Agile Blogging

After I wrote my post on 7 Reasons You Should Write About Swift, I began to think about some of the roadblocks that hinder blogging.

Blog Blockers

I started to think about some of my own reservations about blogging, and boiled it down to a couple of big blockers:

  1. Time
  2. Perfectionism

My problems with blogging in the past often came down to the fact that it takes time, and that if was going to publish something, it had to be perfect.

Of course, every one of us is time-bound, and every one of us has the potential to improve, no matter how “perfect” we think we’ve made something.

It’s interesting to me, because these issues come up in software development a lot, and one of the tools that much of the software development community has embraced are “Agile” practices for software development.

I really enjoy many of aspects of Agile (Scrum being the specific flavor of Agile practices that I’ve had experience with), particularly as it relates to enabling the rapid delivery of a useful product that satisfies my customers, and the ability to adapt to change and make iterative improvements on that product.

Agile Blogging

I began to think, “What if some of the things that I enjoy about Agile could be applied to my blogging routine?” How could that positively impact my experience, so as to motivate me to blog more and remove those road blocks that hindered me before?

If I had to pick two key phrases from what I like about Scrum that could apply to blogging, they’d be “rapid delivery of a useful product” and “iterative improvements”.

Rapid, because what I really want is to produce useful content quickly. (Notice I said “useful”, not “perfect”.) And that’s where “iterative improvements” comes into play. Since anything I publish will always have the potential to be improved, it makes better sense for me to prioritize publishing something that has potential to be useful, with the mindset of cycling back around to improve that publication later over time.

Getting Practical

Over the past several months, I’ve been working to set blogging goals for myself using Agile principles to help me meet those goals and improve my content over time. Here’s how I, personally, get pragmatic with Agile blogging:

Set a goal

Without a goal, I find it very easy to not blog, even though I enjoy it.

My goal right now is simple but sustainable: I shoot for producing one blog post a week.

Block off time

I set aside chunks of time throughout my week to blog. Each time block is about 30 minutes in duration. To produce a post that I’m pretty satisfied with (ie, it’s useful and contributes something meaningful to my audience), I use about 2 to 3 of those time blocks per week, but almost never all in one sitting.

Write, publish, improve

My first-priority goal with each post is to get across that main point as clearly as possible. After a quick proofread, I schedule version 1.0 to publish.

Of course there are going to be mistakes with that initial publish. I almost immediately circle back around and view the live post, noting areas of potential improvement. If I still have time in my 30-minute block, I make the improvements I can and publish them. If I don’t, I wait until my next blogging time-block, and make the improvements then.

Since no post will ever be perfect, I work to make things as useful and meaningful as possible, minimizing error as best I can, of course. Sometimes feedback from my readers helps me find places where I can improve. I value that feedback, and often bump that advice to the top of my priority list for a given post. The point is that I write, publish, then improve iteratively.

Examples and supplementary content

I write a lot about programming, and there are often times where a post could be enhanced with an example. I try my best not to pressure myself to build everything for version 1.0 of the post. If I think a full-fledged example that someone can compile and run on their own machine would enhance things and provide additional value to my content, I’ll usually add that “feature” to a post after the initial version in most cases.

Doing it this way does a couple of things for me:
1. It lets me get the main substance of the post out there sooner.
2. It provides an opportunity to inform folks on my social media outlets one more time about the post, along with the enhancement.

Summary

Blogging with Agile in mind has been a significant help for my motivation to blog and has served to keep me on track with my one post a week goal. My hope is that by sharing how Agile principles have impacted me, you, too, will be inspired and empowered to start creating great content for us to enjoy! Happy (Agile) blogging!

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