usable in any place a human can be used


state of the blog

[caption id="attachment_328" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="danger danger will robinson"]danger danger will robinson[/caption]

I was having a discussion the other day with my pal Jeremiah about blogging, on-line presence, and other nerdly things (nerdly clearly a portmanteau of nerd and worldly). We talked about how one drives traffic to a site, maintains quality, and he pointed me to a smart bear. As you can imagine this only spurred more discussion about blog-promotion and self-promotion.

I got to thinking about how I promote and I want to share with you my method of promoting and how its all working out.

First off I think it's important to understand my goals with You may have noticed that this site has no advertisement, in fact the pixels your eyes are gobbling up cost me money to send to you. I don't write this blog to make money off of it, so that capitalist drive to push ad-views and click-throughs doesn't exist. It's not all kumbaya and hippies though, the general idea is that this blog will help me create an identity for myself which makes me more marketable as a programmer (someone has to pay for these delicious pixels). The main reason I write this blog though is that I love to program and when I'm not doing that I love to talk about programming, this blog gives me a nice outlet for both.

Here is my formula for success

  • Read a lot - Hacker News, Coding Horror, Stack Overflow, these sites are well worn in my browser. So are Practical Common Lisp, Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!, and Learn You Some Erlang for Great Good!. Read everything you can, read voraciously all the tech, if you love to do it like I do then all the better.

  • Remember things - This goes along with the point #1, if you are reading and reading but not recalling anything, then its no help at all. I have a pretty good memory, but I've found that Delicious Bookmarks and Firefox's Awesome Bar are the most helpful additions my memory could ever use. Example: I remembered the article Jeremiah sent me but had no idea what it was, typed 'bear' into the Awesome Bar and bam, there it was, thank you Firefox.

  • Write what you know - Write about the stuff you know, take the time to learn something before posting. Post about things you've actually done, that's how this blog started wanting to share my experiences doing ruby koans.

  • Links are your friends - You might lucky enough to be interesting, but you don't have to be. Include plenty of links to the interesting things that you've read from the point #1.

  • [caption id="attachment_326" align="alignright" width="150" caption="breaking up the wall of words"]breaking up the wall of words[/caption]
  • Wall of words - People get intimidated by a wall of words, break it up with video embeds, pictures, and blockquotes

  • Promote Appropriately - Every time I post I tweet about it, I've posted a few posts on Hacker News and met with some pretty good success. I don't spam Hacker News though, I like the community and when there is something of interest, I submit it.

  • Make sharing easy - See those things at the bottom of the post, they let you submit my article to social networks, tweet about them (that one's new).

  • Make it easy to follow - See those icons at the top of the page, one let's you follow me on Twitter, one let's you subscribe to the rss feed.
  • Make it memorable - I like to try and find an image to start an article that either captures the article's content or is just memorable. I also tried to pick a domain name that would be memorable and easy to type,

  • Track readership - My hosting company keeps statistics and I use Google Analytics to track readership, this let's me know what is working and what isn't.

Those are the basic guidelines I try to follow and the results have been pretty good. I've had a general increasing trend in daily readers, and I've had a few big blockbuster days. Monday's article was on the front page of Hacker News for around 8 hours and had 1,806 pageviews. That was astonishing to me. I've had some other big jumps in the graph, but the general slope is what is even more exciting, people are starting to read regularly.

I've been posting every weekday (missed Thanksgiving and Black Friday) since October 2nd, 2009 when the blog started. I like to think that the consistent posting let's people know that they can check in everyday and get something new and fresh. This frequency is not required, but a consistent posting schedule is nice because it let's people know when more is coming and hopefully makes them look forward to the next post.

Here are the things that I've discovered that I didn't realize I would when I started.

  • Relationships - Through this blog I've met some cool new people, like Mark Essel, and improved my relationships with existing friends, Jeremiah Peschka and Rick Kierner.

  • Great Discourse - It may be the subject matter or the promotion avenues, but so far the discourse generated by my blog posts have been more than I could ever ask for. Comments are insightful and well-thought.

  • Passion - I never really wrote before and now I love it. I look forward to writing a post everyday.

That's the state of the blog right now, I'm delighted with where it is. Growth is never easy, there is so much content and so little time. If you refuse to pander, write what you know and love, promote consistently and honestly, you will find people to read your words. That's why I write, and I would have never guessed what it would mean to me.


  1. I've read about many different ways to market your messages. But what works best as a sustainable engine is:

    1) showing on a regular basis

    2) be genuine, and sincere

    3) risk being wrong with a hunch or hypothesis

    4) HowTos technical or otherwise are good for long term sustained readers (how to embed google wave on your blog has gotten a steady 30-70 views per day for over a month)

    5) Long term growth is steady. As you keep blogging you build up a massive history of rich, well though content.

    6) social sharing/crowd sourcing: I've had pretty amazing HackerNews days as well. I find that the posts I think will be smash hits don't always do well. I'm exploring and learning about crowd sharing sites and the attention market for ideas.

    Thanks for the shout Matt. I like your blogs background, wish the text was brighter. (ps get Disqus so folks on other sites can see people commenting here as an additional virtual path to your platform).

  2. Great post! I have a question about including images... where do you get yours? I am unsure where to source images for my blog without violating copyrights...


  3. Thanks for the shout-out. You have the best blog name ever IMO.

    If you're even in Austin, give me a shout. Lots of fun Ruby stuff going on here.

  4. [...] others, and have gotten it to a place that I really like. Nothing is set in stone though, at the suggestion of Mark Essel I’ve bumped the text color from #bbbbbb to #dddddd. The point is that when someone complains [...]

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