I received a nice email from a reader today. As per my mantra of “when in doubt, make it public“, I thought I’d post an answer here.
Subject: Daniel, You Blog So Much…
…how do you do it? I am a regular reader of your blog, and I am amazed at the frequency of your posts. You seem to write posts faster than I can think of topics. Every time I blog it turns into a huge time sink. You seem to succeed despite having what I assume is a demanding job and family. Do you have any tips/tricks/strategies/methodologies?
First, the constraints: job and family.
My job is demanding, though I’ve been lucky that I have an enlightened employer that sees the value in the time I spend blogging. Even though this isn’t a corporate blog–perhaps because it isn’t a corporate blog–it does help promote Endeca as a thought leader. That doesn’t mean I can prioritize blogging over other work, but it does mean I can devote an hour a day to my blog without incurring the wrath of our accountants or investors.
Family is trickier. I try not to blog between 6pm and 11pm, or during the day on weekends. I even went without blogging for a week! But there’s no question that one of the reasons I can spend so much time blogging is that my wife takes on a disproportionate share of the parenting load. If she starts blogging, we’ll have to rebalance.
Given those constraints, how do I manage the frequency? I post roughly daily, sometimes more than that. I have some topics queued up, but many of my posts are quick reactions to what I read, either on Techmeme or on other people’s blogs. Sometimes I’m lucky and someone emails me material that is great blog fodder (as is the present case); other times, I simply blog about what I’m doing.
Do I have any tips/tricks/strategies/methodologies? Read interesting stuff that other people write, and write about your reactions to it. Work on interesting problems, and talk about them when you can. Instead of writing an email or ranting to a co-worker, put those same thoughts into a blog post.
Perhaps most importantly, cultivate a passion for unsolved problems, so that the world reminds you of them at every turn. It’s the same advice I’ve heard given to researchers, only that the threshold for publishing a blog post is a lot lower than that of submitting a publication for peer review.
And it’s like Steve Jobs says: real artists ship. Blog posts aren’t the Great American Novel you spend your life perfecting. Some of the best blogs posts are reactions to current news stories. The value of timeliness is a great forcing function to make you write something good enough and publish it while the story is fresh in people’s minds.