Photo by Elijah O’Donell on Unsplash (Edited)

Lessons from actually successfully blogging now finally

A short set of notes about what makes this, 5th attempt at a regular blog somewhat more successful

I have attempted to start a blog several times over my software engineering career. There are various reasons that a blog is useful:

  1. To demonstrate capabilities in a professional capacity
  2. To build a social equity upon the knowledge otherwise built as part of ongoing professional development.

Small changes, stacking up

Write the outline immediately, add over time

The lifecycle of just about all my posts (including this one) works as follows:

  1. Write down in dot point the general outline of the post I’d write in drafts
  2. Leave the post in drafts for an indeterminate period of time. Occasionally add dot points to it when I am thinking about similar topics.
  3. Find some time to write it up in depth
  4. Review, publish

Teach

As my job role has evolved over time and I have gained significant experience in a number of areas the nature of the role has changed. The most valuable use of my time is no longer to simply express some sort of solution as code, but rather to discuss, help and teach others in my team and the broader community. The logic here is fairly simple; in teaching others I build both redundancy for myself and scale the knowledge and experience I’ve gained across the organisation.

  • Coherent
  • In depth

Be comfortable with failure

A post I wrote one Friday evening
Post I spent 100 hours thinking, planning, presenting and designing

Be on the lookout for opportunities

With the number of posts I have now written I am better able to reflect and find opportunities to write some more. Where I was once at a loss for what people would wish to hear, I now find myself with an abundance of topics I wish I could find the time to convey, even simply to get them out of my system and into the greater community knowledge.

Find reviewers

Just like during development we regularly subject our posts to code review, it’s also good to subject our written works to the same sort of scrutiny. I find writing a more personal act of expression, but others still provide supremely valuable insights either by the questions they pose while giving feedback or by discussions that ensue privately as a result of reading the posts.

Schedule Posts

It is possible to schedule posts ahead of time with many editing tools. I find it extremely useful to schedule a post immediately after I’ve written it. This allows:

  1. Me to think about the post before I publish it. Perhaps there is a new insight!
  2. Me to make a determination about how much effort I can put into a post. They are not all of equal quality. Some I write quickly, and schedule ahead. Should I get time to improve them so much the better, but a poor article is better than none.

Write as time allows

I find it most easy (“liquid”) to write in periods of time where I am otherwise idle. The awkward periods — after work waiting for my wife to finish her employment is perhaps the most lucrative time for me.

Medium

Medium is perhaps the largest change in my writing habits. In previous work, being a software engineer, I attempted to run my own blog, infrastructure, hosting, management, scheduling and other tasks.

In Conclusion

I have fairly dramatically increased my writing in the last 9–12 months. It is not for some sort of intent, but rather as a reflection of the changing nature of my role and necessity to share such information. But a series of changes have made this possible, and perhaps these will be useful to others who wish to similarily share their knowledge.