Today I interviewed expert blogger Lindsay Hill in the hope of gleaning some useful tips about blogging. Lindsay has a stylish writer’s voice and a penchant for thought provoking editorial pieces.
Interviewed by Ally McCormick
Lindsay Hill is an established and respected blogger in the IT sphere at www.lkhill.com He regularly posts a variety of technical topics and opinion pieces connected to network management consulting and his blogging expertise has lead him to becoming a Network Field Day delegate and guest of HP Discover at both Las Vegas and Barcelona.
Lindsay also has a personal blog at www.northlandboyandhisgirl.com where he has been recording his outdoor adventures, primarily mountain biking and bike touring, since 2005. I wanted to know what sort of person turns to blogging and why he chooses the topics he does.
- Lindsay, you’ve been blogging for 10 years now, what made you decide to take up blogging?
“When I was travelling in the early 2000s, Facebook didn’t exist. The easiest way to let my friends & family know that I was alive was to send a group email. That gets difficult to manage, and I wanted to able to point people to old updates & photos.
“Prior to my own long bike trip, I was following some other bike tourists’ blogs. That made me realise how useful the blog format was. It was a natural step for me to start my own blog.”
- I notice that you keep your technical blog separate from your other blog. What is your reason for that?
“They are very different groups of readers. There are people I follow purely for technical content, and people I follow for non-technical content. But there aren’t many that cross over. By separating the blogs, people can choose what they want to follow, without polluting their streams with irrelevant content.”
- I loved your inspiring piece “Uphills and Headwinds”, posted last January, which really struck a chord with me. Do you prefer the purely technical or more philosophical posts?
“I get more out of writing the philosophical pieces these days. I will still write specific technical items, but they are to help people solve a specific problem, or simply so I don’t have to write the same thing twice. But they date very quickly.”
- Wow! Tell me about your epic 29,511 km (18,337 mile) cycling tour from England to New Zealand. What was the most challenging part of that adventure? “Settling back into ‘normal’ life afterwards was the hardest part for me. There’s a simplicity & freedom to life on the road.”
I was sorry to read that Sammy, your Bernese Mountain Dog, died last year and hope it is not too soon to ask you about him. As an owner of a six year old giant breed myself, I know my time is also limited with my dog, but I try not to think about that. Would you ever consider having a giant breed dog again and do you have any advice to people who are considering a BMD as a breed?
“We loved having him. He just had a fabulous nature, and is still very much missed. They are a good breed, but I do recommend the slightly smaller ones! We probably won’t get quite as big a dog next time. The weather’s just a bit too warm here, and he couldn’t go for a long mountain bike ride, as much as he wanted to. I don’t think we’ll ever have a ‘toy’ dog though.”
- Getting back to blogging in general, what would you say has been the most rewarding thing about it?
“The connections I have made that would never have happened otherwise. I’ve met people, been to places, and gotten jobs that never would have happened otherwise.”
- Do you have any social media (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc) regrets?
“No major regrets, other than not starting technical blogging earlier. I used to participate more in online forums, but I have deliberately moved away from that. I don’t control the message or the content on those forums. My job has also changed over the years. By running my own blog, I have complete control over the platform. So it doesn’t matter if I want to write about different things—I can just do it. If you use someone else’s platform, you’re at the mercy of their rules.”
- Do you have any other tips for new bloggers?
“A couple of things:
* Persistence matters. You don’t need to post every day. You don’t need to post every week. But you do need to post. There are many abandoned blogs out there. Don’t be one of those. Either commit to it, or don’t. If you only have one or two posts, put them on another platform (e.g. Medium, or something industry-specific such as PacketPushers). If you think you want to write your own blog, come up with 10 topics for initial posts. Then get your blog set up & get writing.
* Jot down notes for topics as they come to you. Use Reminders, Omnifocus, a notebook, whatever. Jot it down, then when you feel like writing you’ve got a list of topics to choose from.
* Don’t worry too much about look/feel. Luckily the current trend is towards very simple themes!”
I decided to end my interview with Lindsay at that point, but his answers were so interesting I could have kept hitting him with more if we’d had time. This is someone who has been blogging for longer than the term “blog” has been in common usage. A pioneer in the field, he has learned from trial and error and kept up with the technology along the way. Thank you for your time Lindsay.