You should

Have I ever told you the story of how I got my job? I've now been a developer advocate for PHP at JetBrains for over two years, and I always considered myself to be pretty lucky being able to turn what used to be my hobby into my job.

Ok sure, luck had something to do with it, but the most crucial factor was actually a single blog post. One post, now more than 7 years ago, is what triggered a chain of events that led me to where I'm at today. I oftentimes remind myself of this blog post, and I think it would make an inspiring story to share with you as well.

So, back to 2017. I was working at your average web agency. One of my hobby side projects during that time was to build a static site generator in PHP. I needed a test subject, so I made a small blog to try it out. Eventually I lost interest in the static site generator idea, but the blog stayed. I'm still using that static generator to power what you're reading right now, but I would never want anyone else to use it.

Anyway, I wrote the occasional blog post, and one day I stumbled upon a video on Laracasts. It was titled "Visual Debt" — and boy, did I disagree with everything said in it.

So I reached for the only platform I had: write a reaction post about it. A couple of weeks later and I checked up on my analytics — I occasionally did so to see how many people were reading my stuff, mostly to boost my ego a little bit. That one post apparently had thousands of views — much more than any of the other posts I had written up until that point. What happened was that someone I never heard of shared my post on his newsletter, which apparently had a huge following, and it spread from there.

That someone was Freek. I checked out his website, which led me to his company's website, which made me realise there was this small agency called Spatie 30 kilometers from my home. Apparently, they were looking to hire a PHP developer. I had been close to burning out on my current job for months by this time, but I never have had the courage to start a new job search. However, this company really sparked my interest.

So I sent them a casual mail. I attached my CV, but most importantly, I attached my GitHub account. I was invited for an introductory meeting a week later. It went well, and I was surprised to learn that I didn't have to do any technical tests. They already knew my blog, they knew my GitHub, they knew me.

I woke up the next morning, finding an email from Freek in my inbox: "We really liked meeting you, and we'd like to invite you for a second meeting." A couple of months later, I started working at Spatie. I had an amazing 5 years there, met a lot of cool people within the community (offline and online), which is also how I met Roman, my current colleague at JetBrains. We were attending PHP Benelux, where I gave an unconf talk. It was about — believe it or not — that one blog post I wrote as a reaction to the Visual Debt video.

I kept in touch with Roman, and one day we started talking about an open position for a DA at JetBrains. He had been following my blog and YouTube content and thought I'd be a good fit. And so, here were are.

Had it not been for that one video about Visual Debt, I doubt I'd be where I am today. So, in a way, all of this is thanks to Jeffrey Way, the creator of that video. By the way, besides that one video about Visual Debt, I agree with almost everything Jeffrey does at Laracasts, so you definitely should check him out if you haven't heard of him.

Of course, I also have to thank myself for writing — I guess? I simply wrote whatever I wanted to write back then, I didn't have a content plan, I didn't have a strategy. I kept writing, and apparently it worked out pretty well.

I've never been a planner or a big strategist, let alone a skilled marketeer. I usually go where the flow takes me. I try to do whatever I like to do. That definitely makes me a bad businessman and I doubt I'll ever be able to count myself as one of the successful independent entrepreneurs. But I don't feel much ambition to be that. I just write some stuff and focus on the things I like to do, and it's leading me to great places anyway.

I'm going through a period of reflection these days, and it's showing me a lot of stuff I need to work on. But I'm also reminded about a lot of good stuff I'm thankful for. I figured I'd share those parts as well, because I think it could inspire a handful of people. Working on whatever makes you happy is a valid strategy. Not driven by money or fame, but just because you want to. Put that work out there in public. Not because you want to reach specific goals or numbers, but just because you can.

If you want to, you should.

PS: I've added comments to my blog, so you can leave your thoughts on this page now directly! I'd love to read your thoughts as well.