Personal blogs are a different…no…special…part of the internet.
Has it been a while since you have posted on your blog consistently?
Because it is yours.
Personal blogs are a different part of the internet. Special in my opinion. Some people write long enough (and well enough) to make some money…but many (like me so far) don’t.
Because it is mine
Perhaps it is just my generation (I fall smack in the middle of Gen X and Millenials) but a blog/website that is mine and mine to do what I want with…has always felt special.
I have followed a blog by Greg Morris for some time now: gr36.com. I also follow Greg on twitter @gr36. I don’t remember how I came across his site but I have always been glad I did.
And I follow him for no other reason than I enjoy the thoughts he puts out in to the world through his blog…and I feel like if we knew each other in real life, we might be friends.
He has done things that I have done here: switch blogging platforms, turned ads on and off, tested features, pontificated on whether or not he should keep writing, etc. Greg has treated his blog much like I treat mine…as an avenue for him to write, create, think aloud, seek feedback…and he has done it for quite a while.
Because it is his.
It is ok
The beauty of a personal blog is that (hopefully) people are there for you…not necessarily for an ever flowing feed of information, gear reviews, etc. It’s personal…it is yours….it is you.
And that means it is ok to step away and take a break every once in a while. It is ok to try something new, to write on a completely new and random topic…or to take a deep breath and think aloud…while writing those thoughts down.
Don’t worry about the optimal time to publish and there is no need to sweat the thoughts of how long a post is or if it has too many pictures.
It is ok.
Because your blog is just that….yours.
Let me encourage you my friend…the world is better when you are in it…and in this day and age a personal blog is my favorite way to contribute to the digital world we all operate in.
Start that personal blog…or keep the one you have going…make it yours…hit publish whenever you want to…it is ok.
What I wanted my blog to be changed, and although I tried to rekindle that romance last year, it is now something made just for me. A reflection of myself.
I’ve enjoyed Greg’s blog for a while. Primarily because it’s just what he says…his.
As someone who has started and stopped his own website/blog a couple times, I like hearing (reading) someone else who has done the same. One of the few reasons I didn’t just stick with writing over on Medium was that I wanted my space.
If you want to lead better, work better, live better…and help others do the same, then join me on this journey.
One year ago I pushed publish on my very first blog post here.
For some odd reason, that is still my highest viewed post ever. That may be because of the way my site was first set up (requiring a click to view each post) vice how it is now (endless scrolling with full posts). It really doesn’t matter as that is not the whole reason I started yet another blog.
I was quite up front about trying to see if I could make any money from my “side-hustle” site this go around. I’ve tried affiliate links to amazon, signing up for various affiliate services, creating merchandise to sell, and a couple other things. I’ve posted almost every day over the past year and worked towards better SEO…although I wouldn’t say I did so aggressively. (I do have a family and a full-time job)
All of that has resulted in zero money but, more importantly, a few realizations on my part.
1. Creation is One of My Favorite Parts of Starting a Blog/Site
I really enjoy the act of creating a site.
I love pouring through templates, seeing what is new that people like and what is old/classic that I still prefer.
Selecting and testing out fonts and color schemes scratches some sort of artistic itch that I’m not sure I could identify or satisfy otherwise. Serif versus Sans Serif, complimentary color schemes, underlining links that change color on hovering over it (via customized CSS), viewing spacing and sizing of headers and paragraph text. I love it all.
Is that weird?
I don’t know. Maybe.
I enjoy it nonetheless.
2. Volume is Not What I Want to Do Right Now
Coming up with 6 posts a week is not a lot in terms of a normal website volume. Yet, if you’re running your site solo, then it can add up over time.
Don’t get me wrong, I was able to get a pretty good routine that allowed me to come up with 3 weeks worth of material over the course of a Sunday, but that normally excluded my Wednesday posts. I tried to make those Wednesday posts a little more of an “actual post” that required me to sit, think, write, edit, and smooth for publishing.
And shocker…those Wednesday posts tended to be my more popular posts…those and the Saturday affiliate link posts. (according to my google analytics stats)
Remember though…I was attempting to make money this time around and I thought a consistent post a day would translate to something over the course of a year. Which it didn’t. At least not for what I was posting about.
I’ve experimented, learned, and will adjust.
3. I Want “Fulfillment over Victory”
Those Wednesday posts I mentioned I actually enjoyed a lot more. The critical thinking aspect of writing them is often what I look for when I get that urge to share a revelation, thought, or growing concept that I want to process.
That is probably why I enjoy making my Vlog so much…it takes planning, knowledge, experience, experimentation…technical curiosity, creativity, and effort.
The thoughtful pieces are so much more fulfilling that working towards that Google SEO to try and bring in more clicks.
I don’t really want to “win” in blogging…I want fulfillment in what I do and share with others.
Basically the payoff is in the journey vice the destination.
I just started reading his newest book, The Infinite Game, and I realized that I have been expending all this effort on my blog for purely selfish reasons…reasons that I don’t really believe will succeed.
I don’t really think that I will succeed on this blog if I am only doing it to try and make money. That has never really been a driving factor for what I do in life and I’m not sure why I put that as my foremost reason here.
I Am Sorry
I should have known better than to stray from what really drives me in life and work. People who know me, know that I want to lead people be better versions of themselves and to teach them how to help others the do same.
I can’t do that when money is my focus.
In life, at work, or via this website.
My focus should be, as Simon Sinek says, on the “infinite game”.
So should yours.
Why am I doing this?
Do I have an “infinite mindset”? (a just cause that will outlive me)
What drives me to make others better?
This blog will change from here forward.
The name will stay the same for now, and I will occasionally post some of the same things I did before (interesting links, inspiring quotes, vlogs) but my focus here will be to make you better and to teach you how to do the same for others.
Quality over quantity I suppose.
I do not know how this process will play out going forward…but I do know that I am more driven by that purpose and will thus be more likely to stick with it.
If you want to lead better, work better, live better…and help others do the same, then join me on this journey.
As a teenager, you may have once pined over a boy or girl and thought, They don’t even know I exist. Well, it can feel just as bad when you create a new blog and no-one seems to be reading it. In fact, it may be even worse because Google Analytics will confirm your suspicions without a hint of sympathy.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend thousands on your blog to be successful. You don’t need hundreds of thousands of pageviews. Or even a super slick blog design. In fact, you can be extremely successful and barely spend any money. But what you do need is a plan.
What is the 10,000 hour rule? How long is 10,000 hours? Have you blogged for 10,000 hours? How?
This is a “rule” that Malcom Gladwell popularized stating that approximately 10,000 hours of practice are needed to master a skill (in the simplest terms). For now I will ignore the many arguments against this rule. Instead I will focus on the fact that it basically shows that a lot of volume is needed to work towards mastery of anything.
Many circles apply this rule to athletes, pointing to the amount of hours of practice that they need to get to the elite levels of competition or expertise. Volume is not the ONLY factor that contributes towards mastery, but 10,000 hours is widely recognized as a bar that many reach for.
How Long Does That Take?
Some basic math (assuming 2 weeks vacation) showed me that if you put in 40 hours a week, you would reach this mark in 5 years.
10,000 hours / 40 hrs/week = 250 weeks
250 weeks / 50wks/year = 5 years
Is this realistic? Nope.
As a gymnast, growing up, I practiced for 3 hours a day 5-6 days a week (on average). That would put me at about 12-15 years to get to that mark of 10,000 hours.
This lines up well with high school athletes looking to compete in college. If they start young, like I did, they hit that mark just before, or during, college. I won’t go in to the various opinions on whether or not athletes should be multi-disciplinary in their younger years to round out their athletic foundation…I am focused on the raw volume for now.
Applying The Rule to Blogging
Does this mean you should blog full-time?
Why do you think the full-time bloggers are so good?
This was quite a realization for me. Largely because I’m not even close to 10,000 hours of blogging.
However, if you look at blogging as writing, then you can give yourself more credit towards that 10,000 hours. High school was hopefully a time to lay the first building blocks of your writing skills; with college giving you a serious boost towards the reps and volume you can’t avoid when honing a skill.
Let’s assume, for arguments sake, that by the time you have finished college you are at about 4,000 hours. (2 hours/day, 5days/week, for 8 years) While that is very optimistic, you still have 6,000 hours to reach the aforementioned Gladwell benchmark. Seeing as how most successful bloggers start off with a “regular” job and write on the side…let’s say you write for 4 hours per day. (That’s still a ton and probably not realistic for most)
6,000hrs / 20hrs/week = 300 weeks
300wks / 50wks/year = 6 years
6 years post college to become a “good” writer (blogger)!!!
That seems like a lot.
But it’s not. I would bet money that most successful bloggers didn’t find their success for at least that long…if not longer. I wrote about Jason Kottke not long ago and how he was running his website for 7 years before deciding to give blogging full-time a try. He has now been blogging full-time for 15 years and his blog is 22 years old.
Seth Godin…has been doing what he does for almost 30 years. He wrote his first book in 1999…his blog coming later. Talk about volume.
How to Get There
A couple years ago, I was traveling from Memphis to Portland with a connecting flight through Dallas Forth Worth. A cashier in DFW mentioned to me that I appeared to be in good shape and asked if I had any advice for him when it came to putting on muscle.
While the comment and question caught me off guard (because I was in a candy shop of all places), I assumed he was emboldened to ask because of the Crossfit shirt I was wearing.
In an instant, I thought of the thousands of hours of practice and working out I had accumulated for over 30 years. I asked myself, What one thing can I tell this random guy about my lifetime of fitness?
“Consistency man…go to the gym even when you don’t feel like it.”
I said as he handed me my receipt.
I couldn’t tell if the look he gave me said “true, true” or “that was lame” Nevertheless, it was the best piece of ‘gym advice’ I could think of as, ironically, I was walking out with a bag full of gummy bears.
I learned a lot about consistency and self-discipline from my years of gymnastics. Yet, I find I still need these reminders as I work on becoming a better writer:
Becoming a better writer will take time…a few years by my calculations, probably more.
There are no shortcuts…no matter how many Medium articles I read that promise me ‘5 Tips to Becoming a Better Writer’.
Consistency is key…I have to write even when I don’t feel like it.
Now you’ve read this article and learned in 5 minutes what it took me decades to discover.
Knowing these 3 insights alone won’t guarantee your success…but they sure as hell will help.
I went out on my daily excursion to sit on the front step of my building for ten minutes holding my breath when people walked by. Normally, I spend the time diddling around my phone, but I forgot to bring my phone this morning, so I just looked around.
As I was taking in the emptiness of the street, a little glint caught my eye in a patch of dirt on the sidewalk. I bent over to look closer, and there was the glint again. It wasn’t a normal glint like from a shiny rock or a piece of metal—it was a little pinprick of flashing light.
Intrigued, I was now on all fours looking closer. And I saw the most surreal thing.
Like tiny houses. Each about a millimeter high, like ornately carved grains of sand.
I was either dreaming or looking at the coolest, cutest little art project ever.
As I examined the microscopic village, I noticed what looked like a scrawl of teeny letters on the dirt next to the houses. It said:
Blogging full-time is a goal for many…he made it happen before it was a thing.
Not sure if you have ever heard of Kottke.org, but it’s one of the internet’s oldest and well-known blogs. Somehow I stumbled across a 15-year-old post over there, when Jason Kottke wrote about going “full-time blogging”.
After thinking about it for a few weeks, I had a bit of an epiphany. The real problem was the tension between my web design career and my self-publishing efforts; that friction was unbalancing everything else. One of them had to go, and so I decided to switch careers and pursue the editing/writing of this site as a full-time job.
I would imagine that was as terrifying then as it is now…probably more so. He had been working full-time and keeping up his blog as it picked up steam for about 7 years.
Think about that.
7 years keeping his blog up and running before he jumped in to it full time.
Ok, but why else are you doing this?
Blogging — or personal publishing in general (not that they’re synonymous) — as a pursuit has been somewhat marginalized as a hobby or something one does to support other more worthy and/or lucrative pursuits. People leverage their blogs in order to write books, write for magazines or newspapers, pursue art or photography, go work for Gawker, Mediabistro, or Weblogs Inc., get jobs at startups, do freelance design (as I used to), start a software company, or as a vehicle to sell advertising. All worthy pursuits, but I’m interested in editing kottke.org as my primary interest; blogging for blogging’s sake, I guess.
I have always seen blogging as a way to share my interests…and I think most folks see it the same way. Many might see blogging full-time as a dream job, but I bet it’s a lot of work too. What’s the saying?…
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life
We have the benefit of hindsight and reading this post from 2005 is pretty cool to see. Jason’s write up still holds up all these years later.
Note: I saved that post to read later and write about here and little did I know that just a couple days later (March 14th to be exact), Kottke.org turned 22.
Hello all. I know there’s a pandemic going on out there, but I wanted to take a moment to celebrate kottke.org turning 22 years old today. If you’ve been reading along the entire time or for only a few days, it’s been an honor for me to inform, provoke, entertain, and possibly even infuriate you all for a few minutes every day. Thanks for reading — and an extra-special thanks to those who support the site with a membership. As I said a few weeks ago, all this really means a lot to me.
Deep dive on my WP theme, mesh WiFi routers, and that company that raised their minimum salary to $70k a year…
I’m the Grinch who grumbles about every WordPress theme. Except one. After years of resisting change, I finally switched FilterJoe to a modern, responsive theme: Twenty Sixteen—the new default theme included with WordPress 4.4.
My only temptation has been to leave WordPress for a simpler and more writing-focused platform like Ghost or Medium. While WordPress was for blogging at first, it expanded over the years into content management and an online application platform. The original focus on blogging has been diluted, and WordPress themes often reflect that.
However, WordPress now offers Twenty Sixteen for modern blogging, and it is good.
In this post, I detail how Twenty Sixteen makes me comfortable with it as a wonderfully content-focused blog theme.
This is the Theme I am running right now. This guy nailed it in so many levels.
A few new opportunities have arisen recently, offering up an equally exciting opportunity to reassess my camera kit. Now, I have friends — knowledgeable friends, very wise friends — who have made it clear I have very little rational reason to make any changes. But want is a pretty significant factor, specifically when it comes to photography kit.
Amazon’s Eero routers are the first out of the gate with HomeKit support, which promises to provide greater security to your Internet-connected HomeKit devices.
The update, which appeared today via an update to Eero’s iOS app, walks users through the setup process of adding their Eero gateway to the Home app. Along the way, the Eero app explains that enabling HomeKit support allows Eero to firewall off each HomeKit device, so they only communicate with approved devices and services.
I bought an Eero mesh WiFi router when I moved to a bigger house. Totally worth it.
Remember a few years ago when the owner of a credit card payment processing company based in Seattle raised the minimum wage of his employees to $70,000/yr while taking a huge pay-cut himself and capitalists the world over, afraid of their beloved & apparently suuuuper delicate system collapsing from such madness, flipped out?