Juha-Matti Santala
Community Builder. Dreamer. Adventurer.

Short history of my blogging journey

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I learned to read and write at a very young age and have been reading and writing stories ever since. But it has taken a long time to get where I am now. This summer was the first time I started to feel satisfied with my writing quality.

Pre-2018: New idea == new blog

I think I started my first blog somewhere around 2002-2003. I wrote two blog posts. One about small acts of kindness and one about castles. I had a domain, and the site and its blog was a handcrafted PHP site.

Ever since – for a good 15 years or so – almost every time I had a new idea for a post, I had forgotten and abandoned the previous blog. So I created a new blog as I was searching for my niche. (But like Nat Eliason and Rach Smith write, that wasn’t really necessary and I kinda wish I had stuck to a single blog even when my topics changed around.)

I had one blog about programming in R (lost to the history of web) where I wrote for probably a year or two. I had another blog about data called Passion for Data that lasted for a good 3 years. In 2010, I had one Finnish blog called Näkemättä paska (loosely translated as Didn’t watch, it’s shit) which was a sarcastic movie blog where I wrote bad (funny) reviews for movies based on their hype and trailers and online discussion without watching it. It had similar style than what Cinemasins and Pitch Meeting have done in Youtube, being snarky about movies. I think I wrote 3 reviews to that blog.

I had one blog about minimalism with 7 posts that I brought over to this blog. I had a blog in Medium and DEV for a while as well. I’ve migrated some of those posts to this one as well.

When I was living in San Francisco in 2014, I had a diary-style blog in Finnish to let my family and friends know what was going on. That one was very good one and I wrote over 60 posts there during the year.

2018 - 2020: Post every now and then

In 2018, I started in a new job and met Fotis who had the most coolest blog ever. It was built with a new (at the time) static site generator Eleventy and he inspired me to start my own blog.

I wrote every now and then, still struggling with the niche idea from before but at least I now started keeping all the blog posts in the same blog. In 2018 I wrote 17 posts followed by 13 in 2019 and 39 in 2020.

In 2020 I tried to maintain a weekly schedule but then the pandemic started and I had a few off weeks that expanded to multi-week droughts. In October 2020 I decided to take this weekly posting seriously and set out a goal to publish something every week for a full year.

I succeeded in that and it was such a confidence booster: I had learned how to write consistently without having to wait for an inspiration.

2021-2023: Weekly blog

In 2021 I missed one single week. I published a blog post on 51 Wednesdays that year with a couple of extras sprinkled here and there. The big win in 2021 was that even though I missed that one week, I got back on writing right away and didn’t miss another week in a row. I finished the year with 55 posts.

In 2022, I wrote a bit less. I was going through a burnout in the beginning of the year and then moved to Berlin in the summer to start a new job but otherwise I maintained a publishing pace I was satisfied with. 2022 ended with 47 blog posts.

The big and important moment in 2023 when I learned about Blaugust in late July after having maintained quite a nice near weekly pace until then. During Blaugust I wrote and published 31 blog posts in 31 days and if 2020-2021 weekly pace gave me a confidence boost for regular posting, this month taught me that I can sit down and start writing whenever I want to.

In 2023 I wrote 89 blog posts. That was a lot. And I also wrote a few guest posts and newsletters on top of that.

2024: 2 or 3 a week

In 2024, I’ve been writing and publishing consistently 2 or 3 times a week.

My writing has improved to a level where I am for the first time actually satisfied with the quality of my writing. My (very light) processes have also improved and I now aim to maintain at least a month’s worth of buffer so I can weather tough times like being sick or starting a new job where my mental energy is limited.

My goal for 2024 is to publish 100 blog posts and I’m 100% sure I’ll get there. It’s now week 25 so almost midway of the year and I have published 70 pieces already (including guest posts and newsletters that I count towards my goal).

And Blaugust is a month away and my goal is to hit 31 there as well (I’ll be writing about technical posts about Python’s standard library!)

A blog post distribution graph showing years 2020 to 2024 with most of the time having consistent markings on Wednesdays with scattered individual posts all around. And a 31-day streak in August 2023.

I love this visual representation of my journey to Wednesday consistency. Each column is a week, each row is a day. You can spot the Wednesdays and Blaugust.

It’s been a long and slow journey

If my journey doesn’t already state it, I’ll say it once more: I love writing. It’s taken me a long time to get where I am now where writing is almost effortless and such an enjoyment. I have dozens and dozens of ideas and drafts that I continually add references, notes and ideas to which makes the final writing process often smooth sailing.

The reason why I care about the quantity is because consistency builds momentum and momentum makes it easier to write. The quality of my posts have also grown as my quantity has increased so the goal is not to post something at any cost but rather to improve my regular writing to the level where I can write quality posts weekly.

Other writing

Robert got inspired by this post and shared his exciting journey over the past 2 decades. Lou Plummer joined the band as well.