Blogging and presenting have changed me for the better, and in ways I didn’t see coming. However, I know I wouldn’t have had them if it wasn’t for three things. Getting it all started, having help getting established, and having an audience for my work were supported by several groups of people, with a couple people really standing out.
Getting it started
This all started because Tom Zimmerman noticed I had an answer for everything, even if I didn’t know it right away. I learned which bloggers and forums to trust, and would look up any issue quickly and easily. However, he pointed out that I was a “leech”, always taking and never contributing.
Tom was right, so I eventually started what I thought was an altruistic path to find ways to contribute. I settled on blogging even though I thought it would be complex to set it up and maintain. Although it turned out it was as easy as writing an email, I wouldn’t have gotten past the hurdle of starting if it wasn’t for Tom.
Thank you, Tom.
Establishing the blog
So I created my blog, decided that wording things towards more junior level DBAs was the best thing for me and an area that could use more content, and was on my way. However, I didn’t know how to promote myself, get people to read what I wrote, or really much of anything. If only a couple people were reading it then I would have given up, quickly.
To get established, as I blogged in the past, I was very fortunate to come across Brent Ozar’s blogs on bogging and presenting. To me it’s even more significant than his work blogging SQL Server. Some of the stuff he talked about:
- Having your blog reach established audiences.
- Improve search engine results with SEO.
- Writing consistently to establish your own audience.
- Picking an audience and talking to a person (2010 version of me).
People were reading my syndicated work from the start, and some of my posts were creeping their way up in the search engines to get readers there, too. My words were being heard, and I needed that to keep going.
That part worked but he was also talking about presenting. How to do it, how to get better at it, where to do it, and how it changes you. Well, if one part worked for me, lets try the next part. That, too, worked out rather well.
Thank you, Brent.
Having an audience
So I mentioned syndicating my blog and doing presentations, but those both required an established audience where unknown people were accepted and encouraged to participate. For that I found a couple places.
SQL Server Central and Toad World (formerly SQLServerpedia.com) were the two places to syndicate that I found very early on, and to this day the only two I use.
SQL Server Central is the more important of the two for me for several reasons. I used and abused this site in the past to the point I was called a leech, so it was an honor to be there. Then they do daily and weekly emails highlighting blogs and articles with both of them selecting a couple blog posts syndicated to SQL Server Central. To this day it makes my day seeing my work on there. The vote of confidence and boost in readers is a real boost to my morale and dedication to write more, better content.
You can’t discount Toad World which is slow to get reads, but gets many of them over time. It’s a lot like the SEO work for search engines where you need to do good work and be patient. I didn’t start with patience (still not doing too well there, either), but I’m very glad I have this going as well.
Then there were presentations, which I jumped right into doing at SQL Saturdays without ever presenting to a user group first. I didn’t do too well the first time or two, but I’m also an introvert to the point that my oldest brother told me he would have bet money against me publically speaking. However, the audience was there, the organizers encouraged new people to participate, and I was able to refine myself to the point of standing toe-to-toe with names I’ve known for years. Better yet, now they’re not names to me, they’re people I’ve met and continue to know better.
Yeah, you know that these things started somewhere by a couple people, but I never put much thought into that. Not until I read a post thanking Steve Jones. SQL Server Central and SQL Saturday, the two places I thank the most for hooking me up with an audience, were both started by the same person. Sure, he had help, such as Andy Warren and Brian Knight for SQL Saturday, but he was key in starting two organizations that are still key to me.
Thank you, Steve.
Oh the people I would name if I thought I could name them all. Coworkers, mentors, SQL Saturday volunteers, bloggers, presenters, readers, attendees, and more should all be mentioned. Even if I was overconfident enough to think I could name them all, the readers would move along like people in a theater during the credits. To keep it short and simple….
Where am I now?
I am SOOO glad that I had all of this established. This past year has been the worst. I wish that last sentence needed a filter or something saying it was the worst for certain areas, but it was pretty all-inclusive. Work, home, life in general beat me down to nothing and I needed to be picked back up. I didn’t blog for 17 months, skipped submitting to some SQL Saturdays I love, and in general completely fell apart.
When I started to get it back together, I had some things established that helped more professionally than I could have ever hoped for. My blog was still pulling in views, especially with being in the top 5 search results for a common search term on Google. I didn’t really have an established audience for my blog because I was inconsistent before I took 17 months off, but it was syndicated to an audience happy to see me return. SQL Saturdays were coming up waiting for an abstract.
My confidence was just waiting for me to say that I’m back. So, confidence, I’m back.
Now I’m ending the year with a blog that has 125,000 lifetime views not counting syndication that takes it closer to a total of 200,000. I’m also pulling together a presentation for SQL Saturday Cleveland that I’ll blog about in January, and I’ll pin their speaker evaluation forms on my cube wall, too.
I have goals of blogging better to make a bigger difference for the readers, blogging more consistently to earn followers, and do more with presentations to reach more people with better content. The details I have for these goals that I didn’t list here aren’t easy, but it’s not easy to describe what these accomplishments do to a person, either.
I understand what it really means to me, especially when I’m down. Hopefully, I’ll never need it like that again, but I’m so glad all of this was there when I did.
Steve, I am glad you got your swagger back! I look for 2016 to be your best year yet! God Bless you! – Rick
Thank you. It’s been rough, but the best way out is to realize everything you have to be thankful for.