Glenn Cate started blogging not just to build his Wi-Fi career, but to give back to the Wi-Fi community. In this interview, Glenn shares his tips and strategies on how to start a blog and why that’s important.
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Well, Glenn welcome to the show. It’s good to have you here.
Well, thank you, Matthew! Appreciate the invitation to come on and talk a little bit about Wi-Fi stuff. So, thanks again!
I know you have your blog, but before we dive in, tell everyone a little bit about yourself. What’s your background in Wi-Fi? What are you doing now?
Okay! it’s really been kind of a neat IT career I’ve had. I worked for 18 years as an IT professional with a large power utility that was headquartered in West Central Florida and really enjoyed that. But, my job was shifted to the headquarters in North Carolina and didn’t want to move with it.
I had some contacts in Wi-Fi. Was doing a little bit of Wi-Fi work there for that utility and this opportunity came up with a VAR. I thought I could do full-time Wi-Fi with this VAR – cool! So, I jumped into that and wow all kinds of opportunities to work with this VAR.
I did work in a lot of different verticals, warehousing, and office work, and the hospitals, point to point work. So, I had all kinds of opportunities. Then that came to a close about 6 months ago, then another opportunity came up to work with as a Wi-Fi engineer with a large IT distributing firm. I get all kinds of experience doing that.
I just love Wi-Fi. I still remember when I was working with power utility someone hands me this PCMCIA card and said, “Hey, this does wireless.”
I said, “It does.. what’s wireless?
“Plug it in your laptop and figure it out”
So, I did.
You’re still figuring it out, right?
Yeah. I don’t think I have the card anymore.
Like what you say on your blog, it should be pretty easy because there are no wires, right?
Yes! Absolutely! How hard can it be if there are no wires, right?
You said you had different verticals that you ended up being able to be exposed to. Did you have one that stood out as your favorite or was there an application that you really did enjoy or one that you hated?
Well, actually one thing that was really kind of fun we had to redo the entire Library System Wi-Fi at the third largest country in the state of Florida and there were over 28 library branches and I just love libraries and I love books.
So, I had a chance to go in there and they always say, “can you make the Wi-Fi better?” I said, “Well, I don’t know if I can make it better, but I can take a good shot at it”.
That was kind of fun because I’ve actually gone back to some of those libraries. I’ve gone through and I see the SSID we installed. We got the library system up and going. So, that stands out, but that’s just lots of fun things I like to do with Wi-Fi. That’s why I guess they call us “nerds’, Matthew.
Well, speaking of your blog and Wi-Fi engineers, this combo of Wi-Fi engineer and blogging what is that all about? Why is that a passion of yours and why is that important?
Yeah, I’ve talked with several WLAN engineers. Some who contribute to the WLAN Pros website here and we all had the same idea and we think all Wi-Fi engineers need a blog.
we think all Wi-Fi engineers need a blog.
There are three or four reasons why I really personally believe every WLAN engineer needs to blog.
- First of all, you can journal your Wi-Fi career with the blog.
- Another thing is you can develop your technical writing ability as you blog.
You can document the Wi-Fi testing you perform and we’re all doing some testing. We all have Wi-Fi labs or if you don’t have a Wi-Fi lab, you want one at your home. Right?
So, how do you document that? A blog gives you a great platform for doing that.
- Lastly, I guess the Wi-Fi community isn’t as huge as other IT communities.
There are lots of Wi-Fi engineers and we know each other. It seems like we follow each other on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I want to give back to the Wi-Fi community, they have given so much to me in my career and helped me to develop up to this point.
So, those are some reasons why I really think that every Wi-Fi engineer needs to blog. How’s that for an answer?
I want to give back to the Wi-Fi community, they have given so much to me in my career and helped me to develop up to this point.
Well, there are so many blogs out there. Why does the world need another blog and specifically why do they need another Wi-Fi blog?
Along with that you probably gonna say “no one’s gonna read this.”
That’s really true at first, probably no one will read it. I started out my blog knowing no one’s going to read my blog. But, remember though when we start out a blog, you could say in a way it’s a bit selfish. You’re doing it for you.
You’re learning to develop your technical writing ability. You’re doing this to document your testing. Your doing this to put down information you found out.
So you start out thinking no one’s going to read your blog.
I have a friend who I met through his blog. He wanted to figure out how to use Ekahau Site Survey with a GPS unit. I said I have to do this for an outdoor survey over in Central Florida. So, I need to find out how to do it.
He had just started his blog. He just put this info out. And within days I was able to go through all his information and details. It was exactly what I needed. So, I read through the blog and did the information and voila, I’m out using Ekahau Site Survey with a GPS doing site survey outdoors they way this brand new blog taught me to. You never know who’s going to read it.
That’s right! Because the chances of something that you face someone else’s facing the same issue, so if you’re doing it, write it down and share.
something that you face someone else’s facing the same issue, so if you’re doing it, write it down and share.
You can go through tons and tons of just technical documentation from this vendor and that vendor and sometimes the info is really dull and dry. But someone who has actually gone through the process… “this is what I learned and these are some of the obstacles I ran into.” They put it down to be more readable and more personal. That’s the neat thing about Wi-Fi blogs.
So, there’s just another thing you’re giving back to the Wi-Fi engineers.
So, if someone says, “Great Glenn, awesome! where do they start?”
That’s a good question, Matthew. Well, I tell people to start out small and simple. You don’t need to elaborate blogs. In fact, if it’s too elaborate it’s hard to find your way around. Right?
So, there are real simple starter blog sites like wordpress.com, blogspot.com and there are some others out there as well. These will get you up and start blogging the same day. Now, if you’re good at coding HTML and you can run your own blog site, well go for that. But because I’m not an HTML coder I recommend just using WordPress.com and start out small. It doesn’t have to be a ten-page blog. Just put down an idea of something you’ve done and learned.
Yeah, that’s a great thing to do. So pick a topic, write few paragraphs about it, add a graphic or two and publish it. Then, when you do your first blog put it up on Twitter and LinkedIn and tell other people, “Hey, I’ve got a blog out there and I want you to read it.” You are now a Wi-Fi blogger.
And in our little community too, there’s a simple combo – blog and Twitter – those are the two tools you need. Get your Twitter account and a simple blog post. It’s so popular nowadays. Literally, you can go to Google and search how do I start a free blog? and you’re gonna have video tutorials more than you could ever wish to know.
Yeah, you’re right!
It’s interesting when you look at the history of blogging, it started out as weblogs or these web journals and it was kind of an IT more geeky thing, where they were sharing knowledge.
They just wanted this place and then, of course, everyone saw the potential of how good a blog can be and it took off. But, it’s almost like we’re going back to the roots of what blogs started out as.
Yeah and know along that line as people say, “What do I start writing about?” and so well I just gave you one topic. “How do you do a packet capture? Here’s what happens when you hide SSID and here’s when you broadcast it.”
So, just follow your heart, I mean what is your passion in Wi-Fi? Most people who are listening to this broadcast kind of like Wi-Fi and are in the career because they enjoy it. To me, it’s about being passionate about the technology, I love it.
Just follow your heart…what is your passion in Wi-Fi?
Tell people what you like about Wi-Fi and what do you specifically like about it. Is it the design? Is it troubleshooting, packet capture, outdoor mesh?
I mean, I love antennas and I could probably blog about antennas all the time because they have such an outreach in Wi-Fi wether in warehousing or trying to shoot down and control RF in a hotel type situation.There are all kinds of stuff.
So blog about what you love in your career and as I said when you put out your first blog, please put it up on Twitter and Instagram to let people know.
I’ve noticed at the conferences talking to Wi-Fi engineers, there’s no shortage of opinions and thoughts about how to do things. So, get yourself on your own little tangent and you should have plenty of blog material.
Is there anything else? What about the “What’s in it for me?” question? Because there’s lots of time involved. Is this going to be worth the effort?
You gain so much blogging. You really hone your thought processes when you begin to write technically.
Now, there is no VAR out there that cannot use an engineer who knows how to express their thoughts logically and write detailed with technical ability.
Now, there is no VAR out there that cannot use an engineer who knows how to express their thoughts logically
Then, as I said before you can highlight your Wi-Fi career. I’d go back and read my first blog and there are comments like, “who was this person?” I’ve seen the progression to my blog and I thought I’ve seen ways that it improved my career. Again, that’s the neat thing.
It’s selfish, but you’re doing this for you to build your career, but others will start to tag on it. Just as I said about my friend who showed me how to use Ekahau Site Survey with GPS device. Well, he wasn’t doing that necessarily for all people but he helped me.
So, with your blog, it will help other people in their career and you may think again who’s gonna read this stuff? People will read your blog. Keep on blogging and keep on going through and ask for feedback from people. They will give you some comments, take the positive and negative comments along and at the same time just keep logging and writing and you’d be amazing.
Your blog will help other people in their career…People will read your blog.
It’s like you think about the heartbeat of wlanpros.com and the conferences are building better engineers, better Wi-Fi, having better standards and this is one of those ways that we progress. The more we are sharing with the community and getting feedback through a blog, the better Wi-Fi we have for the world.
How often do you think would be a good amount of time to be blogging like per week? Per month? What do you recommend?
Wow, that’s a good question. It’s hard to say. I know some people blog once a year and I don’t think that’s enough. But, that being said you should try to blog regularly. It’s a bit of a discipline you have to do.
Put in your Outlook calendar or Google Mail, whatever you have to do to remind you regularly. So, every six weeks, every two months need to get a blog out. When people first start blogging, it’s like, “Oh! I’ve got tons of ideas to put it out.”, then you start to hit the brick wall.
So, what do I blog about now? My suggestion is you do this with WordPress. I start at what I call a blog hopper. Okay! It’s an idea for example. Here’s the title when I want to talk about data rates and two or three ideas and just put it in there and save it as a draft and you’ll see a number of things and the hopper.
So, go back through that hopper from time to time and say, “hey, I got some more ideas for this and I got a concept from a seminar I saw or something. I’ve worked into it at work”, then you can develop your blog.
Case studies are good too as long as you’re not violating confidentiality and things that you’re running into like complaints customers give you. That’s a great place to start with a blog topic.
Absolutely! I think I’ve got a blog out there or I talked about with it what I call “The Worst Wi-Fi deployment I’ve Ever Done” that and it’s up. But, again lessons learned from there and so I had a chance to share that recently.
So, blog about your experiences, something you’ve learned or your passion that you would you like to write. Put those things in your hopper and get some blogs going.
I’m assuming I know the answer to this question already, but when should someone start?
Well, that is the easiest question you’ve asked me. Start this week, go out to one of those websites, set it up and just start blogging. Go out to those websites and just start out a very simple blog. It doesn’t have to be 20 pages, just two or three paragraphs. This is what I learned and this is why it’s my passion.
That’s good! Okay, so why do engineers need to blog? Can you give me a sum up of all of this?
Yeah, I think Wi-Fi engineers need to blog, so you can journal your Wi-Fi career and see where you have progressed. It also helps develop your ability to write technically and logically and again, there is a company out there looking for someone who can do that.
This helps you develop those skills. Lastly, I really believe every Wi-Fi engineer I’ve talked to wants to do this. They want to give back to the online Wi-Fi community, but they just sometimes don’t know how to do it. So, blogging is a good way to do that and if you don’t have a blog, start one today!
That’s great! Well, Glenn thanks again for coming in and talking about your two passions. It sounds like Wi-Fi in general. Then, of course, this whole subject of blogging and we look forward you’re going to be doing some reviews for us.
Well, thank you, Matthew. It’s been a lot of fun and I just want to remind all the WLAN Professionals out there to keep on Wi-Fi blogging in the free world.
Glenn Cate is passionate in all things Wi-Fi and CWNE #181. He is a family man, faithful to the person, work of Jesus Christ and electronic geek. If you have questions or feedback, connect with Glenn via Twitter.
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