Thoughts on 6 months of blogging

I’ve been writing this blog for more than half a year now. This will be the 29th post I publish.

Starting a blog in 2019 feels a bit like signing up for MySpace or posting on Usenet or some other dinosaurish internet activity. Really, I should have started a YouTube channel or tried to make it big on TikTok. Nowadays, if you want to spend hours and hours editing yourself into audience-friendly content, video seems to be the way to do it.

But, anachronistic as it may be, I’m happy I started this blog. It’s been a positive thing in my life and I’m excited to keep at it.

Personal posts are scary, but rewarding

The pages on this blog which get the most views tend to be on the personal side – posts like “Productivity culture is making me miserable” and “Keeping a journal”.

Funnily enough, these are also the some of the hardest posts to write. I would rather be banging on about a book I read or an album I liked because that’s my comfort zone. Talking about something that’s more emotionally revealing can feel a lot riskier. There are some topics I’ve started writing about and then abandoned because I didn’t feel comfortable with how I might be perceived or wasn’t sure what reaction they’d get.

But people seem to like the personal posts. As well as getting more views, they’re also more likely to get feedback. And putting something of yourself out there and then having others connect with it is a really nice feeling.

That said, someone has also found this blog by searching “if john wick had hernia surgery could he still fight”, which is a question I have not yet answered, so maybe I am not giving the people everything they want.

Writing is fun again

I used to want to be a writer. The school paper was my life in high school, and I had some dreams of making a living that way – maybe becoming a magazine editor or a film critic.

This was not the career path I ended up on. But I did wind up doing several jobs which involved a lot of writing. The writing for these jobs was either marketing material or informative and instructional – either way, not a lot of space for self-expression. Using my free time to do even more writing was not appealing.

But now that the only writing I do at work is code documentation, I want to write for fun again. And it is actually fun! Taking an idea and building it into a post I’m happy with is really satisfying.

I’m still trying to get the balance right between motivating myself to keep at the blog, and not turning it into some sort of high-pressure chore. But as a low-key outlet for exercising my writing muscles and getting ideas out there, this works pretty well. If you want to practice writing or expressing yourself, I’d recommend a blog.

The platform, and not thinking about it

When I set this site up, I wanted my focus to be on writing, not the technical side of things. As a developer, the temptation to futz around with templates and infrastructure is always there, and I didn’t want that to distract me.

So this blog is hosted on WordPress.com. For the most part, this has achieved the no-distractions approach I was looking for. I don’t have to think about hosting, or security updates, or domain registrars. The interface is nice, and there’s an app which makes it easy for me to work on posts from my phone as well.

Part of me would like some more freedom to mess around with themes, as I’ve yet to find one I’m entirely happy with, but that is not the point. The point is the words.

No pageviews without promotion

I’ll be honest: not a lot of people read this blog. Most things I write get fewer than 10 views. The productivity culture post got 64 views and it was a strange feeling to think that 64 people would actually want to hear what I thought about something.

This is probably because I’ve done barely any promotion, and it turns out that “if you build it, they will come” does not work for semi-anonymous WordPress sites with little to no thematic focus.

Honestly, I still feel a little sheepish to tell people I’ve started a blog. I’ve swapped RSS feeds with a few friends, and my mum sometimes checks it. But I’ve never mentioned it at work or shared it on social media. It’s sometimes easier to write things if you don’t think anyone else will read them.

That said, while I didn’t start this blog to become internet famous, it is kind of a downer when I spend hours on something I’m proud of and it just sinks into the void without a trace. So if I want other people to read this blog, it’s time to get over the nerves and actually tell them it exists.

iris.zone is still a killer domain name

Love it. One of the best stupid things I’ve ever spent my money on. And I bought that book of @dril’s tweets and a sexy radish pillow.

If John Wick had hernia surgery, could he still fight?

Yes. He’s John Wick. He’d just have to get a little more creative.

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