Human-centred decisions

A year of blogging daily

Computer keyboard and mouse

On 1 October 2017, I relaunched this blog with a commitment to publish more regularly. Soon enough I began a routine of publishing shorter posts on an almost-daily basis. For some reason I actually missed out posting on 1 January 2018. But I have maintained the daily habit ever since, so today marks a full year of blogging on a daily basis.

It’s not that I have written something each day — I don’t have the time for that these days. But I have planned and committed to publishing something every day. This has often meant setting aside some time to bulk-write several posts, and schedule them for days in advance.

I enjoy the discipline of blogging regularly. I know that being a blogger since the age of 16 has made me a better writer.

I think it has made me a better thinker, as well. Seeking to publish something interesting on a daily basis has made me seek out interesting links to read. In turn, that has made me read more often, with more commitment and more purpose.

Some really interesting things happened to me in the past year. Even though I said I would begin “blogging without purpose”, I set myself a few vague and informal goals. I think I met most of them.

  • Get people commenting more often. I think this has happened, but probably not in proportion to the number of posts. However, it has been great to hear more regularly from some long-time readers, as well as a few new ones.
  • Raise my professional profile. I’m writing more often about work-related topics. My posts have often been a talking point at work, and after attending networking events and conferences have remarked on my blog posts.
  • See if I could get the attention of the media. In the mid-2000s I ended up being featured in newspapers and on the radio a handful of times as a result of my blogging. I was intrigued to see if that could happen again. I was surprised to end up being filmed for a BBC Scotland documentary. Although the footage won’t end up being used, and the post that grabbed the production team’s attention was a few years old, it did seem to demonstrate that blogging can still be a way to get noticed.

Another goal had more mixed results.

  • Become part of a community with other bloggers. Since ramping up my posting activity, I have heard from old-time bloggers I really admire. People I know in real life have begun blogging, and others are talking about doing so. And I have gained some new readers, and found some new blogs to read.

But it’s still not enough to feel like a return to the blogging spirit that I am seeking a return of.

The number of visitors to my blog has drifted up a little from the previous year. But not really by enough to reflect the vastly greater amount of time I now spend blogging. As far as I can tell, most other blogs must be getting pitiful amounts of traffic, at least in comparison to what might have been expected 10 or 15 years ago.

The tail wagging the dog

As I wrote back in November, I plan to shift the focus of this blog. In that post, I said I would probably stop committing to posting daily.

That’s because I was spending more time trying to think of ‘quick’ things to write just to fulfil that commitment. It’s also been very noticeable that people won’t really look at the short link posts, and are much more likely to read and comment on own articles.

I postponed the focus shift after being encouraged by a friend to carry on posting daily for the full year.

I have found it quite difficult to maintain the daily habit over Christmas. This has solidified in my mind the need for change.

The next couple of months are also going to be exceptionally busy for me, with our wedding coming up in mid February.

So today is the last time I commit to posting daily. There may, or may not, be a post tomorrow — but I’m not going to break my back to do it.

I am devising a new strategy, which I will implement from March onwards. This will be focused on posting more regularly, but less frequently, and with higher quality.

How do you discover new blogs to follow?

Going back to that final aim of mine, which I didn’t quite achieve, of trying to become part of a community of bloggers.

I would really like to find more new blogs to follow. Most of the blogs I do read are mainly about certain topics, written mainly by certain types of people. I would really like to read a more diverse range of blogs — but I’m struggling to find them.

The biggest challenge blogging faces today is discovery. We need to build the sense of community that is seemingly easier to find nowadays on social media platforms (despite the manifest disadvantages of social media).

I’ve spent some of the Christmas period looking through my RSS reader subscriptions. Several blogs I had subscribed to have simply disappeared off the internet. Around 100 old subscriptions are ‘dormant’, having not been updated for three months.

On investigating some of these, I have maddeningly discovered that the blogs still exist (presumably following a platform migration) — but are no longer publishing an RSS feed. What’s that all about?

Is there another way to keep up with blogs other than dusty old RSS readers? (Don’t say Twitter.)

And what blogs have you discovered in the past year?

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4 responses to “A year of blogging daily”

  1. This was a very timely post Duncan. I’ve been reading you forever of course and have really noticed and appreciated the uptick, but I know about your posts when you tweet them. It does seem to be a gap.

    The reason it is timely is that I have been considering posting regularly again. My blog has been dormant for a year!

    The community drifting apart is the thing (allied with having a kid) which ultimately slowed me down and stopped me.

    My first blog post was in 2003 and it’s always good to keep doing new and interesting things.

    Well done in keeping up with daily posts for a year though.

  2. Thanks for the comment, and your encouragement Alex. I had noticed that your blog was among the dormant ones from my RSS audit. Great to know that you’re considering posting again.

    In truth, I’ve managed to catch up with some writing over Christmas, so I have a good few posts in the bank for the next week already.

    I really do hope a blogging community can create itself again. But I had the same hopes last year, and nothing seems to have changed.

  3. Congratulations on reaching a year. I had noticed you were posting very regularly, even if only shorter link posts, though hadn’t clocked that it was daily. Impressive.

    Certainly agree about the nature of blogging. In terms of reading, the only blogs I regularly read in 2018 were yours and Christine’s. That’s in part because I’ve been reading you both for nearly a decade now and continue to find you have interesting things to say or share which are new to me. And in part because of the death of Google Reader, which I never replaced. Google have much blame to take in the decline of blog readership.

    The advent of Twitter threading should take another chunk of blame, it seems it isn’t the done thing to write 800-1000 words on a blog and link to it, it is “better” to write the same number of words into 20 threaded tweets, or worse, write it in a text app on a mobile device and share it as a screenshot.

    There was a healthy community in 2008-2010 just within motorsport blogging but seemingly everywhere else too. It all seemed limitless. And then it seemed to disappear.

    As feedback, I like your idea. From experience it doesn’t surprise me the link blogs don’t get traction. I mean, you might as well just share it on Twitter & FB, though I totally get the logic of putting it here with a quote, because I really wanted to do the same on my motorsport blog. But for me, nobody read them or clicked them. Whereas, writing is more personal, you get a better connection with the writer and they have a reason to write a response. Doesn’t matter if 2000 words or 200.

    Like Alex I’ve left my personal blog dormant for ages and the racing blog has been stop-start at best. I’m aiming to write at least one thing per week this year (probably more on the personal site). A far cry from your efforts, but you and others continuing to write does give me hope in the platform.

    I hesitate to suggest we should all work together, because in reality that implies dragging some of the more lazy (me) or busy (Alex) along, when you’re the one who has done all the work, but I would like to see a return to the type of era of the old community. Somehow.

  4. Thanks Pat (and sorry it’s taken me a few days to respond).

    I don’t really get Twitter threading. Well, I do — It’s simple to post and easy for people to share. But it really goes against the original ethos of Twitter, and it’s one of the things I dislike about how Twitter has evolved over the years. Longer comments really ought to be blog posts.

    Good luck with your one post per week aim — I’ll keep my eye out for them. One of the things I plan to do is post more comments on other people’s blogs, or respond to them with a post of my own. Hopefully one little way of rebuilding that community that has been lost.

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