Personal Blog

A blog is a great place to post interesting, insightful and fun things. Or even boring things. It doesn’t really matter as long as you like doing it. I really enjoy reading my friends’ blogs. It has a different feel to it as opposed to reading a generalized feed on a social network. Typically, I tend to sift through the updates in my feed. I don’t really pay much attention to the items in my feed. That is not really a great experience. This wouldn’t be the case if everyone had their own personal blog.

The biggest thing that social networks fail to capture is the essence of a person. Even if, say, Facebook, allowed its users to customize their profiles completely, it’d still fail to display a person’s uniqueness, since, they all reside on the same domain.

Customizability

Several factors such as a domain name, page layout, typography, design etc contribute to portraying the uniqueness of an individual. It’d be amazing if there was a social network that allowed its users to customize their domain names, page layout and design. That would enable the users to show off their unique tastes and creativity. It’d be way more interesting to checkout the “profiles” of your friends then.

Currently, WordPress does something like that. As part of their paid subscription, WordPress allows its users to customize their domain name, blog themes etc. But, the problem with WordPress is that it doesn’t really do a good job of providing a decent personalized blog feed. The “My Likes” tab for a logged-in user just doesn’t cut it.

Medium has solved the personalized blog feed problem. But, it doesn’t completely allow its users to customize their blogs. It lets you pick from few blog post layouts, but, that’s not enough. In an ideal world, every blogging platform would support feeds from every other blogging platform. This removes the dependency on a particular blogging platform. Currently, no active social network or a blogging platform does that.

I think the following are absolutely necessary for complete user satisfaction:

  1. Blog customizability
  2. Subscribe and read subscribed feed from other platforms
  3. Discover blogs based on a user’s interests

This calls for an Open Standard and would be the ideal direction to head in, if the blogging platforms or the social networks really care about their users. All of this is in an ideal world. For now, in the real world, I strongly suggest every one to start their own personal blog if they don’t already have one, on whichever platform they want.

One might immediately come up with the following questions:

Who will read my blog?

When I first started blogging, I did it for myself. I didn’t expect anyone to actually care about what I write. I just wanted to write about things I thought were interesting or funny and went ahead and wrote about them. I’ve been blogging since the past 9 years now and I get a decent amount of traffic on a monthly
basis. Here’s a screenshot from my Google Analytics dashboard.

This includes my family, friends, people who use and appreciate (or not) my projects etc. So, don’t worry about who will read your blog. Just start writing and people with similar tastes will find, follow and read your blog.

What do I blog about?

Your blog could be anything. It really depends on you. Personally, I like writing about random things. I have a few posts queued up in my drafts directory, which are highly technical and computer science-y. I write about the projects that I’ve worked on, tools I use, things that I find interesting, ideas and opinions. You could even use your blog as a portfolio to showcase and promote your work.

Where do I start?

There are lots of good blogging applications such as WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Medium etc. Each have their own pros and cons. I’ll leave it up to you to pick the one that fits your needs. I use Jekyll for my blog and host it on GitHub Pages. I think the simplest one to get started with, is Tumblr. It’s easy to configure and easy to pick a theme from the huge library of themes available.
It also allows you to customize your domain name for free.

Conclusion

If you think I’ve successfully managed to convince you to start a blog, then let me know via Twitter @thallavajhula. I’d love to read about what you’ve written.

Domain name purchase obsession

I love buying interesting domain names. I do that with the hope that one day, I end up using the domain name for one of my side projects or at least work on a side project after purchasing the domain name. Sometimes, I just think of an idea and come up with a good name for it and immediately buy a domain name for it (I blame domainr.com for making it so simple to lookup domain names). Due to various reasons, I don’t get to most of those projects. I end up hoarding the domain names. On one hand, I don’t let go of them and on the other, I feel guilty paying for the domain names and not even using them.

Realization

I realized that I was spending way too much money on domain name renewals on a yearly basis. It was a lot. I knew that I owned a lot of domain names, but, I didn’t really keep track of them. So, one fine day, 3 years ago, I opened up my domain registrar accounts and checked how many domains I owned. Across 3 different domain registrars, I owned a total of 62 domain names! Some were interesting, funny, creative, while some were stupid and some were just silly. Since, I owned a lot of domain names, I was marked as a VIP member by one of the domain registrars. I’d receive special discounts and offers that non-VIP members wouldn’t.

The Fix

The fix was simple really (unlike the realization). I could either sell all my domain names, which is a tedious process and requires a lot of patience or I could let them expire. The latter seemed more appealing to me and so, I let my domain names expire, one by one. Most of them are now registered to other owners. Also, I decided to only buy a domain name after I finish implementing the idea. I did that with my Money app and it worked really well for me. I still do hit domainr.com up, every now and then, but, I don’t buy domain names if I haven’t already worked on the idea. As a result of this approach, after 3 years, I, now, own only 8 domain names and I use them all.