about topics you’re passionate about, staying cognizant of what I’ve gone over here. If you keep at it, the quality of your writing will escalate ever higher. That’s a benefit for everyone, authors and readers alike.