Wow, before I even realized, it’s been over a year since I started blogging! So, here’s what I learned from one year of blogging in one post.
I started blogging primarily because I kept stumbling upon sources stating that blogging could have a huge boost to someone’s career. So I thought it’s kind of better to start early than to start late. I created a Wordpress.com domain, just wrote about the first thing that popped into my mind and that’s how I published my first post: Flashback: My first cybersecurity “discovery”.
I’m not a native English speaker, so it was kind of hard for me at first. I kept making grammar mistakes, my posts were nowhere near something that’s valuable, but I just didn’t care. I only did it for fun and wrote primarily for myself. I didn’t care if anyone reads the posts or not.
As I was writing my posts, my English skills have improved quite a bit. I’m still not completely satisfied with my grammar and I still make some mistakes from time to time, but I’m more confident with my English skills than ever before.
Now, to be honest, starting to blog was not amongst my first writing accomplishments. I was good at writing and I had some success in it before I started to blog, but prior to it I had never tried to write anything longer than a comment in English.
By looking at my posts, I can clearly see my English skills imporoving over time. Somewhere in January, I became satisfied with my blogging skills and I have decided to take the things to a whole new level.
There was one post which I titled Reasons Why GitHub is My Favorite Technology-Related Company that was kind of a crossover in my blogging “career”. Prior to it, I was reading Opensource.com for quite a while. When I published that post, I became as satisfied as I can get with it, so I contacted Opensource.com and suggested to them to publish that post on their domain. That decision had a crucial impact on my future blogging experience.
The post got accepted. It was changed a bit while it was going through the editorial process and after that it was published as a beginner’s guide to GitHub. It received a huge support right after it was published. It was soon titled as the best article of the week and later on as the best new article of the month. Suddenly, I had people from Red Hat, which was one of my favorite companies at the time (and still is), contacting me and congratulating me on the success of that post.
A month later, I contacted the Opensource.com admins and applied to become their new community moderator. They were more than happy to accept my application, so I became their new community moderator. Soon after, I started contributing to other more popular local blogs like Kompjuteraš and Linux za sve. My confidence skyrocketed!
Oh, I should probably mention that my very first article for Opensource.com was recently proclaimed as the 4th most popular article published on Opensource.com in the first half of 2015.
The good things
Blogging allowed me to meet awesome people from around the world. I had the opportunity to interview people from companies such as GitHub and Red Hat. I had so many email conversations with so many people that are at the peak of their career that I would ever had the chance to speak to if I haven’t started blogging a year ago. As a student living in a country that you would never think of when you talked about technologically developed countries, it was pretty much impossible for me to meet such awesome people in any other way. I became a part of an awesome team and I couldn’t be more satisfied with myself.
Mostly because of my blogging skills, I succeeded in other areas of life as well. I was selected as a representative of my country during the EVS (European Voluntary Service) project in the Netherlands in April this year (here’s a post summarizing my experience). I’m selected as one of the 40 student representatives from all over Europe that are going to attend ICT 2015 conference in Lisbon in October this year. I though that this is going to be the very first IT conference that I’m going to attend, but apparently, I was wrong. I was also invited to attend All Things Open just a few days before ICT 2015. I still don’t know if I’m going to be able to attend both of them (I’m waiting for the traveling agency to contact me to see if it’s doable, after which I still need to get a new passport and to apply for a U.S. Visa) or if I’m going to have choose between them, but I would probably never had the chance to attend neither of them if I haven’t started blogging.
I improved my English skills and I became more familiar with the technologies such as HTML5/CSS3, Wordpress, Markdown and Jekyll. I never called myself a content writer or anything similar, but I am doing pretty much everything related to that (and other similar) role(s): writing content, driving traffic, suggesting ideas, working on SEO etc.
The bad things
Writing can be time consuming. It usually takes me somewhere around three hours to write one post. I have more emails than ever before. I like to get engaged with my audience and my colleagues, so I’m spending a lot of time reading their emails, replying to them, reading and commenting on other articles and other similar things.
It’s kind of standing in my way of learning new things. I’m not going to say that writing blog posts and articles is nowhere near a full time job for me currently, but I kind of look at it as an excuse to procrastinate more than I need to. I definitely need to work on that.
The things I need to improve
I need to stop writing unless it’s necessary and start focusing my attention on being a better programmer and learning more about the theory of cyber security and artificial intelligence (my two favorite IT fields of study). I have no intention of becoming a full time content creator after I finish college. I have other plans for my career and I need to spend more time accomplishing them.
- I published 88 posts on my blog so far (this one is 89th).
- I published 9 posts for other sites so far. I finished two more that are going to be published soon and I have lots of new ideas in my head.
- My work was mentioned in 11 articles (that I know of) in the last year.
- My blog now has more than 32,500 views (counting both Wordpress.com and my GitHub Pages domain). The current average is 150 views per day for quite some time.
What I’m going to do in the future
I’m going to focus more on contributing to other sites and I’m going to try to reduce the number of blog posts that I’m publishing on my own domain. I made a decision to publish IT-related posts written in my native language to Kompjuteraš instead of publishing them here. I’m going to try to decentralize my posts to other websites as much as I can and to become a valuable contributor to other websites.
I’m planning on buying my own domain and switching my blog to that domain for quite some time, but I’m constantly running into troubles. Some of the domains I considered are already taken, buying my country’s domain is too expensive for me at the moment, I misspelled my email when I registered my free
.me domain that I got as a part of my GitHub Student Developer Pack and now GitHub’s support is ignoring my emails (for months) for some reason, I tried to buy a
.in.rs domain (Serbia’s pretty cheap domain for personal websites), but the domain reseller is not being very supportive at the moment.
I have no intention of profiting using my blog. My blog is ad-free and will probably remain like that in the future. I got like 6 euros so far from the donations via Flattr, but that’s it. I’m trying to track down my viewers so I can see how can I improve my blogging skills using tools such as Google Analytics, but I’m not keeping any newsletter or anything like that. I’m just doing it for fun, writing about the things that are interesting to me at the moment. I have no intention of doing anything else with it. Of course, this has its side effects. As an example, my bounce rate is awful (close to 85%), but I just don’t care. If you came here to see how I profited from blogging and how I turned my blogging skills into a career, sorry, but I would have to dissapoint you.
Should everyone blog?
I’m not going to suggest to everyone to start a blog, but I am going to suggest to anyone interested in an IT career to start a blog, even if they’re planning on publishing just a couple of posts in a year. Writing a blog is a great way to receive some highly appreciated reputation from more influential people in the industry. Plus, it’s a great way of expressing yourself creatively and perfecting your English skills if you’re not speaking English natively. I didn’t make any profit from it so far, but I personally think that I made something far more important than that.
Blogging allowed me to get the reputation in the industry that I probably wouldn’t be able to get as a 20 year old student with a tight budget living in a not really technologically developed country. I couldn’t be more proud of the decision I made a year ago, but there’s still some things I need to improve in my workflow.