Here’s a common question for developers building up an online presence:
There are all these nice-looking hosted blogging services like Medium, Tumblr, or Wordpress.com… Why not choose them to host my programming blog? They’re free, too!
Sure, sites on these services are easy to set up and they look decent enough. But they have a few big downsides to them:
You’ll lose control over your own content
Let me explain… No one guarantees that Medium or Tumblr will be around in 5 years. It’s likely they will be—but what about 10 years then? At some point these services will disappear, just like it happened with other blogging and hosting services in the past.
If your online presence as a developer relies on a platform like that then you’re 100% at the whims of the company running it. With your own website and domain you can switch domain and hosting providers no problem. I did that twice over the last four years.
If you’re posting to Medium, Tumblr, or Wordpress.com you’re not really building an asset like you would writing for your own website. Of course you’ll get some free exposure on these sites but it’s their domain getting ranked on Google, not yours.
Selling products is harder
Something else to keep in mind: If you don’t control your own content it will be extremely tough to offer products or services in the future.
Maybe you don’t want to do that right now—but I’m sure glad I set up dbader.org in 2012. A sparsely populated web site can still age like fine wine. Even if you have little content on your site people will find it over the years and link to it. That way you have something to build on once you decide to expand your website. Your traffic levels won’t start at zero.
It looks less professional
Consider this for your own developer portfolio or online resume:
Would you rather share a link to janespythonblog.com or www.medium.com/users/janedoepython when you’re applying for a job?
Would you rather send your emails from firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com?
One of those looks vastly more professional than the other.
Umm, “Developer Marketing”?
I predict that building a successful programming career will get much more difficult over the next decade. There will be more developers and the level of competition will rise.
I know that “marketing” is often looked down upon in our industry but building up basic skills on how to market yourself as a software developer has huge returns.
It won’t get easier over time, so what better time to start building these skills and assets than now?