Ayende @ Rahien

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How do you manage to blog so much?

In a recent email thread, I was asked:

How come that you manage to post and comment that much? I bet you spend really loads of time on your blog.

The reason why I ask is because roughly a month ago I've decided to roll out my own programming blog. I've made three or four posts there
(in 5 days) and abandoned the idea because it was consuming waaaaay too much time (like 2-3 hours per post)

The only problem is time. If I'm gonna to post that much every day (and eventually also answer to comments), it seems that my effective working time would be cut by 3+ hours. Daily.  So here comes my original question. How come that you manage to post and comment that much?

And here is my answer:

I see a lot of people in a similar situation. I have been blogging for 6 years now (Wow! how the the time flies), and I have started from a blog that has zero readers to one that has a respectable readership. There are only two things that I do that are in any way unique. First, my "does it fit to be blogged about?" level is pretty low. If it is interesting (to me), it will probably go to the blog.

Second, I don't mind pushing a blog post that requires fixing later. It usually takes me ten minutes to put out a blog post, so I can literally have a thought, post it up and move on, without really noticing it hurting my workflow. And the mere act of putting things in writing for others to read is a significant one, it allows me to look at things in writing in a way that is hard to do when they are just in my head.

It does take time, make no mistakes about that. The 10 minutes blog post is about 30% of my posts, in a lot of cases, it is something that I have to work on for half an hour. In some rare cases, it goes to an hour or two. There have been several dozens of posts that took days. But while it started out as a hobby, it has become part of my work now. The blog is my marketing effort, so to speak. And it is an effective one.

Right now, I have set it up so about once a week I am spending four or five hours crunching out blog posts and future posting them. Afterward, I can blog whenever I feel like, and that takes a lot of the pressure off. It helps that I am trying hard to schedule most of them day after day. So I get a lot of breathing room, but there is new content every day.

That doesn’t mean that I actually blog once a week, though. I push stuff to the blog all the time, but it is usually short notes, not posts that take a lot of time.

As for comments, take a look at my commenting style, I am generally commenting only when I actually have something to add to the conversation, and I very rarely have long comments (if I do, they turn into posts :-) ).

It also doesn’t take much time to reply to most of them, and it creates a feedback cycle that means that more people are participating and reading the blog. It is rare that I post a topic that really stir people up and that I feel obligated to respond to all/most of the comments. That does bother me, because it takes too much time. In those cases, I’ll generally close the comment threads with a note about that.

One final thought, the time I spend blogging is not wasted. It is well spent. Because it is an investment in reputation, respectability and familiarization.

Comments

Ricardo Peres
08/29/2009 08:36 AM by
Ricardo Peres

I was asking myself the same thing! Some of your posts seem to me to take a lot longer than 10 minutes, and all of them make us think, which is definitely a good thing, even if we sometimes disagree on some points.

BTW, what tools do you use for helping you write posts, may I ask?

Ayende Rahien
08/29/2009 02:00 PM by
Ayende Rahien

Ricardo,

windows live writer, mostly

Mohammad Azam
08/29/2009 02:12 PM by
Mohammad Azam

Hi,

I think blogging is an integral part of developers community. I blog so that people who are smarter then me can be criticize me and correct my understanding.

I also think that maybe after 10-20 years I can retire with my blog and become a professional blogger.

Ray
08/29/2009 07:09 PM by
Ray

Guess it's more a matter of the mindset. You have a natural ways of speaking out loud your thoughts. You probably could easily teach students if you wanted to.

Ayende Rahien
08/29/2009 07:19 PM by
Ayende Rahien

Ray,

I have been a teacher in some form or another for the last 8 years.

Jason Y
08/29/2009 08:41 PM by
Jason Y

Hmmm, I should try scheduling in weekend blogging.

Phil
08/29/2009 10:18 PM by
Phil

Interesting post. I often wonder how people who blog so much (with good content) manager to do so.

Can you elaborate on:

"The blog is my marketing effort, so to speak. And it is an effective one."

What do you market with your blog? You mean the open source projects that you work on? Or are you a consultant as well?

Ayende Rahien
08/30/2009 06:52 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Phil,

I market myself, my ideas and my software.

And yes, I am a consultant as well

Aaron Wolski
08/30/2009 07:26 AM by
Aaron Wolski

The general idea that I have formed from the writings of some of the more prominent and regarded bloggers is that the art of blogging comes down to efficiently communicating a point and not agonising over the accuracy of every detail or fearing the judgement of others. It is more important to get ideas out to be digested and responded to. Sometimes it means letting go of some internal feelings of inadequacy. This is to be expected in a community that is full of people with exceptional skill, who constantly forge ahead developing new and innovative technologies. Most importantly, a blog should be seen as a way to develop yourself and your ideas. If you don't get that from your writing then maybe it's just not for you. Take it from me, until I can let go of my perfectionist attitude, it's not for me either.

Peter
08/30/2009 02:06 PM by
Peter

What happened with your posts on Macto? Is that project still in the works?

Ayende Rahien
08/30/2009 04:03 PM by
Ayende Rahien

Macto is still in the works, yes. Real work will started on that this week

Anthony Gatlin
08/30/2009 04:25 PM by
Anthony Gatlin

That is an exceptional strategy! Thank you for sharing your process.

Mark Needham
08/31/2009 07:41 AM by
Mark Needham

I like the idea of pushing out posts and then fixing them later on and this is something that I do as well although I'm not yet at your posting level yet!

As some others have mentioned, if you spend all your time trying to make posts perfect then you'll never post them in the first place.

I also find that writing about stuff makes me understand it better so if nothing else it's worth going through ideas just for that.

Cool post.

Cheers, Mark

anon
09/05/2009 08:15 AM by
anon

I've always wondered about this - you post so much, that I always wondered how you manage it. I mean, given lets say 10 hours of work a day, how?! Well now i know. What intrigues me more is how you manage your time. Care to share?

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