Working Publicly To Motivate Myself

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 01/27/2012

I have two public projects in the works: a system that I developed for work, which we will be releasing for the public to use as a thought-leadership piece in the SEO and Social Media industries. With this post, I’m taking the rather dramatic step of transitioning my daily development journal over to my MikeLev.in blog. I’m trying to unify all my efforts.

As a relatively new daddy and as a driven professional, there’s not a lot of time left over in life for anything else. And my professional ambitions involve programming, creating a new Linux release, promoting it all socially and creating a new tribe around it (similar to how I did with HitTail back in the day), while still superbly carrying out my Director of SEO role with my clients at work. This is all a very tall order.

Frankly, I’m going to start writing blog entries like this at the office now, to keep me committed and on-track. I will of course hold certain things back to do right by my employer, but my work is in all likelihood going to be made publicly available anyway, and this now lights that figurative fire under my ass—something that has somehow been missing for several months now, between the holidays, client duties, and new-daddy responsibilities.

Okay, so the idea is to deconstruct the work ahead of me, break it down into bite-sized chunks, and relentlessly do a little every day, until it’s ready. It’s used every single day at the office now to wonderful effect, but there are a few problems that I have to work out before release. They involve formatting (prettying it up), and scaling. I’m going to relentlessly go step-by-step through the process now, and my blog entries may take on a decidedly boring and down-in-the-weeds programming tone. Also, I suspect it may all sound rather out-of-context, as most of this writing used to occur right in the code of the project. It’s wonderful to have it there, but it lacks the public commitment aspect.

Okay, step #1: Copying a template through the Google Docs List API versus creating a new one from scratch. The Google Data API doesn’t let you do spreadsheet formatting yet, and I’ve been resisting copying templates over a sort of purity issue. I keep minimizing dependencies in this system, and having to have a set of templates sitting somewhere ready to be copied and always under risk of getting renamed, deleted or lost always seemed like a liability, but you can’t get formatting otherwise, so copying a doc, it is.

I’m also pondering the field of SEO as I go. For many years, I was a huge advocate of publishing lots of pages, each one targeting a different but valuable word combination with perfectly aligned cross-hairs accuracy. This was the long-tail strategy by which you publish often, evaluate tons of keywords, and cast a very large traffic net. I did in fact make a writing suggestion tool, HitTail, based on this philosophy. And even though it’s still a valid approach, Google seems to be subtly changing the game, favoring sites like that which might look like a content network a bit less, and clustering results around more popular and singular URLs.

As such, the value of writing blog posts like this for grabbing attention might be on the decline, and that’s fine. I’m actually going to do more stream-of-consciousness writing in public, and not less. But I will be organizing it all a lot better. My MikeLev.in site is currently almost unorganized, having wiped out all WordPress categories, except the featured articles, and having flowed-in the content from my old Blogger site, and an experimental server site called ShankServer.org. So this site is now a mishmash of quick personal observations, server tutorials, and SEO ramblings. I will gradually sort it out all as part of taking my internal work public. This site will be the actual test-bed for taking that work public.