New blogging goal: Be more open


This blog as been up for nearly two years now, and I’ve gone through several stages of blogging.

The first stage: writing.

Writing alone is one thing. Unveiling your writing for the whole world to see is a whole different story. When I first started, it would take me weeks to publish a single post. I would think of an idea, start writing, think a little, write more, wait a day, think about it, and revise. Sometimes, after a few revisions, I’d scrap the post because I didn’t like it.

After many revisions, I would find myself sitting there staring at the publish button. At the moment, I would get a huge rush. And then I’d get nervous. The voices would start going in my head. What if I’m writing something stupid? What if people don’t like it?

This first stage was all about hitting the publish button. That was all. It was to get stuff out there in the world. Every few weeks (or few months), I did.

The first stage lasted a little under 18 months. During that time, wrote 14 blog posts, and my email subscriber list was around 60-70 people. Nothing big, but it was a start.

The second stage: writing more.

About four months ago, I began a 100-day blogging challenge. I had realized that I enjoyed writing, and wanted to write more. The challenge was the extra kick in the ass that I needed to write more.

When it comes to doing things, I’m typically an all-or-nothing guy. So I thought to myself: why not just commit to blogging every day?

I’m glad I did.

I won’t say that I wrote the best blog posts. The biggest lesson I learned is that if I sacrifice the desire to write the perfect blog post, I can publish more often. Looking back, some of the posts definitely aren’t very good. And some of them are clearly throw-away blog posts.

But you know what? I actually did blog every day. I hit the publish key.. over and over.. 100 times in 100 days in a row. That is something I’m pretty proud of.

These 100 posts brought me to a total of 114 blog posts, and an email subscriber list of ~1000. Even though I don’t do much to promote the subscriber list, it is really cool to see it grow. The 100 posts had a significant effect on the list!

This brings is to the third stage: being more open.

Lately, I have been reflecting on blogging, and what I want out of it.

Overall, I realized two things:

  1. Blogging is awesome. Seriously. It forces me to think about life and about work. It has helped me build connections, on the web and in the real world. I’ve been learning that if you put yourself on there in the world, good stuff tends to come back around your way.
  2. I’ve been fairly superficial. Most of my posts are about life in general. Or on startup trends in general. Generalities are fine, but the good stuff in life always lies beyond all the surface-level stuff.

I know I can do better with sharing more. I want to share more about my thought process, on life, and on my entrepreneurial journey.

This is the stuff that matters to me, and I’m fairly sure this is the stuff will be more useful and interesting to read. It just isn’t stuff I’m used to publishing for the world… until now 🙂

Blogging styles: more questions or more answers?

I’ve been thinking a bit today about blogging styles, and what my style might be.

One way to differentiate between bloggers is on whether they seem to ask more questions, or answer more questions; that is, whether they are askers or answerers.

When I look out at many of the big bloggers out there, many of them seem to answerers. They will tell you how to get rich, Or how to get in shape. Or how to get girls to date you. Or, how to run a startup.

Being an answerer means that you provide thereader with actionable advice. People are searching the web looking for solutions to their problems. If an answerer can provide a solution, they can gain quite a large following.

Being an answerer allows you to become an expert on something. Professionally, it is always good to be known as an expert; it is good personal branding.

The most followed answerers seem to write in a confident, self-assured tone. They know the answers, and will tell you that you should read on. Not only should you read on, you should make sure to go back. They will have even better answers for you next week. Is this disingenuous? I don’t know, but it seems to work extremely well.

If a blogger is looking to game huge following, it seems advantageous to pick an area and become an answerer.

Being an answerer sounds great. The problem is that it isn’t me.

I’m fairly sure I am an asker.

I view the world as a big gray area. Why do I want to give you advice? These posts can be fun to write, but am I right? Is any advice online right? Most likely, sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t.

I’d rather ask some questions that seem interesting without claiming to have the answer. I’d rather discuss the shape of a problem without claiming to completely understand it. I’d rather provide a food for thought, instead of a solution for your problem. I want to think with you, but them let each of us go our own ways and come to our own conclusions.

What does this mean? I’m not totally sure: I just know that I prefer to be an asker, and over time, I’ll probably have less solutions and more questions.

What is your take on this styles? Do you have any favorite bloggers that are askers?


P.S. This is post number #77 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Or, check out my current project Soulmix.

Living online documents


I haven’t been treating this blog as an “actual” blog.

As a reader, I view blogs as a place for regularly published posts which are read and then immediately forgotten. As a writer, I view blogs as a place to publish a piece of writing and then move on to the next piece.

I can’t think of my blog this way.

Instead, I think of each post as an unfinished piece of work that acts a stake in the ground for an idea that may be worth thinking about. In the future, I may come back to fix up typos, grammatical errors, add/remove sentences, or even add/remove entire ideas.

This means that each post is a living online document. I wish that there was some way for the public to view it as such. Instead, people just see the new posts within their email or RSS readers. To my subscribers, I’m sorry about this. It is unfortunate because all of the ideas are half-baked and may contain some horrible typos/errors. I hope you still find the ideas interesting, and perhaps find your way back to some of the posts in the future (after the 100-day challenge when I can revisit posts).

This points to an interesting thought about online publishing. Most content online does not change. News articles don’t change. Most people don’t change their blog posts. Facebook and Twitter posts don’t change. And at the same time, content is growing at and exponential rate. The Internet is becoming a firehose of half-baked articles that could be better, but never will be.

The current Internet rewards quantity. Yet, over time, it is the evergreen quality posts that really matter. One could expect writers to publish fully formed evergreen content, but this is very difficult. What makes sense is to revisit ideas, iterate on them, and then iterate on the writing.

Is there some way to support and encourage living online documents? If someone could figure how to make living documents engaging, IMHO, the Internet would become a much better place.


P.S. This is post number #70 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Or, check out my current project Soulmix.

My blogging habit


This will be post #35 of the 100 day blogging challenge, and here I am, still at it.

Over time, I’ve refined my blogging algorithm and have seemed to settle in on a good one. Here is what works for me:

  1. Stop working about an hour before I intend to sleep. Since I sleep late this tends to be anywhere between 12 midnight, and 3am. Today, it is was 2:30am.
  2. I give myself about 15 minutes to come up with an idea. Usually I choose something that was on my mind during the day. I have old drafts in WordPress, but rarely use them. I just don’t happen to be inspired to complete them. If 15 minutes is up, I choose the best topic I’ve come up with.
  3. Start writing, and publish it before I go to bed.

This has been surprisingly effective, and I think it may be sustainable.

They keys here are really the two forcing functions. I must pick a topic in 15 minutes, and I must hit the publish button before I go to bed. I can take as long as I want to write, but at some point, I am sleepy and it is time to publish.

The result is that every morning, I wake up and think two things:

  1. “Oh man, I could have made last night’s post so much better”, and then
  2. “I can’t believe that I’m still blogging!”.

The first thought kind of sucks, but hey, no one said blog posts have to be perfect. On the plus side, it leaves room for future blog posts.

The second thought is awesome, and it makes me feel better about the first one.

Now it’s 3:03am and it’s time to sleep. I don’t even need to wait until tomorrow morning. This one could have been way better.

Still, for you aspiring bloggers, I hope you picked up something useful (pro tip: its the two forcing functions!).

P.S. This is post number #35 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Check out my current project Soulmix.

I’m writing 100 posts in 100 days

Power of Words

Yesterday I came across a blog post by David Spinks on writing 100 posts in 100 days.

My first thought was, “Wow, that is a great idea. I wish I could do that.

Then I remembered the most important lesson I ever learned: just do it.

So now I’m doing it 🙂

Why 100 in 100?

I’ve always enjoyed writing.

One reason for this is that I grew up with a speech impediment. I used to stutter a lot as a child, and still do when I get nervous. Although I can’t always communicate clearly through speech, I can write as whatever I want.

Another reason is that writing just feels good. There is something cathartic about sitting down with your thoughts, distilling them, and putting them down to paper (or virtual paper). It is an exercise in self expression, and must be why artists love their craft.

That said, I not a good writer. And I am definitely a slow writer.

There is a reason that I rarely blog. It usually takes me a few days (sometimes up to a week) to get any post to the point where it feels publishable. And even then, I’ll make a pass after publishing and find all kinds of typos and mistakes that should be fixed.

I want to get better at writing, and this an awesome way to do it.

Embracing the suckitude.

I promise one post a day. That is it.

Some posts will be really short. Some will be wrong. Some will be pointless. And some will just plain suck.

But it is all good.

If there is one thing I fully believe in, it is the power of ritual and habit. I’ve already seen it in various areas within my life.

  • Try running everyday, and see how fast you get.
  • Try lifting everyday and see how strong you get.
  • Try coding everyday, and see how good you get.
  • Try partying everyday and see how much your alcohol tolerance increases 😉

I’ve never tried blogging everyday, but am sure it will be worth it.

Let’s see where this goes!

Here we are: post 1 of 100, complete.

See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye

Check out my current project Soulmix, your daily mix of food for the soul. Request an invite for free early access!