Stephane Grenier is publishing an interview a week from his 2008 book Blog Blazers on followsteph.com. This week he published my interview from the book. It was interesting to re-read it 5 years on. I never did quite reproduce the success of my early software award scam post, but I am still posting – albeit not very frequently.
I published my first blog post 6 years ago today. I didn’t even notice the fifth anniversary of this blog, so I am going to indulge myself today instead. 277 posts, 3459 (non-spam) comments and over 1.6 million page impressions and I am still here, posting sporadically as time and inspiration allows. Maybe I will still be writing in another 6 years. Maybe not.
Here are some of my favourite posts from the last 6 years, in no particular order:
- The software awards scam
- 10 things non-technical users don’t understand about your software
- If you aren’t embarrassed by v1.0 you didn’t release it early enough
- Where I program
- Unskilled and unaware of it
- The truth about conversion ratios for downloadable software
- Problem exists between keyboard and chair
- 10 questions to ask before you write a single line of code
- Programming in flares
- Interview with a cracker
- How much money will my software make (and what has that got to do with aliens)?
It would be nice to break 2 million impressions. I calculate that this will take approximately another year at the current rate of progress.
I have lots of ideas for new posts. But if there is any subject you, dear reader, would particularly like me to write about – add a comment below. I don’t promise that I will write about it, but I will certainly consider it.
Well, not in pounds or dollars. But, according to WordPress.com and to my considerable surprise, this blog has now had over a million impressions since I started it, 3 and a bit years ago.
OK, I know Joel Spolsky or Jeff Atwood probably wouldn’t get out of bed for a meagre million impressions, but I still couldn’t resist crowing about it.
As you can see in the graph below the traffic is very uneven, dominated by a few posts that made it on to the front page of social news sites.
In fact over 40% of the total impressions come from just 5 (2%) of the posts:
|The software awards scam||234,909|
|10 things non-technical users don’t understand about your software||55,291|
|Lessons learned from 13 failed software products||51,676|
|Your harddrive *will* fail – it’s just a question of when||47,505|
|Where I program||47,075|
Here are a few things I have learnt along the way:
- As with many things in life, persistence is the key.
- Choose your audience and write for that audience.
- Pick a realistic posting schedule and try to stick to it.
- Find your own voice.
- The titles of posts are important.
- Don’t expect lots of clickthroughs from social media sites to translate to lots of subscribers.
- Get your posts proof read (thanks Claire!).
- I am lousy at predicting how much interest a particular blog post will generate.
- Don’t blog about blogging.
- Be prepared to break the rules from time to time.
Although time is sometimes scarce for blogging I have lots of ideas for future blog posts. But if there is anything you would particularly like to see on this blog, please leave a comment.
Floyd Price of Code Spaces has taken over the day-to-day running of microISV blog aggregator planetmicroisv.com from Baruch Even. He has already given it a fresh coat of paint. I appreciate the efforts of Baruch and Floyd to maintain this useful resource. planetmicroisv.com is well worth adding to your RSS feed if you are a microISV (or aspire to be).
This blog is (currently) hosted on wordpress.com with a redirect from my successfulsoftware.net domain. Having wordpress host this blog has a number of advantages, including:
- I don’t have to pay for bandwidth
- I don’t have to update the wordpress software
- wordpress can handle big traffic spikes
- built in spam filtering
I was generally very happy with the service, which has been free so far apart from paying a few dollars for the redirect. But when I tried to log into this blog on Wednesday, all I saw were the chilling words ‘account suspended’. The blog itself was still up, but I couldn’t log in to change anything or export it. I emailed wordpress technical support and started backing up the text of all the articles I hadn’t backed up already.
Then the images started disappearing from the blog.
Then the blog disappeared altogether, replaced by a message saying that it had been suspended for violations of terms of service.
Apparently wordpress can shutdown your blog at any time without warning, without right of appeal and without giving a reason. I was not a happy man. It is bad enough to have your blog shut down, but never to know why would be a particularly cruel and Kafkaesque punishment. I also discovered that it could possibly be a wordpress bug. I sent another email to support and Patrick McKenzie kindly posted onto a wordpress forum for me (I couldn’t even log in to do that).
I was wondering what to do if it never came back. Although I had backed up the text of the posts, all the comments would be lost.
Eventually, after about 24 hours, I got the following email from wordpress.com support (quoted in full):
Sorry about that. Your high quality blog is restored,
The blog reappeared and my login was restored. Phew.
Following this incident I have considered moving the blog off the wordpress servers. I don’t like the idea that wordpress can suspend a blog without giving a reason. I am also not wild about the fact that wordpress can run ads on my blog if they want, which I only found out about recently. I realise they have to make a living, but I would rather pay them a small fee than have ads.
But wherever I move the blog there is a danger some third party is going to let me down. Even if I hosted it myself my Internet connection or server hardware could fail. At the very least I am going to regularly export the full blog in XML format (Manage>Export from the wordpress control panel), so that I can resurrect it elsewhere if needed. As usual it takes a disaster, or near disaster, to make us think about back-ups. Are you backing up all your important data?