For the past several years I’ve been an advocate of leveraging blogging and social media to boost one’s career (among other reasons).
The common objection
A common objection I get, particularly from people just starting out in their careers, is: “But I’m not an expert”. Fellow programmers are especially partial to this thought pattern.
Listen, I get it. Unless you’re strongly affected by the Dunning–Kruger effect, you know full well the limits of your knowledge.
It can be intimidating to put yourself out there, facing criticism, ego bruising honesty, and the reality of potential unpleasantness from people on sites like Reddit or Hacker News.
But I would argue that the potential rewards from blogging are so vast, that it is worth facing our insecurities and the potential for criticism in order to experience such positives.
Criticism can be unintentionally useful even when it wasn’t intended to be constructive. You posted some code and someone mentioned that there is a better way to do it? Yeah, they weren’t friendly about it, but you just got a free code review and an opportunity to learn a more effective way.
This post is not about the benefits you get from blogging, however, so let’s see what you can blog about when you are objectively not an expert.
What to blog about as a novice
- You can use your blog to document your process of going from novice to expert in a given field. Document your journey.
- Review what you are reading or watching, assuming it’s relevant to the topic of your blog. You don’t need to be an expert to do that.
- Post your notes online as you learn more about the topic from various sources.
- Leverage the blog to ask questions and open a conversation with the community. More experienced people might find your queries and share their expertise.
- Blog about what you understand. It is said that the best person to teach someone X is someone who is just at X + 1. An expert might overlook how tough certain stumbling blocks are for beginners. Not you, since you just learned about a given topic that confused you only a few days or weeks ago.
- Express your opinions and impressions, even if they happen to be “first impressions” due to your novice status.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. You don’t need to be an expert to have an interesting blog that is read by people within your technical community.
In fact, sometimes getting to watch a blog “grow up” can be quite interesting, helping you build a large and lasting audience of readers who root for you.