When I was in Puerto Rico, I started this blog because I thought that virtually all programmers out there had their own blog somewhere in cyberspace (or whatever people call the Internet nowadays). Since I was searching for a job, I thought this would help me get at least on par with others in the job-seeking market. Even though I already have a job, I decided to keep this blog active as a hobby, since I do like writing about anything that interests me.
Currently, the company I work for is looking for more Ruby On Rails developers to help with the development and maintenance of ths site we're making (note: if you live in New York and are looking for a job using Rails, contact me and I'll let my employers know about you). It hasn't been easy, since it seems that seasoned Rails developers - although I don't consider myself a 'seasoned vet' - are scarce, probably because they already have jobs elsewhere. But that's another topic I'll write about soon.
In my case, my boss asked me to check some sample code from someone out. After checking the code, I was curious to see who the person was, so I searched on the Internet (which I truly implore all employers to do when scouting prospective talent) to see what kind of profile this person had. There were some posts of him asking some questions about Ruby and Rails, a mostly empty profile at Working With Rails, but nothing else. No web site, no blog, nothing. I found it weird that a person with years of professional programming experience has nothing that they regularly maintain.
Sneaky spy that I am, I also checked some previous employees at this company, and to my surprise, none of them had blogs or anything else that they keep up-to-date. It's really surprising that in this day and age, when blogs, websites and domain names are so cheap (or even free) to acquire and maintain, that they don't spend a couple of minutes to set something up.
Of course, I'm not saying that you need to set up a blog or website if you're a programmer. It's definitely not a requisite. But in an era where your electronic identity is more important than ever, it's a great thing to have for many reasons. Like I did, you could be job-hunting, or looking for work on the side. Having a place where people can freely go and checking out your work (or your personality - something that's overlooked a lot) is a bonus. It's like a pre-screening, but you'll have the advantage over others who don't have sites set up. Provided that your site is decent, of course. If I were an employer looking for a web developer, and found that their website was full or animated GIFs, MIDIs and scrolling marquees, I would most likely pass.
I think the primary reason for people not doing this is probably their perceived amount of time they think they need to spend maintaining a blog or website. To be honest, it takes virtually no time at all. My usual blog posts take around 15-20 minutes to write up, since they're just thoughts that come to my mind during the day, and I take the time to write them up later on. I don't need to sit down, write a first draft, think how I'm going to write my blog, etc. I just sit down and do it. I also don't feel the need to update the blog every single day. It's not about quantity, but about quality. If you can write a kick-ass blog post every two or three weeks, I appreciate it more than reading a deluge of uninteresting blog posts every day.
If you're a developer who wants to make a name for yourself, either for professional or personal reasons, I really suggest at least creating a blog (it's not like you have to pay - Blogger and WordPress are two good starting places) and trying to write something from time to time. Not only will prospective employers thank you for it, I believe it'll also let you grow as a professional.