The (Potential) Value of Blogging for Your Career

Last night I posted a new article about the SpringSource/VMware story and the potential implications for the industry that this will have. After slightly more than 24 hours I am looking at the statistics and they say I am just south of 1000 views, which I think it is amazing - for a casual blogger like myself at least. These days I have also come across a few comments on Twitter about a presentation that Jason Boche did at VMworld 2009 about the value of blogging for his visibility. Coincidentally yesterday night I read an excellent post from Duncan Epping on the same topic that is how much he has been able to capitalize out of his "blogging hobby".

I wanted to take a moment here to underline how true what Duncan was saying is. I can't agree more with his points as I have been through (some of) them myself. Blogging, and the Web 2.0 in general, have literally changed my professional life, specifically my exposure and visibility. Not only that, on a much larger scale, it is changing the way the "Power of Knowledge" in the IT world actually works. I have built a small presentation on this concept a couple of years ago that I did for an internal review and that I have posted here for you to download. It goes through some of the concepts and a point in time "life-cycle" of a blog post that evolved into a great deal of internal visibility.

As Duncan pointed out the potential visibility you can get is very rewarding. By the way you don't need to "post like hell" in order to have good feedbacks and a good following. Take me as an example: even though I tend to post long articles that go through a specific concept and try to get into the details of the matter, I usually post no more than once a month on average. See? I don't post twice a day and you don't have to do so to end-up in the top 5 list of for the best blogs of 2008. The only piece of advice I have (on top of what Duncan suggested already) is that I wouldn't be too much worried about having a blog... I would, on the other hand, be worried about having something interesting to say in a blog. I have been in countless IBM meetings where people where suggesting, for a particular topic we were working on, to create a Domino team-room or a wiki to collaborate and have people aggregating around it: most people don't understand a wiki or a blog per se is nothing. It's just a frame... if you don't put a picture in it - i.e. the real content - people won't stop and won't look at it.

I have to admit I have had so much exposure to end-users and business partners in the last few years that it is easy for me to write about stuff they are interested in. Even if you don't visit often customers these days, other technologies such as forums, allow you to have a real life grip on what's going on in the field. When I spent a few hours on the VMware and Microsoft forums I feel like I have visited some 20 customers given the amount of information you can take out of those posts (pain points, requirements, constraints, even internal politics that have little to do with IT but do influence the IT choices). Sure if you haven't been able to meet a customer in 10 years and you think Twitter is a bad word... well you can always post stuff on your blog but they probably need to be related to how you would suggest cooking pasta "al dente" or a good steak on the grill.

100% agreed also with Duncan's post about the fact you post not only to share something you know with the community but also to have a chance to dig into something you need to understand in deeper details. This is for example what happened to me prior to this post about how DR works in a VMware scenario. I have used it as a challenge: there were many things I didn't have clear about the various steps and I thought that I was too lazy to just sit down and read the manuals. I had to have a challenge and posting an article about how to do that was a good one.

The only regret I have is that it seems Duncan has been able to capitalize more on his visibility than I have been able to, but that's ok. In the meanwhile I will enjoy the (almost) 1000 visits in 24 hours... talking to 1000 people of what I think about a given topic would mean 10 years on the road in the pre Web 2.0 era.

I guess that having posted yesterday as well as today, I will have to wait another couple of months for the next post to be on my "average posting rate".