Ten years ago, I could have never even imagined that I would write a blog. I was never good at writing, and maybe that was the reason that I became a software engineer:). Jokes apart, I certainly didn’t think that I had what it takes to be a blogger. However, in the last ten years, I have written multiple blogs on different Microsoft blog platforms and now even have a personal blog.
In my current role at Amazon, I own AWS Database blog, and I need to consistently beg, bribe and motivate people to write blogs. My job involves working with intelligent folks, who have done great work in their professional career and are hesitant to put the knowledge into the form of a blog post. Every day I hear various reasons from them for their inability to blog. Some of the key ones are the shortage of time, don’t know what to write about and so on. If you dig more, all the reasons end up to only one cause. Writer’s block. Since they haven’t written a blog in the past, they don’t think they cannot write one in future. I use some of the below-mentioned reasons with them to convince them to write a blog.
I will cover how I got started on blogging in a separate post, with some tips on how you can start on this beautiful journey as well. In this post, I will cover the benefits that I have received by expressing my thoughts in the form of blog posts.
- Build your brand: Now if you are just starting your professional career or not in a professional job, you might say, I don’t care about my brand. Let me share a small example from the early days of my career back in 2009. I had just started blogging; I think I had just published about two blog posts on MSDN Blogs by then. Since I authored the blogs, I would usually go back to respond to the customer comments on the blog posts. This got me hooked so much that I became obsessed with customers. I would go anywhere I could find customers, MSDN Forums, TechNet, Newsgroups, you name it! One day a customer posted a question on MSDN forum saying “I know Silvia has written this blog and I know she comes on this forum often, I want her to respond to this question.” It was an “Aha!” moment for me. That day I realized the power of the internet. With a few words, you can reach out to thousands of people on this planet that you didn’t know about. Writing two blogs set me up as an expert in the technology I wrote about, in that community. If you would like to associate your name with a certain group or set yourself up as an expert in a certain area, blogging is a perfect avenue to demonstrate your skills to the world.
- Gain trust and credibility: In the last one year of my job at Amazon, I cannot count how many times an author of the blog has come back to me and shared this experience. The author goes to a customer meeting and starts talking about a solution to the problem and someone sitting in the meeting would inevitably Google the problem and find the same blog authored by the person sitting in front of them. The moment he/she sees the blog and the name of the author on it, the dynamics of the whole conversation changes. Michael B. Fishbein says in his blog post on Huffington Post:
Blogs are new resumes. Blogging about a topic you would like to be viewed as an expert in, can illustrate to readers, employers, and your network, that you are are skilled and knowledgeable.
- Utilize your voice to make the world a better place: Use your blogs to voice your opinions: things you like and don’t like. You never know which thought of yours can change the world or even influence the reader to make a better choice in his/her life.
- Share your knowledge and learn the art of asking questions: Each one of us go through the phase in our lives when we think our problems are unique and no one in the world will be able to help us. We think that if we tell anyone about our problems, we will have to go through public shaming, people will not like us and someone might take advantage of our weakness after knowing about it. However, as we grow and evolve in our lives, we realize that the best way to get help in our lives is to ask for help. Blogging is a perfect way to help others by sharing your experiences and knowledge with others so that they can learn from your mistakes than making their own mistakes.
- Learn Introspection: Aristotle once said:
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom
And the best way to know yourself is by writing.
You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block. – John Rogers
That’s the reason Amazon employees are required to present their ideas to the leadership in the form of 2 to 6 pages narrative and not in the form of presentations. Blogging improves your writing and argumentation skills since it enables to think thoroughly and structure your thoughts before presenting them in the written form.
- Gain confidence: When you blog, you share your experience and knowledge with the world. In a way, you risk being vulnerable to the whole world. As other people find out about the blog and start benefitting from your knowledge and experience, you start seeing their appreciation for your work. And as you feel valued, you gain more confidence.
- Reflect: Reflection is the most important part of the learning process. Blogs are like journals that we can read at a later point in time about what we were experiencing at a certain stage of our life. While we are busy living our lives, we often don’t realize how we are evolving. I love to go back and re-read the blogs I have written, and it always makes me nostalgic. If the reading the blog makes me feel how stupid I was when I wrote the blog, I feel proud that I have become a better person since then, and if at the end of reading the blog I feel that “Wow! What I great state of mind I was in to think in that manner. Wish I could think like that now!” then it means that I have drifted from my plan and needs to get back on track.
I hope some, if not all, of the above-mentioned reasons resonate with you and you will start a blog.
I leave you with the words of Oprah Winfrey:
Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.