Adventures in Technical Blogging
In the midst of a global pandemic at the start of the summer I decided to start blogging about my very niche
The reasons for it were:
- Personal growth: I want to be more detail oriented, improve my technical skills in
$EXPERTISEand improve my writing
- Personal branding: I have this day dream of becoming a freelance consultant but I am not yet ready to switch so I though that if I start building my brand I would be in a better position when I’ll be ready. I want to test the waters, so to speak.
I’ve read everything I could find about starting a blog for these very same purposes and I think it’s valuable if I also share my journey here for the public amusement.
To keep me honest I will do it pseudo-anonymously. But for context I work as an engineer specialized in
$EXPERTISE in a big non-FAANG tech
$COMPANY you probably heard of, I am based in Europe and I am not a native English speaker.
Q3 2020 Recap
I tried to be diligent and wrote down a draft strategy and chucked the work into OKRs. Because I am a tech cog and that’s what I’ve learned to do.
So my Q3 goals were:
- Objective 1: set up and publish the blog
- template, rss, newsletter, email, domain, ci/cd, analytics
- Objective 2: publish 10 articles
Objective 1: Blog is up and running
I’ve built the blog with Hugo which is nice and simple. I’ve setup a CI/CD to automatically publish on Vercel which has an excellent user experience.
Designing the template was fun. I used to work as freelance web developer many years ago and it’s been a nostalgic moment bike shedding over every insignificant detail. Goes without saying that I’m already bored by the look and feel.
Anyhow my goal here was to have something very simple, easy to read and performant.
When the template was done I decided to delegate some responsive bug fixing to a fiverr freelancer but the results were not what I was expecting so I ended up fixing stuff myself.
Lesson learned: hiring external help comes with the overhead of communicating many times what are your expectations for the engagement. A good freelancer will minimize such overhead.
Objective 2: Publish 10 Articles
Writing is hard. Harder than expected.
I’ve published the blog on 8th September with a single article and after that I managed to somehow maintain a weekly publishing schedule.
When I realized I couldn’t write 10 articles by EOQ I decided to republish some I wrote a few years ago on the
$COMPANY Engineering blog. I’ve added the canonical tag to avoid duplication of content so I won’t get any SEO juice out of them but they are still relevant.
In total I wrote 5 articles which is ok.
As I said writing is hard. I have a fat backlog of ideas, but transforming them into something publishable is a slow process.
What I noticed is:
- My written English is not great. I spend quite some time editing and when I publish I still have to go back to rephrase or fix the occasional grammar error. I’ve asked some friends to proof read but nobody in my circle is a native speaker.
- I have to fight the feeling of writing something stupid. I keep feeling that I am being captain obvious and nobody will find anything I write worth reading.
- I always double check my facts and this has forced me to do a lot of exciting research. It’s fun and a learning experience in itself but it’s time consuming.
These pain points are not a surprise, I knew about them and part of the mission for the blog is to improve these things.
As of today I have 0 subscribers to my RSS/Newsletter and Google Analytics is showing a flat line of visitors. That’s ok, this is a compounding game.
I am just a bit pissed at Google and Bing for taking their sweet time to index my pages.
So my first goal for Q4 is to start gaining some readership.
I want to explore syndicating content on Medium, Dev.to or something else like DZone and see what happens. I still have some impostor syndrome thinking about submitting to HN.
Overall I don’t want to fixate over some vanity metrics, so I’ve set up a big call to action on every page that says “I’d like to hear your thoughts, email me”. I want one spontaneous email from a reader.
Objective 1: get one spontaneous email from a reader
Secondly I still want to smoothen my writing process and the only metric here is the number of articles I will publish. If I manage to keep a weekly schedule without burning out I should end up with 12 more articles.
If I am being realistic I’ll be happy to publish 10 more.
Objective 2: publish 10 more articles
Wish me luck!
#blogging- 12 toasts