I started this blog 6 months ago and made my first experiences with writing and publishing. In this article, I want to share how I made this thing happen and what I learned so far. I am also reaching out to you to share your experience with me and get in touch.
Starting a blog is quite easy. You can simply open an account at Medium or Blogger. You can also start using WordPress or Ghost blog in a managed environment. Depending on your needs, you will find lots of free and low-priced options out there.
But what to do with this blog? How to write the first article and which topics should you tackle? I opted for a quite simple way, which made it easy to write. Basically, I followed these basic ideas:
- write about what you know
- stick to the niche you started
- write in your own style
- provide a problem AND the solution
- don't write too much in one article
This lead to a blog, which is seeing regular articles about DevOps and OpenSource in general. For now, I am sticking to the basic tools, so everybody can follow up.
Keeping up the work
You can find thousands of abandoned blogs in the web. Some have seen 2-5 articles only, or are seeing updates on a very irregular basis. Some are also just re-posting the same topics over and over again. This is something, I don't want. I want to progress from basic topics to complex solutions and provide guides, news and information about OpenSource.
My goal is to write 2 articles per week about OpenSource, DevOps or the community in general. I also want to update the OpenSource community about activities in While True Do.
Writing these 2 articles seems a lot of effort, and it really is. In the last 6 months, I prolonged every working day for an additional hour to either write for the blog or add something to the community. I am saying "bye" to my colleagues, grab a fresh cup of tea and start working for an additional hour (sometimes a bit more).
That's it. Nothing else. Sticking to something and being consistent was the only trick. I plan to do this at least for the next 6 months and see how it works out.
Some friends asked me a couple of questions in the past 6 months, which I also want to answer here. Choosing the right tools was a huge improvement for my writing experience.
- "How do you post at 10:00 in the morning? Aren't you working there?"
Yes, I am working at 10:00 in the morning. I am not pressing any button for the blog. This is possible with a simple functionality in Ghost blog - Scheduling.
You can prepare articles, save them as draft and schedule them. Ghost will ensure, that the blogs will be published at the given time.
This was also quite easy. The service Zapier provides so-called "Zaps", which are triggering actions, based on events. In my case, the event is "Article was published" and the actions are "Publish to LinkedIn". It is quite limited (only 5 Zaps for free), but this is enough for a small blog like mine.
- "Why do you even publish on social media?"
This is not so easy to answer. Posting on Twitter is just to allow more people having a look. There is a huge tech scene over at Twitter, that is also giving some valuable feedback from time to time. This kind of feedback allows me to publish better content and improve my writing.
In addition, I am also following a couple of bloggers, news feeds and experts over at Twitter. This way, I can get some inspiration and topics, I want to learn about myself.
For Reddit, it is basically the same, but i am not sure if I am ready to invest the time needed for a proper Reddit representation. The splitting in different channels and groups makes it quite tricky to automate publishing. On the other hand, I published some blogs manually and got very awesome feedback.
LinkedIn is a totally different story. I am posting there, because I want to connect with other professionals. This already lead to interesting chats and connections. I am also adding some "value" to my, otherwise quite boring, profile. In the end, I hope that writing about my expertise also shows how I am working and becoming part of the professional community.
- "Which Blogging platform did you choose and why?"
I opted for Ghost Blog as my platform, and I am hosting it on the infrastructure of While True Do in a container.
I have chosen Ghost, since it is simple and easy on the eyes. Furthermore, I am not the biggest fan of "more is more". For me, it is exactly the opposite, and "less is more" seems right to me.
To be honest, even Ghost provides features, I don't need. Maybe, I will find something that suites me better in the future.
So, if you know a simple, multi-user blogging platform, that has proper Markdown support, provides RSS feeds and can schedule articles, I am happy to hear about it.
- "How do you make these diagrams and graphics?"
Most of my diagrams are self-made in draw.io/diagrams.net. It's an awesome tool, which runs on Linux and provides a huge variety of shapes and symbols.
The other graphics are either edited in GIMP or integrated from Unsplash. I am currently working on my own stock photos for future posts. But this will take some more time, especially getting into photography again.
If you are interested in how I feel about writing and what I "got" from it, this section is for you.
To be honest, I am quite happy how things are going and that the blog is slowly growing. I never expected to be "the next big tech blog" and I am not working in this direction.
I want to share knowledge and enable others to understand what the whole "DevOps" world provides and what it does not. To be clear about this: "A fool with a tool is still a fool."
I also learned a lot about myself and how I experience creativity. I learned that my brain seems to have at least 2 modes of working. The first one is "problem-solving", the other one is "creativity". Both are very useful for writing articles and motivation. Switching between them is still very hard for me.
In most cases: Grabbing a cup of tea and just starting works out. Sometimes, it needs a bit of meditation to get in the mood. And sometimes, I am just not able to write something and need to push it some hours or a day.
For the foreseeable future (next 6 months), I am planning to the same as in the past 6 months. I will focus on writing 2 articles per week, every week, and keep the quality high. Topic wise, I will slowly add more complex scenarios like Kubernetes, Virtualization, automation of cloud providers and more. For now, I am happy to share basic knowledge that is needed beforehand.
Writing a blog was a huge improvement for me. I learned a lot about myself, improved my English and writing skills, and also added some useful stuff to my social media accounts. Looking back at almost 50 articles makes me also very happy about the work I have done so far and motivates me to keep it up.