15 lessons from 15 years of blogging

Anil Dash has been at it for 15 years (slightly longer than me, but only slightly!) and his reflections on a decade and a half of blogging -- through major life changes from marriage to parenthood -- really chime with me, especially:

* Typos in posts don't reveal themselves until you've published. If you schedule a post to publish in the future, the typos will be revealed then. This is an absolute, inviolable rule of blogging. This may be some sort of subtle lesson from the universe about our hubris in the face of fundamental impermanence.

* Always write with the idea that what you're sharing will live for months and years and decades. Having a long-term perspective in mind is an incredibly effective tool for figuring out whether a topic is meaningful or not, and for encouraging a kinder, more thoughtful perspective.

* The scroll is your friend. If you write a bad post or something you don't like, just post again. If you write something great that you're really proud of and nobody notices, just post again. One foot in front of the other, one word after another, is the only path I've found to an overall body of work that I'm proud of. Push posts down the page, and the good and the bad will just scroll away.

* Your blog can change your life in a month. If you want to understand an idea, or become a meaningful voice on a topic, or change your own thinking about a concept, write a little bit about it every day for a month. The first posts might suck, but invariably the exercise and the discipline of doing the writing are transformative. Sometimes the rest of the world even notices it.

* There is absolutely no pattern to what blog posts people will like. I've had pieces that I worked on for years that landed with a thud, ignored by even my close friends, and I've had dashed-off rants explode into huge conversations on the web. I've had short pieces or silly lists that people found meaningful, and lengthy, researched work that mostly earned a shrug. And of course, I've had pieces that I put my heart and soul into that did connect with people. If there's a way to predict what response will be online, I sure don't know it.

* The personal blog is an important, under-respected art form. While blogs as a medium are basically just the default format for sharing timely information or doing simple publishing online, the personal blog is every bit as important an expressive medium as the novel or the zine or any visual arts medium. As a culture, we don't afford them the same respect, but it's an art form that has meant as much to me, and revealed as many truths to me, as the films I have seen and the books I have read, and I'm so thankful for that.

* The most meaningful feedback happens on a very slow timeframe. It's easy to get distracted in the immediacy of people tweeting replies in realtime, but the reason I write is for those rare times, years later, when I get an email from someone I might only barely know, saying that something I wrote meant something to them. Sometimes they email years later to say they thought I was wrong, or that they've changed their mind, but invariably it feels like a profound and personal connection, sometimes around the least expected and least obvious ideas.

15 Lessons from 15 Years of Blogging [Anil Dash]

(Image: Dave Bullock)