Has blogging affected your professional life, and how?

Recently I had a beer with Josh Porter, and he mentioned to me how something I said had […]

Recently I had a beer with Josh Porter, and he mentioned to me how something I said had resonated with him. Apparently, I had advised him to keep a blog on a single topic, posting regularly and well, and that would allow him to “own the space” or at least build reputation in it. My own blog had let me establish authority in IA when I had only been doing it a few months… .

Well, we all know it’s easier to give advice than take it. I’ve been blogging for seven years, and while my first few years reflect a focus, there have been plenty of divergence, and my audience has fluctuated with my attention span. I remember bitterly when a reader commented “I like it better when you blogged about design.”

This caused me to wonder, now in these days of blog proliferation, is Josh’s success the norm, or an anomaly (and I should clean up my act, even though all I really want to post about is the amazing stuffed pork chop I cooked last night.) This led to an unscientific LinkedIn Answers query:

Has blogging affected your professional life, and how?

Has blogging brought you notoriety, gotten you clients, respectability, a job? Love to hear if all this writing is helping (or hurting) folks. Less the “I was fired for begin indiscrete” and more an overall effect ..though anecdotes are fun.

Clarification added 7 days ago:

I’m also interested if *reading* blogs has helped you professionally…

posted 7 days ago in Career Development

Admittedly the last bit was an afterthought, and most respondents did treat it as such.

From the results, I determined Josh (and my younger self) were dead right. Post regularly, and well and it can only do you good. Some folks built a big audience, some built a small one, and some just found themselves with an audience of their potential employers. If I were to list the priorities in order, I would say

You need to

  1. post well
  2. post on topic
  3. post regularly

Which might be a relief to those who can’t face posting every day, but painful for those of the “half-baked” school of thought.

Some particularly useful insights:

from Michael Angeles

Excluding my first job out of grad school, every job that I’ve taken, including my current full time job, has been because of blogging. I can’t say enough about how writing a blog is one of the best things you can do for your career. I get way more in return than I put into blogging. For testing out new ideas, nothing has been better for me than blogging–even better than posting to mailing lists because the audience can be more diverse.

Reading blogs is also an essential part of my professional development. The evolution of my craft as an IA really grew much greater when I started reading blogs of peers who like to share ideas (like your EH) and having conversations with people on their blogs. Same is true of mailing lists, however. These days, I do more lurking or freeloading of other peoples blogs than I do commenting because of the lack of time to write, and because Google Reader makes it easy to take things in without engaging. But when I bother to engage in conversations I really get more out of the experience.

Brian Ghidinelli says

Blogging casually, in my opinion, is relatively worthless for your career. I believe if you blog “professionally”, meaning it’s a core component of your professional strategy, then you will likely develop a following large enough or content of a certain caliber to have some impact on your career.

37 Signals’ SVN is a great example of “professional blogging” even if the blog isn’t what makes them money (directly). They sold thousands of their Design E-Book thanks to the legions of fans they’ve developed via their blog. In the sense that your readers can become your sales force (or are your sales targets), then blogging is a communications channel like PR, advertising and direct sales. It takes work and vigilance to develop and execute on.

Personally, I blog for myself. I tend to post HOWTO or research-driven pieces where I’ve invested time in sorting something out and wish to contribute back in exchange for the help I find out there. I don’t receive many comments but that’s not the goal of my efforts so it’s OK. WordPress has become the easiest way for me to track what’s going on in my (mostly professional) life and the fact that it’s public, if carefully edited, is a bonus to my “reputation”. …

Gagan Diesh says

… Yes blogging has been helpful as it keeps me honest as a designer by forcing me to research. It IS read my clients before they hire us (part of their due diligence) and we use it in client meetings as reference material when trying to sell the power of design! I have had some good debates on blog entries with programmers who take exception at my design-focused project management approach.

Scott Abel says

Blogging has helped me reinvent myself and create an entire new career…one that I never imagined. My blog, TheContentWrangler.com, has allowed me to share what I know, what I discover, and what I am doing with others. And, it’s helped me create a valuable audience of 17,000 newsletter subscribers, and several hundred (or thousand) folks a day visiting my site and/or reading my RSS feeds.

It’s also attracted advertisers anxious to gain access to my audience. Paid advertising campaigns allow me to continue looking for the next great topics to blog about.

And, blogging has helped me increase my notoriety. Conference organizers have spotted my blog and invited me to speak at their events. Journalists have found my writings online and interviewed me as an expert. Magazine and newsletter editors have asked me to author articles. And, venture capitalists have contacted me for advice before investing in new technology initiatives.

So, yes, blogging is worth it.

However, blogging involves discipline, commitment, and a drive to do better, learn more, and help others. It creates lots of extra work (email, instant messages, and telephone calls). And, it involves thinking outside the box.

Reading blogs is an excellent way to identify new technologies, techniques, and strategies worth writing about. Reading blogs in disciplines outside your own area of specialty helps you to relate the concepts familiar to you with those of others to create “ah ha” moments that may not have ever materialized without such information.

Blogging also have some nice dividends, from collecting your bookmarks and insights in one place, to improving your writing chops.

Rob Tannen says

When I started blogging about designing for humans three years ago it was as much to organize and store information of interest to me, as it was share information with people of similar interests. So in a very tangible way it helps me do my job by providing quick access to reference sources (helps that I had to summarize them too).

Joshua Porter

Short answer:
Yes to notoriety, clients, job offers.

Also made me a better writer (I hope). And being a better writer is how you not only participate in conversations, but help lead them as well. Being an independent who has a blog to help start and keep conversations, it’s incredibly important to be able to write. The more I can make ideas clear, the more clients I’ll get.

There were so many awesome answers, and so many good points, I want to encourage you to read all of them… Has blogging affected your professional life, and how?

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    erin malone

    Having eaten one of said pork chops I highly recommend blogging about it.

    That said – when I kept a regular blog, it led to the creation of essays about design and design history and process. Which led me to you which led to becoming editor of Boxes and Arrows which led to the demise of my blog.


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