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Five Things I Learned From Five Years of Blogging

 

26209089123_907f2db85aI started this blog, under a different name, in October 2011. Since then, a lot has changed! Here are five most important things I learned while running this blog.

1. Code and Hack are Research Methods, too

Even in a seamless, intuitive environment such as WordPress, things can still go wrong. Connecting services, making things look good, stopping things from breaking the website…All of this took some serious smarts. And 99% of the time, I didn’t have the smarts – but I knew where to find the guys who did.

The “popular wisdom” about the programming gurus is that of a lonely guy (usually a guy, alas) glued to the keyboard, spewing out lines of code that came to his mind in a moment of revelation.

Few people now portray programming and / or coding the way it actually is: finding the right question to ask, searching for the best answers, and hacking together the solutions that use the best bits of the best answers. It is social, it always looks back on what others did, and is crazy dependent on other people’s work. These are the new research methods, and hackers are the new researchers (watch this TED talk to see how and why).

2. Momentum is Power

There were times when I was ready to call this blog a failure, and shut it down. There were long periods where I just didn’t find the time to blog, or the topics to blog about. But then I would come back and look at the stats.
People kept coming and they kept reading. They kept signing up for more.
This still worked, even if I didn’t. It was still out there. And for my new ideas (whatever they would be), this was a powerful tool.
After a while, showing up becomes a habit, and it may be one which readers recognize.

3. Google Plus is Worthless

It is not a social network. It does not make people more engaged. It does not lead to more people reading your blog. It’s just there, demanding to be fed content. Sorry, Google Plus. I did not have a single meaningful moment with you.

4. People Open Emails

This one surprised me, and became something that made me very happy. You know the newsletter that comes with this blog? It now has a few hundred people on the list, and many of them actually open the emails I’m sending.
At first, it was a shock: I’m actually not just a regular spammer 🙂 People will want to read what I sent them.
Then, responsibility: I’d better make the emails good. Should I send more? Less? Longer or shorter? Images or no images?
And finally, it’s evolved into just another way of staying in touch with the most engaged fans. You guys helped me launch my books and courses. You told me when things weren’t working. Thank you.

5. Blogging Well = Gratitude

I don’t want to sound all new-age here, but it’s my blog, and I’m celebrating, so I will.

Thank you, blog readers and writers. Thank you, chatters and commenters. Thank you, retweeters, linkers, likers. Thank you, guest posters and hosts of guest posts. Thank you, arguers and ranters.
Thanks for making it easier for me to blog well. Thanks for filling my five years online with ideas, thoughts, conversations, points of view, ambitions, new apps. Thanks for coming here and for writing your own blogs. You provided the stimuli, and if I messed it up along the way – it’s my fault 🙂

The main reason I keep coming back to blogging is this, exactly this: being able to say “thank you” again and again.

Here’s to five more years.

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Photo Credit: torbakhopper Flickr via Compfight cc


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