My wife and I just started a crafting and DIY blog, Looks Good to Us last week. We have new posts every Wednesday and you can subscribe to get weekly updates. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
DIY, Sewing, and Knitting, Oh My!
While this blog revolves around technology and personal topics, LGTU is focused on my and Cassie's shared hobby of crafts: I like home automation, DIY, and "Maker" activities, she likes knitting and sewing. She frankly does much more than I do, since I have like 5 hobbies and she mostly has just the two (good for her!). You can read about it in our Welcome post.
There are two things I focused on with how I launched this new blog. I optimized for time and avoided yak shaving.
Optimize for Time
First, I optimized for frictionless writing. I needed something fast and collaborative because my wife is not a developer and I wanted to remove any excuse not to write. So I used Ghost and self-hosted it on a Digital Ocean 1-click droplet (if you use it, help me out and use my referral link). Digital Ocean is awesome and the process only took an evening and we were up and running. More on that later!
Ghost is amazing 🤩 It uses the same editor Medium does which my wife and I used when we wrote posts during our travels. I also love the seamless workflow for drafting, scheduling, and editing. It allows my wife and I to schedule out posts ahead of time, essentially self-imposing a deadline each week, as shown below:
Congratulations, you get a sneak peek! The workflow is great and really removes all the barriers to writing that my lizard brain requires.
No Yak Shaving Allowed
The second thing I did differently, I didn't shave any yaks:
"Yak shaving is what you are doing when you're doing some stupid, fiddly little task that bears no obvious relationship to what you're supposed to be working on, but yet a chain of twelve causal relations links what you're doing to the original meta-task." - Scott Hanselman
We developers are great at yak shaving. I could have spent a month making a logo (I spent 30 mins), customizing the theme (I made one edit), and designing a CI/CD DevOps-y Git-integrated workflow (I just use Ghost). By the time the blog would have launched, it would be perfect and also I would have wasted months (or years, if you shave a lot of yaks).
It reminds me of a quote I recently heard on a podcast:
"If you aren't embarassed by your first version, you're launching too late."
So I didn't sweat it. I talked to my wife and we came up with a rotating weekly cadence. We already have 4-5 weeks of content. At this rate, we could even think about switching to twice a week but frankly I want to just give us some breathing room in-between posts. The fact that each of us gets 2 weeks is perfect right now.
The number one recommendation I keep hearing over and over from successful content creators is that consistency is crucial to building an audience. Fostering a community is also incredibly important. I made sure that we can do both for LGTU by enabling comments and hooking up the blog subscription to Mailchimp (my referral link again!), which is what I use for my own newsletter.
I need to do better for this blog and it's on my list for this next year. I wish I could do it in an evening but due to the way all my source is in Markdown, I'll need to convert my posts for Ghost (they have a JSON import, though). It'll be added to my goals, don't worry. 😉