Notes on blogging

3 things I’ve learnt about blogging for folks who are either considering it or started writing recently:

1. The biggest challenge folks face is a lack of clarity on why they’re doing it. This happens because of a lack of clarity on the question – are you writing for yourself or writing for others?

I’ve written a longer post on the difference between the two approaches here. The illustrative graph below shows the difference between the two. When you write for yourself, you spend all your time on the thinking and writing and ignore any investment in attempt to grow your readership. When you write for others, you spend as much time as you write on growing your readership.

This isn’t to say it is impossible to grow your readership while writing for yourself. Or vice versa. It is just unlikely.

It helps to be honest with yourself on what your goals are. One approach isn’t better than the other. It is just about figuring out what you are in it for.

A related note: If you’re one of those analytical folks prone to optimizing numbers and seeking to write for yourself, find ways to not forget about any admin dashboard that shows counts of subscribers or traffic.

(Update: After a few exchanges and questions, I realize it wasn’t clear why I advocate “writing for yourself.” Here’s a follow up post on that – Notes on writing for yourself.

2. Pick a blogging stack that works with your goals. My experience is completely on the “writing for yourself” side. So, the only piece of insight I have for folks who aspire to monetize their writing is to try Substack. I don’t use them but I’ve heard good things.

If you’re writing for yourself, there is an assortment of free tools available to try. As I started writing as a 19 year old student, I’ve tried my fair share of these – various hosting providers, Blogger, free WordPress, and Feedburner. They’re all fine in isolation. But, free also means inevitable issues and maintenance overhead.

I switched to paying for my blogging stack five years or so ago. I pay WordPress.com for a domain ($22/year) and hosting ($48/year). And, I pay Feedblitz for sending emails ($319/year). For ~$400/year, I can just focus on clicking my “post” bookmark, publish, and not worry about the rest. A gift that keeps on giving.

3. The final challenge is to get started and not break the chain. There’s no magic to this part. Just get started.

If it helps, I’m happy to be your first reader and accountability buddy. As some of you know, I’ve been writing every day for eleven and a half years now. Deciding to do this is among the best decisions I’ve made. So, if I can be of help on your journey, just send me a note on rohan at rohanrajiv dot com and we can get started on the program. :-)

PS: Merry Christmas to all of you celebrating!