I like the idea of challenging yourself, because, usually, you come out of it with new knowledge, new perspective, or at the very least, you get confirmation of something you already knew. As for this particular challenge, where I challenged myself to write a blog post every day in the month of August, it was mostly confirmation of what I already knew.
Leading up to this, as happens with many others, my blog became neglected. Nobody starts a blog with the intention to neglect it. So why does this happen? Well, for me, while I do enjoy writing and find it therapeutic, it isn’t as pleasurable or as instantly gratifying as some other activities. And the payoff for writing is not as obvious. It’s like putting a message in a bottle and just hoping it finds someone. So, after a few posts, when you come to the realization of how lonely blogging can be, you just stop. Most of the time there's very little payoff for writing, and the self-therapy effects are real but pretty mild. And it does require some effort. To make a biochemical analogy, I like to think of it as having high activation energy. It's hard to get a post started, but once it gets going, it's easy to keep it going.
Overall, writing a blog post everyday is a bit ridiculous. It is distracting. It takes time away from more important things like my work, and family life. It's also a little dangerous. As a flawed human being, I am susceptible to being taken by silly trends or trains of thought that, upon later reflection, are a bit embarrassing. In this regard, blogging every day is like leaving a permanent record of every mental detour along the way of life. But there were times when I found it a welcome relief from either boredom or depression. And as long as blogging is interpreted as it should be, as some sort of quasi art form which favors effectiveness of delivery over correctness, then perhaps it shouldn't be so dangerous.
Writing is commonly considered a good way to organize your thinking, and help with decision making. This sounds good on its face, but after some thought, I'm not entirely convinced of this. Because, unless other people are reading what you wrote and giving you feedback, you don't know if you're off the rails or not. Think Ted Kaczynski. He wrote extensively, but in an echo chamber of his own mind. It helped him with decision making alright, but perhaps not the best decisions? On the other hand, today we have Chat GPT which is actually quite good at providing critical feedback on your writing. Since it more or less represents the average person, or the "mean of humanity", you can gauge how offbeat your ideas are, or if what you're trying to convey in your writing even makes sense. I've really come to appreciate its usefulness as a writing assistant. I'd even venture to say it has made the world less lonely.
And now for the numbers. I said I'd share the numbers at the outset sore here goes...
I've been monitoring my RSS feed by looking at the number of requests. There basically aren't any. I think RSS as a means of content consumption is declining. If I didn't post links to my posts on Twitter/X then I doubt I would have had any traffic whatsoever.
I posted most of my 31 entries to a Twitter mega thread with very little additional promotion other than a short YT video. I have a relatively small Twitter following but I did get some engagement from posting there despite being otherwise pretty quiet on the platform in August. Overall my posts got 173 link clicks where much of the engagement came from the originating thread (pictured below).
My top-performing posts were all related to financial independence and my indie app business. Anything related to achieving financial independence, or, the holy grail, passive income, does very well on Twitter/X. It makes sense I guess, not only because most of my Twitter following came from posting my app proceeds, but practically speaking, it has the most relevance to people's lives. So in this regard, when you're looking to get traffic to your blog, consider that people don't care about you in particular. They care about what you can do for them, or what they can learn from you. And many are simply looking for a gimmick or shortcut to fame and riches, a flaw in human nature that is easy to take advantage of (see Andrew Tate and the like)..
I installed Google Analytics on my site at the beginning of this (chart below). There was a bunch of traffic at the beginning upon announcing my intentions, then a pretty steep drop off with only a handful of visits on most days throughout the month. It seems people were curious at first then lost interest pretty quickly. This is not surprising and fits with my understanding of human nature but it didn't stop me from being hopeful at the outset that it would somehow gain steam throughout the month as it progressed. As such, I felt a bit cringey posting a link to my blog every day, like all the thread bois on Twitter that I hate. But most days I did it anyway.
Overall I am satisfied by this month-long experiment. I've been putting my creations out into the world for far too long now to be surprised or disappointed when the response is weak. So I've learned to do things for selfish reasons first where broader appeal is simply icing on the cake. As with app development, writing fits into this model because it can be as much a benefit to the author as it is to the reader, with the added benefit of possibly providing value to others and, perhaps, driving traffic to your apps via organic search.
I will be inactive on this blog for a while (a few days at least), but I intend to get into a habit of posting regularly (like a few times a month). A dead blog is a sad sight, and I'd rather not have mine among the countless others in the massive blog graveyard that is the internet.