It has been a while since I had intended to start my own technical blog. The idea began seriously floating in my mind after my one-on-one with my senior colleague Javier in Saleswhale. Starting a technical blog was one of the valuable pieces of advice that he gave to me, and it was something that he regretted not doing earlier. From an engineer’s point of view, writing a blog has many benefits:
- Improving your written communication skills
- Synthesizing newly-learned concepts
- Increase your influence in the programming community
The realities of life and the need to maintain a professional front has become more relevant now that I have been engaged in working life for nearly 8 months now. Charting your own professional development and career plans is something that I now can (and should) take charge of, and it has opened unprecendented windows of opportunity to me in terms of what I could do and pursue. On top of that, the idea of owning and maintaining my own webfront is very excitable to me (yes, even as someone who is primarily a web developer).
There are some tips and advice that I would like to give my future self, and any readers who has/is considering writing their own blogs:
The development of your site is an incremental process
Do not feel stressed or hurry to get everything right at once. Begin with a minimum viable product, and iterate, iterate, iterate towards your platonic ideal of your blog.
For me, it means that on the first day, I have a simple NGINX configuration to serve the blog, a basic rsync deploy script, and just minimal configuration of Jekyll to get it up and running. Unfortunately, I was quite tempted to find a theme and spent an hour scrolling through jekyllthemes.org. I ended up having a lot of reservations about whether it would fit in with the content of the blog, whether it was simple to maintain and extend, and whether it was something that I felt reflected my personality. All in all, it was basically signalling that it was too early yet to decide, and I would do better to have more content before the “feel” of this website can be determined.
Things are not perfect and never will be
This is to push aside any perfectionist tendencies that you might have. It is understandable to be anxious that this is a platform that people will be judging you for, but the trade-off is analysis paralysis.
Don’t bother rewriting and rephrasing all your sentences before hitting save. Don’t ponder too much about what it is that you’re writing about and whether it will be good enough. By following the 80/20 and accepting that you are just aiming for something good enough, it relieves a lot of stress off your shoulders and allows you to write more, getting progressively better with time.
Make updating your blog a habit
You started a blog because you want to share your thoughts with the world. It is not something you pick up for a few weeks and then leave to collect dust. Set yourself a commitment to publish something once a week until it becomes routine.
Personally, I have added publishing an article as an item on my weekly personal sprint Trello board. My personal sprint board is something that I use to decide all the things that I want to do for a week, and then use to evaluate what I have achieved at the end of the week.
Most importantly, be who you are and have fun
Your personal website is a place to express your own individuality and charm. Share your own stories, interests, and passions.
Having read a few highly technical blogs before, I know that it is easy to marvel at its technical rigor and depth of analysis. You might feel tempted too to match their level of analysis and abstraction, and to cocoon yourself around jargon and keywords. But remember that trying to artificially reach a level of sophistication without the pre-requisite foundations is a recipe for falling into writer’s block, where you begin to struggle to write as you reach the limits of your understanding. Instead let the technical sophistication of the blog grow organically together with your own abilities.
Dear readers, I hope you have enjoyed this opening post. I would be glad to hear any feedback that you may have.