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My blogging demons

Written by Justin on February 15, 2013

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I’m having a blogger’s identity crisis. I’ve been blogging here since 2008, but in 2013 I want to make my blog better. In order to do that, I need to face some demons.

Attention seeker

My greatest struggle with blogging is fighting the temptation to seek attention. Rather than aiming to help people, I’ve written some posts just to garner views (Retina is not a big deal is a good example). The challenge with this struggle is that it’s hard for me to evaluate my motives before I publish. It’s so easy to write something and rationalize that “this post provides value for the community”. Does anyone else struggle with this?

Addicted to crack

This is going to sound so silly: but getting thousands of page views is like crack to me. The problem really started when I published Things I’ve quit doing at my desk. It was a post I wrote in about 2 hours, on a Sunday morning, originally inspired by a tweet I’d posted months before.

Before taking my kids to the park, I decided to post it to Hacker News on a whim. After we’d been at the park for a couple of hours, I checked Twitter on my phone: “Weird, I just got a ton of retweets on this tweet.” Then I checked my email: “Weird, that’s a lot of notifications for comments on my blog.” I loaded up my WordPress stats on my phone: “Whoa sh*t! Where the hell is all that traffic coming from?”

I realized my post had gone #1 on Hacker News.  It stayed at #1 for about 24 hours, amassing 41,557 in one day, and 16,223 the next. I’d never had anything remotely close to that much traffic before. My previous record was 821 views in one day (when Derek Sivers had tweeted a link to my post).Soon after, Tessa from Lifehacker asked if she could re-publish it there; where it went on to get over 100,000 views.

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Here’s the problem: once I tasted the rush of having that many page views, I wanted to experience it again (I know, this sounds ridiculous). I wrote another post trying to “recreate the magic”. It didn’t work.

Writing honestly, being open

Too many times, I’ve written with a “holier-than-thou-art” tone. Too many times, I’ve hidden my true insecurities, to create the illusion that I’ve “got it all together”. Too many times I’ve opted to “sound impressive” instead of being real. I want to change this: Stop Networking at Events and Geek Dad are my first attempts at writing more transparently.

Who am I? Who do I connect with?

I don’t want to write selfishly. And I don’t want to write for page views. I want to write content that matters, for people that care.

To do that I think I’m going to need to answer two questions:

  1. Who am I? What am I good at? Where do I truly have expertise (or experience) that I can share?
  2. Who do I connect with? Who are the people I can help? What communities am I a part of?

Here’s what I’ve come up with in my self-reflection so far:

What’s next? Want to help?

First: I’d love to hear from other people about their “blogging demons”. What have you struggled with? You can leave a comment below, or reply on Twitter.

Second: if you’d like to give me feedback on ways you’ve connected with my content, you can fill out my survey, leave a comment below or get me on Twitter. I want to know how I can help you (or how we can help each other). Your feedback will help shape the content I create in the future.

Update

Here’s some feedback I’ve received so far:

 Please write selfishly. I want to know your thoughts/ideas regardless of what a community may think. – Adrian Unger

The answer to “what to blog about” isn’t what you want and what you’re good at, it’s what people need from you. – Amy Hoy