Why? Because it’s a way to scale up. Maybe I can save more people time. Maybe I can learn from more people. Maybe I can create more value for each hour that I spend. It’s easy to see what success could look like, down that path. Sometimes I’m envious of blogs with tens of thousands of subscribers and hundreds of comments per post. But then reading and responding to comments takes time, and other people glaze over when they see pages and pages. It’s okay. I like where we are – maybe half a dozen comments or so on a good post, and I feel good about writing many paragraphs in reply. I’m not entirely sure if I’m just sour-graping, but it makes sense. This is manageable. Slightly more is okay too, but we can grow slowly so that I can learn the skills I need along the way. Sometimes I wonder if this should be more like other blogs. But then that’s a well-travelled path, with lots of other people exploring it and plenty of people willing to sell you courses along the way. I have this amazing opportunity to try something different. I should. Actually, I already know what I should do: what works for me, what I should do more. The enduring posts on my blog are tech notes (Emacs, Drupal, etc.) and sketches. People also tell me they find this sort of reflective practice—this learning-out-loud—helpful. I can continue like this, growing slowly through links and search results. Instead of spending hours on blog marketing, I can spend hours on learning and writing. It’s good to reflect on what works or doesn’t work for you. A clear no saves you time and anxiety. I’ve figured out ways to hack around my introversion, and maybe the same will be true for blogging. So here, I think, is how I’ll grow this blog compared to the “typical” advice:
So this blog will grow, slowly, sustainably, in a way that feels comfortable for me. That said, are there small things I can do to make it easier for you or other people to take advantage of what I know? Is there something I can do to lower the barrier to commenting or help people explore? I’d love to hear from you!
I like that. It’s why I blog. I get to find out whether I understand something enough to explain it, and if that explanation makes sense, and if I can answer the questions that other people might ask. I get a record that I can refer to and reminders of my fallability. Sharing helps me learn. One of the tips that Timothy Kenny shares in Accelerated Learning for Entrepreneurs (e-book, $16.77) is assigning yourself a final project when you want to learn something well. Map the ideas, blog what you learn, create a checklist, write a report or a book, teach a class… create some kind of tangible proof that you’ve learned something. With that final project in mind, you’ll find—as Duncan also points out—that you study more deeply and more effectively. Duncan wraps up with this thought:
- Both provide you with tight feedback loops — the first person you’re sharing with when you write something up is yourself. I guess that’s a bit like getting a test to pass in TDD.
- Both help you to avoid ‘regressions’ — if you’ve got a permanent record of what you’ve done, what’s worked, what hasn’t, then perhaps it’s easier to get a sense for when an action you’re considering will cause problems.
- Both offer a form of ‘documentation’. Sharing, for your life: for your actions; for your situation. It shows what you were thinking at the time.
Perhaps deliberately sharing your life and reflecting on that experience ultimately helps you to live a life that’s worth sharing?… and I think there’s something to that. I’m learning a lot about life, and one of my ongoing projects is to have an amazing blog by the time I’m 60 or 90. That nudges me to learn things and do things that are worth sharing. It challenges me to share what I’m learning while I’m learning it, because later on the fuzziness of memory and the curse of expertise will make the details disappear. How about you? What can you share, and how can sharing help you learn and live?
If you blog, try giving people a sneak peek at upcoming thoughts and asking them for feedback. You can do this through e-mail or through social networks. I like social networks like Twitter and Facebook more than e-mail because other people can see and build on responses, but feel free to use whatever works for you. Enjoy!
#INCLUDEto include the Org blog post source in the post itself. If I expect that a post will have lots of images, I tend to use Windows Live Writer because it takes care of resizing and aligning images, linking to the original size. Because it uses my blog's stylesheet, I can get a sense of how the text will flow around it. I can quickly draw an idea in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, copy and paste it into Windows Live Writer, and then resize it until it feels balanced on the page. Sometimes I draft a post in Emacs and then open it in Windows Live Writer or ScribeFire so that I can add images. Org Mode also supports images, but it's not as easy to resize things there. If I wrote a function that used ImageMagick to save the clipboard image to a file, resize it to the appropriate dimensions, and link it to the full-size image, maybe that would do the trick. Still, that sounds like it would be a fair bit of work. Maybe someday. Hmm - any chance someone reading this blog happens to already have that snippet handy? =) If I need to edit an existing post, I either use the WordPress web interface or I use ScribeFire. That way, I don't have to fill in the post publishing date again. It's a bit of a patchwork system of different tools, but it does the job. What's your workflow like?