Launching ColinWolff.dev | Retrospective & the Future
Last week, August 13th 2021, I launched this blog with only a single piece of content and a hope for the future. Before the launch, I was working as hard and as fast as I could to build out multiple pieces of content, projects to write said content about, as well as building the projects. At some point I created so much work for myself it was a bit dizzying. I'm no stranger to feeling swamped under a pile of tasks with varying priorities, so I knew I had to be clear about what my own expectations were for what I wanted for the launch and when it was due.
One item I kept coming back to was 'How many pieces of content do I need to launch a blog?'. I had done some research about what others recommended and thought about it for a while. I had gone over several plans in my head, such as having a bunch of connected pieces of content to highlight one another, putting out content organically as it felt right to do so or relevant, or a hybrid of the two. I still hadn't completely decided on how I wanted to proceed after launch, but I decided, I just needed one piece of content that I felt was good enough to put out into the world to start. Something to break the ice and get my feet wet. Shake off the nerves and let myself acclimate a bit to what is outside my comfort zone. That's how my first article came to be. A reflective opinion piece about what it means to be an engineer into today's ever-changing world.
I was choosing to launch with only one piece of content because I had lots of other moving parts to consider as well when first launching a new website. If anything came back glaringly wrong, or broken, I wouldn't be potentially chasing down multiple content issues. The hope was that I'd be able to test everything I had set up. Such as updating some of my social profiles and links, enabling analytics wherever available, and more.
I set a few clear goals for the launch:
- One piece of content
- Launch as fast as possible and iterate from there
- Share to Instagram and LinkedIn
- Measure the response and engagement
I wanted to really push myself and doing that meant letting the world in on what I had written, and asking for help and feedback. Luckily I have some pretty great people in my life who support me when needed, and so I asked for a friend to become an editor for the blog, and they graciously accepted. To push myself way outside of my comfort zone I was also going to post it to my socials. I wrote the article fairly quickly, and after a bit of back and forth on edits, it was ready for publishing.
Everything was set up and ready for launch within about a week. Then it was finally time to set my fear and anxiety to the side, publish the article, and share it with the world. I scheduled the article to be published that Friday morning, and took the website out of 'private mode'. If everything worked as it had been set up, I should have been waking up to an email from the blog on Friday, and then could post to socials. To say I was nervous was an understatement. As a former and still struggling perfectionist, it can be terrifying to put anything about myself out there that I think isn't finished (nothing is ever finished), especially when it comes to work that may be seen by professionals!
The next morning I found the email as expected and shared on my socials. I kept refreshing my analytics and socials for a good hour before I finally was able to peel myself to other tasks. I mean, I wouldn't even have a good view into that data till the next day. As I waited for data to be available, I started to get feedback from a few friends on instagram. All of it was positive and constructive! Whew! Over on LinkedIn the response was much more muted. My husband was the only person to 'like' it and he re-shared the post as well. About what I expected to be honest. It's been a week now though, the data is in, and it's time to take a look at what happened with my post.
Instagram - 40 Story views
LinkedIn - 88 Post views, 1 like, 1 repost
12 Users Total
9 New Users
~2 Min Engagement Time
Referrals were all from LinkTree & LinkedIn with only a few directs
Overall, I'm quite surprised with how many hits the article did get, and how many people responded to my instagram story to let me know they liked the article. The feedback I got was constructive and wasn't anything I didn't expect. Some of the feedback was regarding the lack of other content and author bio page.
When I first started this project it was for a couple simple reasons:
- My recent job search
- I've always wanted to share more
The constraints under which I chose to launch the website I think really helped me stay focused and adhere to more agile practices. The engagement and response to my writing and the article is far greater than I expected and much more positive than I anticipated. It's encouraging to see how many people resonated with it, each on different levels who felt compelled to share that with me.
I'm happy that all the analytics and other work I did to enable people to get to my site from things like my LinkTree worked and helped me gain insight into how useful they were. The server setup, and other work I did to enable all this is always fun for me and something I enjoy.
Going forward I want to do a lot of things such as:
- Produce more content
- Launch ColinWolff.com and enhance the connection between the two websites.
- Build a custom theme ColinWolff.dev
- Migrate underlying server setup to containers with kubernetes
...so I hope you'll come back and check out more as I go!