Planning out a Blog

As I mentioned last week, I am participating in National Personal Project Month (NaPerProMo) along with Plan B Nation and others.

My plan is to write every day, but publish on a once or twice a week schedule. This will help me build up a backlog of posts, so I have something to post even if I don’t have time to write. I also post about once per week on my work blog at Atalasoft, and I’ll probably use those posts as jumping off points.

To help me get started, I spent the last two weeks planning out what I want this blog to be about. In the past, I have had a hard time coming up with anything to write about. I had focused on programming (specifically iPhone programming), but I do most of my writing about that in StackOverflow answers, and my posts were just elaborations on common questions.

I came up with this plan:

  1. Pick five categories that I can write about.
  2. Brainstorm 10-20 topics in each category. If I can’t think of that many, throw out or alter the category.
  3. For categories that don’t pan out, try to find a spin on the topics I generated for it, so that they fit in one of the better categories.
  4. Pick a week’s worth of topics and put them in a queue.
  5. Each day write the next one, and put another in the bottom of the queue.

The topics that I ended up with are:

  • Software Business: This is obvious, since this is what I spend the bulk of every day thinking about
  • Programming: I have been programming for a long time, I have some personal projects that I want to open-source, and it also naturally fits into what I know and think about. I intend to get away from the more technical posts that I typically write, and focus on high-level ideas and follow my projects’ progress.
  • Programmer’s Job Market: Ever since I became a member of my local Regional Employment Board, I’ve been thinking more about the labor market and how it’s changing for programmers.
  • Reviews (books, apps, etc): I read a lot about marketing, business, and other non-fiction topics. I don’t read nearly enough for book reviews to be a category, so I expanded it to apps and other things that I use.
  • Riffs: Tweets, Hacker News, other blogs, my own past blogs — these are all fertile ground for topic ideas. It gives me an opportunity to link to others, and make this blog part of a larger conversation.

Some categories didn’t work out. For example, I am a CrossFitter, and recently joined my gym’s Paleo club. I feel like I have interesting things to say about that, but they are neither my expertise, nor are they similar to other topics I will blog about. I will still be able to fit it in somewhat, because one of my programming projects is related to this.

I recently switched over to Trello for managing personal information, here’s what my plan looks like in it:

The first column is the queue of upcoming posts, and the next five are the five categories I identified with a list of topics. I color-coded each category, so that the queue would show that I was mixing between the categories. The final column is a list of finished posts.

I am obscuring the topics because I don’t want to commit to these just yet, and since I generated more than 50 ideas, I know that some of them will never be done. I saved a full snapshot to possibly discuss later.

I also decided to turn on comments as an experiment. I’ve been using Disqus elsewhere on this site, and the latest RapidWeaver supports it for blogs, so I turned it on for now.