Challenges for new community bloggers and speakers!
It can be tough to make a splash in the SQL Server community. SQL Saturday events fill up with the usual speakers pretty quickly, and bigger conferences can be intimidating, never mind that many of us are scared of presenting or having to answer an unanticipated question. Blogging can be similar or even harder; you probably have fears that:
- there isn't anything you can say about a subject that hasn't already been said;
- that nobody will read it or learn from it;
- that nobody will leave comments; or,
- that people will leave comments.
This probably strikes you as easier said than done, but please put your fears aside.
I don't care how junior you are (or think you are); everyone working with SQL Server has knowledge that can be useful to someone else working with SQL Server, no matter how senior they are (or think they are). Maybe you solved a problem in an interesting way, or maybe you are writing about a topic someone else has written about, but your particular description or even word choice is what leads to that "lightbulb" moment for the reader.
Note that blogging about something you have done is a great way for you to learn, too, as explaining how you solved a problem to other users can help you organize your own thoughts about it, and surely readers will notice or recall things that weren't obvious to you at the time as well.
Also remember that your blog posts can be permanent code repositories for you (I can't tell you how many times I've come across a problem, searched about it, and discovered one of my own blog posts had the solution). And your posts can serve readers of the future as well, so don't be discouraged by underwhelming initial response. I still occasionally reference posts I wrote in the 90s on aspfaq.com (don't go there now; it's been taken over by malware slimeballs), and I always strive more for quality than for exceeding some hit counter – if I helped just one reader truly understand a feature or solve a vexing problem, that's much more valuable to me than having 10,000 people visit a post in a day and take little or nothing from it.
Finally, don't think that you have to stick to deep, technical problems – posts can be about simpler things, or even non-technical topic areas like professional development.
Anyway, the reason for all of this rambling is that I hope to encourage you to start speaking or blogging, and there are two current challenges that can help set you right up.
The #SQLNewBlogger Challenge
The first is a challenge from Ed Leighton-Dick (@eleightondick), who is calling for you to write one blog post a week in April. Not to copy Brent Ozar, who has also blogged about this challenge, but he offered to review your posts once published, and I'd like to make a similar but slightly different offer. You can e-mail me your ideas or drafts (in .wpost or .docx format) to email@example.com, and I will be happy to review and provide feedback. A couple of others have written about this challenge too, including Mike Fal and Andy Warren, and their posts are certainly worth a read as well. (As an aside, I think this is finally going to be the catalyst that hurls our own Nick Harshbarger (@nicharsh) into the world of blogging.)
24 Hours of PASS
The other is a challenge from PASS, revolving around the next 24 Hours of PASS event, where – in an effort to grow the speaker community – they are only accepting abstracts from speakers who have never spoken at the annual PASS Summit. This is a great way to break the ice and either start presenting or move into bigger audiences; as a bonus, the presentations are all online, so you're not standing on stage, sweating it out in front of a crowd. If you're stuck for ideas of what to present, I am more than willing to help with that – like above, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know about your expertise, your day-to-day work, and what areas of SQL Server you are really passionate about. And if you want some advice on how to write a killer abstract, several people have written about it:
Call to Action
I do hope that you consider one or both of these challenges. You need to start making decisions and preparing ideas now, though; the deadline for the 24 Hours of PASS call for speakers is April 1st (no joke!), and your first blog post for Ed's challenge should be published by April 8th. For those of you who are already established speakers or bloggers, maybe this can just serve as inspiration for you to blog more or to submit to more speaking events. In any case, get those ideas flowing!