Seth Godin Explains Why You Should Blog Daily ›

With the arrival of Micro.blog my interest in my blog has picked up considerably. It’s always been there bubbling at the back of my mind, but actively posting micro posts to it has me once again looking to post other content more regularly. CJChilvers linked to an article by Seth Godin that Explains Why You Should Blog Daily resonated deeply with me and the growing desire to post to this site more regularly. It’s both a creative outlet both and a mental outlet that I know will be good for me. I intend to mix the content I post between links, quotes and original articles/thoughts alongside the afore mentioned micro posts.

We are all bloggers

I created my first blog back in 2005 while I was at university. I had come across a number of blogs that I enjoyed reading and looking at the design of them. I wanted in on the game, a means of having my own piece of the internet, a way of learning about web design, and a place to write. It became a bit of a hobby, one which I enjoyed and one which I have battled with trying to regain over recent years.

The last few months have been interesting on the internet. There has been an increasing awareness that the large social networks create a bit of a cauldron. A boiling pot of likeness. The ability of sites like Facebook and Twitter to learn what kind of things you are interested in means they continually surface things that you like and are interested in. It’s a logical behaviour, but it’s one which lacks the ability to show you what people outside of your bubble are actually thinking and saying. They create controlled environments that perpetuate similar trains of thought.

Services like Medium also serve similar purposes, they want you to use their website and app as your only source of finding new content on the internet. It uses similar techniques to the bigger social networks and it presents it in a largely homogenised appearance to make it all look the same and give it the same visual voice. It takes ownership of your content and with it adds your voice to that bubbling pot of likeness.

There’s a big danger to that boiling pot. Each person ends up with their own, fed by similarity and linked to other similar pots by the content that fits them both. It takes away discourse. It takes away reason. It takes away the ability to have conversation and the ability to disagree well. It leads to a world where different opinions are denounced as bigotry, especially when they are contrary to the popular culture of the time. It’s something I am beginning to see more and more of, and something which I am beginning to feel influence my own thinking. That’s why I’m starting to see a fresh how important it is that we keep the web open. That we keep the ability to post to our own corners of the web and share it with those we know and in public domains that are easy to find. It’s why we need bloggers.

The problem is, that many people don’t see themselves as bloggers. It’s a geeky past time, that’s seen as old hat and no longer the done thing. What’s most interesting is that anyone who uses sites like Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram, are bloggers. Posting a tweet is a blog post. It’s a small one granted, but at it’s essence that’s what it is. Likewise with Facebook, any status posts, notes or whatever other myriad of things you can post originally to the site, are at their essence blog posts. We are all bloggers, whether we are aware of it or not. The difficulty is that we need to find ways of encouraging people to post these things to their own sites first, to take ownership of their thoughts and opinions, no matter how long they are. This is why I’m so excited by services like Micro.blog which encourage you to start your own Twitter-like personal site, which you own and can direct to other places. I’m not just excited by the idea of encouraging people to own their own posts, but by the fact that it could, like it is doing to me, get people interested in the idea of sharing their own thoughts and opinions in longer form as well. That’s what the web was built on. It’s what the web needs.

Tinker

The desire to tinker is strong in this one.

I have this problem when it comes to my blog. The more I start to post to it, the more I want to tinker. The more active I am on the site, the more I notice little things I don’t like and want to fix. The more I post to it, the more I want all my internet posting to originate on it. It’s like an illness.

It’s something I’ve always struggled with, and I confess it’s a side to blogging that I enjoy. The trouble is, the more I tinker the less I post. The more I craft the design, the less time I spend writing.

It’s a battle, although one I’m sure I do not face alone. It’s not just the battle of a blogger, it’s a battle of a designer. Most of the tinkering I do is design related, little details and quirks in my theme which I notice but very few others will. I also know from experience, that I will get to the point where I’ve caught the little tweaks I need to and they will be fixed. Then it’s just a case of resisting the bigger things I’d like to do. Or at least knocking off the major ones first, like finding a way to post photos here and on Instagram, displaying them in a way I’m happy with. The key though, is to keep the posts flowing. Keep to my challenge of posting everyday, and getting through the tinkering stage until I get to the point where I’m just posting each day and all my published content originates here.

Or is it just a pipe dream? Should I just keep posting and ignore the little bits that nag?

But I know I can’t just ignore the nagging. I’m a designer, I like details and its in my nature to keep refining bits until they’re gone. To keep crafting until they as close to perfect as can be, it’s just important to keep the perspective, to keep in mind that perfect doesn’t exist. It’s about getting things to good enough whilst keeping on posting each day and building momentum so that the writing takes over the tinkering and becomes a creative outlet in its own right.

Blogroll

Back when I first started writing on the internet – ok it’s called blogging, ugh – I discovered a lot of blogs through the sidebars of those I was reading. The trend at the time, way back in 2006, was for each blog to feature a Blogroll. A collection of links to the blogs of other people that the author of each site either knew personally or who simply enjoyed those other sites. It was a great way of finding new blogs to follow and it’s sad that the practice seems to have pretty much disappeard.

It might be ten years since I started my first blog, and with it my first Blogroll, but I figured it was time to revive it. What follows, in no particular order, is a list of blogs which I read regularly on a wide range of topics. I hope there are some you haven’t come across and that you to will enjoy reading.

The Rules of Combat

In the words of Tyler Durden

Do not talk about Fight Club.
Do not talk about Fight Club.
DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.

Ok… maybe not. This isn’t Fight Club and that’s a fairly old cliché. These rules are the rules of my little challenge. This is where I’m defining what counts and what doesn’t.

This site has a few different types of post that can appear on it, for the purposes of clarity they are

  • status
  • photo
  • quote
  • video
  • aside
  • link
  • standard article

Each one is designed for a specific type of content and has a custom style to help differentiate them.

Status Posts

Status posts, or snippets, are micro posts. They automatically share to my Twitter as a post there, I don’t always use them but I plan to start more, especially with the pending arrival of Manton’s snippets.today.

Photos and Videos

Meant for any photos or videos I create and want to share through this blog. Photos are cross posted to Instagram and Flickr.

Quote

Any pertinent quotes that I come across and wish to share without commentary.

Asides

Any short posts that don’t warrant a full post but are longer than a snippet. This type might be retired.

Links

Links to articles that I think are of interest and have something I want to add or highlight. The title of these types of posts point people away from this site to the article I’m linking too.

Standard Article Posts

These are the normal blog posts, the original content. These are the ones that I want to be the majority of my posts to be.

What Counts?

The posts that count the most will be the standard blog posts, the original content. When I say the most, I mean that the aim is for the majority of my posts to be these ones. Creatively they have more value since they are my own thoughts and ideas and serve as an alternative creative outlet to my design work. These aren’t the only posts that will count though. Posts that are a link will also count. However, there’s a bit of a rule to go with these. They must include a piece of commentary that either adds my own thoughts, or that highlights a particularly pertinent part of whatever is being linked to.

Snippets or status posts will not count. Since they’re like Twitter posts in nature, I don’t want to take the easy way out and fall back on them as my daily post. Likewise with quotes and photos, the aim is for these types of posts to supplement the longer form and curated linked content.

Why add these rules to the challenge? My aim is to write more, and as a designer I’m all too aware that a few constraints to a project make things a bit easier. Constraints bring clarity, focus and freedom to a project, it’s only natural they will also bring it to this one.

What Do You Write About?

I know what you’re thinking. It’s only the second day of the challenge I set myself, to post to my blog everyday from now until the end of the year, and already I’m asking the question of what do I write about.

I would imagine it’s a familiar story to anyone who’s decided to undertake such a challenge. Going from barely writing or posting to your blog to posting everyday it’s only natural to find yourself wondering what to write about. If I hadn’t been here before it would be a big worry, it might even be so discouraging that I would just abandon ship straight away. Whilst this morning when I decided it was time to write today’s post I didn’t have anything in particular I wanted to write about I know that if I keep going and posting each day I will eventually end up with too many subjects to write about. It’s the nature of the beast, the more you do it, the more ideas you have.

There are a number of different tactics that I’ve come across over the years that are aimed at helping you come up with subjects to write about. Unsurprisingly none of them have ever worked for me, but there is one thing that does. I know it works because I’ve demonstrated it in other parts of my life, be it reading my bible or doing the work for my freelance business.

Showing up every day.

So here I am, showing up. A new sheet in Ulysses, my headphones in and I’m writing. In fact through the course of writing this post I’ve already come up with the topic for tomorrow’s post. There it is in action. Showing up today has triggered the process. The more you do something the more idea’s you have, the first step is showing up.

A Blogging Challenge

I’ve written 442 posts on this site. The first one was written on 17th January 2011, that’s five and half years ago. It equates to around 80 posts per year and about 1.5 posts per week. It’s not bad going, but it could be better.

During those times there’s been many spells of inactivity and many spells of multiple posts per day, this is what I would like to change most about my site, the inconsistent posting patterns. Last night I found myself browsing the web in a way that I’ve not done for a long time. I ended up on a rabbit trail of personal blogs, one that started with a site I subscribe to that I kicked off into safari on my iPad. It felt like rediscovering the internet again. This was what got me into the blogging scene way back in 2005 when I started my first blog. There was a line in one of the articles I read that resonated with me. It was feedback that the author received regularly,

stopping blogging regularly was one of people’s biggest regrets
I certainly wish I hadn’t stopped. Or I should say, I wish I hadn’t let the habit slip. 

Since I started blogging way back in 2005 I’ve had two main sites. The first site, which sadly is no longer in existence, lasted from 2006 until this site started in 2011. It was my first proper foray into internet publishing and as a result I didn’t really think too much about what I would post. Topics were wide in range but naturally reflected my personal interests, something which I feel has been lost a bit on this site. Which is somewhat ironic given that this is the site which bears my full name in the url.

With that in mind it’s time to declare that this is the first post in a new challenge I’m setting myself. I want to recapture the joy that I had when I first started publishing on the web. It was something I enjoyed and did everyday, and so, that’s my new challenge. I want to post to this site everyday until the end of the year. Some will be links, some will be original writing, but all of it will reflect me and my interests. I’m going to try my utmost not to pick and choose too much of what I write, I will simply write and post each day from now until December 31st.

Just Hit Command-N

Just hit Command-N. Those are the words I just read in a post from Manton Reece, and so that’s what I’m doing. I may not be a developer or someone who’s had much of an audience in my life on the Internet. However, for the last few weeks I’ve wanted to start posting to my site again but for whatever reason I’ve never known what to write. So here I am pressing the plus button in Ulysses on my iPad and writing.

I remember when I first got in to the whole blogging way of things. I wasn’t really selective about what I wrote about, I would just write whatever came to me. Of course there was a set of themes that would be covered, but they weren’t chosen with intention, there were just what my interests were. They were me. Since discovering Manton’s blog towards the end of last year I’ve been reminded of my early blog and the early blogs of those who I still follow. They were genuine and full of interesting things because they weren’t overly focused, they were just personal sites. Of course those sites, at least the ones that are still going, are still interesting but they’ve become more focused over time. Although that focus may have happened by a natural evolution as people found what really makes them tick, those sites are interesting in a different way now. Thankfully what I’m starting to see, and what I hope I continue to see, is more variety and new sites that are personal and reflect the whole of the person who writes them. That’s what drew me to this hobby we call blogging, and it’s what I hope will help me return.

So here’s to new beginnings, to starting to write more and to being less bothered about what I should write about and instead just posting what feels right.

Content Origins ›

A subject I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is that of the personal site and owning content. Since I discovered the microblogging “movement” I’ve been thinking about how it should affect my posting to sites like Twitter. Manton’s thoughts in his post Long-form writing as a filter are echoing where I’m starting to land. I want to post/write for this site more, but I struggle to think of content. Maybe if I switch to originating all my content on my site first, those initial thoughts will grow into more substantial posts, or remain as micro-posts pushed to Twitter.

On Writing ›

A really interesting and comprehensive post by Ben Brooks about Writing.

What I like about this post is that it isn’t just a list of tools or a workflow. Although he covers those topics, the main meat of the piece is about why he writes. This is the kind of thing we should be reading more of, of course it’s fascinating reading about apps and workflows, but it’s more thought provoking and interesting to hear about why people do it.