It’s a new year, and the perfect time for you to start blogging about your SQL Server work. I think blogging is a great way to showcase your knowledge, and over time, this can become as important to your potential employers and clients as your resume or CV.
This post won’t look at what to write, but rather, how to get started. I’ve divided this up for people that might have written some technical articles and those that haven’t. If you have, feel free to skip the next section.
Starting From Scratch
If you’ve never really written a blog or technical piece, I recommend do this:
- Create a folder on a shared drive
- Open Word (or another WYSIWYG) editor
- Begin Writing
- Save the post you’ve worked on as 1_SomeTopic.
- Repeat, incrementing the number so you get files such as 2_OtherTopic, 3_ReallyInteresting, etc.
That’s it. Just begin writing. Don’t worry about publishing, don’t worry about anything else. Just get in the habit of putting some thoughts down on paper that talk about the work you do.
When you get 10 posts, you are ready to move on.
I would recommend you calculate the average time it takes for you to produce a post. This would be the rate at which I’d look to schedule my posts.
Choosing a Platform
The next step when you are comfortable with your writing is to choose a place to publish your work. There are lots of choices, and a good comparison of sites is listed in this article.
I use WordPress and Blogger/Blogspot for different blogs. I chose two to have a comparison and after a few years, I think WordPress is better. You can certainly download the WordPress software and set up your own site on a VM somewhere, but I don’t think that’s a good place to start unless you want a project. If you want to write, wordpress.com is a nice start. It does enough for me, and it’s easy to let them update the software and just pick a theme.
I also recommend OpenLiveWriter to write with. I can easily draft posts in a WYSIWYG way, keep the drafts private (and on a OneDrive folder) and then publish to my platform at will. I find this easier than trying to work online. The project looks slightly abandoned for now, but it is stable and useful on the Windows platform.
How often should you blog? I think this is a hard question, but I’d blog at the pace that works for me. If you are a new writer, you should have written 10 pieces and tracked the time to produce those. For most people, this is between 2 and 4 weeks for a piece. Some might do 1 a week, but whatever is possible in your busy life is the pace I’d stick with.
My goal is to blog 3 times a week. Sometimes I can do more, but I don’t usually try to do more. It’s better to schedule out posts and ensure I can maintain some level of consistency than I get my posts out right away. Most of the time I have a couple of posts scheduled a few weeks out because I’m not producing news. I’m showcasing knowledge.
My advice is to schedule less frequently than you think you should. It’s easier to add in most posts later than try to maintain some pace that causes you stress.
This should be fun.
No matter what topics you choose or the frequency of your posts, it is important that you do a good job in producing them. That doesn’t mean you need 3 peer reviews and a copy edit, but you should take the time to get some feedback from others on your work.
If you aren’t an experienced writer, or you worry about the impression your writing makes, then ask a friend, spouse, co-worker, etc. to review a few posts and help you with your grammar, spelling, and the way you communicate the concepts.
Communication is a skill, and you will get better if you work at it. However, the best way I have found to do this quickly is to get feedback from others.
Take the Challenge
Challenge yourself and start blogging today. Even as little as 15 minutes a week can really help you showcase your knowledge, and give you an edge for your next interview.
I have often thought about blogging, and have worked with SQL Server for many years. However, I feel I’m still learning even some of the most basic things about it; topics such as architecture, concurrency, statistics, indexing, and query plans. While I’ve used SQL Server nearly every day for years, I feel I’m still very much a beginner in those previously mentioned areas and feel that I would just be regurgitating topics that have already been covered more extensively and in-depth than I could cover them. Do you have any advice for coming up with topics? Is it okay to cover something that has been covered numerous times in the past with zero or nearly no new information or insight?
Thanks for sharing your experience and work.