It took a few years of blogging before I was able to find my preferred topics and style. Just as important as what I like to write about is topics that over time I now try to avoid like the plague. In the occasional cases where I write something anyway, it’s because I’m feeling lazy and uncreative, and just do something that’s easy. I try not to, though.
Here are a couple of the topics I try to avoid:
Sharing links throughout the day
My blog isn’t meant to be my Twitter feed :) Most of the time, the same thing will be read by many other people, so unless I have something original to add, it’s not that important.
Trashing early startups
Startups are hard, and it doesn’t help to make it harder by being negative about how others are doing. It’s easy to make a 90% correct prediction with new products/startups: It’ll fail. It takes a lot more talent, and it’s more constructive, to talk about how to make something a success.
“10 ways that…” and other clickbait
It gets you traffic, but at the cost of your authenticity and your soul. I try not to write titles like this unless I’m feeling particularly uncreative.
Gossip about the startup community
I hear a lot of it, and it’s fun, but seriously, who cares?
Comments on anything newsy
Ideally I would be able to look at blog posts that are years old and still feel they are still relevant. Newsy posts about current events, recent M&A, or product launches, all fail this bar.
On the plus side, I have some posts about freemium, cost per acquisition, “Minimum Desirable Product,” and viral growth that are still super popular and where I’m still getting questions 3 or 4 years after I wrote them. That’s really satisfying, and is the kind of post I strive to write.
Gushing about individual companies
I try not to write about specific companies. Maybe this makes some of my posts sort of professorial :) It’s more fun for me to write about frameworks, new trends, etc. Basically anything than specific companies or products, unless it’s really notable.
Conclusion: Passion > Pageviews
The hardest thing about blogging over time, I’ve found, is that to sustain it for years and to write multiple times per week means that you should write about what you like, not what gets clicks. It’s nice if you write a piece that gets attention, but it’s hard to do that day in and day out. Then it feels like a job, like you’re doing real work.
So basically my tip is- set a quality bar for yourself on what you want to write, stay tight to your values, and make a plan to write for a long time. Ultimately having my blog has become one of the most fulfilling things I created. I would hugely recommend the experience to everyone else, but you have to be realistic about how long it takes to build an audience for one.
I write a high-quality, weekly newsletter covering what's happening in Silicon Valley, focused on startups, marketing, and mobile.