Write It and They Will (Eventually) Come
December 31, 2020
3 min read
At the start of the year, I set myself a goal. Not “reach 1000 Twitter followers”. Not “get 100,000 page views”. Not to “rank #1 on Google”. Hold tight, I’ll tell you about it in due course. In this post, I wanted to document how my blog hasn’t taken off yet, and why it’s still been a success. Here’s my 2020 explained through a series of tweets:
Unless you already have a social media following built up, no one is going to read your posts.
Apart from a couple of super-supportive friends, who like everything you write (thank you Adam and Patrick!).
Two years after having written the first blog post on this blog, I was still getting only 20 views a day on my blog. I would be lying if I didn’t say I’d felt deflated seeing other blog posts about how person X’s blog took off. After spending hours writing up a post on advice about internships, for it to tank was a bitter pill to swallow.
However, my mantra throughout this is that eventually it’ll pay off. Some time in the future. Just push back that expected date of success, and put out another post now. And repeat.
Focusing only on what I can control has kept me going. I can’t control if someone shares my content to Hacker News or with their Twitter followers. However, I can control the quality of my posts.
For people to share your content, first you need to write content that’s worth sharing. Wait, but there was a national lockdown, and what better time to redo your website?
I set out to write content that I wished I’d had, such as this post on type-checking:
This could be quite niche (this advice post only really applies to computer scientists from my university):
This blog is a great corner of the internet to try things out. And hey, the perks of not having a huge audience is that I can try out new styles, without fear of repercussions! ;)
However, writing blog posts consistently has been a much bigger time commitment than I’ve expected. I sent the following tweet out on 3rd July about how I was writing a post on Protobuf:
I started my internship at Facebook on the 6th of July, and, well, the blog took a backseat. For three whole months.
Not writing a post for a long time builds up inertia. Especially when you have an 80% finished post sitting there that needs to be finished before you can move onto the later posts of the series. The thing that got me going again was the FB mantra done is better than perfect. Just get it out there, even if it isn’t as good as you’d like.
The biggest project of the last year has been writing my own programming language. I quickly left the confines of toy compiler tutorials and stumbled my way through the wilderness of “real” compiler writing. The key focal point of this blog post has been to write up my learnings in the hope it helps just one other person, and my struggles with LLVM exemplified it.
And well, the 8th post in my compiler series, the 18th post this year, and the 35th post overall felt like a special one. I decided to share it to Reddit, and it took off!
Just the fillip I needed for another year of blogging :)
That goal I mentioned? It was to write 20 blog posts in 2020. It’s kept me committed to writing posts even when no one was reading.
And with this post, I’ve achieved it! Thank you to everyone who’s read the blog this year! Looking forward to creating more content next year!
EDIT (8/3/21): I pulled a post that was previously up on my blog as it was a bit of a raw take on regulation. So if you’re wondering why there are now only 19 posts in 2020, that’s why.