Finding Suitable Work: What Hiring Managers Are Looking For

A large component to finding suitable work is being a proficient interviewer. One of the things many devs lean on when landing a better paying job is their ability to do well during the technical interview. They put so much emphasis on the code and think it’ll be all they need to secure that next opportunity. However, nailing the technical interview is only the first component of finding suitable work as a developer. To be qualified for most higher-level positions in tech, you need to be well-rounded.

What do I mean by that? Working for a company is more than just coding. Whether you’re helping build something from the ground up; maintaining an established product; or stepping away from code to focus on strategy, hiring managers need to know you can truly handle all of the aspects of the job. They need to see you are capable of communicating effectively and working well with your coworkers. Beyond that, they need to be fairly certain you aren’t going to make their lives harder.

Here’s what we know about managers. First, they need to be good motivators; great managers know how to engage their employees to get the most out of them. To this end, they need to build solid relationships with each of their team members while also holding those individuals accountable. In short, a manager’s job is twofold: to complete their technical tasks and ensure their team members are completing theirs as well. That’s why when managers are looking to fill out their staffs, they want people who know the value of putting the team over the individual.

We are living in a world which is increasingly more connected. The internet and ever-advancing technology has given companies the chance to truly sell anywhere. Huge, well-funded companies have always had access to the world beyond their city or state. But now, local mom-and-pop shops can put their products on sites like Etsy and go global. They can do it in the time it takes to fill out a profile and upload a few pictures. What this means is most of the work we do, we cannot do alone. We need to be collaborators.

And that’s why great managers are looking for people that value making their team successful. They know team success trumps individual success every time. Take the example above of the small local company going global via Etsy. Etsy is created and maintained by a team, just like the small artisan selling their wares online. Even if they are solopreneurs, they had help along the way from people that believed in them. Those people helped by asking questions about what was needed and how they could assist.

Do you see the pattern? Teams of people can achieve more than individuals can by themselves. No one becomes successful alone; and for that reason, we are truly all collaborators. And to be good collaborators, we need to be good communicators.

When looking to add a few more people, great managers value strong communication skills. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this sentence: “They were a great developer, but I couldn’t hire them because there’s no way they I could put them in front of a client.” It’s no longer enough just to be smart; being innovative and having good ideas are great traits. However, if you can’t communicate those ideas, all of those wonderful qualities are worthless. There is indeed a time and a place for hacking away in a corner; situational solitude can result in a significant push when necessary. A lot of the time, though, you’re going to have to talk to people.

This is the reason communication matters even more than talent. Conflicts will arise. Differences in opinion can escalate to full-blown arguments. Brainstorming sessions need to take place. Presentations occasionally happen. Having a good command of code will only get you so far; you need to be a solid communicator. When you have command of that, collaboration will become a lot easier.

I’ve talked about a lot of big picture concepts and examples, so let’s relate this back to getting hired on a great team. Good collaborators propel projects forward. They do this by knowing their strengths and how those strengths relate to their place on their team. You can show this in an interview by highlighting your ability to work well with others. Maybe you played an integral and specific role on a big project recently; tell them how you articulated your role to your team and what you accomplished.

Good communicators speak eloquently to their team members and managers, and they tackle problems head on through empathetic communication. Showcase this in your next interview by describing a time you were involved in a conflict at work and how you handled it successfully.

Bottom line, hiring managers are looking for people that play well with others, communicate effectively, and can do the technical aspects of their job well.

Just-In-Time Knowledge: How to learn what you need to know and forget the rest

Technology—including the web—moves insanely fast. It can be intimidating (often annoyingly so) to try to not only consume the content constantly served to us, but also retain it. After all, isn’t the point of sharing information to learn from it? This just-in-time knowledge can be an unfriendly reminder that, no matter how hard we try, we will have a difficult time keeping up with the newest trends and tech.

Doctors are especially impacted by this dire need for one-off knowledge. Primary care physicians need to know a million facts and those million facts are constantly changing depending on the season, the patient, and their location. If they’re wrong about a diagnosis, the results could be fatal. Research shows as many as 98,000 patients die each year as a result of medical errors.

We work in tech, so our just-in-time knowledge isn’t nearly as cataclysmic. However, not knowing the latest trends or being unfamiliar with specific updates can be harmful to our careers. Luckily in tech, most of us have to keep up to date on software and hardware to be successful at work. But what if we’re swimming in a project at work and don’t have time to look into the new technologies? What if it’s nearly impossible to bake new knowledge into our jobs?

Here’s where retention comes into play. We all have a few minutes daily to steal away for a bit of knowledge gathering, whether it be a quick scroll through Twitter or skimming a post on Medium. These moments of quick consumption don’t have to be throwaways. You can use them to keep up to date on the ever-changing web and tech. To make knowledge gathering time more valuable, you have to have great retention.

What influences retention? Two things specifically: sleep and training. Regarding training, knowledge influences memory by affecting retrieval. Knowledge also helps us relate the new information back to already stored information, elaborate on the stored info, and strengthen our ability to remember the new information.

The second major factor influencing retention is sleep. Research shows the more sleep someone gets, the more they retain. The opposite is also true; the less sleep we get, the less we’ll be able to remember certain details. And this makes sense. We know lack of sleep impairs a person’s ability to focus and learn efficiently.

Then there’s the impact sleep has on making memories. Studies have shown that, although both acquisition and recall take place when we are awake, sleep is required for consolidation of a memory.

As we all know, however, it can be difficult to get a full night’s rest and also attempt to have a life as well. Many of us counter the lack of sleep with coffee. It turns out, caffeine’s effect on memory is positive. A team of scientists at Johns Hopkins found that study participants that took 200 milligrams of caffeine after studying had better long-term memory retention than those that did not.

This information is very useful in relation to just-in-time knowledge. We all are constantly consuming information; some incredibly valuable, some to be tucked away for possible use later, and some incredibly useless. How do we retain the information we need and forget the information we don’t? Further, how do we determine which info is necessary and what’s not?

A great place to start is with the research. Retaining info is more likely when we are well rested, so get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Even when you do get enough sleep—and especially if you get less than recommended seven hours—drink at least 200 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is the amount in roughly one strong cup of coffee. Third, strengthen the newly introduced concepts by relating the new information back to the already stored info you have.

Increasing retention is the easy part. How do we know what information to keep and what to throw away? This is entirely debatable. A good place to start, however, is looking at the info you consume daily through the eyes of what you would naturally take with you. For example, skimming through the latest update of Laravel will net you info you’re going to bookmark and probably utilize that day. Skimming through articles on HuffPo or TechCrunch, however, will be info you probably won’t need to retain but will just be nice to have.

Habits of Highly Productive Individuals

We’re all concerned about maximizing what we can do in a day. Case in point: there are thousands, possibly millions, of articles on the internet devoted to productivity. There are just as many apps out there dedicated to helping you manage time and workflow. But personally, I’m all about picking up habits that will net me the most significant results day to day. So here are the three things that will make positive changes in your daily productivity.

Only Check “Thing You Obsessively Check” a Few Times a Day

Slack (or any other ChatOps tool). Text messages. Email. Twitter. Instagram. Your phone in general. Shut it down. You already know this; you already know checking email is time-consuming and stressful. You also know that even though Slack has pegged itself as a tool for productivity, it can actually be worse than email; so much so it can lead to anxiety. Twitter is great for keeping up with current events and learning something new, but this constant stream of information contributes to the on-demand culture we live in. Some studies have even shown we may be addicted scrolling and consuming.

You know what the solution is here. Do I even need to say it? Do I need to tell you to turn off Slack notifications? Or to only check your email twice a day? How about saving Twitter for your daily train commute or during your lunch break? It’s great that we want to stay connected and be updated on what’s happening outside of our little corner of the world, but we also need to remember that our little corner still needs to be maintained.

Do Similar Tasks in Bulk

Technology allows us to pay our phone bill or car insurance on an app. The convenience factor is extremely high (raise your hand if you’ve paid a bill while driving to work). However, trying to do small but important things while doing larger lesser important things is mentally taxing. It can lead to frustration and careless errors; those feelings can follow us into our offices or back home to our families.

Instead of trying to sneak these tasks into other daily activities, set some time aside during the day to do them all at once. Since paying bills, making mundane phone calls, or buying your friend their wedding gift are all low-pressure tasks, you should be able to knock those out fairly quickly once a week. Commit to spending a set amount of time each week just doing small tasks.

A quick note here about multitasking: it’s awful for productivity. You may think to do three small tasks and one big task at once is helping you complete more tasks faster, but it’s not. It may actually be damaging your brain because you’re not multitasking; you are task switching and, as a result, are 40 percent less productive. Since you’re continually switching tasks, you’re cheating each task you are trying to complete simultaneously. The best thing to do here is to focus on one task until it’s completed and then move on to the next one.

Make Free Time, Free

Yes, I know Marissa Meyer worked 130 hours a week at Google at now she’s running the universe. But working more hours doesn’t make you a better worker, and it definitely doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, working Google-level hours makes us less productive. The chances of us burning out skyrocket when you work over 55 hours a week and hobbies legitimately make us happier people. And happy people are, you guessed it, more productive.

So devote some time each week to doing something you enjoy. Make this something other than coding; the idea here is to make your free time actually free. Start a MeetUp; learn to play the guitar; join a sports league; or pick up a healthy TV habit (start with WestWorld; you’ll thank me). If you need an excuse to take some time away from work, read a few articles from this Google search.

When it comes to personal productivity, just remember the time you spend away from work—so in developers’ cases, away from most glowing screens—is going to help you write better code when it matters. When you’re at work put away your phone and shut down Slack. When you’re not at work, give your brain a break by picking up a hobby. Getting the most out of your workday truly does begin with what you do when you’re away. Embrace your time away from the office, and enjoy being something other than a developer for a few hours a week.

Building a culture of trust: Why sharing is good for you and your career

I speak about empathy on teams and why vulnerability is a great asset in your professional life. Sharing ideas falls right in line with my own ideology, but I also understand why people are so terrified to offer up opinions. First off, people are afraid their ideas are going to be shot down. No one wants to look bad in front of their bosses or coworkers. Many people feel that one bad suggestion can affect what others think of their abilities.

Another reason why people are afraid to share is fear that they won’t get credit for those ideas. I’m constantly amazed at how many people refuse to talk about projects they are working on for fear of others trying to swipe the idea. I’m even more so surprised at people who go out of their way to not share ideas with bosses or coworkers. Yes, there is absolutely a chance that someone else will take credit for that idea. The nature of working with other people, however, is that of collaboration.

Think about meeting a deadline at work. You and your coworkers each have your assigned tasks that have to get done by a specific date. So you all starting plugging away on your part of the project. Then someone hits a snag; they need information from a you or another coworker in order to complete their task. What if when this happened, the coworker didn’t want to share the needed information?

Here’s what would happen: there would be an immediate conflict between the team members and it would take time away from the task at hand. When the two people involved finally did get back to work, there would be tension as a result of both the conflict and the unwillingness to share. And then, of course, there’s the biggest issue: the project. If it did get completed – and that’s a big if – it would either be late or subpar.

Many people are realizing how valuable sharing is the success, and businesses are getting in on the value. The sharing economy is wildly popular right now. Uber and AirBnB open up personal physical spaces to the masses. And even things like Medium and Twitter open up personal stories to those who are willing to be both vulnerable and empathetic.

Companies are going as far as sharing what’s going on with finances with not only their employees but also their users. Buffer is most famous for this. They have a salary calculator on their website that lets potential hires know exactly where they will fall on the pay scale. They also have specific details of their latest round of funding; equity breakdowns; real-time revenue; and every current employee’s salary.

Buffer isn’t the only company committed to transparency. Zappos allows tours of their facilities and allows for question-and-answer sessions with departments. Moz’ CEO Rand Fishkin shared his own personal performance review on his blog, and the company has made their funding deck open to the public. Within companies, founders and executives that share struggles endear themselves with employees so much that they develop a strong sense of loyalty and compassion inside those walls.

This culture of sharing extends beyond just tech companies, and that includes open source contributions. Oil and gas software maker Landmark recently pushed its main computing platform into the cloud, and everyone can use it. Tech companies like the aforementioned Buffer and Mozilla as well as Red Hat also share all of their code with the public. They do this because they want others to learn from them, and they want to learn from others. Sharing forces accountability, fosters collaboration, and pushes innovation.

For managers looking to increase sharing on their teams, encouragement is the first step. Studies have shown that individuals have a very difficult time being empathetic when they are in a group. Splitting up groups and speaking to individuals one-on-one will get to the root of any fear or hesitation your coworkers and employees feel. Speak to them in a way they can understand and embrace, and encourage them to share their ideas openly.

The simple act of letting people know it’s okay to speak freely goes a long way in both sharing and collaboration. This is why pair programming is an essential activity for learning to code. One of the big benefits of pairing is the distribution of knowledge among teams. The quality of code increases when partners are working together, and errors are more quickly caught. Pair programming is truly the essence of sharing, and it has a positive correlation with the success of teams.

Finally, discourage secrecy. Yes, there are times when you must keep certain teams out of the fray for legal reasons but not every single project has to be done under the seal of darkness. Impress on your coworkers how valuable transparency is to company growth. And as companies grow and become more successful, the employees benefit as well. Being a part of a team that grew a company into Google or AirBnB follows you for the rest of your life. Bottom line: sharing fuels collaboration in a way that no other activity can, and it is proven to be beneficial to building companies.

Does caffeine actually boost performance?

Raise your hand if you get the recommended eight hours of sleep every night. For most of us, we’re feeling pretty fortunate if we get around six. Since we’re constantly operating on not-enough, many of us use coffee or other caffeinated beverages to help keep us awake and alert. How healthy is it for us, however, to be constantly feeding ourselves a diet of Red Bull and Mountain Dew?

The most popular caffeinated drink – or, at least the one I personally rely on the most – is coffee. As I am an avid coffee drinker, I, of course, defend the benefits of this miracle drink (and the excessive amounts of creamer I put into it), but how good for us is coffee? And does it actually help us improve our performance at work?

Here’s what we know. Coffee helps fight depression; improves alertness and focus; and is good for your health. According to researchers at Harvard School of Public Health, drinking two cups of coffee on a daily basis reduces the risk of suicide by 50 percent. This happens because caffeine boosts the production of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline – all of which are mood elevators.

Caffeine has been proven to increase alertness and focus, with a related bonus of decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. For non-habitual coffee drinkers, it only takes 200mg of caffeine to improve visual attention; enhance language processing; and improve the rate of detecting errors. Daily coffee drinkers can get the same benefits at 400mg of caffeine.

The biggest benefit of caffeine, though, are those associated with our physical health. Coffee is said to reduce the risk of premature death; decrease the risk of developing prostate cancer by 20 percent and endometrial cancer by 25 percent; reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease by 25 percent; and is associated with lowering the risk of stroke.

So coffee can be considered a great addition to a healthy diet that has the added benefit of boosting our physical performance and mental clarity. But caffeine also has some negative side effects. Heavy coffee drinkers may have an issue with iron and magnesium absorption. The issue with this, and problematic mineral absorption in general, is that minerals are vital to keeping us alive and feeling well. If we aren’t getting enough minerals – or if our bodies cannot properly absorb them – then we will experience fatigue; get sicker more often; and may develop long-term illnesses.

And although coffee elevates moods and slashes the risk of suicide by 50 percent, doctors don’t recommend adults dealing with depression increase caffeine consumption. Why? Because caffeine also causes nervousness, trouble sleeping and rapid heartbeats (among other side effects); all of those things can exacerbate depression and anxiety.

So what’s the happy medium? After all, pretty much everything in life is good in moderation. Studies show that keeping the coffee consumption between one and six eight ounce cups per day is where you will see the maximum health and performance benefits. An added bonus here is that this same amount of coffee can aide in weight loss or maintenance. But just a friendly reminder: caffeine in moderation is extremely beneficial, but be careful of sugary drinks that are easily consumed in bulk. That Mountain Dew habit you’ve picked up is doing more harm than good, so stick with black coffee to reap the biggest benefits of your caffeine fix.

Winds RSS Reader

Winds is an RSS feed reader that goes beyond simply providing a list view of your subscriptions. With machine learning, you’ll get a highly personalized feed tailored to you.

It’s open source and powered by Sails, React, and Redux, and the machine learning is powered by Stream’s personalization API.

Since it’s open source you can download and install it on your own or use their SaaS version by creating an account on their site.

For more information check out their GitHub project.

Beat Burnout With Exercise

Most people in pressure positions at work will experience some sort of burnout at one point in their careers. But what happens exactly when we get burned out? The signs of occupational burnout include exhaustion; lack of enthusiasm or motivation; cynicism; and feeling ineffective. But burnout isn’t something that happens out of nowhere. Usually, there’s a lead-up period called brownout where employees become disengaged and demotivated.

As mentioned in a previous post, many devs solve their burnout problem by taking time off or leaving the industry entirely. That course of action may not be an option for a lot of people. Psychologists suggest we should ease brownout is by unplugging. Taking a technology break gets your mind off of work and forces you to live in the present.

And this sounds great…in theory. In reality, working in technology means being constantly surrounded by technology. Often times, tech toys are a huge part of the way we relax. So if neither unplugging nor sabbatical are viable options, what’s left? Movement.

I’m sure most of you have heard about what exercise does in the brain. Regular exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals (i.e. endorphins, neurotransmitters, and endocannabinoids) that may ease symptoms of depression. Exercise also reduces immune system chemicals that can worsen depression while also increasing body temperature that may have a calming effect. And several studies have proven that exercise eases depression.

A 1999 study published in the Archives of Medicine went as far as to say that, for those looking to avoid drugs, exercise might be an acceptable substitute for antidepressants. The study divided 156 men and women with depression into three groups: exercise only, antidepressants only, and both exercise and antidepressants. When scientists followed up with 133 of the original patients six months after the first study ended, they found that exercise’s effects lasted longer than those of antidepressants.

So what does this have to do with burnout? Take a look at a few of the symptoms associated with it: disengagement, loss of interest in hobbies, stress. Now compare those symptoms to that of clinical depression: irritability, fatigue, difficulty with concentration. Sounds similar, right? That’s because some researchers believe that burnout is a type of depression. The difference is that symptoms of depression can subside when treated with the correct medication. Burnout, on the other hand, requires more of a person’s time and energy to solve.

That doesn’t mean that some of the treatments used for depression can’t also be used for burnout. Namely, exercise and eating well. Along with the physiological benefits of exercise mentioned above, there are other reasons why exercise is a great cure for many problems.

One big reason is that it increases confidence. Setting physical goals for your body and then working towards them is a great accomplishment for many people; seeing your body change physically is great for self-esteem. Exercise is also a healthy way to cope when work or life gets difficult. It can serve as a temporary distraction while also elevating your mood. In short, exercise can give you a different perspective on the problem.

When you are experiencing burnout or brownout symptoms, the best course of action is to practice healthy habits daily. Self-care isn’t something we should only talk about at conferences; it’s crucial maintaining your health and wellness. If necessary, take a week or two of your vacation time to reacquaint yourself with hobbies you love. Clean and organize your house. Spend time with your family and loved ones.

Once you do go back to work, commit to an exercise program. Try to take a quick walk during the day to get some sunlight and fresh air. Bottom line, take care of yourself. Defeating burnout or avoiding it completely can be a simple as 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Burnout in Tech

The story usually goes something like this: there’s a huge project at work. Maybe it’s the company’s first big client. It could be a “the future of the business is hinging on this” situation. This high-pressure time comes with almost impossible deadlines and, as a result, a lot more little mistakes get pushed through. As the project progresses, new problems present themselves which means more work added on.

As the workload increases and the time away from work decreases, you become disengaged. Settling into apathy is your new normal. You don’t care if the work gets done well or not; you just go through the motions because that’s your job. Six months, seven-day-a-week work schedules and 16+-hour-workdays later, your eye starts twitching. You’ve developed other health issues as a result of extreme stress. Those bad feelings seep into your home life, and you stop talking to your wife or reading to your kids. Then one day, it all comes to a head: you don’t know if you can ever spend another day as a developer again. You’re completely burned out.

Burnout for developers is common. Devs spend all day in a very critical, intellectually taxing job. You often take work home which means you are staring at glowing screens for upwards of 14 hours a day. To deal with the burnout, many devs take breaks from working. For some, that’s three months. For others, it’s two years. And for a select few, they left the industry completely. Their burnout and the experience surrounding it was so severe that they changed careers.

How did things get this bad?

When people start becoming disengaged with their work and feel a general sense of apathy, that is a precursor to burnout popularly called brownout. Brownout is the caution zone because the person experiencing it isn’t yet in an all-out crisis. They are experiencing some disengagement, but are still performing at a high level.

Brownout is extremely common in our smartphone-obsessed, post-recession world of work. The jobs eliminated in the aftermath of 2008 still needed to get done, so employers tasked their remaining employees with completing the extra work. Unfortunately, there was rarely an increase in pay and an almost crippling fear of taking a vacation when needed. Brownout became the norm.

But what does this look like in tech? Specifically, for developers. Many devs spend their days working on fixing problems that come up in code. It can get boring, tedious and not provide enough of a challenge. With hours piling up and the work itself not changing, boredom turns to disengagement. That turns to brownout and, slowly, burnout.

To add to the problem, few people are brave enough to say they’re having trouble. Since many developers identify as introverts, they have a difficult time discussing what’s going on with themselves emotionally. There’s also the stigma associated with any sort of mental disability – including the feeling of mental collapse and overwhelm that comes with burnout. The fear of being pegged as “difficult” or “weak” to potential employers keeps a lot of people silent on their struggle.

You know what else doesn’t help? People bragging about how many hours they work. Not only is this irresponsible and unhealthy, it’s unrealistic and harmful. Here’s why: people maintaining in a brownout immediately feel weak when they hear another person talk about working more hours than they do. And you know what happens next. That person works more. The feelings of overwhelm intensify. Then? Burnout.

The truth is any normal person working 130 hours in a seven-day span can’t maintain that without significant stress. No matter how much they love their job or how much they believe in the company, they will eventually find themselves in a catatonic burnout haze.

So what can we do to avoid burnout? Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at beating burnout with exercise and discuss the science behind it and the role exercise plays in defeating the demon.

Git to FTP deployments for macOS

GitFTP-Deploy is a MacOS app that allows you to deploy to sites where you may not have shell access. It can monitor your git repository and pushes only your changes through FTP or SFTP. It also features:

Modern front-end workflows

Run your terminal commands or shell scripts on every deployment. Compile your SASS-files to CSS and push to your server. (SFTP/SSH only)

Talk to your server

Take down your site during deployment or run migration scripts on your server. (SFTP/SSH only)

Always upload

You may not have every file, like compiled JavaScript- or CSS-files, under version control. Add the files or even a build that will be uploaded on every deploy.

You can find out more about GitFTP-Deploy on their site and it is free to try and $14.95 to buy.

Blogging for Developers

Writing is as hard as it is rewarding. I think that’s a part of the reason why NaNoWriMo is so popular. For those unfamiliar, November is National Novel Writing Month where people around the world spend 30 days writing a 50,000 word novel. A novel is a big dream for many people out there, but it’s also pretty intimidating. That’s one of the biggest appeals of this month for those participating. It allows people to try out the writing process and see what they can come up with on four quick weeks.

As popular as NaNoWriMo is, I find it a bit confusing. In 2016, we read books on devices or by listening to them. And, if we’re being totally honest, not many of us are committing to reading entire books. We read personal stories of successes and failures in business. We read those stories on sites like Medium where everything can be read start-to-finish in 20 minutes or less. We keep up with our favorite personalities on Youtube and through their blogs. And most of us are getting our current events dose from social media, where character limits rival those of your average text message.

Just because books are waning in popularity, it doesn’t mean writing in general is a dying skill. Blogs and microblogs – especially ones focused on ever-changing software and development – are still incredibly valuable. And blogging about code is the quickest and probably easiest way to contribute to the community. That’s why I think this is a good time of year to consider tech blogging over writing a book. Blogging will always be constructive, and this month is a great time to start.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is two-fold. First, it’s to write your version of the Great American Novel. It’s about dedication, consistency and accomplishment. Fifty-thousand words is no easy feat, especially in 30 days. But the bigger thing coming into play here is the community. People are participating in NaNoWriMo all over the world. People join Facebook groups for accountability, and that quickly turns into community building.

Blogs have the same benefit. Everyone knows that great blogs build communities. People are constantly scouring the internet to find their tribe, and blogs are a great place to start. Blogging consistently both connects you with an audience looking specifically for what you are talking about, and forces you to be accountable for creating valuable content consistently.

For tech bloggers, a good chunk of this content will be tutorials. Sharing your code and explaining what you did is the quickest way to build a following. Showing your work helps those both learning to code and looking to pivot to a new language. For devs especially, starting with tutorials is a lot easier than writing about anything else. This content is ready made; you’re already coding at work or for fun. Use what you have to get you started, and you’ll quickly contribute to the community.

When you do want to branch out, though, writing posts less focused on code and more on soft skills or current events is a good compliment to tech-heavy content. Writing is one of the skills no one thinks they’re good at but pretty much everyone has to do it at one point or another. We’ve all written a cover letter and a Facebook post. But no matter how many emails we send, there’s always some anxieties surrounding the written word. NaNoWriMo is a good exercise in creating a lot of content in an abbreviated amount of time. Although some people do end up sharing their finished product with others, many people use it as a personal project that no one will ever see. And this is one of the steepest benefits of blogging.

Blogging forces you to get over whatever insecurities you have about writing. And quickly. When you’re writing a blog for an audience, it’s truly not about you. It’s about creating good content that will either help or inspire your reader. This requires some empathy. You have to know your audience and what topics are of interest to them specifically. You also need to marry your own writing style – your voice – with the voice your audience needs to read to receive your message.

If you want to start a tech blog, start with picking a niche that best compliments your skillset. As you post more on it, the community will find you. When you get more of a following, you can then branch out and explore other topics that interest you. So instead of writing a novel this month, consider a blog. Create content every day for thirty days and publish the stuff that you want to share. The biggest factor in a tech blog – or any blog – is consistency.