For the last few years, I’ve blogged much more on BrentOzar.com than I have here. In part, that’s because I’m more comfortable writing technical blog posts. It’s easier than a more personal post for me. “Here is a problem. Here is a solution!” That’s a pretty simple formula.
We get a lot of readers on BrentOzar.com. And I’ve been really lucky: I have great SEO on some posts over there. If you search on “SQL Server Cluster”, “SQL Server Transactional Replication”, or “SQL Server Rebuild Index”, my posts are likely to come up on the front page. (It depends on which search engine you use, of course.)
This means my posts get a lot of visitors. I’m really honored by that. It’s just incredibly cool to get the opportunity to have so many people read your work.
It also means my posts get a fair amount of comments. Some are questions, some are opinions, and some are readers responding to other readers. I try to keep up and answer the comments as best as I can.
The last few years of blogging have given me an interesting perspective on what it’s all like.
Writing a blog post is like planning a big party
Like most technical bloggers, I put a lot of work into my posts. Even short posts usually take me around 90 minutes to write. I’m not a fast writer, and I’m obsessive about details.
The posts I wrote above that are more popular are also longer and took me more time. Each of those posts took me more than six hours to write, proofread, and prepare. Luckily they were each on topics I’m quite comfortable with and often use in my work, so there wasn’t additional research time: when that’s needed it’ll easily triple the amount of time for the post.
Writing a post is a lot like planning a huge party. You think about who’s going to come and how you can provide them with the best experience. You plan what you’re going to provide, make sure everything is laid out properly, clean things up obsessively.
At first, nobody comes to the party
When you first start blogging, or even often when you put a post out on an existing blogs with readers, you don’t always get an immediate huge response. Often, the post goes up and there’s…. silence. Maybe one person stops by and say you helped, and you’re really happy to see that.
But often, especially at first, you wonder, “was this really worth all the effort?”
Sometimes your party guests aren’t perfect
Occasionally your post may get picked up by a popular website, or linked to by influential folks on Twitter. This can be a bit like having EVERYONE come to your house party. People you’ve never heard of. People who may not like the party you planned, and who may not behave well. And some people just aren’t sure HOW to behave.
You’ll get comments on your blog posts from all sorts of visitors. You’ll probably meet all of the following people:
The guest who’s too cool for this party. Whatever you wrote, they just want you to know it was awful. This is the same person who put out cigarette butts on your parent’s couch back in high school.
The person who thought this was a different party. Does this work for Oracle? I heard this was an Oracle party. Let’s talk about Oracle.
The imitation host. This person forgets they were a guest. They subscribe to your post and answer EVERY question or comment immediately and try to run the whole show.
The person who drinks too much. They really like your post, but they’re so excited about the topic that they just get a little toooooo carried away. “I’m going to chain together 12 instances of Express Edition with linked servers and it’s going to be AMAZING!”
That depressed guy. What you wrote sounds cool, but sadly this fellow can never use it. Ever. And he’s really really sad.
The person who didn’t read the invitation. You asked people to bring a beverage to the party, but they showed up empty handed. This is the blog reader who reads the title, but not the post. They just scroll to the bottom and ask their question, which is probably answered in the post’s second paragraph.
The perfect party guest. This is most people! They show up, have great manners, and offer good questions and insightful comments. They play nicely with others. There’s just so many other weird personalities that show up on the internet that it’s easy to forget that these people are really the majority.
You’ve got to accept all your guests (almost)
Some of these guests can be a problem. There’s trolls on the internet, and you don’t have to let someone troll you. If you get abusive and inappropriate comments, use the power of the delete button.
But for everyone else, I train myself to like them, or at least accept them, even if they get on my nerves. They’re taking the time out to interact, and they’re also taking the time to read my post (well, most of them), and that’s very, very cool.
The more parties you throw, the better it gets
If you blog consistently, you’ll get a great base of “perfect readers”. Over the last few years I’ve been working on making my technical blogs pretty consistent on BrentOzar.com. I try to build up a few posts every few weeks and get them scheduled. It’s not easy for me, but I’m happy I do it. I learn from writing, and also from all the great guests who stop by the blog and are kind enough to leave questions and comments.