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General

Blog What You Want To

“What should I write about on my new blog?” is a question I’m asked very often. I always reply with my own question, “What do you want to write about?” which always leads to an interesting conversation, so today I figured I’d take to my blog to blog about blogging, because I want to.

A lot of folks think they need to pick one subject to write about in order to build an audience fast and get rich quick, and they’re not wrong. If you write only about fish, people looking for sites about fish will find you often, and ad revenue and subscriptions can build up quick if your content is good. But, are you willing to write about fish daily or weekly for the next year or more? I’m asking not only do you have the knowledge at hand, but are you ready to put in the work solely about fish? Some people are, the existence of popular single-subject sites is proof of that, but even most of their founders have taken a back seat and hired writers instead.

Burnout is real, and if you find yourself repeatedly doing something you don’t enjoy, you may find yourself giving up or paying someone else to do the work. I know this, not only from watching single-subject sites fail over burnout, but from having personally experienced it too. I kept my Splash Panel and Rewatch reviews going for quite some time, but eventually putting the work into them became tedious. I just didn’t enjoy them anymore, and by extension, I didn’t enjoy blogging anymore.

There’s an alternative to having a single-subject site, and that’s to just write what you want to when you want to. When inspiration strikes, write it down and share it. Don’t hold yourself to a single subject or schedule, just show the world who you are. If you don’t have time to write a post at the moment, jot some notes down really quick and write it up the next day. You won’t build a following as fast as you would with a single-subject, but I can say from experience that audience will hang around a lot longer. They won’t be one-time visitors from a search engine, they’ll be long-time subscribers. That’s what I used to do around here, and I think that’s what I’ll do again.

If you’re burning out over a single subject and don’t know how to get out of that rut, start by sharing small bits of content you enjoy elsewhere. I really have to credit MLTSHP and Tumblr for reminding what it felt like to just share what I want to without being beholden to expectations, and for that reason, I’ll keep sharing things there. Stop by MacManX Aside or signup for MLTSHP any time for some random fun, but do expect more longer form random fun here from now on.

Writing for a single-subject on a schedule will almost certainly grow your site quicker, but it’s nowhere near as fun as sharing yourself with the world by sharing what you like when you’re inspired to. And, if you’ve never blogged before, stop by WordPress.com where we’ll be happy to get you started!

Categories
General

Working From Home

With the current COVID-19 pandemic (which you can read more about from the CDC for folks in the US and from the WHO for folks worldwide), more and more folks are working from home to avoid both contracting and spreading the disease. There are some great recommendations for folks working from home for the first time, like these from Matt Mullenweg, these from Beau Lebens, and these from Artur Piszek. And, since I’ve worked from home for Automattic for almost 10 years, I figured I’d share just some very quick recommendations from my experience.

  • Make yourself comfortable with a real desk. Yes, you can work with your laptop on the couch, but you’ll be doing this for a while. Get a comfortable desk setup with your screen at the appropriate hight, an external keyboard, and an external mouse. Your body will thank you.
  • Ditch the headphones if you can. You may no longer need to keep your music to yourself by trapping your head in a sound prison. Get some external speakers, or try out your computer’s internal speakers. Either way, it’s better for your hearing in the long term.
  • Set boundaries. Folks always say don’t bring your work home with you, and that’s still true. Set solid hours, let your family know what those are, close the office door if you have to, but don’t let work dominate the entire day and don’t let your home life dominate work hours.
  • Separate your work and personal environments. You may no longer have a dedicated office computer, but to avoid distractions, it’s still good to find some separation. For me, that’s separate browsers. I use Firefox for work and Safari for personal things.
  • To avoid more distractions, consider what priorities your social networks have. See my On Social Networks post for some thoughts on that.
  • If you find yourself stressed overall by work, try using a simple pomodoro timer, like Pomy.
  • Let in some natural light. I don’t have a window behind my desk, I find that distracting, but there are ample windows just off to the side.
  • Cut back on coffee. Coffee was a favorite distraction of mine in offices, but that type of distraction is no longer necessary at home. Not only is it better for your health, you may find you no longer need as much, and it will save you some money. Try just one cup a day in the morning.
  • Stand up, walk around, take a break. Is something loading? Stand up. Is a process stalled? Take a short walk. At least drink a few glasses of water throughout the day. That will force you to stand up and walk, and it will also force you to use the restroom more frequently.
  • Communicate. Talk frequently with your co-workers in their Slack-like app of choice, but also keep the water cooler going. Set up a backchannel with close work friends, Telegram is great for that. Basically, do whatever you can to keep work communication close to what it was before.

As for my desk in the above photo, besides the MacBook Pro, I’m using a Roost stand, a Das Keyboard Model S Professional (with Cherry MX blue switches), a Logitech MX Vertical mouse, an iPad Pro with a Zugu Muse case serving as a second monitor, a set of Edifier e10 speakers (that I rarely use anymore since the MacBook Pro speakers are now almost as good), a set of Sennheiser Momentum 2 headphones (for meetings and days I need to keep my music to myself), a Logitech Powered phone stand, a set of Baoding balls, an ErgoDox EZ Satellite, and the Desk Army (which is a bit smaller now).

That’s how I’ve kept myself sane for almost 10 years of working from home, and I hope it works for you too. Most of all, remember that getting into the flow will take time, you will likely start with lower productivity than you want and that’s ok. Take it easy, take every recommendation into consideration, but adapt it to what works for you, and don’t forget to share your new routine with your co-workers.

Categories
General Nostalgia Technology

MacManX.com in 2015

2015statsAccording to this report from the good folks at Jetpack, 2015 was another big year for MacManX.com. Along with some interesting stats, the report sums it up best:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

2015 was a bit slower for MacManX.com than last year, so I’ll see what I can do about publishing a bit more content in 2016. 🙂

Categories
General Technology

Small Twitter Victory

twvictoryWhile my tiny corner of the world is being loomed over by the type of room-shaking thunderstorms it rarely experiences, I did find a tiny ray of sunlight. MacManX on Twitter is finally mine, after spending the last five years trying to wrestle it from the clutches of a long-abandoned tech news account. I don’t know why it’s so important to me, but it always bothered my that it was just sitting there unused and unloved, while I had to use MacManXcom instead. Well, now it’s mine. Time to find some sort of tiny victory horn to blast, but probably no one will hear it over this thunder.

Changing usernames on Twitter is shockingly easy, it’s actually just another settings field. You type in a new username, it instantly displays if it’s available, and you save your settings. Your Tweets are transferred over, your Followers are transferred over, everything is transferred over. I was very impressed. The only negative point is that there is no way to redirect the old username. You have officially given it up for someone else to have, which I suppose is perfectly fair. One minute to change the username, one hour to find and change any links and integrations that are within my power to change, and another hour to take a black marker to my business cards (way too many business cards). A nearly five-year struggle was over in two hours.

Categories
General Nostalgia Technology

MacManX.com in 2014

annualreport2014 was another big year for MacManX.com, and as usual, the folks at Jetpack prepared an awesome recap of my year for me! There’s some fun numbers and charts in there to round-up the year, as well as this gem:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

2014 was a great year, so here’s hoping for an even greater 2015!