Reflections on writing a personal blog as a Microsoft MVP

Today is the deadline for all Microsoft MVPs to update their profiles with their latest contributions, before the annual renewal cycle begins. It’ll be my first time through the rigorous process, and only time will tell if I’ll make the cut for another year!

If you’ve somehow been following blog.NOVALISTIC since the launch of NOVALISTIC 5.0 “Veldin” back in the tail end of 2015, you may have noticed two things:

  1. Posts have been extremely sporadic, averaging out on a rather low frequency over the course of 24 months.
  2. Posts have so far remained sporadic, but with a noticeable change in topics frequently covered, over the last quarter.

That’s me broadening my horizons as a newly awarded Microsoft MVP after having focused all my efforts solely on Stack Overflow (not at its expense though, don’t worry!). It’s been a very slow start, for sure. I’m still adjusting to the process. Writing compelling content is not easy, but very rewarding especially when you are passionate about the subject matter.

But, I’m told, even when I’m starting small, every post counts. That’s why I’m still listing every technical post I’ve published on my MVP profile, even though I only really started this quarter. In fact, I’m listing this very entry too, since it’s about my site, and it does contain some technical content, so I figured I’d let Microsoft decide if it counts!

Anyway I digress. NOVALISTIC, on a fundamental level, is a personal site, a showcase for not only the work I’ve done and my passion in all things web, but also my other hobbies and interests, tech-related or otherwise. And blog.NOVALISTIC is an extension of that, not the other way around. In the nearly 11 years I’ve been blogging at this domain, I’ve always written about whatever I felt like writing at the time, because I had something to say about it. And if I didn’t feel like writing at all, I’d just… not write.

But that’s writing on a whim about anything I feel like; not writing concrete content to be consumed, learned from, and shared by a specific target audience, which is what I need to be doing if I want my technical content to be discovered and perused.

I spent the last week reflecting, reading articles online, and of course talking to fellow MVPs, and here’s what I’ve come to realize and embrace: I don’t need to sacrifice sharing about my other interests in favor of writing compelling technical content. Yes, it’s probably still a million times better if I can keep all my technical content on a separate domain or something. But running multiple separate sites is a pain especially for the expectations I have of my blog, which are not astronomical (remember, it’s a secondary aspect of my online presence, not the primary aspect).

I don’t care about having a large number of subscribers, I’m not going to try and eke out every last drop of SEO juice from each post (although I’m planning some significant changes to the overall layout to aid in that), and I don’t have to let other topics get in the way because individual posts reside in their own URLs for search engine crawlers to index, and for the good folks at Microsoft my technical content will always be aggregated on and accessible from my MVP profile.

For starters, I can afford to keep throwaway off-topic fluff to a minimum, because I kinda already do that. Years ago I used to make really short posts, known in the WordPress blogosphere as “asides” (to the extent that some themes, including one I made, even came with special formatting for them). You don’t really see those anywhere anymore, other than on Matt Mullenweg’s blog. Ask any web developer in this day and age what an “aside” is and they’ll tell you all about the HTML aside element.

What matters most to me is putting out content that’s useful to others, while still retaining my multi-disciplinary individuality that my site, and my blog, were meant to embody. Because these two goals don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The “content is king” mantra doesn’t have to be restricted to one category of topics. Any topic, work or play, can be made either an entertaining and/or educational read, or a waste of time.

And because my passion for all things web is one of the things that make me who I am. Both “just one” and “very much one”, if that makes sense. My tribute to Internet Explorer from 2016 is as heartfelt as it sounds, and HTML and CSS have been my lifeblood since I was little. But I’m more than just someone who loves the web platform. I love the web platform, I love sharing about it, and then some. That’s what, I feel, makes me an MVP, and I hope Microsoft agrees.

By the way… one of the emails I received from my regional MVP lead regarding the renewal cycle reminded me of a very timely coincidental thing I’ll be blogging about very soon (see what I did there?). Here’s a clue for fellow MVPs reading this: it has to do with Betsy Weber, or at least, one of her interests. Stay tuned!

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