You Can Be a Casual Blogger

Max Antonucci on November 05, 2018

I've been feeling many things watching the Dev.To community and its writing pick up steam - enjoyment, curiosity, better informed, and mild synes... [Read Full]
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I've been doing this kind of online writing for 16 years. Just me, my thought, my life, and some people with whom we connect based on common things and genuine interest between us.
This is what I am developing my project for - a place for personal blogs, scribbles, thinking aloud, writing without any particular goal except expressing yourself... and connecting with other people. Maybe.
(it is in very early stages still)

I would not want to blog seriously about a certain subject. It is too goal-centric for my taste.

 

Sounds like my kind of project! There used to be a site I'd post small bits of creative writing but it's been taken down since, and I'm unsure where I'd put similar creative writing I'd want to do right now. That may be another outlet I work on for my own site later on too. That kind of "writing-based social network" sounds very interesting.

 

It is basically a successor to online-diaries-of-early-2000s sites. Soon I am going to start a series of posts about developing it. :) And at some point it is going to be released to the public, I hope.

 

Totally, 110% agree -- my posts are super inconsistent and are not proofread that well. I also allow myself to write less technical stuff sometimes, because it's fun to write! I wanted to be a journalist when I was in high school and early college, so this gives me that outlet. I've had some awesome opportunities come up through blogging, but I don't treat it too seriously because I do have a fulltime job and this isn't it! In fact, I've turned down 99% of the opportunities I've had to make money from blogging.

 

Similar background here, I got used to writing when studying journalism in college and now I can't really imagine any career without it in some form. Coding counts as a different kind of writing, but it's certainly not the same.

Also as much as I love, I agree this isn't my full time job either. Can't write constantly when there's PRs to set and VIM to learn!

 

"...are not proofread." Makes for some funny reads though :).

 

I love that somebody else feels this way. I have written 10 drafts of a debut fantasy novel of totalling about 400,000 words altogether, but never submitted.it to anyone. I put a blog on my company's website when we just did computer repair, but after 6 months of about 4 visitors/month to the website and none to the blog, I couldn't stand the sense of failure. Only 2 followers on Medium in my entire life, 0 followers on any social media platform, and endless ripping my hair out as to "why I cannot get anybody interested in anything I have to say?!?!", and trying absolutely everything that any marketing blogger suggests to generate traffic, I had all but given up.

I tried every posting schedule, used buzzsumo to try to find out what was hot in tech, emailing countless "influencers" for backlinks and nothing worked. Then I found dev.to and decided to sign up without my personal name and just see what was what. But then, imposter syndrome, so I retreated into the caves of the Misty Mountains and allowed the One Imposter Insyndrome poison my mind for several months. Then, just for the heck of it, I came back about two weeks ago and just started tossing stuff up that I felt could help others understand in human terms. Now I'm a handful of followers short of 400 (what?!?!) and people seem to see my writing and instruction as relevant.

There are two major parts to this:

  1. Dev.to is a phenomenal community that is not saturated with click-baity nonsense and is peopled by excellent folks willing to talk to anybody who will listen

  2. I was no longer writing to impress. I just posted because I was seeing a lot of common Python concepts being used but not properly understood and I wanted to provide a quick, easy to understand clarification.

While it is still a struggle, o firmly agree that blogging should not be a career you set out to achieve, but on that becomes available after pursuing it for nothing other than "love of the game". Wonderful post!

 

Very glad you finally got your blogging groove, and in a way that fit more with what you wanted to write and learn about!

Also if you still have that fantasy novel, LeanPub could be a good place to self-publish it if you ever get back to it. You've certainly gotten farther than me on that front - I've got one idea for a novel and fleshed out some details, but never really got the guts to start writing and self-publishing it.

 

Thank you, I am too. I find that Dev is different in that, it is not saturated with nonsense articles that have a title promising to reveal the secrets of life, a first paragraph that leads up to said secret, then a paywall you need pony up to in order to get the secret. Nor do they encourage similar behavior even from their bigger contributors (at least that I've seen).

I'm not sure if Dev has plans to partner with contributors for paid content someday and honestly, I don't know how this wonderful community could be maintained if they did, no matter how great the intentions. But for now, the people are here to learn and teach, not get paid. That makes a huge difference for sure!

As for my novel, I've written it fully about 10 times over the last 12 years and have the entire series mapped out. I've got the first 5 parts (of about 150) of book 1 up on Wattpad, but lost motivation with that as well. For me, that is just a labor of love as well. The world is based on a place I've played in with my imagination since I was 5 or 6 years old 😁😁

 

Couldn't relate more :D

I write for myself, and if others find it interesting/useful, that's a nice bonus. I like to blog about new things I am learning because it's a way to make sure I understood something correctly. Usually, two things can happen:

  • someone with more experience will correct me if something is unclear or wrong.
  • someone with less or similar experience will ask a question about something in the article. If I'm unable to answer the question, that's a pretty clear tell for me that I might have missed something.

But, yeah, no schedule about all that. I write when I have time to learn... I can go weeks without being able to write an article :D

I'm afraid sometimes these things go into the you are not a real developer if ... you don't blog 3 times a week, or contribute to open source, or something else...

Good article :)

 

Ugh I hate that "you're not a real developer if" mentality. It's gatekeeping and shaming at it's worse. If those people really cared about helping others improve, they would say "I think you'd be a better developer if" and gave honest feedback. Someone can write serious every day or casually once a month, they're both still developers :)

Glad you liked the post so much!

 

"I write for myself, and if others find it interesting/useful, that's a nice bonus" This exactly for me as well. I write so I do not have to remember things. But I know I did something and I wrote it down somewhere, o yea, my blog. If/when/maybe someone else finds it useful, cool bonus.

 

I really needed to read this post! Thank you for your honesty and perspective. I really enjoy writing and I cast a wide net in terms of topics and approaches. When forced to focus on an audience or a subset of topics, I just turn off.

The Notes section is brilliant. Thanks again.

 

Always happy to inspire people to make their writing outlets for nonsensical ramblings :P

 

I love this message.

There is definitely no right or wrong way to be a blogger. As you know I have my thoughts on blogging when you have specific goals in mind, but I think the beautiful part of platforms like this is it allows for people to share who don't have the time to develop their own blog. This platform helps those who have other goals for blogging like exploring code, sharing their thoughts, or even just a sense of community.

Thanks for the post, always love your stuff.

 

I totally agree about the different roles this site fills. Lately I'm realizing I come back here for the community just as much, if not more, than the content too.

Who knows, maybe we'll get a dev.to version of a Notes section someday too! One can dream.

 

I've definitely been pondering how I can incorporate something like "notes" even as an active blogger. I get really stressed out about whether people want me to talk about my other interests or not. Sometimes I feel stressed out that you can only do that if you've been posting for a long time.

Ugh it is stressful, but when it comes down to it - it's just sharing stuff with a community! :) I come back to that when I get stressed out, haha

 

In my experience, having a "good" blog is less about writing consistently and more about PUBLISHING consistently. The way you do that is write when inspiration strikes, but keep a "bank" of ready to go posts that you can post on a schedule, even when you aren't inspired or are on vacation. This is especially easier if you aren't talking about topical subjects or current events. (which most tech / programming writing fits.)

Two ways that I see to build audience in technical blogging:

  1. Publish frequently, from your bank of content
  2. Have "long tail" content that is usually around a very, very specific item - like an obscure error message and how you solved it.

On the second one, I used to be in the habit of writing a post for my blog whenever I bumped into something that I couldn't google / stack overflow quickly. I found that if that blog had the specific error text I was dealing with in it, it would get hit / commented on for YEARS, as other devs ran into that exact same problem. (And they were usually relieved / very happy to find the article.)

It's also a good practice to have because in 6 months you'll go "why the hell did I code it that way?" and you can go look up the error message you encounter again when you rip out and refactor that code. :)

 

As I tweeted a couple of days ago, I realized that blogging is really about knowledge retention for myself than for helping others. But if something I blogged actually helped one or two people out there, then that's even more awesome. Keep calm and blog on.

 

I'm hereby petitioning that "Keep Calm and Blog On" be the official motto of Dev.To. At the very least, it should have a t-shirt of it.

 

Sometimes I notice that a reply/comment that I write under a post in a dedicated Facebook group, or under posts like this one, is indeed itself is a enough for being a blog post. If you have something to say, looks like it takes the same time with writing such a casual reply.

Then it comes to the point deciding what to write. I started collecting topics so that when I have the guts in the future, I'll just jump in. To give inspiration here is my current dev blog list looks like:
blog topics

Also probably some day I'll check my Facebook groups history and turn each comment to a blog post.

 

I love this idea of having note sections in your blog. I've been thinking of putting this as well but I doubt 'cause it feels like it has nothing to do with technical writing or career stuff.

I will surely implement this. Thanks.

 

Happy to help encourage others to write more :)

 

Thanks. My last blog post was published more than 5 years ago (it was read by thousands of readers each month for some year, it also was ripped into a pirate ebook sold in Amazon, but that’s another story).
I really would like to write something again, I have enough material, but I’m lazy and have relatively few time (I use the rare spare time to write code).

After reading your article, I got some motivation, thanks ;-)

 

You're very welcome :) It's always great to read that the stuff I write helps others even more than it helps me haha

 

Thank you for writing this. I am in the process of building a couple blogs and I get really caught up in the idea of needing to be writing only professional posts. But there is part of me that just wants to write about my daily thoughts and inspirations and I get so excited about those but I put them off because it won't a cater to my ideal audience. I am going to start a notes or life section on my blog thanks to you! Great article and thanks for keeping it real.

 

You're very welcome, especially with making a Notes section to put other kinds of writing. I was actually inspired to do so after seeing Laura Kalbag do something similar on her site, so I can't take all the credit there haha.

 

Very relatable on so many points.

I sometimes feel bad that my posts aren’t consistent, and yet I know I shouldn’t. In the beginning I had so many blog posts ideas that I could pretend to have some sort of schedule. Now I’ve realized that I am transitioning to a more impulsive kind of writing. Last post I wrote in 3 hours from draft to publication because something interesting struck me and I wanted to get it out there.

Anyway, thanks for the good read! 👍

 

Writing when you have something interesting to write about seems like a good habit, even if it's not fully consistent haha. Long as you can have a good notebook handy for when the impulses strike, I've found all the writing happens naturally.

 

A wonderful post, sharing important ideas. I'm glad it popped up in my sidebar.

 

Wonderful article & very encouraging! I've always loved writing, but I chicken out of blogging, because I fear no one will read my work. And, once I get over 'no-one-cares' hill, then I tumble down into the valley of 'oh-no-now-I-have-to-reliably-write-articles-on-schedule-and-I-don't-have-time'. (That's definitely on google maps...)

So, thanks for the reminder that neither the hill nor valley are worth the panic & are well worth traversing. :)

 

I still get bits of panic over similar worries too, believe it or not. Mostly it's checking into dev.to about a post I felt good about with some worries about if it's already been lost amid other noise. It doesn't happen often but it still pops up sometimes, and there's no shame in that as long as it doesn't come to define the joy I get from writing in the end.

 

Writing takes a lot of energy from me, so I only write when I'm both in the mood and really inspired.

 
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