Here’s the issue:
It really depends on what problem I am trying to solve for. Am I trying to get the content I write to be read by the most people or am I trying to develop a personal brand largely for employers considering hiring me?
Or you write it on your site and duplicate to medium. Two birds, two stones
Or write a new post for Medium and link to a ton of old content on your site.
Genuinely honest question: if it’s a personal blog, why do you care about how many readers you’re getting? I understand that getting absolutely zero views is kinda depressing, but with a few dozen readers, I feel like content. My blog is just my personal space for me to ramble on about things I care. It’s personal.
I guess it’s human nature to always want more, but I dunno, I just don’t feel that with the number of readers reading my blog.
Zero views can be depressing only if you measure it :)
I removed all statistics from my pages a while ago (did not check GA before anyway). While I don’t write as often as I’d like to, when I do, I find obliviousness to my content’s reach liberating.
I’ve found that just getting higher numbers stops mattering pretty quickly for my personal satisfaction. If someone emails me with a genuine question or complement, it would make my day!
The other day I gave a training talk to a bunch of new employees via video call. One of them recognized me in the hallways and said he thought it was funny, engaging, and interesting. It really did make my day! Much more so than knowing I’m impacting a dozen products by training a dozen engineers. Same goes for code. I know for a fact code that I’ve written touches millions of people every day. But that stat became pretty meaningless quickly. If one of them said they liked a feature I worked on, that would mean a lot more to me.
Fuzzy feelings beat pure numbers for me. I suspect looking at blogging from that perspective will push you toward enabling comments and encouraging tweets and email.
True. I don’t have any kind of analytics on my blog either. But I have a couple of friends who follow my blog, so that’s how I know :) But it wouldn’t matter if they stopped reading (perhaps they have already and they’re too polite to tell me), I’d still write about the same things at the same frequency with the same writing style. That’s the beauty of the internet. I hope we don’t ever lose that.
I’ve had the opposite experience: my website pieces got far more readers than my medium pieces. This could just be because I’ve written a lot more and my topic has changed, but it’s still a data point.
More importantly to me, I’ve gotten more engagement from website pieces. People are more likely to email me about them.
I speculate, but can’t prove, that it helps that the website is a straight-forward, minimalist design that takes people straight to good content without distractions or asking pardon for interruptions. A better, user experience.
Interesting; why do you get so many more reads on Medium?
Medium has tools for discovering interesting content. You can browse blog posts not just by author, but by category and tag, and at the bottom of every post are “related reads” - links to articles by the same author or by other authors that might be relevant to your interests. Combined with the traffic generated by a cohort of popular bloggers, that means impressions on your own writing are much more likely.
Compare that with a personal website, where people will only discover it if they go to your site specifically, happen to find you on google, or have you in their RSS feed.
Medium also recently rolled out a feature where you’re not allowed to read more than N articles without paying.
No idea if it was a one-time thing, as my wife and I haven’t seen it since. But we were both wtf’ing about it.
Beware the shiny tools.
Not the shiny tools: putting trust and data in an organization whose incentives are aligned against you now or potentially in the future. It’s why I strongly push for:
Open formats and protocols with open-source implementations available to dodge vendor lock-in. Enjoy the good, proprietary stuff while their good behavior lasts. Exit easily if it doesn’t.
Public-benefit and/or non-profit organizations chartered to do specific good things and not do specific bad things. Ghost is best example in that area. Alternatively, self-hosting something that’s easy to install, sync, and move on a VPS at a good company like Prgmr.com with local copies of everything.
Then, you don’t care if the vendor with shiny tools wants to put up a paywall on their version of the service. It will be their loss (No 1) or not happen at all (No 2.) We must always consider economic and legal incentives in our investments of time, money, and data. That’s the lesson I took way too long to learn as a technical person.
You’re referring to the Medium Partner Program to which the author has to explicitly opt in to. If they do, they get a cut of the payday.
what is a read? i have a feeling that most pageloads on medium are not actual reads, unless there are active metrics on the client side.
They distinguish reads from views in their stats page so there’s some sort of client-side logic that tries to determine true reads.
I write on my own website and post it to websites like this. Someone posted a link to my website on hacker news and it hit the top and I got thousands of views without any need for medium
I wrote a similar post a few years ago: https://arp242.net/weblog/why-write.html
My take is very different; I don’t do it for some sort of “brand recognition”, or to “associate my thoughts and ideas with me as a person”, but rather to develop thoughts and ideas. It’s much more of a private person development thing than anything else. I don’t really need to publish my website (and in fact, most of my posts are unpublished).
Commenting on websites such as this serve a similar purpose.
It depends on your goals. Personally, I’ve taken down my blog(s) and if I do write for public consumption in the future, I’ll do it in a way that’s not obviously related to my IRL identity.
There are two reasons that I write: because I think something is genuinely worth sharing, and to organise my thinking. Most of my old blog posts fell into the second category, which do not really benefit from being public. I used believe that sharing this stuff was A Good Thing, but as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve moved from being ‘default open’ to ‘default closed’.
If something is genuinely worth sharing, it shouldn’t need to be associated with my identity. If for some reason in the future I decide that I want to claim the credit for a post IRL, that’s a much easier proposition that trying to disown a post for some reason.
This is and idea I wholeheartedly agree with.
A blog is a web log, I didn’t really get that until some days ago when I went through old articles I’ve written. Reading them was like going through someone else’s mind, someone close to me that I’ve forgotten about but still had the name on the tip of my tongue. This is the sort of rejuvenating experience I encourage anyone to do. You could use a diary for that but diaries are rarely reviewed. With a blog you have to put efforts into every articles thus it’s highly likely that you’ll go over them again, at least twice if not more over the years.
Furthermore, I’m a big proponent of online participation, whatever this materializes as but especially when it’s non ephemeral, when it’s something that sticks through time. Too many are afraid to have a voice, they fear repercussions, or reduce themselves in a derisory illusion that what they have to say doesn’t matter. I say, if you can have a talk about it with someone in real life then you can write about it. Additionally, I’m not a fan of the conversations as medium for ideas on reddit or tech news or commenting sections. They’re too often dismissed because of the small box you have to write into, how easily they disappear within a day or two, and the vote/views mechanisms that reduces the value of words to selling oneself. They’re also harder to read compared to full fledged articles, forums posts, or emails but that’s not the main reason.
Great article overall.
Every once in a while, it’s nice to find a post on a personal website I have not visited before. It feels like visiting someone’s home, rather than meeting them in a restaurant.
Yes, but what for? Some of us don’t have things to blog.
do you have any thoughts whatsoever? You probably have things to blog about. Write a poem, a tidbit, a story, whatever comes to mind. I have no idea what I blog about. My fingers produce digital vomit on the screen. It’s pretty awesome!
What most people don’t realize is that the simple comments they have on websites like Lobsters along with the stuff they published on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter probably qualify as blogposts.
A personal website is a fantastic way to curate these personal thoughts we ocasionaly have.
Yeah a few times I’ve made a long comment on some reddit/HN thread and I realise it’ll probably be seen by about 3 people, but contains a good explanation of something. If I had a blog I could post to easily I would use it.
It’s really easy to get started, if have a github account. Follow these directions, and you can have a blog up in 10 minutes: https://github.com/barryclark/jekyll-now
Also if you want the ability to author and edit posts with a nice UI, forestry is really good IMO.
Many of my blogposts are copypasta of things I wrote on HackerNews/StackOverflow/etc. (with links back to those comments). I can’t recall doing it from a lobste.rs comment yet, but that’s probably just the slower rate at which this site moves compared to those firehoses.
The two aspects which help are:
I’m actually working on a system that facilitates having your own site that’s easy to write on, both for yourself and for others.
dogfooding, it’s made it much easier for me to communicate and to write things down.
Does anyone else struggle to stay with oneish topic? Sometimes I want to write about implementing algorithms or thoughts on the industry or whatver - and other times I’m keen to write about gardening or the climate impact of different types of house insulation or blisters when you’re hiking*.
For a long time I thought it’d be better to split things into multiple separate blogs.. but I’ve resisted it out of concerns I’d create an unmaintainable pile of 50 2-entry blogs and some sort of thought of “but this is my blog, and these are the things I like to talk about”.
How do you handle writing about topics that don’t, generally, have overlapping audiences?
*) (ditch everything you learned about moleskine and liner socks, the answer is engo patches)
My solution is that I don’t have a topic for my blog. It’s just my personal place to put things I write when I feel like it. Sometimes I post programming stuff, sometimes I post rants, sometimes I post poetry.
I’m not disagreeing with the sentiment that you should use your own website if you publish stuff. I just don’t get the argument. I’m not recognized very often (I’ve been somewhat active in various open source projects, so it did happen at all..) but never because of any website. I’ve been blogging on and off for 20 years now, THAT didn’t help :)