Foto by Antonio Gabola

Happy Anniversary!
Looking back on 10 years of blogging
8 min. read

10 years ago to the day, on 21st February 2014, I published my first article on this blog.

This anniversary feels special to me, because I’ve been running my blog for almost my entire career now. So looking back on how this website evolved throughout the years actually makes me realise the various ways in which things are linked to my professional journey.

Before this post turns into some sort of therapy session, however, I’d rather like to use the opportunity to reflect a bit on blogging itself: I cobbled together some statistics I did some sophisticated data-driven analysis, pondered on why the hell I’m doing all this elaborated on my motives and incentives, and advertised a few random articles to drive engagement and carefully hand-picked a few articles from the archive that I’d consider notable.


I never maintained any kind of statistics for my blog, so the occasion of this anniversary made me curious to crunch some numbers: (colours for extra fun)

64 Articles published overall
1400 Average word count per article
Articles published per year
16 h Average working time per article
7 min. Average reading time per article
300 Sheets of paper for printing all articles

Including this post, I published 64 articles over the course of 10 years, which makes for an average of 6½ articles per year. While this number is quite accurate for recent years, the actual annual post count has been less steady in the beginning. The year 2015, for example, is an outlier, because I haven’t published a single blog post there at all.

The word count per article averages around 1400 words, which is equivalent to a 7 minute reading time. That means, if you wanted to read all 64 posts in a row, it would take you a whopping 8 hours to do so.

A maybe astonishing fact is how things differ by orders of magnitude on the creation side: although I don’t do any time tracking throughout the writing process,1 my optimistic guess is that one blog post takes me at least 2 full working days to complete (assuming that one working day is worth 8 hours).

That means that the read-to-write time ratio is roughly 1:100. In other words: what would take you 8 hours to consume in total, took 130 working days to create on my end. Note that this only covers the mere writing process, so when I write about some coding project, for example, the actual work for that would come on top.

In terms of traffic, I don’t have comprehensive insights into how many people read my posts. In fact, for the better time of my blog’s existence, I didn’t have any web analytics set up at all. From those periods where I had it, I can tell that the number of page views per article seems quite erratic: some posts have been barely read at all, but I’ve also seen spikes of some 10,000 visitors in a single day, e.g. when an article happened to be featured on the Hacker News front page.

Behind the scenes

The main reason why I started this blog – and why I kept running it throughout the years – is for the fun of it. I genuinely enjoy the process of writing and of using written language as a means to process and capture my thoughts.

The process of creating articles is quite laborious, but to me it’s more than a technical necessity to transform ideas into a different form factor. I rather find that writing helps me to structure and shape my thoughts, and I personally draw most of the value from the process, not from the result. (Although I have to say that finishing up an article certainly does feel satisfying.)

In terms of topics, I had experimented with various styles in the early years, but nowadays I either use posts to document something I am working on for myself, or as a creative medium to explore ideas or problems that I find interesting.

I often start to work on an article by drafting an outline and by sketching a rough structure in bullet points. This is usually done fairly quickly. The majority of work is then to materialize thoughts into sentences, to tie the threads together one after the other, and to gradually grow a cohesive text. Especially the final cycles of proof-reading and fine-sanding can drag on forever. (Hello, Pareto-Principle.)

To me, these efforts have often turned out to be surprisingly worthwhile, as I find that the overall appearance of a finished text can serve as a good litmus test for how strong and coherent the underlying reasoning is. Sometimes, the devil is in the details, and being forced to structure and elaborate on things clearly can help to uncover gaps and inaccuracies in the chain of thought.

One aspect that slows me down at times is that I write my articles in English, which is not my primary language. When writing, I generally try to exercise the habit of using language deliberately, and to find concise expressions for what I want to communicate. This is much easier for me in German (my mother tongue), so when writing in English, I sometimes have to go on a research detour to find equivalent and idiomatic ways to phrase something. On the flip side, it’s a cool way to pick up new vocabulary here and there, and I suppose it also has contributed to improving my English over the years.

A convenient side-effect of running a blog is that it helps to establish an online presence. I always envied graphic designers and digital artists in that regard, because their work is somewhat tangible, even though it’s digital as well.

As software developers, we can wrack our brains over a few lines of code, but from the outside, it remains difficult to appreciate what may be special about it. However, when an illustrator shows off some random artwork from their collection, everyone instantly is like “wow, that looks super cool!”

It’s not that a bunch of online essays usually sparks immediate excitement with people, but at least I think that a blog can help to give visibility into a domain which is otherwise mostly abstract and virtual.

The significance of this aspect has also changed for me since I started to work as freelance software developer and consultant a few years ago. Along with my open-source projects, my blog has become part of my portfolio and contributes to building up a public, professional “identity”.

Admittedly, I doubt that any prospective client would bother to go through all of my writing before reaching out, but I know that a few of my clients at least have skimmed over my blog when checking me out initially. Actually, some of them even got to know me via my website in the first place, so I guess I could technically consider my blog to be part of my “sales strategy”. I personally don’t think of it that way, though, and considering the tremendous amount of work that went into this website overall, it certainly has a rather questionable cost↔benefit ratio, at least from a pure marketing perspective.

In addition to that, I also wouldn’t be able to motivate myself to writing regularly if it was mainly for the publicity effect. This is also one of the reasons why I refrain from advertising my blog posts systematically as a means to generate traffic. I do share my articles actively from time to time, and I appreciate to receive feedback, and am curious what other people think. But I also value the freedom to publish whatever I want, and not having to care which topics to pick for maximising engagement.

Notable posts

Speaking of topics: as I went through my blog archive (in some kind of sentimental spirit), there are a few posts that stick out to me personally – that’s either because they have a special meaning or context, or they just have been particularly fun to write.

I’ve compiled a selection below, so in case you are curious to read on, feel free to check out one of the following articles.

  1. As a sample, I time-tracked the making of this anniversary post, and it came out at 22 hours. These were spread out across multiple sessions over the course of 2 weeks. ↩︎

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