Today, I'm presented with the unique challenge of deciding what to write about, since I'm feeling kind of down. Do I try to ignore it and write a "normal" blog post, or do I spill my guts? None of these options are great.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the influencers in the iOS developer community and how they manage to balance this. Obviously, I don't know how they do it, I can only guess what could perhaps be going on behind the scenes. They are being active on social media and in their own podcasts so often - does that mean that they are always positive? Or are they just better at appearing to be positive?
How much honesty?
Which leads me to another thought I've been pondering - is it better to be open and honest about yourself and sharing both the good with the bad, or is it better to bend the reality to appear more confident/happy/successful than you actually are? I don't know. I really don't.
Maybe there is a middle ground to be found. Nobody wants to listen to whining, but most people also don't like fakery either.
I definitely think that erring on the side of openness is the better option. But you also need to be tactful about it. And present it in a way that is interesting and not overly negative. Then there's the entire side of things if people actually care and can relate to you or not.
Perhaps the best option for me going forward would be to embrace the quirkiness? Be willing to really put myself out there. Blogging daily is a nice start, but that's just it. A start. I'm more curious about what's next.
I've dreamt about building an audience around what I'm doing for a long time, but I've never been able to do it. Even start with it. The closest I probably got to actually "starting" was when I blogged twice a week back in Spring 2015. Back when I was starting to build Timelines.
What it actually takes
I'm not interested in finding excuses for myself, and I fully own the fact I haven't been able to do it. It's on me. Let's explore some absolutely crucial things that I think it takes to actually pull it off:
- audience - the kind of people you hope to reach. It's necessary to think about this. Funnily enough, I came up with this point only now, even though it's a crucial piece of the puzzle.
- personality - how you decide to present yourself. Ideally, it should be an honest portrayal, but from an angle that is approachable by your intended audience
- content - you have to be willing to put out a lot of content. There's no way around it. Ideally in a medium that is a good fit for you. Podcasts are a great middle ground between 'just' writing and video.
- consistency - what you put out there needs to be consistent with your personality, and with other pieces of content. Having a fragmented message makes it hard for people to relate to you, which will ultimately make them lose interest.
- distribution - taking the effort to regularly track down outlets where you could make your content spread. Is it posting to Reddit? Participating in Slack channels? Answering on Quora? Or all of the above?
- perseverance - I suppose it takes years to get anywhere. This one is absolutely crucial. Being easily discouraged gets you nowhere, especially when it comes to building an audience.
- caring - actually interacting with people from your audience. Caring about them. About their aspirations, their fears. Why should they care about you if you don't care about them?
Somewhere halfway through this post, I decided it's going to be about why I've never managed to do it. To build an audience. Let's go through the list above again, actually pointing out my main challenges.
Why I haven't been able to do it
I've struggled with defining who my target audience should be. Should they be iOS developers? Or, more broadly, people who are trying to stand out with something they are building by themselves? People who dare to question the authority and pursue something they believe in, despite all odds? Perhaps.
It's very hard to judge one's personality, but if I should make an elevated effort about judging mine, I'd say I probably tend to be too serious about everything. And I can unintentionally come off as showing off. Sometimes that, and other times I am overly self-critical. I've also struggled a lot with being either too superficial or too personal. There's a value in being open, but there's a delicate balance to be struck.
Putting out content - well, about that.. I did write several tutorials over the years. And opinion pieces. But it was nowhere near the volume I'd need to actually be building up a momentum. I mostly focused on developing apps, but I know that much more dedication to producing content is needed. Also, my content was fragmented, it wasn't focused on a target audience because I didn't even have one.
Since the content was so fragmented, it wasn't really consistent. And some of the random tweets - that's cool and all, but a few tweets a month doesn't really move the needle that much. Especially when they aren't relating to one another.
Speaking of distribution - I think I should look more into Medium. And in the outlets that I mentioned above. So far what I've been doing was writing articles and posting about them on Facebook and Twitter. But, to my credit, I did manage a distribution «win» last Fall - when I wrote an article about Search Ads and then pitched it to several newsletters - it was mentioned in the biggest newsletter in the iOS community - iOS Dev Weekly, and talked about on one of the biggest podcasts - Under the Radar.
Perseverance - that's a tough one. I used to think of myself as being good at perseverance because I managed to stick with programming for so long. In this field, I might be good at persevering, but that's probably the case because I like it so much. Recently I realized that in a lot of other fields/interests, I'm not nearly that persistent. And blogging is definitely one of them. Hence this daily blogging challenge.
Caring - don't get me wrong, I do care about the people in the intended audience, and from the iOS developer community in general. But it takes a lot of time to build these one one one relationships. And in my pursuit of productivity, I'm aware that I've been neglecting it a lot.
Now, don't get me wrong. I hope I didn't come off as too self-critical. Saying all this shouldn't mean I'm too negative and/or pessimistic. I'm just trying to explain things exactly as they are. I believe that understanding why it wasn't working up till now is the only way for me to move forward. I'm not even sure if I want to invest so much time and effort into attempting to build an audience. But in one way or another, I'm pretty confident that I'd very much like that.
Hopefully, this 'analysis' will be helpful to some of you as well.
This blog post started out as just a rambling about some questions I had on my mind lately, and eventually turned into this weird self-analyzing of my audience-building aspirations. Hopefully at least some of you liked it. This daily blogging challenge has been taking a toll on me, it's much more difficult and time-consuming than I anticipated. But I might be getting somewhere. Even today - before I started writing this post, I felt quite down. Now I feel much better. Thanks for bearing with me, and until tomorrow - cheers!
This is Day 9 of the 14-day blogging challenge.