39. So you want to start a blog

May 17, 2019

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I asked this question on twitter last week

Do I know some who has started a blog/newsletter with the hopes of writing regularly but stopped after a few posts?

I knew I’ll get some replies but not that many!

 

Before I started this blog/newsletter ~ 11 months ago, I had a lot of reasons not to. Most of these are insecurities disguised as excuses.

Let’s pick them apart one by one.

I don’t have anything interesting to say

Let me be the first one to tell you - Your point of view is unique and I would love to hear it.

All of us work on similar things and engage with the same technologies, but all of us have a different way of looking at the world.

When you write a blog post, you are sharing your point of view. Folks who share your world view will find it relatable, that’s great. They might not have the same point of view and get a chance to see the same thing from a different perspective, that’s also really valuable.

Think about what you have learned or done in the last 6 months that was new for you - make a small list of potential blog posts titles.

I’m not experienced enough to write an article

If you are learning something new and don’t feel like an expert, here’s a secret: Nobody feels like an expert.

In the javascript space, there’s so much to learn and it changes so fast.

Small detour into what Eric Elliot wrote about javascript fatigue because I think it’s a great perspective:

Learning JS can be overwhelming. I know it can feel like there is an ocean of stuff you don’t know. Trying to soak it all up is like trying to soak up the real ocean with a beach towel.

It’s never going to happen. I can’t keep up. Dan Abramov isn’t keeping up. Brendan Eich isn’t keeping up. Don’t stress out because you can’t, either. We’re all on the same bullet train here, and no matter what seat you’re sitting in, the world outside the windows is all a blur.

We “experts” know a lot about our little corners of the web platform, but we don’t know every little thing about every little thing. If you’ve been at it more than a year or two, chances are very good that you know a lot of stuff I don’t know about web development. I’m cool with that.

All that to say, waiting till you “become an expert” is a waste of time. We can all contribute with what we know today. With anything that you learned this year, there are hundreds around you that want to learn that.

There’s this quote I really like: “Document, not create”.

We’re not inventing new things here. At best, we’re discovering patterns. Share as you learn. I wrote an entire series about writing Good Components, I didn’t invent any of those patterns. I learned them from others and presented them from my perspective and examples.

I just started learning, I’ll share more when I have more knowledge

If you just learned something, you have a perspective that is more useful than someone who is doing this for a while.

After working with React (and javascript) for a while now, there are a lot of weird quirks that I take for granted. I have to constantly remind myself not to use technical jargon that would alienate someone new.

I have stopped conducting beginner workshops for React because I’m simply not a good teacher for that anymore. If you are in the learning new things stage, your fresh perspective will help others in the same stage.

What If I make mistakes?

This one is the hardest for me. What if I say something that I believe to be true, but it turns out wrong. Or worse, what if I share an opinion that’s works for me but harmful for others.

I try not to be wrong. I do my research before putting something in an article, I’ll run all the code that I show as examples.

That fear is sometimes a feature not a bug - it helps you to put in the work and reach a layer of understanding that is deeper than you had before. It helps me choose my words wisely and become better at communicating.

But most of the times, the fear is just a bug - it’s my imposter syndrome talking. It’s easier to keep my thoughts to myself and never find out if I’m wrong.

Here’s the thing, it’s okay to be wrong. The folks who read your article won’t hold it against you as a person. You might get a mean comment on rare occasions, but trust me, you get over that after a few times because the folks who you’re able to help would be way higher.

I have a topic in mind, but will anyone find it interesting?

This happens to me almost every week. I have a post in mind but I’m not sure if it’s interesting to others.

It’s impossible to write for the masses, you can’t please everyone. It helps to keep a specific person in mind when you’re writing - you’re only trying to help one person. Chances are there are plenty others that will benefit from the same article.

Bonus: This style of writing feels personal to the reader which makes it more enjoyable.

When it’s your own blog, you get to do whatever you want. You are writing for yourself (and for that one person). If you feel like writing about a topic, go for it!

Even if I write it, nobody will read it

If you’re just starting out, I hear you. If you don’t have folks that you can send your article to, it’s hard to find the motivation. I’ve been there.

Fortunately for us, we are part of a very welcoming community.

You can post your article on community sites like dev.to, hashnode and spectrum or submit to medium publications like freeCodeCamp and hackernoon.

All of the above are way more fun than reddit/hackernews. dev.to is my favorite right.

I just need to rebuild my blog before I start writing

The best designed blog wouldn’t be helpful if there are no posts on it. This is usually a way to procrastinate.

Clone a starter kit and start writing. Hell, you can even write your posts in a public GitHub repository and share them.

When you have some posts rolling and some folks reading them, it will be more fun to over-engineer your blog.

 

That’s it from me!

Hope that was useful on journey

Sid


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