Lessons in my First Month of Active Blogging

Lindsey Kopacz on October 31, 2018

I soft-launched my blog the day before my birthday, announced it on my birthday (October 3rd), and now it's 4 weeks later. It's been a very intense... [Read Full]
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Great post! It's very insightful because I royally suck at managing a brand. My wife and I do have a business entity called CCS Tech in the New England, USA area, but that brand is mostly computer and phone repair, TCP/IP networking, etc. It really has nothing to do with what I write about. Heck, when we started our business 5 years ago, we built our website on Wix because we needed it done over the weekend (to my undying shame)!!! What I write on Dev.to are subjects that I'm passionate about and subjects that I consider myself an expert on. But, with no degree or GitHub profile, my developer career ultimately ended in the Enterprise world despite my proven experience in the field.

I would love to see more content like this. I would also love advice on how to build and manage a brand, drive traffic to a website, etc. I'll be the first to admit, I am capable of doing amazing things with the stacks I use, but getting somebody to care enough to hire me to do it? I cannot, for the life of me, get that engine running with any consistency. Great post and keep up the blogging!

 

Thank you so much for the feedback! It's encouraging me more to hybrid my technical knowledge with the marketing/PR knowledge I learned in college! I'll keep it up :)

 

I've struggled with the personal brand aspect as well. I had no real focus when I started writing posts, but I've trended more towards practical uses of functional programming with hints of software quality sprinkled in.

So far, your posts have made me realize that I need to focus on accessibility in the not-too-distant future. I'm glad that you're posting about topics that I haven't heard much about because it makes me want to learn more. Keep up the good work!

 
 

I started blogging 4 weeks ago and it is time consuming. I try to dedicate the weekends 2-4 hours at least and make a small blog post every 2 weeks unless I got something upcoming. It's a wonderful process and when you start writing is hard to stop.

 

SO true! I've found this really fulfilling and the community engagement really heartwarming. It helps me get through the hard times I've had at work.

 

I feel like the amount of work to build up your brand is very easy to overlook. I certainly made quite a few of these mistakes and I am constantly learning new things to improve for the future.

A few things that I do in order to make sure I am optimizing my time as well:

  • Keep a running list of topics/ideas that you want to write about. Pull from that list when you are looking for something to write about, but don't be afraid to just write about what is interesting to you at that moment as well.
  • Automate as much of the manual tasks as possible so you can focus on your content.
  • Not every blog post is going to be a hit and that is quite alright. You wrote something, put your thoughts to paper (digitally), and who knows it might help that one person.

Great post Lindsey! I look forward to seeing what you do next.

 

I actually have a running list of topics too! It's super helpful when your goal is to post consistently, but you have an off week and aren't feeling inspired. This post came as an idea to go "off brand" or rather evolve my brand to not just be about accessibility, but also helping others get started. It's still an experiment and it's proving to be a positive one.

Also 100% pro automation too. I really like automating my tweets and emails! Saving the time has been super helpful!

 

I definitely agree about branding being confusing, and hitting the constant work demands is very tough. I tried to go full blogger a while back but both couldn't meet the deadlines and it took too much fun out of my own writing. Since then I've gone to more of a "part-time writer of various loosely-connected web things," which isn't as nice but still brings me some writing joy. I don't think this should dissuade people from going down the blogging path, but know that blogging identities can exist on a spectrum too from casual to professional to "hard-core death match blogger for life." Accepting that has helped me find that healthier balance.

 

I LOVE writing way more than I thought I would.

Something I should make clear to others reading these comments is that you don't have to use blogging as a way to build a personal brand.

Also, a personal brand can also be WHO you are and not what you talk about. It can be your style.

This is why brand is confusing LOL. But I think you're very "on brand" with your tone in your posts, Max. Love your stuff :)

 

I hear you on the "staying on brand" problem. I started writing for my own site again last year after a LONG lay-off. Like you with accessibility, I wanted to concentrate on writing about analytics and putting some of my experiences and knowledge down for folks looking to build their own data careers.

There are a lot of other topics I'm interested in and want to write about from time to time though. I run a fitness studio with my wife. I want to write about entrepreneurship. I've worked in banking for 12 years and I'm very interested in personal finance. I sometimes just want to write about a topic that I've read about. Or books I've read. Or football. And all of that in one place would dilute the analytics material.

So after a few months I decided to split the analytics material out onto it's own site and focus on that over there. And I kept my own personal blog for anything else I felt like writing about. It does mean I've now got two sites to keep up with but I feel a lot happier with the mental divide between the two sides.

Now I just have to keep sitting butt in chair and writing.

 

That's awesome! Yeah, I don't have a separate site for my other interests, but my Instagram is where I talk a bit more about my other interests like beauty and weightlifting. It's more personal than professional interest.

 

I really appreciate the open tone of the post and not shying away from criticising your own work. I find it hard to relate to a lot of writing on the internet these days, specifically because it seems people trying to portray themselves as a subject matter expert (building their personal brand) means they omit their own failures or shortcomings that ultimately lead to learning something new.

Good luck with the blog, would love more "meta" posts like this.

 

Thanks, Martin! Honestly, I think admitting your own mess ups is KEY to becoming a subject matter expert. If you're unable to own your mess ups, how will people be able to trust your work? How will you become even better of a subject matter expert on the topic if you don't learn and evolve? You hit the nail on the head with this comment, Martin!

 

If you want to start with relatively low cost and are somewhat savvy with React, I HIGHLY suggest Gatsby + Netlify! Free hosting as long as you don't mind your posts being in markdown :). It's free to do it and you can create a pretty neat (and FAST) site!

 

Woah, just one month blogging and you were already thinking about defining your brand! You have so much more foresight than I did (or do).

I wonder what you learned in the following 6 months!

 
 

I really liked your post makes me ponder a lot, keep going

 

Thank you, Sergio! I really love the sense of fulfillment blogging has given me. Let me know if you need any other tips!

 
 

Thanks, Ben! I really appreciate having a platform here! Gives me the community that having my blog on it's own platform doesn't have <3

 

when I think of a blog topic I ask - "Does this support my long-term goals?"

When I think of a blog topic I ask—“Would it be interesting/inspiring/helpful to anybody?” That is probably the main reason I am not successful in blogging though.

 

I thought it was implied that I wanted my blog topics to also be helpful. However, blogging takes a lot of work and if people don't find my blogging topics to have a clear theme - it loses clarity and therefore risks not helping anyone.

I choose to focus on accessibility even though I have plenty of technical interests. This is the one topic I am most passionate about and have the most capacity to help others with. It also supports my long-term goals of being recognized as a subject matter expert on this topic. It's not mutually exclusive, in my opinion.

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