Every year, I take part in NaBloPoMo
the Judoon mating festival where people blog every day in November. I ended November 2019 with more blog posts than I knew what to do with, so I tried blogging every day in January. And then, well, February is only a short month, isn't it?
If all has gone to plan, you're reading this at the end of 2020 and this is my 366th blog post! Fucking leap years, eh?
They say every day is a school-day. I try to blog about the new things I've learned, or the interesting thoughts and conversations I've had. Partly, I want to get the thoughts out of my head to clarify them.
I also write notes to myself. Little technical tips and tricks. This also feeds into the "long-tail" of posts. Some of my most popular writing is only found when you find a very specific error, search for the answer, and find me. I like helping people that way.
Here's some of the highlights - and lowlights.
Let's get these out of the way first.
I occasionally get grumpy comments or angry emails - which I'm swift to delete. One of my blog posts attracted a complaint to my employers. That rarely happens, thankfully. I hadn't said anything contentious - and my managers were quick to defend me. So it was a minor annoyance.
My motivation took a bit of a hit at several points in the year. So I started reviewing the movies I'd watched and computer games I'd played. I'll be honest, they weren't great posts!
Similarly, some of the blog posts are a little thin. And I feel I could have written something more interesting if I'd given myself a bit more time.
Staring at a blank blogging screen has sapped my motivation. But the fact that I was always able to recover gave me a boost.
This was my best year for page views and visitors!
Just before Xmas, I hit ONE MILLION page views!
It has been a shitty, horrible, rotten, bastard of a year. So I am celebrating small victories where I can.— Terence Eden (@edent) December 18, 2020
I've published a new blog post every day this year and - with two weeks to go, I finally hit one million page views in 2020!
Thank you to everyone who has been reading! pic.twitter.com/Hnvg0tFEgI
I've no idea how this compares to other blogs and sites - but I'm happy with it. Seeing people read my work is incredibly gratifying. I've written at least a novel's worth of text this year, and had enough readers to make it onto any best-seller list. Now if only I could find a way to monetise it!
People rarely comment on blogs these days. So I cheat and automatically import Twitter conversations. This uses WebMentions and brid.gy to suck in Tweets by people who've mentioned my blog. To be honest, it is a little bodged together and frequently spams my pending comments queue - but it is also a good way to see who is talking about my writing.
I don't always have an Internet connection. And sometimes that's deliberate! I like to take a holiday now and again.
So I schedule posts in advance for when I know I'm going to be away. Some, like this one, were scheduled a year in advance and edited throughout the year.
Of course, COVID-FUCKING-NINE-FUCKING-TEEN really messed things up. I usually schedule posts for a week or two. Then the virus hit and I was working nights and weekends. Pretty soon my schedule was empty.
In many ways, it was stupid to try and continue. But I find writing for pleasure to be relaxing. So writing a few lines helped calm me down. Mostly.
I have a burgeoning pile of draft blog posts.
I'm trying to publish a blog-post per day until that wretched "Drafts" folder is empty.
Not sure if the world is ready for my blisteringly-hot-take on augmented reality from 2014...! https://t.co/mFUIhwgB7N pic.twitter.com/dvnmrjDSr7
— Terence Eden (@edent) January 13, 2020
This was an excellent opportunity to either finish writing some, or delete the ones which were clearly going nowhere.
I went a little spend-happy and started buying junk to review. I also got sent a bunch of gadgets from Chinese vendors looking for a bit of SEO. I like toys. And I like playing with new things. And, fuck it, I like the clutter of shelves heaving with dusty gadgets.
I've been playing about with Necroposts. When I find something I wrote years ago, I stick it on my blog and backdate it. It's illuminating to see how my writing style has changed - or not.
I've also experimented with Retroposts. There are some things I have written which I'm not comfortable publishing right now - so they're scheduled for the far future. I'm not sure of the wisdom of that, but it's a good stress relief valve.
I used Twitter's analytics to see which of my microblogs (remember them?!) got the most interest. I expanded a few of them, and copy & pasted some threads, into fully formed blog posts.
At times, I felt a little crushed. I'd see that I had stuff in the schedule for a few weeks and relax - then all of a sudden those weeks were up and I'd have to write again.
Some of the posts I thought were solid gold didn't get any views. While others were unexpectedly popular. Basically, I should just write what I feel like and not worry about "doing numbers."
I don't know if it makes me a better blogger. I don't really care if it has improved my metrics. But I did find it enjoyable. It forced me to take half-formed thoughts and bash them into something coherent. It made me write up tutorials which will be useful to me in the future. And it reignited my love of blogging.
I'm not sure what 2021 will bring - and I doubt I'll keep up the daily blogging - but I hope you enjoyed my words and pictures.
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