My little experiment

Early last month, I wanted to see what it would be like to blog everyday.  I wanted to see how it would work into my schedule, and I wanted to see whether it would be a positive thing in the community and something that would help people.  So, starting in early October, I blogged every business day through the end of the month.  Some constraints I put on myself included trying to blog as early in the day as possible and to avoid one-line blogs that didn’t really amount to much (but that you unfortunately see pretty often) — blogging for the sake of blogging.  I also wanted to avoid writing blogs in batches, then publishing them in piecemeal fashion; I wanted each blog to be an authentic snapshot of wherever I was on a particular day even if it had nothing to do with the day itself. 

So, in sum, I wanted at least a paragraph, I wanted it published as early in the day as possible, and I wanted something fresh each day.

I gave it a try and ended up liking it quite a bit; however, daily blogging is a tremendous time sink — especially if you want to create blogs of any substance.

Some address the desire to publish daily by writing blogs in advance then publishing them each day (some even make use of automated facilities that do this).  Like I say above, I really felt that, to be authentic, I needed to write the blog on the day it was published.  For me, that’s what distinguishes blogs from other types of web content.  Even if it didn’t touch on a current event in my life, I felt whatever was going on at that moment in my life would influence the writing in subtle ways that would make it fresher and more timely than it otherwise would be.  Having been through the process now, I can say that I definitely still feel that way.

There will be people who say that cranking out one-line posts is completely appropriate for transient content such as a blog.  More power to them.  For me, I want to do something more substantial than that if I’m going to take the time to do it in the first place.  Life is short, and I have plenty of writing projects I could take on that are more fulfilling than one-line ditties for the web.

Another interesting wrinkle in all this is that I actually posted daily to to two separate blogs during my experiment:  my personal blog and this one, my technical blog.  I’ve never believed that people were that interested in reading about my personal life.  I’ll never buy that they want to read about my take on world events, movies I’ve seen, or books I’ve read as much as they like technical info from me.  So, I decided some time back to separate my blogging into two distinct channels:  one here on MSDN for technical content, and the other on MSN Spaces for non-technical, more personal posts.  At some point down the road, I may merge everything into a single blog and segment it using blog categories.  For now, I can live with having two distinct outlets.

As I expected, traffic to both of my blogs increased a bit given the rate at which I was posting to them, but I’ve never written anything in my blogs with the intent of driving up visits to them.  My friend Euan Garden posted a blog that posited that I was being deliberately provocative with a couple of posts, but that’s not the case (honest!).  I don’t have time to stir any pots.  If I write something, it’s for the joy of it and the hope that it will help someone or at least entertain them.  I couldn’t care less about riling people up or stirring up controversy.

So, the net of all this is:  I’m still thinking about it.  I learned a few things from the experiment, but I’m still ruminating on whether daily blogging is for me.  I’m too busy at the moment to blog everyday, but I may return to it at some point.  I’d be interested in your opinions on all this.  If you found my daily blogs to be a good thing, let me hear from you.  If you didn’t, let me hear from you.  If you have other ideas about what constitutes a good blog or a good blogging schedule, let’s hear them. 


Comments (13)

  1. My opinions on blogging are:

    1. Blog anytime you can point out some facinating technical detail to the reader.

    2. Blog enough to make sure that everyone knows you still exist. I liked the daily blog, and I love a technically provocative blog entry (loved the self-replicating code, I learned something that day.)

    3. I find blogs to be the way you put a mental face to a name. If your blog isn’t somewhat personal, it is going to be boring. I like it when technical bloggers share some personal stuff, though any negativity should be centered around the primary topic of the blog. So if you hate something about SQL Server (or a rival RDBMS) this is great. If you know about something cool, like a movie, or a gadget, I think it is cool to share about it.

    4. I feel that sharing too many personal opinions, especially controversial ones, distracts from the theme of the blog negatively and turns me off to the person’s opinion.

  2. Haidong Ji says:

    Great post Ken. I liked the way you shared your experience, the thought process behind it, and how you drew your conclusions. And kudos to Louis, especially on the personal touch to blogs.

    I couldn’t even think of any single post of yours that I don’t like. I may not necessarily be interested in all of them, though:) But that’s ok.

    It’s seems that some blogs are like oven-baked bread. The raw materials, in the case of bread, dough, yeast, etc., get stale and don’t taste as nice if you don’t bake it at the right time. Blogs come out of your thoughts. When it is ready and there, and you write it and post it later, or schedule them, they do not have the same convictions and passions associated with them when the ideas first come to you.

    On the other hand, I can also see other blogs are like wine. It works best if you let it age in your brain for a while. No pun intended;) Maybe for those, you can schedule or post in batch? Still, I think it’s best if you blog about it when you are ready.

    I, too, have 2 blogs. I post only SQL Server stuff on SqlServerCentral’s blog. I also maintain my own personal blog, which has the other stuff like MySql, Linux, and whatever things I can think of, in addition to SQL Server material. The reason I post at SqlServerCentral is I think they have a bigger audience. I cross post the same material at my personal blog mainly for control and backup reasons. I’ll keep on doing like this and see how it works.

    One thing I struggled initially was when to post a comment and when to blog about it. The criteria I take now is that if it is going to be long and add some value, I will write a blog about it, much like Larry Osterman’s tendency to riff on Raymond Chen’s blogs;) Otherwise, I will leave a comment. I’ve already posted a blog based on a question you asked:)

    You are right. Writing blog takes time. Blog is personal; so I guess it is ok to have off-the-cuff thoughts and comments because that is human. But that does not equal sloppiness. It takes time to do anything right.

  3. I am starting to think that our comments here made you quit blogging 🙁 Hopefully this is not the case because you were putting out some really interesting ones (that self replicating code post still hurts my brain a little)

  4. SimonS says:

    Ken Henderson has posted here about his attempt to blog every day. I agree that blog content should be…

  5. SimonS says:

    Ken Henderson has posted here about his attempt to blog every day. I agree that blog content should be…

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