Top 4 benefits of writing a tech comm blog

Kai’s Tech Writing Blog was one year old last week! It’s been good to me, and the work it takes pays off in several benefits.

If you don’t keep a blog, my benefits below may help you decide whether you want to start one. And if you do have a blog, we can compare notes! 🙂

1. Improve ideas

My blog helps me to come to terms with trends and developments and to test drive new ideas. I usually try to have them thought through well enough, so I can publish something coherent and don’t just think out loud.

2. Connect with the community

My blog’s most important benefit is that I get to meet other tech writers who may have similar concerns, different solutions or interesting insights, whether they appear in posts on other blogs (see my blog roll on the right), in comments beneath my posts or on twitter. I get advice and can learn from smart and experienced people. And I can give back to the community when I can offer my experiences.

3. Picture progress

My blog lets me track my progress as a tech writer, much more so than weekly reports in my company. After several years, I don’t become a better tech writer by completing yet another manual, but rather by mastering a new method or by consolidating experiences into applicable insights. Such advances aren’t always immediately visible in a time sheet. In other words: My blog helps me to report on my development in a more personal, less corporate framework. Oh, and it’s nice to see the tag cloud changing (see Categories to the left)…

4. Write regularly

My blog has been habit-forming. From the start, one year ago, I decided to stick to a regular publication schedule with one or two posts per week. I still find that works best for me.

Writing 400 to 800 words per week, which usually don’t directly relate to my work at the office, has been a very good exercise. It encourages me to keep my eyes open for trends (even though I may take some time to pick them up). And it helps me to express myself clearly in less structured writing than my topics and manuals usually require.

– So that’s what motivates me to write one or two posts a week…

Your turn

If you keep a blog, what do you get out of it? If you’ve wondered about starting one, do you find these benefits reasonable or attractive? Please leave a comment.

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17 Responses

  1. What a GREAT idea for a blog post!

    I’ve only got my blog (http://lessworkmoreflow.blogspot.com) really off the ground in lat 2010, so it’s still on its baby steps.

    I think you’ve ticked off the main reasons anyone does a professional blog (these days) so I have to second Write Regularly and Develop Ideas, but for my own reasons.

    Write regularly – Not only as a way to keep the tool sharp, but as a way to express ideas that don’t have another opportunity. I’m sort of opinion keg that perodically needs a valve released, and blogging to the community really helps me feel like I’m doing my part to advance and contribute ideas the community.

    and “Improve Ideas” – I have to present a lot and often get articles into trade publications. Blogging helps a) develop ideas that could be made into white papers and articles and get vital early feedbackb and b) articles that are in trade journals, are reviewed and editorialised, and are often some of my best work, so especially in print publications in select geographies, the blog is a way to circulate the articles that were interesing to a wider audience for comment and contribution.

    Finally, I’d add Share and Compare Case Studies. Unlike most bloggers in our industry, I myself am not an actual tech writer, but I work hands on with more tech writers every year than most tech writers do. I’ve found that the industry values real world case studies as a source of practical examples. What problems there were and how they were solved? So, the blog is a way for me to contribute project experience from several projects every year back to the community and compare notes with their experiences of implementing change.

    • Good points, Noz! Indeed, my blog has also helped me to improve on ideas that went into presentations and articles, so it goes further than I outlined above.

      And I can totally see how you can circulate and discuss case studies on a blog – I’ll be on the lookout for such opportunities, now that you’ve given me an idea… 🙂

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michele Marques, Technical Comms. Technical Comms said: Top 4 benefits of writing a tech comm blog http://bit.ly/hMdvji via @techwriterkai […]

  3. I think one (major) benefit missing here is managing your career. I enjoy reading your posts and getting your perspective. It greatly increases the chances that one of your readers might think of you for an open position. Or…if you happen to apply for a new job, the manager reviewing your resume might know about you.

    For consultants, this is even more important since we are basically applying for new jobs weekly.

    • Thanks for mashing up my ideas into a greater, coherent theme, Sarah! I hadn’t really thought of my blog as a career-shaping tool, to find my way and to advertise what I can do.

      I guess my blog may have helped me get a presentation slot, but this is a promising observation. I’ll have to think about this some more… 🙂

    • I second Sarah’s comment. I hope it’s not out of my place to say that when Tom Johnson was hired at our organization, his blog had a lot to do with it. Our manager saw Tom’s blog and really liked it because he showed knowledge and interest in tech comm. Your blog can go a long way to getting you noticed for jobs.

      • Thanks, Ben – now I *definitely* need to think about this some more.

        I mean, of course, I’m aware that this blog is my professional public presence, even more than, say, my LinkedIn profile. I just haven’t been job hunting since I started it.

  4. Happy Birthday Kai! Congrats on your first year of blogging. That’s an accomplishment for sure.

    I’m new to blogging, starting in the fall of 2010. I agree with your reasons and Sarah’s as well. My blog is also a bit of a soap-box for me. My colleague and I blog about DITA. It’s fairly popular on both the east and west coasts, but adoption has been much slower in our neck of the woods. One of our reasons for starting our blog was to help spread the word. But it’s more than just a career thing. It’s something I believe has the potential to help people work more efficiently and produce really cool results. Guess I’m a bit of a geek, because I’m quite passionate about those things.

    • Thank you, Lu! As with other habits, I found months 2 to 4 sometimes a bit tedious. But once you get over that and have formed a habit, I find that most week I start to miss thinking about and writing for the blog, so it’s become a welcome, integral part of my life.

      I’m fully with you on the passionate geek motif – same here. I really appreciate my tech writing gig and want to share my enthusiasm. And I don’t think there are many better ways to do that than a blog. Oh, presenting at conferences is good, too! 🙂

  5. A year! Woohoo! Congratulations, Kai! That’s a big milestone. Very exciting.

    If I may, I’d add another: it’s fun! There’s something about having your own space in which to do whatever you’d like. I enjoy seeing the themes people use, the content they focus on, and, of course, the thoughts and insight they share – and how they set up their blog to do so.

    Another benefit for me is that I’ve learned how to work in WordPress, which I think is an excellent platform to know. Also, learning more about blogging in general has been very interesting. There’s much to know.

    Thanks for all your thoughtful posts, and I’m looking forward to what you discuss in the coming months –

    • Thank you, Julie, for your comment.

      I’m with you on the fun part. Fun is sort of the meta-theme that runs through all four benefits.

      However, I try to stay with a professional tone and not get all personal or ranty or mushy. I respect my readers and commenters too much to water down the tech writing focus in this space and make it less valuable, just for the sake of personal expression. I can certainly find other ways for that, online and off… 🙂

      • Just to clarify, I was referring to learning about running a blog, determining its focus – that sort of thing. I wasn’t referring to the content itself. 🙂

  6. I started my blog (http://thewritersgallimaufry.blogspot.com) literally a week ago. There are only a couple of posts right now, but I’ve got some ideas for a few more. All four of your benefits are a part of the reason I decided to start blogging, but number 2 is the key. I wanted to fully immerse myself into the tech writing community and learn from some of the great tech writers that are online. I have been doing this for five years now and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I can and should know.

    • Hi, Sandy, good for you and welcoming to the blogging world!

      I’ve been lurking and reading blogs for the longest time, but I’ve found that blogging myself is a much more engaging and fulfilling experience. Really, it’s like the difference between reading and writing – literally.

  7. […] Weber on the four benefits of writing a tech comm […]

  8. […] reading Kai’s post about the Top 4 benefits of writing a tech comm blog and Tom’s blog about The Most Important Stories … Aren’t the Ones I’m Writing I realized […]

  9. I think another benefit of a blog is to show off your writing style. Whether it’s simple and concise, or wandering and wordy, it offers insights into your tech writing style.

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