As a software developer I’ve benefited from writing online and speaking at conferences. Your online presence has a significant impact on your ability to land new jobs or gigs, and is one of the best ways to connect you with people with similar interests.
Unlike a typical job search, this effort causes companies to recruit you, who often bring interesting projects to the table (this is a good way to be discovered by high-profile non-profits, for instance). This works especially well if you can come up with interesting and easy-to-understand projects in your field (for instance "web site scraping" articles will get you a lot of consulting leads, since that problem will never be "solved")
While there are many benefits of making your work available in public (personal growth, confidence, exploring new ideas), when it comes down to it, most people speaking at meetups are hiring, looking for work, or have something to sell.
When I started writing a technology blog, I hit two hurdles: the time commitment, and ensuring that enough people read what I wrote to justify the effort.
The first piece I wrote took me nearly forty hours - clearly not an acceptable pace. With some practice, I can now write equivalent pieces in 2-4 hours.
By posting it on reddit, it was seen by a few hundred people, but I quickly found that it is difficult to match your own interests to that of specific forums. I’ve found that an article that does well one one site (a facebook group, for instance) will often do poorly in another (e.g. a subreddit on the same topic), but it is never predictable, and by sharing in a few places, I can guarantee ~1,000 people see each post, and occasionally an order of magnitude more.
Every article I write begins with a headline, a conclusion, and an audience.
Why? Most technology specific forums are starved for original content, and this guarantees you an easy 2+ classes of people who would be interested in your work.
To make content more interesting, I like to break it up with a few short code samples or images.
Ensure Your Writing is Seen
Having something to say and writing well does not guarantee success. However, these do help - the most-read pieces I’ve written started out as blog posts, became conference talks, which became new articles. Continual refinement of ideas brings clarity.
In the tech industry, many topic oriented forums are run by an individual or consulting company - either someone like you, looking to make a name for themselves, a career developer working to promote their employer in limited time, or a dedicated member of the marketing department. These are the kind of people you want to help, by providing good material (in a few cases, I’ve run across people who want you to grant them rights to republish your content in exchange for “exposure”: this I would avoid at all costs, I have never seen a benefit from these sites)
There are several types of places you may be able to submit articles to:
Over the course of a year of writing, people in my field began to tell me they found my writing in search results when they needed answers. I was able to land a speaking engagements, the attention of a few book publishers, and many startup founders doing recruitment.