It’s been a little over a year that I’ve been blogging every single week. I want to thank all the readers for the comments and tweets, as this helped me with staying motivated. Blogging has really contributed a lot to my life in the past year, such that I regret not doing it earlier. In this post I summarize a few things that helped me stay on track.
1. Make it a habit
I think I started using Habitica a bit more than a year ago as well. I added a “Publish blog post” daily that would occur only on Saturdays, and my goal was that the post would be up by 18:00 Amsterdam time. I have done this every week since then (except the one time where I wrote the post but forgot to click “publish”).
Since the post had to be public by a specific time, I couldn’t risk actually doing all of the writing on Saturday, so I began drafting a few days in advance. I also had various habits, such as “Write 200 words in Evernote”, to help with this.
2. Do a series of posts
Earlier in 2016, but before the blogging habit, I did already blog a bit more than in previous years – in particular about my CV of failures, general tips and, interestingly, my relationship with blogging. I think these posts were infrequent because I was waiting until I would have the time and inspiration to write a whole post, which didn’t happen often.
Then came the first post after which I started posting weekly: defending propositions, a tradition in many Dutch universities. This was the start of a series of posts. None of these were popular by any measure, but they gave me a couple of very clear topics I wanted to discuss. Together with the blogging habit, this made the “what should I write about” and “when should I do it” very simple.
3. Share and learn from others
It has been very helpful to actually HAVE to publish the posts, which I then also shared on Twitter (really scary!). I even received some comments, which was very motivating! I also met a few people on Twitter, who were on their own blogging quests, who helped with the motivation:
— Veronika Cheplygina (@vcheplygina) April 2, 2016
I studied the blogs that I liked, such as PhDTalk, which originally inspired me to do this. And finally, I started listening to several podcasts about blogging – in particular I would recommend ProBlogger. It focuses on having a blog for your business, but since you can treat your career as a start-up, it fits!
4. Write first, cluster later
I used to struggle with not having a theme, which restricted me in terms of topics, because some topics didn’t fit to what I thought I *should* write about. This is unproductive – any writing is better than no writing! But during the “writing because it’s a habit” process, I noticed that I enjoyed writing some posts more than others, which influenced my following posts.
The topics are now more or less starting to converge. At the time of drafting this post, I had 16 How I Fail posts, 11 on habits and productivity, 7 “research hacks”, 5 progress reports, 5 posts about my shadow CV, 3 “firsts” and 2 uncategorized posts. Looking at these categories, I’ve come to the following realizations:
- I really like How I Fail and the habits/productivity things, so I’ll keep doing that!
- I really like the hacks (printing posters on fabric, travelling for conferences), but I think “research hacks” is not a good category title
- Progress reports overlap a bit with Shadow CV, and not everything in Shadow CV actually fits under that title
- One of the popular posts, Gift ideas, is uncategorized! It’s not a “research hack”, where should it go?
I hope to answer these questions in the coming year but appreciate any suggestions you might have 😃
5. Look at the statistics
I really enjoy looking at the statistics provided by Jetpack. I like seeing which pages people visit more, and how I’m doing overall (visitors per month). The more posts there are, the more interesting the statistics, so increasing the sample size is rewarding too! Here is the progress throughout the year:
It’s great that the overall numbers are growing – from barely 1K visitors per month last year, to an average of 3K now. And here are the most popular posts:
How I Fail and reflections on my own CV and failures are clearly popular – alongside with the poster skirt and gifts for academics! The habits & productivity posts are lagging behind, but since they help me write, it’s not a habit I want to give up yet 😃
Thank you all for contributing to all of this – it’s been a great year of blogging, and I look forward to what will happen in the next 12 months!