256 bloghacksby Wojciech Adam Koszek ⋅ Jan 7, 2017 ⋅ Menlo Park, CA
My first gig as a full-book book reviewer. You can learn what my opinion on Yegor's book is.
I made this blog in 2012, but didn’t really think about it much. I restarted the efforts in 2015 and 2016, but had moderate success (hundreds visitors “spiking” when I published something, and then traffic dying out after 2 days). That’s the moment in publishing online where you think: “Really, that’s all I get by publishing stuff to millions of people?”
That was my motivation. To learn more. I knew my blog isn’t yet very well targeted already, and even though I know authors like Dan Luu who report very good results with general “blog about software” scheme, I feel like I’d gain more from targeting e.g.: authors interested in building cloud services in Go.
When I saw Yegor writing a book on blogging, I decided to sign up as a reviewer. Being reviewer is a very good deal: you make notes which you’d make anyway, but you are heard by an author, who may care more than when the book is finished and in print. And you get a free book of $40 value.
General opinion. If you buy this book for $40, you’ll be among 1% of experts who care about the quality of the content which they produce. People like that like to bounce ideas from each other, and read books, articles, magazines and then share this knowledge. Read the book, and share the knowledge with me and others.
Longer take on a book. You’ll learn about modern realities of technical blogging from Yegor. He is successful with blogging, getting around 2000 visitors a day. I think it’s a good number to strive for. It would be cool to get some screenshots of his audience and the cross-section about who they are. That would complete the value of the book. Even without more information on statistics, the book is a good resource.
My experience tells me to be distant to information which I can’t cross-check. I’m like an untrustful fox, which was caught in a trap multiple times. It’s because often authors like to “bump up” their profile in front of each other, and while I don’t know if this touches Yegor too, I do believe the book would benefit from more factual proofs and information deep-down into the details of how it actually looks like from the author’s side. I’m waiting for this in the next edition of the book.
Yegor explains some of his tricks: paid Twitter Ads to get users to subscribe to his mailing list, and no success with Facebook Ads. I think it’s fair to use these techniques, if it really works, i.e.: if these “subscribers” and visitors aren’t bots and they’re real people, then that’s fine. Bots are to the engagement metrics what dead code is to software. It’s be good to understand how much such numbers are skewed.
There are some contradictory pieces in the book, and also a lot of it are opinions. Since I’ve been interested in the topic of growing your audience recently, I’ve researched some other resources on blogging (Technical blogging for example, and Softskills before reading “256 bloghacks”. Whichever expert you talk to, they all have slightly different opinion. Let me skip these differences. The common theme for success is: niche, regularity, high-quality content, mailing list “digest” sent out weekly or monthly.
I disagree with Yegor that blogging about software engineering must be done “technically”, with static generator, debugging of HTML and CSS etc. I don’t think people care. The best blogs which I benefited from in my career looked terrible, in fact. Example: old (pre-2017) version of Joel on Software. You can read how Joel struggled with his original platform. It was a technical ghetto, had tons of ads on the right side of the blog. But I grew up on Internet: my mind has an ad blocker built-in, and Joel’s content was great. I kept reading post after post. I really didn’t care whether it’s WordPress or Jekyll. I couldn’t care less about his publishing pain and look: content was outstanding.
Funny is that his experience with proofreaders was exactly the same as mine. I’ve worked with two good people and both of them disappeared pretty much in the same time. The difference I’m doing is that I’m trying to get $5 for 500 words deals, paying from $10 to $15 per post for English correction. Recently I’ve stopped doing this.
Some of the stuff Yegor mentions about writing is actually from On Writing Well so if you want to boost your writing, maybe pick up this book. Another really great take on writing you can find in Stephen King’s On writing. I haven’t read any of King’s books, but like the guy during interviews on YouTube.
Summary. You won’t regret buying “256 bloghacks” and I feel like it’ll supercharge your blogging. Let me know how it goes.