My first year on Medium

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

In December 2018 I had almost a month off of work, a side effect of the fact that I didn’t take any holiday, until in October 2018 when I had an email saying I had 21 days to take before January.

During this time off I spent it cleaning my digital life; I sorted out my photos and my password management, I closed down a long lived email address that had been included in a number of data breaches and I moved my blog from my old website to Medium.

During my university years I blogged about some of the tools and techniques I used during my degree and a lot of it covered Augmented Reality which at the time was still in its infancy, which lead to engaging in conversations with people across the world which I really enjoyed.

When I moved my blog to Medium I decided that I wanted to get back into blogging and share my experiences in tech now that I’ve been a Software Developer for 10 years since graduating.

I wanted to blog once a week as I felt this would get me disciplined for content creation as well as allowing me to build a repository of knowledge quickly.

In order to make this happen I spent some time creating a backlog of topics for my blog, mostly around test automation (as that was what I was working on at the time) which would give me enough content for two months.

The first three months

My initial blog plan involved a write up of the things I had got up to during the time I had off as I thought they might be of interest to others as well as a means of documenting my thoughts over the process, should I find myself doing it again anytime soon.

As well as stuff I had done, I also had a set of projects I wanted to do and write about. Around the end of the three months I started to struggle to meet the deadlines I had put on myself to do these.

The solution I decided on was to have a set of backup topics that were more thought-pieces and thus easier to write as they only needed an hour, as opposed to the whole week of project work and writing.

Six months in

I soon found an even better means of ensuring I had time to work on projects in a monthly summary post.

This summary post meant that I could spend at least two weeks from the last technical blog until the blog covering the project was due to be published.

It was also around the five month mark that things started to pick up at work and I found myself with more topics than I could write about and they haven’t really stopped, I now have a sizeable backlog of things to work on with no time to actually do the work.

Nine months in

I ended up changing roles at work around the time I started to reap the benefits of my hard work for the previous nine months or so, which was a little irritating as I was in a good position but risked compromising that position by getting distracted and pumping out filler content.

I decided during this time I’d start to monetise some of my more popular blog articles in order to get something from them and to give me some incentive to try harder.

This monetisation gives me enough money a month for a bag of coffee beans which isn’t much, but means I’m never short of caffeine to power myself through more project work.

Year’s end

The last three or so months were a little less productive due to the role change at work but I was able to complete the last project on my list of topics I had started the year wanting to do.

I ended up taking another 21 days off at the end of 2019 and spent some time creating a more refined backlog of blog topics with outlines so that if I struggled to work on projects I would have these to fall back on.

This helped me get through January 2020 which left no time for me to do anything extra-curricular, having already filled my spare time building an app.

The side-effects of blogging once a week on Medium

I’ve managed to build all the projects I set out to do in late 2018 and I’ve certainly learned a lot about writing, a subject I’ve never felt I was good at but thanks to my girlfriend acting as a proof-reader I’ve picked up a few tricks and improved my use of punctuation.

The money aspect of the blog has also helped. While I don’t currently get much it does mean I’ve got the infrastructure in place, should I really want to try and make it as a ‘tech blogger’.

One of the benefits I’ve really enjoyed is turning some of my blogs into talks that I’ve given at local meet-ups and the biggest side-effect has been that I now help run one of those meet-ups (could not have seen that coming in 2018).

I’ve also been invited onto a podcast at work to talk about some of the stuff I’ve been working on, had a bunch of companies ask for my opinion on their products and one offer to write content for their website (which I didn’t do due to time constraints).

Year two

As I write this in April 2020 I’m already three months into year two but I don’t think the planning that I did in December of 2019 would have foreseen the current lockdown environment I’m in currently.

Of course lockdown doesn’t really bother those who planned on spending most of their time on their computer anyways but it’s amazing how fast things can change.

My plan for the rest of this year will involve blogging about my journey to build my own company and the app I’m ultimately looking to build as well as more technical leadership content as that’s my current role at work.

Things will be a bit more abstract than the more development heavy topics I’ve covered before but I think this will act as an experiment around which level of abstraction gets more readers.

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Colin Wren

Colin Wren

459 Followers

Currently building reciprocal.dev. Interested in building shared understanding, Automated Testing, Dev practises, Metal, Chiptune. All views my own.