I began publishing this blog in January 2008 - over 10 years ago. I've been pretty consistent in adding content. I've never gone a calendar month without at least one post and I've averaged about 11 posts per month during that span. But I had never had more than 21 posts in a given month. Until June of this year. In the past 4 months, I've averaged 23.5 posts per month.
Why I write
I'm making more time to write down my thoughts these days because I see value in this. Here are some of the reasons I maintain this blog.
Understand what I'm learning
I spend a lot of time learning new technologies. I read books and articles, I attend sessions, I watch videos, and I ask questions. But the two things that solidify this knowledge are building something with the technology and explaining that technology to others. This blog helps me achieve the latter. Blogging or explaining, forces me to learn areas of the topic I might otherwise miss. I am smarter on a subject after I have blogged about it.
Share knowledge with others
I love to learn, and I love to teach. When I learn something new, I believe there is someone out there who could benefit from learning the same thing. I have received emails from people thanking me for explaining or making them aware of a technology.
Share knowledge with myself
I also use my blog to teach my future self about a technology. Often, I will work with a tool and not return to it for months or years. When I need to remember how to do something, I find it useful to have documented my experiences previously. Many times, I return to this post about how to use GitHub commands, because I don’t use these enough to remember them.
Technical blogging creates the perception that I know what I'm talking about. This was important when I was a consultant, as customers sometimes found me through my blog. This was important when I was seeking employment, as employers knew about my experience and my passion by reading my blog. And this is important as a public speaker, as conference organizers can see that I'm able to explain a topic on which I propose to speak.
As a public speaker, I often give a high-level overview on a technical topic. Often, I will post a slide at the end of my presentation with links to relevant blog posts for those who want to dive deeper.
No matter your profession, effective writing is a valuable skill. But writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Blogging provides me an opportunity to write (hopefully) coherent paragraphs and stories. The more I do this and think about it, the better I get at it, which helps me at my day job.
What I write
I write on a variety of topics. Here are a few broad categories into which they fall
Describe a given technology and why it is important
These are step-by-step instructions on a technical topic, such as a programming language feature or a software tool.
What I'm doing
What I did
Sometimes I will experience something amazing, like a trip to Europe or South America and I'll share my impressions and experiences.
After attending a conference that particularly inspired me or taught me, I'll share my thoughts and learnings.
Things I believe and why. Sometimes, these are very personal, such as my memories of a friend or family member who passed. Sometimes, I write about philosophical things like the importance of forgiveness. At the beginning of each month, I publish a list of all my daily gratitudes from the previous month.
I’ve spent much of the last few years of my career coaching others. I’ve learned some important soft skills and I use my blog as a way to share those learnings.
I have 2 ongoing TV shows: Technology and Friends features interviews with technologists about a variety of topics that are of interest to other technologists. GCast features screencasts showing how to use software tools. I have been a guest host for DevRadio and other shows and I will post links to those videos on my blog.
Podcasts and articles
When I'm a guest on a podcast or interviewed for an article, I link to it from my blog.
As you can see, my blog is both a personal and a professional one. Years ago, popular blogger Scott Hanselman gave me some advice - Have a single presence on the web. So, you can discover a lot about me - What I'm thinking, what I'm doing, and what I'm doing, and what I'm learning - here at davidgiard.com.
Thinking of writing a blog?
If you are thinking of writing a blog, I encourage you to do so. It has benefited me, and it could benefit you. Here are some things to think about as you begin.
Write about what you know and what you learn. Don't worry if it's too basic. I write many introductory posts on basic topics. If something is new to me, it's likely also new to someone else.
Don't worry if it's been said before. You may have a way of explaining that is just right for someone.
Identify your audience and your goals. Are you a technical blogger, a patron of the arts, a philosopher, a political pundit? All of the above? A targeted blog can help you focus on what your next article should be. It's worth noting that I don't actually follow this bit of advice. I post enough content that there is something for just about everyone. But it's useful advice when you are starting out and don’t yet have a lot of content.
Always check your spelling and grammar. Your blog engine will probably help with this. If it is insufficient, paste your post into Microsoft Word and press [F7] to check it. Poor spelling and sloppy grammar reflect poorly on the writer.
Find a host and a blog engine. There are many free ones out there. I use DasBlog as my engine and I host on Microsoft Azure. If I were starting today, I might choose a more popular blog engine like WordPress or Drupal.
Maintain discipline. Commit to writing at least one post a month. Set a calendar reminder. Take notes during the month that you can later assemble into a post. Infrequently updated blogs are less interesting. And abandoned blogs are depressing.
Always date your posts. This is especially true for posts about technology, because software changes very fast.
I really enjoy keeping this blog. I like the fact that others have learned from what I've written, even if "others" means "future me".