Maintaining a blog is surprisingly more difficult than you would imagine. The concept is so simple that anyone instantly understands it. The software has become so easy to work with that anyone can start one in a few minutes. Starting a blog has never been easier, yet keeping it updated still remains a most demanding task.
The truth is that blogging is often more about structuring and organizing than actual writing. Well, guess what? Successful software development is also often more about structuring and organizing than actual writing, so why not apply the same tools to your blog as to any other project?
Deadlines, or: Learn to ship
Who doesn’t hate deadlines? Who doesn’t want to continually work on something until it’s absolutely perfect and then release it to the world? Deadlines are often despised because estimation is never perfect and nobody enjoys pressure, but truth is that pressure is often required to get anything done. Especially when it comes to situations where no one will complain if you don’t get anything done (a new blog, startup or open-source project).
Don’t say “I’m going to blog when I have something interesting to tell”, say “I’m going to blog something each Sunday”. The implication of this is that you’ll have to find something interesting to tell every week. Of course, this is only a soft deadline: there will be no real consequences for not holding the deadline, but it will turn your blog from a passive project into an active project which brings it into a whole new level.
Another consequence of setting deadlines (and sticking to them) is that you’ll force yourself to ship. It’s so tempting to try to turn every blog post into a masterpiece, but far to often you get a better result by simply publishing and taking feedback from there.
Force yourself out of your comfort zone and start publishing!
Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.
— Brian Tracy
Issue tracker, or: Nobody’s perfect
Software is rarely perfect, and in order to fix bugs you must first identify and organize them. Issue trackers are an important part of any project, so why not use it for your blog too? You just got an idea for something to write about? Sounds like a feature request to me. The RSS feed isn’t working correctly? Sounds like a bug. Don’t just make mental notes about your blog, treat it right a proper project.
Here at Timeless we have an issue tracker with tons of “reported” issues. It’s a simple place where I can quickly scribble down new ideas or just organize known “bugs”. Every time I go into “blog mode” I take a look at that huge list, and I always discover something new. For instance, I had no idea I was going to write this article until I peeked at the issue list and thought: “Yep, today I want to write about how you should treat your blog.”
An issue tracker is no different than a simple to-do list, so feel free to use whatever suits you best, but the important part is to actually write things down and don’t keep everything in your mind.
But wait, there’s more!
Not really. There isn’t more in this article yet. Why? Because I’ve already passed my deadline and I really need to get this article published. Instead of listening to the perfectionist inside of me, I’m just going to ship this little piece of text and rather work on it later.
As always, please let me know what you think about this idea.