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50 Blog Posts in 2020

I set myself a goal to write 50 blog posts in 2020.

Why a goal? Honestly, it’s because at work we’re supposed to set and submit what are essentially personal goals for improvement. My whole life, I’ve rarely set personal goals. But because I had to for work, I figured rather than just BS something I may as well try this “goal setting” fad and see if I can’t actually become a believer. I know it sounds dumb, but just writing this blog post makes me think “oh hey, goals make you accountable, maybe this will be a good thing...”

Why 50? Well, because I wrote 45 in 2019 and I’d like to improve in quantity year over year. “Why don’t you do 46 then Jim?” A valid question. While I could’ve gone for MVI (minimum viable improvement) I figured I’d go in another direction of arbitrariness: 50 is a nice round number. Plus, 50 is really close to the number of weeks in a year (52) so I figured that’s one post per week on average plus two weeks off for vacation—gotta have a vacation from your goals amirite?

Yeah, yeah, I know, “but it’s about quality over quantity Jim.” I get that. This goal is more about developing a habit and mindset of writing. Quality is not the end goal. The end goal is practice.

Ok, now confession time: this post is a bit of a cheat. I mean, here I am saying “ok I’ve got to write 50 posts before the end of the year” and what am I writing about? I’m writing about how I have to write 50 blog posts. And guess what? Now I’m down to 49! If this had been homework, high school me probably would’ve tried to split this out into two blog posts just to cut that number down to 48. But I’ve evolved.

If anyone ever asks me: how do you write n number of blog posts in a year? My response will be: write your first post about how _you want to write n posts in a year and write your last post about how you wrote n posts in a year.

Staying Accountable

Tyler Gaw recently wrote about how he’s realigning his personal site in 2020 and I liked how he stubbed out some blog posts he plans to write around his realignment.

Screenshot of Tyler Gaw’s website where he stubbed out disabled links for future blog posts he plans to write about his redesign.

I like this idea of staying accountable for the things I say I want to write about. While writing this blog post helps me be accountable today, I felt like I needed a more longevous and persistent tool for accountability. A status reminder of my goal along the way.

So I dove into Sketch and started designing some little widget I could stick on the homepage of my blog that tracks my progress. Something like “hey, we’re 15 weeks into the year and Jim has written 15 blog posts, so he’s on track to reach his goal of 50!”

I started out thinking of designing some custom graphic or graph to visually communicate my status, but then I thought “nah.” I wanted to keep this simple. I don’t want to spend precious time designing some little widget about writing more blog posts when I could be, you know, writing more blog posts. So I decided to just use emojis for my nice visual elements (like everyone else these days it seems).

Even then, I started out by over-designing the thing. My first variations were trying too hard to grab attention.

Screenshot of the different design variations I went through—complex to simple.

I started to realize that all I needed was a little element that communicated two core pieces of information:

  1. “You’re on track to reach your goal” or “you’re not on track to reach your goal”. I resolved this with a little visual cue via a thumbs up or thumbs down emoji.
  2. Overall progress made. I resolved this via a little blurb about n weeks into the year with n blog posts.

I distilled the design down to a little status message that, in context today, looks like this:

Screenshot of the status message in context on my blog’s home page.

Who knows, I may even de-emphasize that more as the year goes on. But for now, I think that’s enough.

As a way to write even more blog posts towards my goal of 50, I wrote another post about how I implemented this status message with progressive enhancement in mind—I guess I haven’t totally evolved from my high school self, eh?

Oh, and I put a little callout in that status message too, so if people land on my site and see I’m falling behind they can nag me about it send me some motivational energy on twitter—cause that’s what twitter is for, right?

So here’s to 50 blog posts in 2020! And to you, dear reader, for keeping me accountable.