I don’t write much about blogging on this site because it’s a bit meta and because I try to focus on WordPress development and related topics.

Blogging Regularly: Talking about it is a little meta.

Talking about blogging is a bit meta, isn’t it?

But one of the questions that I receive from fellow developers who are interested in blogging has asked this question enough times that I thought it might be worth providing a short answer here if for no other reason than I have a place to which I can link them when others ask me.

The Habit of Blogging Regularly

Before I talk about the things I do when it comes to blogging regularly, there are a few points I want to make actually to dissuade some of you from writing.

Why Bother Blogging?

Here’s why: It’s not uncommon to hear “I feel like I should write, but I don’t know what to write about.”

That’s a problem in and of itself that’s content for another post, but there’s something behind that statement that’s important to cover, too. And that’s this: Why do you want to blog?

Sometimes people feel as if there’s this unspoken rule or feel obligated to do so because it’s become very mainstream now. But just because something is mainstream does not mean you have an obligation to participate.

Other times, people feel like they need to wait until the perfect time to get started. There is no ideal time to do it with one exception: Whenever you’re ready.

So if you have a niche topic about which you’d like to write, then do it and do it diligently. It takes time, sure, but it’s worth it. There are reasons why I use the phrase “niche topic” but, again, I’ll cover that another time.

If, on the other hand, you hate the idea of writing. Don’t blog. It’s a labor of love just like any other hobby so if you get more frustration or find that it’s more of a chore than a rewarding experience, don’t do it.

Bother Blogging

For the rest of you, there are a few guidelines I follow whenever I sit down to write a post. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it has contributed heavily in blogging regularly.

In no particular order, these guidelines are as follows:

  • Writing is like a muscle and, like any muscle, you have to excerise it if it’s going to get stronger. I didn’t set out to write daily. I set out to write weekly, then twice a week, then three times a week, then five times a week.
  • Inspiration from posts comes from projects on which I’m working, topics related to business that I’m currently facing, events at which I’m speaking, resources that I find useful.
  • I usually don’t have a set schedule for the things about which I’ll write. I jot down notes about ideas that I have, but when I sit down to churn out a post, I usually find an album or a playlist that’s between 40 and 60 minutes and aim to complete the post within that timeframe.
  • I don’t always do this, but I also try to keep my posts between 500 and 700 words. Anything shorter seems a bit undeveloped, and anything longer requires more time than some people have to read, so I try to stay within that range. Again, it’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s a guideline.
  • I don’t approve all of the comments that I get nor do I respond to all of the emails that I get. Sometimes they are inappropriate, at times they are more interested in pushing a product than they are talking to me, and I simply am not interested in entertaining “conversations” like that.

I’m sure I could come up with a handful of other guidelines and tips that I use, and maybe I’ll do so for a future post, but this is one that seemed almost to write itself.

As such, I wanted to go ahead and capture these points to share.

Again, That’s Just Me

Of course, all of the above are things that work for me. We all have our workflows and ways in which we go about doing similar tasks.

There are some other bloggers in our segment of the industry who I like to read (like, for example, Curtis McHale – just one of several, to be clear) who likely have a different process than I do.

So feel free to leave comments on what your approach is. I don’t know if others will pay attention to it, but I will – maybe I’ll find something to add to my habits.

And, as usual, don’t hesitate to leave any questions you may have about blogging regularly, as well.


Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. Nice post Tom.

    I crafted a Multiple Sclerosis website that my lady ran up until just a few months back as she just underwent surgery for a brain aneurysm. She will hopefully get back to it in time.

    There are many things to consider when operating a blog or interactive web.

    Many people who begin do not have goals. These are important IMHO. If nobody is going to arrive to read, writing is rather pointless. So, part of the deal is how do I get to my audience even if I dont have more complex plans such as monetization, marketing myself as a developer etc.

    That said… I just ADORE outliners. I use MS Word but one can use Open Office or any number of outlining tools.

    Just like with code, start up top of the idea/concept or even article and top down examine and outline it. Then go back, start filling in the details.

    If you were coding a collections class you’ll stub the constructor, add_item, insert_item, remove_item, load_collection, save_collection etc etc.

    In both designing goals for a blog and actual articles, it works out very nicely. The handy thing about being able to reverse engineer given tasks as a developer is applying that ability to any number of things from a website to an article and well… just about anything!

    Same or similar tools can be quite helpful. I know a few people who use their code editor to outline articles and even projects. I prefer more advanced tools for such things.

    If one is seeking monetize or something more complex than a base blog then mindmapping software is just wonderful!

  2. (Tom, feel free to edit for brevity if you post this)

    This post is timely and helpful. You addressed an issue I have.

    On my business site, I’ve had a blog set up. Here I write long-form research pieces. A social media friend told me this was the way for SEO and readers.

    It’s just short of torture; it takes up time I could be using to update my website.

    A couple of weeks ago I set up a blog site to demo for a client. On it I’ve been writing for fun. Serious fun, but fun.

    Writing there is more about the process of the work I do. But also other stuff of a serious or philosophical nature – my kind of fun.

    Not for acquiring numbers readers or email subscriptions. This new blog has followers already.

    On my business site, I think I’ll do like you only for my niche. Write about website management. Write about what I’m learning that may be interesting or helpful to other website owners. I like your use of a music album or playlist as a timer.

    Thanks, Tom.

  3. Thank you, Rick, for suggesting outliners or mindmaps. I use Workflowy but hadn’t thought of applying it to my blogging. Using a Mindmap seems more freeing for tracking content subjects.

  4. “Writing is like a muscle and, like any muscle, you have to exercise it if it’s going to get stronger. I didn’t set out to write daily. I set out to write weekly, then twice a week, then three times a week, then five times a week.”

    I think this is pretty much the most important aspect. One thing that I struggled with is that writing a post felt pretty overwhelming for me at the start. I started with something even smaller. Just writing 150 words/sitting.

    Don’t be scared to experiment with different strategies if you’re struggling with finishing the post in one week. :)

    • Don’t be scared to experiment with different strategies if you’re struggling with finishing the post in one week. :)

      Yeah – I think it’s hard to prescribe the best way to do it, but I like your “start with 150 words” and work up from there. That’s something manageable by anyone.

      And I think if people are interested in getting their feet wet in blogging then maybe micro.blog will be good for them. But that’s part and partial because I like when people write and I like the idea behind that platform ;).

      • Often people get motivated from articles like this one (Like I am right now :D) but the problem comes on the next day, and the day when I simply forget about it. It’s really boiled down to forming a habit.

        I have a feeling that just because you set the goal of writing every X days it doesn’t mean that it will work. You need a realistic goal. Example – get 30,000 reads per month, grow 1000+ followers, get your articles published on other sites and so on. Goals like these that can be measured will give you the reward for your work, which most people including me love.

        There is the other thing – you can separate writing in three sections – ideas, drafts and editing and do them in bulk. I often write down 5-10 titles I would like to write about with a few core headlines for them. Then I can go and write, a few of them and then edit them all, after which comes publishing on the next week. By then I have the time to read them a few times and find mistakes that are invisible on the first reading when everyone is eager to publish.

        • It’s really boiled down to forming a habit.

          Agreed. And part of that habit is making sure that it’s one you enjoy (otherwise, we wouldn’t have bad habits, right? :).

          Example – get 30,000 reads per month, grow 1000+ followers, get your articles published on other sites and so on.

          This seems like a good example but the methods that one uses to achieve these goals is important. I say this because there are plenty of people who purchase followers or use what I call ‘non-organic’ methods to achieve these numbers. And when you do that, it’s all just false.

          If you write and you write long enough and you write for yourself then you’re likely going to end writing for someone else, too. The odds you’re solving something in a vacuum is next to nil. That’s why I think blogging about programming-related topics is so beneficial.

          There is the other thing – you can separate writing in three sections – ideas, drafts and editing and do them in bulk.

          Exactly. This is why I think having such a notebook or something around to jot down ideas is important. It may not turn into anything or it may turn into an entire series.

  5. Indeed, finding one’s own stride and tools can yield wonders.

    The reasons I settled on outliners, Concept Draw and some other tools sort of revolved around time. I found in software engineering I had this set of tools. In business management, this set of tools. In collaborations, this set of tools, on and on.

    I began using at outliner for some work as a gentlemen by the name of Mike Abrash suggested it. This was before the WWW was alive. It was AOL, CIS, UseNet etc. Even OOP was new both heralded and scoffed at.

    Back then, often had to make tools the grocery stores of software with varieties of goodies just did not exist. Outliners did.

    Just as with OOP I explored how to unite processes, convey concepts, pseudo code concepts.

    Overtime I found that often simple tools work better than pluthers of advanced tools in small disconnected workgroups. The learning and usage time curves can create as many constraints as they attempt solve if that makes sense?

    So in time what I tried do is find toolings that allowed me to jump virtual barriers. Barriers in my own work such as code, concept, pseudo, idea seeds, documenting, creative writing, design and more. Rather than having 25 different tools slim it down. Its taken me a long time to settle in, Concept Draw really helped cover ground and boy oh boy did it help convey information across small disconnected teams. Its mating with MS Office made for the only tools I need for an enormously broad range of tasks.

    That said, the process of writing itself is often quite different from individual to individual as it tracks along side thought processes.

    Tom here is a very good technical writer, way better than I am.

    I tend to be much more a dialog based writer which came from the creative writing classes I’d taken as well as the forms of communication electronically before the WWW came to be.

    Interestingly many (many) people who use the web dont tend to like read.

    I do not know how many of you have witnessed the evolution of this technology. I began back in the mid 1970’s. Facebook, Twitter, texting etc. turned into staples of communication and often quite brief. Its changed (IMHO) the way many folks actually think. Aka: Communicate brief, think brief, they become brief.

    I’ve had some interesting conversations about this with some pretty significant psychologists, psychiatrists and medical researchers in the Multiple Sclerosis community. Its quite frightening in terms of civilization and separation of the masses.

    Are blogs dying as a result of social media and texting?

    Many will say yes. Fewer comments, brevity of complex topics.

    With say Multiple Sclerosis there are oodles of websites that describe what is an extremely complex and often highly debilitating condition very briefly. Yet, if you are a patient or a caregiver, family member, friend, co-worker or employer one needs to really understand at a deep level. In fact, the deeper the better.

    Now in emerging technology we have TTS (Text to speech) and speech to text. As this all becomes refined does it become the new norm?

    Interesting food for thought.

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