Reflecting on Fifteen Years of Blogging (Plus a Survey)

I always mean to be clever and commemorate years of blogging on roughly the anniversary of me beginning blogging, but I never remember when it is, and then every year think, “Okay, Ill do it next year instead”. But fifteen years is a long time, so rather than wait a year I’ll just be a few months late.

I started blogging because I decided to do the polyphasic sleep schedule. I had tried twice before and failed, and all of that time was such a blur that I resolved on my third attempt to record it as it happened. I was successful, and the topic was rather trendy at the time, so about 100 people started following my blog.

After a while I gave up on polyphasic, but felt that I had an obligation to my readers. Luckily I had spent the first half of my twenties doing insane things like putting a swimming pool in my living room, climbing radio towers, breaking in to the tunnels under UT Austin, a exploring a cave, etc., so I had plenty of crazy stories.

The swimming pool post made it to the front of Digg, which was like reddit back then, and it remained one of the top ten stories on the site for a year or so. After that I had about a thousand people reading. I hate breaking streaks, and I never wanted to let readers down, so I just kept writing. I went through phases where I posted every day, two years where I wrote every single day (but posted once a week), and some phases where I didn’t quite write every week. But I don’t think in that time there’s ever been a gap of more than two weeks, and for many years I haven’t missed a single week.

As my topics switched from polyphasic sleep to crazy stories to pickup to self improvement I gained and lost a lot of readers. People would get really upset sometimes that they had grown attached to this blog about crazy stories and now I was telling them how to eat healthy food. Some people stuck around the whole time, which sort of blows my mind. Some of you have really watched me grow up over fifteen years.

Even as readers have come and gone, I’ve always felt like I had a big group of people distributed around the world who cared about me. It’s a weird feeling, almost like having an imaginary friend. I know that any project I start will immediately have some level of success because I’ve built up trust over these fifteen years and readers will at least take a look at whatever I create.

I didn’t meet readers for many years, mostly because I was worried that I wouldn’t like my readers. I knew that if I didn’t like and respect the people for whom I was writing, I would lose all motivation to write.

I had a few meetups in the early days, have run into a couple dozen people randomly over the years, and have met dozens of people through the live events I was hosting before COVID happened. My fears turned out to be completely unfounded and the people who read my blog turned out to be extremely high quality people. Every event I have leaves me totally humbled by the quality of person that cares what I have to say. That knowledge has kept me writing all these years, because I really do think it’s a privilege and honor to have smart and kind people read my work.

The other big reason I keep writing is because it forces me to crystallize and challenge my thoughts and ideas. There have been a couple times that I’ve written something a little too hastily and tons of people have let me know that I was off the mark. Knowing that keeps me diligent.

I also like scrolling back a few years, because if I read a post I wrote back then I can immediately remember what my life was like then and what I was thinking about. It’s like a mental time machine.

I’m not sure what the future of the blog will be. On one hand I can’t imagine that I’ll ever stop writing. It’s always been a positive thing for me, and I also feel a debt of gratitude to my readers. You’re the ones who bought my books and got the ball rolling on Amazon, and you’re the ones who signed up for coaching and live events. I still benefit from those things today, so I feel like I should keep writing.

On the other hand, I no longer feel like I’m bursting at the seams with things to write. When I wrote 730 posts in two years I felt like I really got burnt out on coming up with post ideas. These days I feel like I sometimes rehash the same concepts over and over again, but then people write me and tell me they had an impact, so I think maybe that’s ok. I’ve thought about taking a year off just to see what it feels like and to see if I recharge. I can’t decide whether not having as many new ideas is a sign that I’ve settled on a winning formula or that I’ve stopped growing. Maybe it’s the same thing.

I used to ask people to fill out a survey every year, but I stopped doing it ten years ago. I took the results very seriously and made big changes to the blog (even changing the name once), and it helped me understand my readers better.

I’d like to ask you to help me out by filling out a survey. Most of the questions are optional, but please help me by filling out as many as you can. I rarely fill out surveys because I don’t care about being a tiny voice in a crowd, but I promise you my survey isn’t like that. I read each one at least once and really try to take the answers to heart to understand you better.

Please answer the survey here!

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Photo is the chair lift at Lee Canyon. Did you know you can ski in Vegas?

I accidentally upgraded to PHP 8.0 on my server and it messed up Sett and a bunch of it’s dependencies. If you haven’t been getting notifications, that’s why (and if you didn’t get one on this post but were expecting to, please let me know)

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