If you’re looking to make the most out of your programming career, making a name for yourself is the best way to open up countless opportunities.
The best way to do this is by starting your very own programming blog. Certainly not every programmerneeds to do this in order to have a great career, but the benefits are huge for a relatively small time commitment.
The kind of blog that will most benefit your career is one that builds your name up in your industry. For example, Scott Hanselman has made a name for himself as an expert in Windows programming languages largely through his blog.
The following guide will take you through every step of how to start a programming blog.
Why Start a Programming Blog?
There are many benefits to be had from getting your own programming blog going. Let’s explore a few of the biggest advantages you’ll find and how it will impact your career.
Home-Base for All Your Projects
If you’re working on a large open-source projects or simply your own smaller projects, having a place to talk about them and share updates is very useful and beneficial.
You can always show off your code on a site like github, but that’s not really an appropriate place to talk in-depth about the project itself. When you’re posting to your own blog, you can discuss the reasoning behind your decisions or motivation/goals of the project itself. This is useful for other programmers and potential clients/employers to read to see how your mind works.
Establish an Expertise
If you want to become well-known as being an expert for your particular programming language or framework, building a personal developer blog is the best way to do that.
By showing examples of interesting problems you’ve come across and how you’ve solved them, you become a source of knowledge for other developers. As you build this reputation, you become a source people look to for expertise on your topic.
Demonstrate an Ability to Communicate
Great communication skills are highly desirable by all employers and clients. Through your writing, you can demonstrate an ability to put into words the coding you do.
If you find this to be a weak point of your currently, there’s no better way to practice than by writing out some posts to get better.
Gain Clients/Employment Opportunities
Once you’ve built your reputation in your space, you’ll get many opportunities both in the form of clients if you’re interested in freelancing/consulting or employment opportunities from major companies.
If you do a great job with your blog, you’ll never have to worry about finding work again – the offers will come to you!
Getting Your Blog Started
Your Own Domain or Subdomain
Once you’re ready to start your blog, you have a few options to consider. The cheapest and fastest way to get started is by using a free, online blogging service like Blogger. With Blogger, you can get a subdomain website like “javacodingguru.blogspot.com”.
If you’re looking for a more professional domain name and customizable experience, you’ll need to start by purchasing a domain name. Be as creative or simple as you like.
If you’re looking to build a reputation on your name, use it for your domain name (if it’s still available). Registering a domain name only costs between $4-12 a year, depending on if you want something like “.com” versus “.tech”.
If you’re interested and knowledgeable enough of building your own web hosting server, that’s certainly a great option.
If you’re looking for more of a hands-off approach and simple want to get your thoughts out there quickly and easily, you should consider getting a WordPress Hosting account from a site like HostGator.
WordPress is a very powerful yet easy to use content management system, perfect for quickly getting a blog up and running in less than an hour. With more than 15 million WordPress sites active, you’ll have endless amounts of themes and plugins to help get your site operating and looking the way you like it with as little time as possible spent.
You may even want to create your own themes and plugins, which utilize PHP. Here’s a list of some of the great plug-ins you should check out once you get your blog running, should you go with WordPress.
WordPress Plugins for Programmers
One must-have plugin for sharing your code on WordPress is a syntax highlighter. Our favorite is SyntaxHighlighter Evolved.
Without a syntax highlighter, your code will be ugly and hard to read when you share it on WordPress. When used with SyntaxHighlighter Evolved, your code comes out beautifully as seen below –
You’ll also want to create a Google Analytics account and use any of the numerous plugins to start monitoring the traffic on your site once you get it established. It’s nice to know how many people you’re reaching and what your most popular content is.
Here’s a good GA plugin, though there are many that get the job done well.
Topics to Explore
Once you’ve got your blog created, the first thing you should do is create an “About Me” page. Share with your audience your background in programming and what kind of topics you’re most interested in, what programming hardware you love, what problems most interest you, etc.
When it comes to your actual posts, write about whatever you’re currently working on. Here are some ideas –
- An interesting bug or unexpected programming behavior you came across.
- Your experience trying out new technologies, programming languages, and frameworks.
- Thoughts on industry trends and news.
- Updates on personal projects.
- Your contributions to open-source projects.
- Solutions to coding challenges, such as Project Euler.
- Any other personal thoughts or stories you want to share – don’t be afraid to let the audience get to know you outside of programming.
Be sure to stay mindful that you don’t reveal anything that’s considered intellectual property of an employer if you’re sharing code examples!
Examples of Great Programming Blogs
If you’re looking for some inspiration as to what a great programming blog looks like, check out these examples of widely popular and successful personal developer blogs –
- Jeff Atwood’s Coding Horror. Jeff Atwood founded StackOverflow and credits his successful career to this blog.
- David Walsh Blog – David writes on a wide variety of web development topics.
- Cyril Mottier – Cyril is an Android expert.
- Mike Ash – writes on iOS and Mac development.
- Justin Weiss – an excellent and in-depth Ruby blog.
As you can see by the examples, you don’t have to have a really fancy or intricate website to have a successful blog. What really matters is the quality of the content and building up enough of it to garner attention.