Have you ever heard a piece of advice over and over, yet still ignored it? Something that made sense but you just didn’t manage to get around to, so it felt like a monkey on your shoulder for months or even years?
That was like me and blogging.
Until I moved to London, that is. I wanted a way to show off my passion and skills to potential employers, so I started ShaneG.ca and put a few posts up.
Since those early days, I’ve settled into a routine that I find both enjoyable and sustainable. With a little work once a week and a bigger session once a month, I have an outlet for my ideas and a consistent rhythm of publishing.
My Thursday Tens: Rambling Once a Week
Every Thursday, I spend at least ten minutes writing. I call these my Thursday Tens.
Each week, I either create a draft article where I rant about some new idea I’ve had or I elaborate on previous rants. Sometimes I get in the zone and spend a bit longer than ten minutes. The idea is quantity over quality.
To reduce the friction of these Thursday Tens I’ve set up WordPress post by email. This is a custom email address that creates a post every time you send it a message. I always use [status draft] to tell WordPress not to publish my unedited thoughts, and I’ve saved the contact name in gmail as “Post to ShaneG.ca (don’t forget [status draft]!” so that I don’t forget this.
Monthly Polishing and Publishing
Once a month, I take one of those drafts and shine it up. Sometimes I have fun with visuals, like my Match Debt article; other times, I just add a few headings, clean up the wording, and hit “Publish”.
Blogging ended up being more than just something I do so that I have a web presence. It is now a therapeutic exercise. Writing and distilling my thoughts and ideas is really enjoyable. Even if no one were to ever read my posts (and, in reality, not a lot of people do), it would still be worth doing. I love documenting my progress and putting my experiences and ideas into cohesive paragraphs. It exposes flaws in my thinking.
Most popular posts
Looking at the most popular posts (again, I use the term ‘popular’ relative to my other posts. Not relative to sites with actual subscribers.), it’s funny.
In 2016 it was my “connecting Strava to Google Sheets” post, which I wrote because I hacked together something tedious and wanted to document my steps. It ended up helping a lot of other people! Sadly for my viewership stats, but fortunately for Strava users, this post became obsolete when Strava began supporting IFTTT!
So in 2017 to date, my most popular post wasn’t even an actual post. It was more of a “note to self”, a collection of related links, called “Best Practices for Data Tables“. That has supplied one third of my ‘traffic’ this year even though it isn’t really a post!
An unexpected benefit of my blogging habit has been that I’ve connected with my readers.
For example, a man named Ross Fisher commented on my aforementioned Strava/Google sheets post, asking for some help. I emailed him back and we eventually got him sorted. I then checked out his website. Turns out he’s a blogger too, but he’s also a surgeon, a cyclist, and an expert on presentations.
It’s strange, but I doubt that I would be where I am as a speaker today if it weren’t for my blog.
I’ve enjoyed blogging for myself for the last two years, but I am thinking of targeting my writing more. I want articles that are for an audience other than myself.
One thing that I’m passionate about is transforming organizations to be more user-centered, especially technical enterprise software companies. It doesn’t seem to get much press, but while consumer products like Airbnb are revolutionizing design and UX, there are still extremely successful (for now) companies that make niche enterprise software that are still in stage 2 or 3 out of 8 on the Nielsen Norman UX Maturity scale.
Stay tuned, successful but immature companies; you’re in for a treat!