On the 31st of Aug 2020, I published my first ever blog post. It’s been a wild journey, full of ups and downs, but a very rewarding one. In this post, I will detail everything I’ve learned, show some numbers and plans for the next year to come.
I started blogging with two goals in mind:
to share things I find interesting
to improve my writing skills in English
Sharing Interesting Stuff
The definition of “interesting” is in the eye of beholder. What I find cool might not catch your attention, and some things will be considered boring. If it’s boring, why sharing?
Had I held this mindset, I’d never get started. So I promised myself: I’d write what I considered interesting and if it helps other people, then great! If not, that’s fine!
Adopting this demeanor was crucial to help me get started. Going from 0 to something requires more energy than keeping consistency. So once we overcome this initial barrier, it’s just a matter of putting a bit more energy from time to time.
After producing the first few articles, I realized that what was interesting to me was also interesting to other people. Each “thank you” would put more gas into my motivation tank, so I kept going.
Improving My Writing Skills
You might have noticed that English is not my native language. In fact, my English is pretty much self-taught. I started learning it primarily to consume English content and never had the intention to produce anything.
But... what is the point of learning a language and not being able to use it fully?
Even though I could write shorter messages, e-mails and things like that, expressing complex ideas was a challenge to me.
Writing is considerably harder than passive reading, and doing that in a second language is even harder. So I asked myself, “What can I do to improve my writing skills?”.
The answer could not be more obvious: write more!
The Downs - part. 1
I spent quite a long time trying to set up a blog platform. I chose hugo because it's fast and has many features, making it very flexible. The only problem is that this flexibility comes with a cost: it's a sea of distraction.
I think I spent almost a month trying to tweak it, testing themes and whatnot. I then realized that I was focusing on the wrong thing. The focus should be on the content, not on the appearance.
The Downs - part. 2
This end of August was the end of summer in Europe and a second wave of Covid had been looming over. A new lockdown was imminent, and I’d have to stay inside as much as I could. Not only that, I also didn’t have to commute every day, which would consume about 1h of my day.
With this “free time” available, I set a pretty impressive streak and wrote one article per week. My goal was to publish every Saturday morning.
And did that until... I went back to Brazil for Christmas and I decided that I’d not touch a computer during that time. I had some signs of burnout and thought that would be the way to revert it.
After the break, I returned to the UK and had little to no motivation of writing again. Maybe I was still burned out, I don’t know. The truth is that I wrote only 4 articles after the break and I used to write that many each month.
I’m not sure if I can do 1 post a week ever again. My focus has shifted from quantity to quality. It’s not that my first few articles lacked quality, but keeping this standard requires too much time and energy.
The Ups - The Stats
Now it’s time for some interesting stuff: the stats! Up to this point, not considering this article, I’ve written 22 posts. Out of those, 5 of them brings most of the organic traffic.
Traffic By Channel
In 1 year, people have viewed this blog around ~129K times, according to Google Analytics. This number might be higher if we consider that tech-savvy people block GA. Taking only organic search into account, 46% of the views come from search engines such as Google, Bing and Duck Duck Go. It’s actually not bad considering that I'm not an SEO expert.
In this chart, we can view the organic traffic every month. I started investing in SEO after subscribing to Monica Lent's Blogging for Devs newsletter by the end of 2020. The things I learned from it really paid off, as you can see in the graph!
The views had been growing steady until July. The decline has presumably something to do with Google’s release of an update to its core algorithm.
I experienced the same thing in December, and the traffic will perhaps recover like it did back them.
The Most Popular Ones - Top 5 Overall
Here’s a list of my popular posts according to GA, and backed by hashnode analytics.
The Most Searched Ones - Top 5 Overall
And here's a list of my popular articles based on organic searches only.
Plans for the Future
I write mostly about Python and its ecosystem. I’ll probably continue writing about it but I’m also considering adding a bit more of Machine Learning to it. I’ve been working with ML for a good four years and I think I have some cool stuff to share.
For now, my plan is to find a schedule that works for me and that allows me to keep consistent. I’m not sure if I can write one article per week, but one every two weeks seems very doable. Still, the focus will be always on quality first.
That’s it, folks! I hope you liked this post and see you next time! I'd like to thank the awesome Chris Bongers for proofreading this article and suggest a few improvements, thanks mate!