For those who blog, you’ve no doubt been asked at some point in time:

How do you find the time to blog?

Or:

How do you consistently come up with things to write about?

And for those who are just starting out, I think these are great questions especially if you love to write.

After all, most (admittedly, some are in it for different reasons) of us do this because we like it – we enjoy sharing what we’ve learned, we hope to help others along their way, and we hope to learn from others via comments.

How I See Me Blogging

How I See Me Blogging

But if you’re looking to start a blog, looking to blog more regularly, or just trying to find some sources of inspiration for how to continue, then here are some things that I’ve found useful when wanting to consistently share things with you each day.

Granted, this may be geared more towards developers than anything else – I’ve tried to keep it pretty agnostic – but perhaps this advice for blogging will help someone else along the way.

1. We’re All Learning Something

Regardless of where you are in your career, there are going to be people who are further along than you; there are going to be people who are coming up behind you.

It’s okay to share problems that you’ve worked through and solved because it will help those who are not quite as far along as you yet, and it will help you learn from others who are further along from you.

This is one reason I’m such an advocate for putting things on GitHub and allowing other people to critique either there or on the comments of my blog.

Ultimately, it will help to make you a better developer. That’s the ultimate goal of our career, right?

We don’t want to stagnate.

To that end, share what you’re learning no matter how simple you may think it is. It doesn’t matter – some people are showing the latest things they’ve learned about JavaScript and the DOM whereas others are trying to figure out how to increase the running time of a sort algorithm for large data sets.

There’s more than enough room in between the two to share our experiences.

2. We Have The Same Amount of Time (Sort Of)

It’s pretty easy to say that we all have the same 24 hours in a day to get things done – it’s just what we do with those 24 hours.

We all have the same amount of time. Most of us.

We all have the same amount of time. Most of us.

That’s true, of course, but not all of us are in the same place in life. Some have spouses or partners, some have kids, some have multiple jobs, and so on. When your life is busy with things that are of higher priority, then blogging is not necessarily at the top of the priority list.

I get that. It’s a little disingenuous to distill everyone’s 24 hour period down to an equal playing field.

Personally speaking, I’m married with two kids and two crazy dogs. At this point, blogging has become part of my daily routine because it’s something that I’ve done for long enough such that it feels weird not to do it.

It’s become more than a habit (and I enjoy it, of course).

But what does this have to do with having kids or juggling jobs or whatever? At 5pm every single day, I disconnect. That’s protected time for my family and there’s nothing short of an emergency that will change that.

On the flip side, sometimes writing can be cathartic. Some people still keep journals and diaries and what not. Plus, you don’t have to write every day. Write when you have the chance. If you have a few minutes over a lunch break, when a kid is down for a nap, or something and you feel the desire to write, then go for it.

If not, then don’t. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself just to blog “because reasons.”

The lamest part of blogging is doing so when you feel like you have to do so. That’s not how it should be. Write when you’re inspired, write when you feel like it.

And if you can’t write when you want, make some notes on your phone, some paper, or in a notebook, then flesh out the details while you sit down to write later.

3. It’s Not About Comparison

Sometimes, I think one of the biggest challenges in blogging – let alone, life – is the whole Keeping Up With The Joneses mentality. You know what I mean: We look to the left and look to the right and see how successful everyone is whoisn’t us.

But straight up: What does that matter? If you had what they had, would you be happy? Is there any way to know at this point? Who’s to say you won’t eventually get that 100,000th visitor.

I don't know anyone

I don’t know anyone

Every blogger I’ve ever met has milestones for which they get excited:

  • The first comment
  • The first 100 views
  • The first week of publishing, say, 3 times a week
  • The first time they hit 1,000 views
  • And so on

I love this moving scale and it’s something I think we should all try to aim for (unless we wanna go out all and say forget metrics :).

But ultimately, those types of goals kind of fade into the background if your primary goal at writing is to share what you’re learning or share some of your experiences.

None of the rest of it matters.

But what if no one reads my blog?

I can be dismissive and say “So what?” but I hate that answer. The thing is, at least in what I’ve found, is that the people who blog, who don’t give up, who are consistent, and who aren’t afraid to share the content that they are writing are the ones who generally get enough visitors to keep the motivation going.

So don’t between to tweet, Facebook, or share on whatever social networks you use in order to get information about your blog out. Everyone else shares their opinions about stuff – why not share a link to a more expansive post about yours?

There’s More

This isn’t the only advice there is to blogging. Ask 100 people what their advice is and get 100 different answers.

Or 80, maybe. I dunno. I haven’t done enough research :). But you get my point.

I hope to write more about this in the future (hence the whole Part 1 in the title), but for now, these are some of the things that I’m finding myself sharing with others whenever they ask me my opinion on blogging, how to get started, and how to keep going.

Of course, a blog post like this wouldn’t exactly be complete if I didn’t ask you to chime in via comments and share you particular opinion on what you’ve found useful. So if you have something to add, do so in the comments!

Category:
Articles

Join the conversation! 6 Comments

  1. This is the Friday-afternoon-kick-in-the-rear I needed! So, thanks Tom!

    “1. We’re All Learning Something” resonated with me most as I tend to ask “is this important/complex/difficult/amazing enough to write about” far too often? If it’s written thoughtfully, honestly, and with conviction then it’s probably helping someone.

    Have a great weekend. : )

  2. Thanks for this post, Tom.

    I guess in some ways, it’s also about priorities; what one considers to be important. And this priority can change over time.

    I agree that sharing has plenty of value, although it is sometimes hard to accept that there are others who are not as far along as one might be; mostly because one tends to only look at those ahead.

    Making it a priority to help or even entertain others (positively) can be a motivator for blogging.

    Just as an aside, I’ve heard some bloggers mention that blogging netted them some cool opportunities, and I agree that it does; but this is where quality and consistency play a part.

    I think that blogging should be done for its own sake, i.e. to create, educate, or entertain. Without thought of reward. One should either be motivated to write or not. If there is no motivation, then there’s not point in doing it. If one’s priorities shift, then there may also be no point in blogging.

    It’s almost like a “giving tree”. What does one do when one gets the feeling like there’s nothing to give?

    Perhaps that would be a good time to look for alternative outlets for self-expression, than blogging.

    • I guess in some ways, it’s also about priorities; what one considers to be important. And this priority can change over time.

      Definitely! 

      This hasn’t always been a priority for me, but it is right now. Then again, this may not always be the case.

      Just as an aside, I’ve heard some bloggers mention that blogging netted them some cool opportunities, and I agree that it does; but this is where quality and consistency play a part.

      Completely with you on this. 

      I think that blogging should be done for its own sake, i.e. to create, educate, or entertain. Without thought of reward.

      Though I agree with this, I also don’t fault anyone who sets out to try to achieve some type of notoriety or even profit so long as the content they’re pushing isn’t just fluff for page views.

      It’s almost like a “giving tree”. What does one do when one gets the feeling like there’s nothing to give?

      Yeah, I think for some there’s definitely a life expectancy on it. For others, not so much.

      Whatever the case, I love the analogy to that book. We actually recently introduced it to our oldest daughter so it’s fresh on my mind :).

      Perhaps that would be a good time to look for alternative outlets for self-expression, than blogging.

      Love this thought.

  3. I love that I knew this was a Tom McFarlin post just by the featured image on ManageWP (the one of Chris Pratt).

    One piece of advice I can leave is to keep a Trello List around where you can continue to put links and ideas. You will grow a pool of ideas very quickly.

    •  I love that I knew this was a Tom McFarlin post just by the featured image on ManageWP (the one of Chris Pratt).

      That makes me happy. Use of memes are proving to be useful :).

      One piece of advice I can leave is to keep a Trello List around where you can continue to put links and ideas. You will grow a pool of ideas very quickly.

      Exactly. I’d also generalize it a bit – even if it’s not a Trello board, it can be a text file, something in Evernote, an OS X ‘Notes’, or just a normal notebook. 

      Whatever the case, it’s about quickly getting ideas down so you can expand on ‘em in a blog post.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.