My blog as my thought space

Last week, I shared my frustration with using social media websites like Facebook or Twitter as my primary platform for sharing photos and status updates. As an advocate of the open web, this has bothered me for some time so I made a commitment to prioritize publishing photos, updates and more to my own site.

I'm excited to share my plan for how I'd like to accomplish this, but before I do, I'd like to share two additional challenges I face on my blog. These struggles factor into some of the changes I'm considering implementing, so I feel compelled to share them with you.

First, I've struggled to cover a wide variety of topics lately. I've been primarily writing about Drupal, Acquia and the Open Web. However, I'm also interested in sharing insights on startups, investing, travel, photography and life outside of work. I often feel inspired to write about these topics, but over the years I've grown reluctant to expand outside of professional interests. My blog is primarily read by technology professionals — from Drupal users and developers, to industry analysts and technology leaders — and in my mind, they do not read my blog to learn about a wider range of topics. I'm conflicted because I would like my l blog to reflect both my personal and professional interests.

Secondly, I've been hesitant to share short updates, such as a two sentence announcement about a new Drupal feature or an Acquia milestone. I used to publish these kinds of short updates quite frequently. It's not that I don't want to share them anymore, it's that I struggle to post them. Every time I publish a new post, it goes out to more than 5,000 people that subscribe to my blog by email. I've been reluctant to share short status updates because I don't want to flood people's inbox.

Throughout the years, I worked around these two struggles by relying on social media; while I used my blog for in-depth blog posts specific to my professional life, I used social media for short updates, sharing photos and starting conversation about wider variety of topics.

But I never loved this division.

I've always written for myself, first. Writing pushes me to think, and it is the process I rely on to flesh out ideas. This blog is my space to think out loud, and to start conversations with people considering the same problems, opportunities or ideas. In the early days of my blog, I never considered restricting my blog to certain topics or making it fit specific editorial standards.

Om Malik published a blog last week that echoes my frustration. For Malik, blogs are thought spaces: a place for writers to share original opinions that reflect "how they view the world and how they are thinking". As my blog has grown, it has evolved, and along the way it has become less of a public thought space.

My commitment to implementing a POSSE approach on my site has brought these struggles to the forefront. I'm glad it did because it requires me to rethink my approach and to return to my blogging roots. After some consideration, here is what I want to do:

  1. Take back control of more of my data; I want to share more of my photos and social media data on my own site.
  2. Find a way to combine longer in-depth blog posts and shorter status updates.
  3. Enable readers and subscribers to filter content based on their own interests so that I can cover a larger variety of topics.

In my next blog post, I plan to outline more details of how I'd like to approach this. Stay tuned!

Comments

Matthias (not verified):

I (have) struggle(d) with these same concerns.

I ended up creating a separate, second blog for all things tech related (https://www.colada.be) several years ago, but I'm far from happy with the division. It creates more friction which triggered me to blog less instead of more. Not just practically, but also in terms of identity. I'm effectively maintaining two outlets that represent the same person and I've learned that the division between the two in reality isn't always that clear cut.

I used to have an "asides" system on my WordPress blog (https://www.netsensei.be/category/asides/page/4/) for publishing short thoughts. I didn't use it that often because... Twitter and Facebook. It was pretty much an opportunity cost exercise. At the time, it was the obvious choice. Today, things are different.

Finally, I blog in Dutch. While that's a totally valid choice, English is the present lingua franca if one wants to maximise their audience. So, I'm also torn between switching to English and opening up to a larger audience, but losing out part of my day-to-day audience - especially when I blog about personal topics - or keep blogging in Dutch thus limiting the reach of my thoughts. Not an easy decision to make.

I'm especially curious on how you are going to address the first two issues. I redesigned my personal blog in the autumn of 2016 and I didn't take both concerns into account at the time, because they simply didn't hover that much to the same level of awareness as they do now. Actually, I hoped the redesign would trigger me to blog more. In a way it did, but it's still definitely not Om Malik's "thought space".

Anyhow, thanks for the much appreciated food for thought!

Dries:

I considered creating multiple blogs, but decided against it. You just validated that decision for me. Thanks for sharing your lessons learned.

Rob Purdie (not verified):

Love love love where you're going here, Dries - I have so disintermediated myself from my own URL I've got about.me serving up a single page and need to TOTALLY take back control ...

Dries:

Thanks for the encouragement, Rob! Looking forward to see what you'll do with robpurdie.net!

Chuck D'Antonio (not verified):

The difference between blogging and PR should be that we see more of you than the narrow slice you might target at your customers and open source constituents. If some folks want a more narrow loom they can head to Acquia.com or Drupal.org.

Roy (not verified):

I've been going back and forth about this as well. I don't even write the long pieces, so it resulted in many short bits and pieces not getting posted at all. I don't have the readership you have, but my conclusion was "anything goes" just to get the flow of content going: http://www.yoroy.com/2018/anything-goes

How to cater for different interests, topics comes next, but I don't worry too much about it. My assumption is people are interested in the person behind the writing first, specific topics second.

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