I had a great time today talking to a guy at SQL Saturday Baton Rouge (great event, by the way)! He said, more or less:
I’m thinking about the next step in my career. I want to do more – maybe a blog, newsletter, videos, something. But I’m worried about…
And he mentioned several things keeping him from starting. Would it pay off? Will it be worth it? Could he keep up with it? Would he end up embarrassing himself?
Is it worth it? Will it pay off?
Is it worth putting in the time to build a brand, or create content? Is it worth it to spend all that time?
Well here’s the thing: you might have a specific end game, like brand building to get into consulting. Or you might just have a general idea, like “advancing your career”. Think about what doing the thing will get you:
- Creating content, like recorded sessions or blogs, will teach you a ton about what you do and don’t know. You don’t know a topic until you teach it.
- It will also give you a reference. I go back and read my own blogs on a regular basis, to relearn something I’ve forgotten.
- It will get you some recognition and familiarity in the technology sphere, which can lead to all kinds of inspiration and opportunity. After five years of being the MidnightDBAs, Sean and I occasionally walked into interviews and had to answer zero questions.
Are you going to make a full career off a blog? No, you won’t. But there are other advantages.
Can I keep up with it?
Committing to a blog, or public speaking, or whatever is indeed a commitment. But you can adjust that however you like. Some examples:
I have a blog, and I’ve read that you should really post once a week to build a following. This is probably good advice, but I won’t keep up with it. I post whenever I feel like it, and after (something like) 10 years of blogging, my following is just fine.
Sean and I have done a weekly webshow for eight years. EIGHT YEARS. That’s longer than I’ve done almost anything else in life. How have we done it? Very low standards, seriously. We pick topics we like to talk about, we keep it in a format we like, and we post when we feel like. Could we get more of an audience if we had high production values and writers? Sure. Do I care? Not really. (And by the way, we’re starting to put all of the recorded episodes on our YouTube channel. Podcasting it was too much of a pain.)
What about getting embarrassed?
Okay, so the whole idea of brand building is to get a lot of people to know who you are. And that does happen – we’ve had some great things come out of people knowing who the MidnightDBAs are.
And, I’ve struggled with the embarrassment thing. What if I post something stupid? What if I get called out? Well, I have, and I have. You live. People forget it way sooner than you do.
And! Even if you’re well branded, well known, and screw up? Fully 3/4 of the people you ever meet will have heard of you*. That’s right! Super successful, famous SQL people aren’t known by the majority of the people at a conference. There’s a certain amount of comfort in anonymity, and you’ll still have it.
Of course, be sure to post corrections when you do screw up, but don’t worry about it too terribly much (so long as it’s a “once in a while thing”).
In any case, that thing you want to do? You should probably go do the thing. And tell me about it, because I’d like to take a look.