What I’ve Learned from 10 Years of Blogging

Yep, this blog is now 10 years old. That’s about 87,600 hours of uptime across 644 posts. Google Analytics tells me that around 6 million visitors have fed their eyeballs with something on this site, which gives me a smile. My most popular post is Hyper-Threading Gotcha with Virtual Machine vCPU Sizing with hundreds of thousands of views. I guess we all had a similar question. πŸ™‚

Enough navel gazing; I wrote a blog post at the 3 year mark and it felt like time to do so again. Previously, I provided “friendly guidance” to visitors based on what I knew using a short list:

  1. πŸ’ƒ Have a unique style
  2. πŸ“£ It’s OK to talk about something that another has talked about
  3. πŸ“„ Ignore counters
  4. πŸ₯‡ Set goals
  5. πŸ’Œ Link to your peers
  6. πŸŽ‰ Have fun

In this case, current me agrees with past me. But, I think my reasoning and context have changed. This post takes a step back and provides introspection into new questions. Namely, what has changed, why keep writing for so long, and when is this (or any) blog considered done?

Quick Reminder: I livestream on technical topics every week on Twitch – come join the adventure! Drop a follow and enable notifications to stay current.

Changes are Needed

As I write this, the world is thrashing about while struggling with some very troubling issues. I’ve had a lot of time to self analyze. There is always more one can do to be kinder and empathetic to other people. I can always do better and be better. It just takes choosing to do so.

You may have noticed the new logo on all of my properties. I hired a fantastic creator to do this work. I sent over a “mood board” along with these five characteristics that I want visitors to experience when they visit one of my sites:

  • Welcomed, invited, accepted, part of a community, in a safe place
  • In a technical place, they are technical people, this is where technical answers are to be found, included in the tech community
  • Visually engaged and delighted without taking the focus from the content
  • They will learn something useful today
  • They will do something new, exciting, fun, and perhaps previously feared

That’s it. I’m just a small drop of water in an enormous ocean of people and blogs. And that’s OK!

This change helps keep me focused on the real change that is needed in this industry by making my own commitments public and transparent. And, I really like that the embedded “W” shape invokes a feeling of digitally connecting hands while being underneath a common roof. That’s definitely a good vibe.

Takeaway: Think about your brand. Really, really think about it. Are you implicitly (or explicitly) showing bias that turns off genders, races, or cultures? Does your site reek of toxic masculinity and “beards only” type verbiage, even if not intentional? This is a great time to fix it.

No More Comments

After reading and responding to nearly 3,000 comments, I have disabled them across the entire site. Why? The war on spam is endless and tiring. I’ve had to deal with spam blockers, filters, allow / deny lists, and other forms of drama for too long. Over 100,000 spam comments have been caught by Akismet. It’s tedious.

Additionally, comments as a form of communication have been steadily on the decline for years. Removing the comment feature has increased page load time, reduced my attack surface, and generally just made the flow feel smoother across the page. To all of those who have dropped a comment in the past decade: thank you!

I now encourage folks to ping me on Twitter or catch a Twitch stream. 😏

Takeaway: Hard choices must be made with regard to energy levels. You can’t be everything to everyone. Be available on the platforms you choose. Also, prioritize page load speed over any other metric. Search engines care.

What’s The Point

To have fun.

Honestly, that’s it.

If blogging isn’t fun, don’t do it. There are multitudes of ways to express one’s self, including open source contributions, videos, live streams, mentoring, teaching, and volunteering.

My About page has always stated:

I founded this site in 2010 as a quiet place to write down thoughts on various technical challenges with little concern over posting schedules and who would actually read what I wrote.

Yes, blogging can help you get some visibility and “exposure dollars“, but quality is an elusive eel if the work product is laden with toil. Hmm, I think I’ll use that as a quote elsewhere, actually. Hah! In other words, tasks that are boring have a direct correlation with the task’s output quality.

In my case, I like to write. My brain is a great caching layer but a not-so-great long term retention layer. This blog is my solution to that. Although, lately I have been really grooving with live streaming and producing technical videos. The creative world is rich with acronyms and jargon, which is my jam!

Takeaway: Flip the blog conversation on its head. Assume zero people ever read your blog. What do you want to get out the effort? Be creative with the answer, and magically, the all-knowing Google search algorithm will send people your way.

Goals and Endgame

I don’t think there is a “this is done” state for a blog. The Internet is a strange place. Data gravity is very sticky. Things that are created tend to last far longer than designed or desired.

My goal is to deliver the ah-ha lightbulb moment through content creation because better educated technologists forms a rising tide that raises all boats.

I like making content punctuated with funny cartoons and other goofy things. Which reminds me! Stay tuned – I may be introducing you all to a new member of this site. Don’t tell anyone, OK?

Back to the topic. At some point, I think I will finally perform the laborious task of cleaning and migrating this heaping pile of blog posts over to a static site generator. Not because I dislike WordPress (I’m actually a big fan), but because I’ll be done with this extremely long writing experiment called blogging. I’ll move it inside of a git repo and keep feeding the registrar to avoid breaking decades of links. πŸ˜‰

Takeaway: Challenge your assumptions as to why you write, what you write about, and how much joy it brings. A sort of “golden circle of the soul” if you will. When it feels like a job, pivot. I think this is my 4th or 5th major pivot on the site. Change is usually a good thing.

Conclusion

Well, here we are at the conclusion. Don’t let me mislead you into thinking I dislike writing or plan to torch this blog anytime soon. I, like all of us, am going through a lot of “crazy s**t” right now, and this post is a bit therapeutic after being sheltered at home for hundreds of days. At a certain age I’m entitled to wax lyrical about the past, right? 😁

Thank you to everyone who has taken time to visit. Although I can still remember every secret in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, I am typically horrible at names and faces. However, so many of you have pinged me with a positive, kind note over these 10 years – and it sticks.

I appreciate you, more than you will know, and encourage you to be the leader you want to see in others.

Stay snazzy, my friends. ✌