Why you should have a blog or portfolioSep 12, 2023 - 3 min read
Exploring the multiple benefits of having a portfolio or blog. A source of inspiration to kickstart your own.
Tech professionals are on endless learning journeys. We are constantly improving, skilling up, and learning new things. But it often happens in small steps that make it hard to track.
Documenting your progress and journey is very relevant and useful, especially for new developers and other tech professionals.
I've got mine and even though it is a source of endless guilt for not keeping it updated, it is something and I believe it is good enough. I also encourage my colleagues to follow my example and beat me in terms of both quality and quantity.
I found that the key to doing this consistently is to do it while it is still fresh in my mind and I haven't lost the wow of my discoveries. Tech moves so fast, so the amazing thing we discovered last week does not seem that amazing the week after. We simply forget the wow. Therefore, I recommend preserving that sense of wonder by documenting your experiences in writing when you experience them.
There is a wide range of benefits to having a portfolio. I will briefly list a few of the most obvious ones, but one stands out.
Practice and improve writing.
Writing is truly a superpower in the modern world of tech, where remote work is very common and the majority of the communication is in the written format. Therefore I believe it is the most important benefit and side effect. Practice writing is never wasted and can always be improved. Most IT issues are related to communication. It is often due to bad writing or lack of time to sit down and craft a well-thought-through piece of communication that others can use. Becoming better at writing clearly, and understandably, while getting the reader's attention is truly an underestimated skill in the modern world. And it is often overlooked by developers, even though it is so widely used.
This is one of the free benefits of documenting your progress, projects, and newly acquired skills.
If you learn or discover something new or cool, sitting down, reflecting and writing will add an extra dimension to your understanding of the thing you learned.
We all know that teaching something to others is one of the most efficient ways to learn new things.
Consider this as an extra round of practice while finishing up what you just learned.
During the research and actual writing, you will gain some extra insights and improve your understanding of the subject. It will give you clarity and make sure you have a deeper understanding. The gained clarity can also have the extra benefit of clearing your thoughts while reflecting on a topic and forming an opinion or arguing why you stand where you stand in a discussion. It is a good way to develop opinions on complicated topics.
The extra clarity also serves the purpose of problem-solving. If you find yourself going in circles with an issue, writing, and the gained clarity can help solve the problem.
Imagine yourself having a blog or portfolio where you document your greatest achievements each month, then after 1-2 years you can look back and you will see how far you have come, and it will be very clear the steps you have taken and the progress you have made. Even though it can be painful to read something you wrote 1-2-3 years ago, it showcases the gained experience and knowledge very clearly. Actually, the worse it seems the better, because it will outline the progress and make it very visible.
If you learn something that you find amazing or discover something interesting then it is worth sharing.
Some people might know these things already, but there will be 1000 times as many people who don't know this. Properly more. And if you asked a question or discovered something, then you are not alone with this exact problem. Imagine if your post would be found by someone who was asking the same question and you then provide the answer. He might battle the same issue or might just be earlier in his journey than you. Everyone is doing the same thing when they are in doubt. Google has the answer, but only because so many brilliant people decided to share their knowledge and experiences.
If you manage to do this consistently, then you will eventually have a very detailed CV which will make it a lot easier to hire you. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you want to change jobs, you can easily create a CV based on your portfolio.
And it is never a bad thing to display some kind of mid-way-reflections during your progress and work life. It does give the employer a sense of the person and the mindset behind the profile. And a clear illustration of the skillset.
It is a double-edged sword because the imposter will tell you that you are not good enough to publish anything. That your findings gained knowledge is basic and not interesting to anyone.
Remember this: When you learn something, 0.01% of people have this knowledge and 99.99% don't. There are way more developers on a journey who could benefit from this. Of course, some will already know it, but everyone has been on a long learning journey, and most are still traveling!
The articles, projects, or whatever the portfolio contains, will also serve the purpose of showcasing the progress you have made to yourself.
And that is one of the great antidotes against the imposter syndrome.
Above are just some of the obvious benefits of having a portfolio or blog.
Nevertheless, it is often a struggle to get started and to keep going. Even though the intentions are good and everything is clear, it is hard to do this.
To succeed discipline is key. You need to make it a habit to document these things and write about your experiences.
Also, try to make it as easy as possible for you to write it down. Remove all obstacles, mainly technical ones and those related to perfectionism.
Don't expect it to be perfect, less will do! Take feedback positively, someone sees what you are doing, spends time reading it, and gets an idea of how you can do even better. They value your contribution and see the options and opportunities to make it even better.
Remember to write while it is still fresh in your mind, if not you will lose both the wow effect and joy, but also the important details. Often the longer you wait the greater the struggle it is to get started or finish it. It is also easier to write right after your discoveries since it is fresh and you don't need to re-research.
Lastly, see if you somehow can set yourself up for success by creating a space where you can enjoy the process of writing.
It should feel good to publish something, but the process of crafting this piece of content is actually what matters!