29 April, 2014

Meta Blogging

Today, I blog about blogging. My goal is to convince you, hard working contributor to KDE, ownCloud or openSUSE, that you should regularly blog about the awesome you do.

Blogging is great

Contributors blogging about what they do is awesome, really. This way, we:
  • Share knowledge so others don't have to re-invent the wheel
  • Share ideas so others know what we're up to and can help improve plans
  • Get help so readers might feel compelled to help out!
  • Give help so using ownCloud/KDE/openSUSE/etc becomes easier for people
  • Increase our visibility so users/developers know who to beat up talk to
  • Create some noise for the outside forums, news sites, magazines etc - press in general

And that's all absolutely awesome. I even bet there are at least 3 more reasons why blogging is good for your community and I hereby offer cookies for whoever shares three other reasons in the comments section.

But let's be honest. Who cares about how it benefits whatever? It's the age of me me and more me!
Balsa de pardelas

But what really matters...

So I want to make clear that YOU benefit. Taking time off to write down what you're working on, putting ideas in order—this is incredibly useful. You will not only become a better writer but also a better thinker. Better at expressing your ideas but also better at putting them in order, examining them, refining them.

Blogging makes you stop and think about what you are doing. You take a little time to dive a bit deeper in what drives you, why you work on what you work on and how you can do better.

This should make clear that the idea of "I have nothing to say" makes no sense. If you are doing things, you must be thinking about them. Blogging is just thinking out loud. Which helps YOU think and, as I pointed out above, helps others see what you think about and give you input.
London phone box.

HOW to do it then?

I'm not going to say writing is simple. If you look up the first posts on my blog, well, let's just say it didn't come by itself for me either. You might be looking at a blank page for a while. But it gets easy when you have something to say! If you're enthusiastic about something or pondering a complicated problem, that is the moment to start. Open your favorite text editor and just blurt down your thoughts, why you're happy/angry/enthusiastic/etc.

Then structure it a bit, try to explain the things. You might have learned this in the past already: explaining something complicated to somebody else is awesome, because you learn from doing that yourself. Maybe even more than the person you're explaining to!
Then make it more presentable. Add a few headers above big paragraphs to break it up, maybe add a picture. Flickr is a great source of pics and it makes your blog a bit lighter, but it is not mandatory at all. Then just publish. Because, really, you can polish forever but it will never be perfect. And you learn while writing. So write, publish, and write some more!

On the idea of "you must do regular writing": a myth. Yes, writing about what you did last week is helpful. It gives a base to start with, keeps your life organized. But it is not The Only Way To Success when it comes to blogging. You need a bit of inspiration. I've gone months without blogs, and had weeks with several. That might not be awesome from a 'social media' perspective but really, who gives a rats' ass about that? I know I don't.

Write when you are thinking about something, when you're inspired. That's enough.

Conclusion

Blogging is helpful. Most people don't feel compelled to share their expertise, knowledge and ideas. That is OK, of course - but if you are willing to blog, please do it! It isn't as hard as it sometimes feels and it is more helpful for yourself than you might think.

And if your project has a blog roll like planet KDE, planet openSUSE and ownCloud News, get your blog on there! More readers = more comments = more motivation and more value for you. Really!

For the ownCloud folk: contact me if you want your blog on our blog roll. I'd be happy to add it!