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James Serra's Blog

James is currently a Senior Business Intelligence Architect/Developer and has over 20 years of IT experience. James started his career as a software developer, then became a DBA 12 years ago, and for the last five years he has been working extensively with Business Intelligence using the SQL Server BI stack (SSAS, SSRS, and SSIS). James has been at times a permanent employee, consultant, contractor, and owner of his own business. All these experiences along with continuous learning has helped James to develop many successful data warehouse and BI projects. James has earned the MCITP Business Developer 2008, MCITP Database Administrator 2008, and MCITP Database Developer 2008, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. His blog is at .

Enhance your career by blogging!

When I started my blog two years ago, I never would have thought how much it would help my career.  I can’t stress enough the importance of blogging to enhance your career.  And it’s a lot easier to do than you think.  I hope this blog post will encourage you to start!

Here are the reasons I blog:

  • I can document solutions I encounter for future use.  Sort of my own personal Google
  • It helps to improve my writing skills
  • I learn new technology by blogging about it.  The best way to learn is by teaching, especially when I don’t know enough about a topic
  • To raise my personal brand
  • It’s fun!
  • To prove to clients I know my stuff (credibility)
  • I enjoy sharing knowledge
  • It helps me to remember the things I blog about better because I am researching it and writing it
  • It’s a way for recruiters to find you
  • It’s a way to become “known” in the BI community
  • It’s a big plus if you are trying to become a SQL Server MVP
  • It helps as a consultant when I can use my blog as a solution to a customer’s problem
  • I use it as a replacement for client documentation.  They want you to document a solution, a work-around, etc.  Don’t just write-up something in an email or Word doc…blog it!

Creating a blog is real easy.  It took me only one afternoon to learn how to blog and to post my first one.  I use the web hosting company BlueHost (cost is $5/month), but you can find others at WordPress.org.  You can also use WordPress.com for free, but by using a web hosting company you get more WordPress features (more control of your site, use of more plug-ins).  For a comparison see WordPress.com and WordPress.org, WordPress.org vs WordPress.com – Which One Should I Use?, WordPress.com or WordPress.org? Which One’s Right for You?, and WordPress.com Or WordPress.Org…That Is The Question!

Note you can use your own domain name (i.e. www.jamesserra.com) when using a web hosting company as well as with WordPress.com (For $13/year…see Add a Domain).

These are the main reasons I hear why people don’t blog, and I said the same things before I finally started blogging.  Here they are, with my answers as to why they should not prevent you from blogging:

  1. “I can’t think of anything to blog about”.  I always have “Can I make this into a blog” in the back of my mind.  I keep a list of topics in OneNote (shared among all my computers as well as my iPhone).  That list quickly went from 5 items to 20, to 50, to 100, and now it sits at about 300.  Once you get in that blogging mindset, you will have plenty of topics.
  2. “I don’t know what to write about that others will find interesting”.  Not every blog you write has to be interesting to everyone.  Some blogs lots of people will find interesting, others only a few.  So what?  If you blog often, just about everyone will find at least some of your blogs useful.  Even if you are new to SQL Server, blog about what you learn or a problem you solve, as other people who are new to SQL Server will find your blogs helpful
  3. “I worry that I will plagiarise other blogs”.  I have written about 300 blogs, and there are maybe 3-4 blogs I wrote that where “original” and no one else had written about at the time.  My blogs are usually a mash-up of other blog posts I have read on a given topic.  Written in a way that I understand, and hopefully others who are like me will understand them better.  Almost every blog out there was covered by another blog.  But maybe my way of writing helps someone to understand a topic better than other blogs.  Or maybe someone found an answer to a problem on my blog that was also answered on other blogs but those other blogs did not show up on search results
  4. “I fear I will be vulnerable to comments\criticism.  After all, everyone in the world can see my blog and comment on it”.  Well, in the 2+ years I have been blogging, I have written about many things that I am not an expert on, and no one has viciously attacked a post of mine.  And if they did, I can always choose not to post their comment.  But hey, I know I may post something that is inaccurate, no matter how much I research a topic.  No big deal, if it’s pointed out I just correct my blog post.  That is the whole point of posting anyone, to share knowledge and have the help of others to correct any mistakes

Some tips:

  • Blog consistently, and at least once a week.  For the first year I blogged three times a week, and now blog twice a week
  • Create a twitter account if you don’t already have one and use the option in WordPress to publicize your blog post to twitter when it is posted.  This will get more visits to your blog site
  • Queue your blogs.  This way, in moments of inspiration, you can write a bunch of blogs and wait to publish them.  Schedule them for the same days and times (i.e. every Tuesday and Thursday at 10am).  Never do weekends
  • I frequently go back and edit posts, adding content and links after reading a good article/blog post on the same subject
  • Blogging can be a way for logging problems and solutions for clients

The WordPress add-ins I use:

  • Akismet: Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam
  • All in One SEO Pack: Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog
  • BackWPup: is a very easy way to do a complete backup of your entire WordPress site
  • Feedburner Email Widget: Allows you to add a Feedburner Email Subscription widget to one of your sidebars
  • flickrRSS: Allows you to integrate the photos from a Flickr RSS feed into your site
  • Google Analytics Dashboard: Google Analytics graph integration
  • Google Analytics Plugin: Optimized Google Analytics Plugin for WordPress
  • Google XML Sitemaps: This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com: Bring the power of the WordPress.com cloud to your self-hosted WordPress. Jetpack enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users
  • MobilePress: Turn your WordPress blog into a mobile website/blog
  • Primary Feedburner: Redirect your website feeds to feedburner
  • Social Media Widget: Adds links to all of your social media and sharing site profiles. Tons of icons come in 3 sizes, 4 icon styles, and 4 animations
  • Subscribe to Comments Reloaded: Subscribe to Comments Reloaded is a robust plugin that enables commenters to sign up for e-mail notifications. It includes a full-featured subscription manager that your commenters can use to unsubscribe to certain posts or suspend all notifications
  • SyntaxHighlighter Evolved: Easily post syntax-highlighted code to your site without having to modify the code at all. Uses Alex Gorbatchev’s SyntaxHighlighter
  • WordPress Editorial Calendar: The Editorial Calendar makes it possible to see all your posts and drag and drop them to manage your blog
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin: Returns a list of related entries based on a unique algorithm for display on your blog and RSS feeds
  • Weaver theme

More info:

Rock Stars, Normal People, and You

How to Start a Blog

Blogging for a Living

The Importance of Regular Blogging

The One Tip That Took My Blog To New Levels. Stop Caring.

THIS BLOG POST SHOWS I STOPPED CARING

Want a great blog? Should you stop caring or stop being afraid?

Blogging for Beginners

Why do we Blog? Looking back …

Writing a Technical Blog: Why to do it and what to write about

So you want to blog about SQL Server?

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