I’m sure you’ve heard the adage that people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death. On the other hand, some folks can’t get enough public speaking and look forward to opportunities to get up in front of a group and talk. Writing is not so scary since it’s a solitary activity, but having someone read what you’ve written – and possibly criticize it – is quite frightening. Still, some write books or blogs for the world to see.
For over 15 years, I’ve been one of those brave people speaking at data platform events and writing about SQL Server. I’m not sure how the speaking began, but I remember the first time I approached Steve Jones (@way0utwest) about writing for SQLServerCentral. It wasn’t long before I was contributing chapters to a book and then writing my own books.
Tech writing and preparing presentations take a lot of time and work, and while there might be some exceptions, don’t expect to get rich doing these activities. Frequently, speakers at in-person events must pay their own travel expenses and may have to use their vacation or weekend time to attend. Writing blogs is typically for free, but you may get paid for articles and books. Neither is going to let you quit your day job.
Why would anyone want to do these things? The answer is that the intangible benefits can be huge. In my case, I can say that the jobs and consulting engagements I’ve taken over the past decade or so have been directly related to my writing and speaking, especially my current position at Redgate.
Creating content is also a great way to learn more about a topic, another benefit. Years ago, I was asked a question about Kerberos by a customer that I couldn’t answer. I spent a weekend trying to figure it out, but I couldn’t find one resource that told me everything I needed to know. That led to the Kerberos session that I presented at several SQL Saturdays, and here’s an article I wrote on the topic.
The most significant benefit to speaking and writing, in my opinion, is the impact you can make on others in the community. There are people out there who will watch your presentation or read your article or book and solve a problem or maybe even take a step towards their next job. You will never know the impact you can make. By writing and presenting, you can make a difference in the world.