black and white laptop

The fol­low­ing is adapt­ed from my light­ning talk Blogging Outside the Bubble” at last week’s Perl and Raku Conference in the Cloud 2021. You can watch the pre­sen­ta­tion and down­load the slides here. Also, a tip: most of this applies to any­one who wants to start a blog.

Let’s say you’re a Perl devel­op­er dis­traught at the con­tin­ued decline in usage and mind­share of your favorite language.

You know that you do good work and that your tools and tech­niques are sound, but the world out­side of Perl-​specific forums, soft­ware archives, social media groups, and IRC chan­nels regards it as anti­quat­ed, out-​of-​date, or worse, that IT epi­thet lega­cy. (And the new­er devel­op­ers haven’t even heard of IRC!)

Let’s say you’re wor­ried about your pro­fes­sion­al prospects both at your cur­rent employ­er and with pos­si­ble future employ­ers. Even though you know or can eas­i­ly be trained in oth­er lan­guages, Perl is still your favorite.

Let’s say you’re me.

What do you do?

Step 1: Get a blog

There are two basic types of blogs: stan­dard­ized for­mat and cus­tomiz­able. If you’re just start­ing and you want to spend more time writ­ing and less time fid­dling with tem­plates and soft­ware, choose stan­dard­ized. Here are some sites that enable you to pub­lish your work while get­ting out of your way and that have developer-​centric com­mu­ni­ties. Pick one and set up an account:

If you want more cus­tomiza­tion options, you could try:

  • WordPress.com (host­ed, but lets you change some things around)
  • GitHub Pages (good if you’re already used to col­lab­o­ra­tive soft­ware devel­op­ment there, but requires more set­up includ­ing blog gen­er­a­tion software)
  • Or your pre­ferred host­ing provider — look for ready-​to-​go blog­ging apps like WordPress

What did I choose? I set up WordPress on a shared plan at HostGator (full dis­clo­sure: I work there). They also offer easy man­aged WordPress host­ing for a bit more, but I like to tinker.

And yes, the WordPress soft­ware is based on PHP. Don’t sweat that it’s not Perl. PHP does­n’t have to lose” for Perl to win.”

Step 2: Write

Finding a top­ic to write about can seem hard, but it does­n’t have to be. The Perl (and Raku) Weekly Challenge pub­lish­es two new pro­gram­ming chal­lenges every week. Work on those and pub­lish your solu­tion along with commentary.

Or write about what­ev­er you’re work­ing on or would like to work on. Write about your favorite Perl mod­ule or fea­ture. It does­n’t mat­ter if some­one else wrote about it; you have a unique perspective.

Coming up with a pithy title for your posts may be hard­er — you want to be click­bait-y but hon­est, and you want to men­tion Perl so that search engines asso­ciate your posts with the topic.

The impor­tant thing to do is write some­thing. And length does­n’t mat­ter; one or two para­graphs is fine.

Step 3: Promote

Here’s the bad news: no one is going to find your blog posts on their own. You need to put them in front of read­ers where they already are.

This means post­ing links on social net­works like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. It means dis­cus­sion groups and #hash­tags (like #perl, #programming, #webdev, etc.) on those social net­works. It means news forums like Reddit and Hacker News. And it means post­ing inside and out­side of Perl-​specific groups. Here are a cou­ple of exam­ples of the latter:

This social pro­mo­tion might get tedious after a while, so look into plu­g­ins for your blog­ging plat­form and ser­vices like IFTTT and Zapier that will mon­i­tor your blog’s news feed and auto­mat­i­cal­ly post on your behalf.

Also, remem­ber when I said above that there were blog­ging sites with developer-​centric com­mu­ni­ties? Even if your main blog isn’t on one of them, set up accounts and cross-​post. I repost my arti­cles on Dev.to, DZone, and Medium; all of these offer ways to import posts from your main site. One caveat: their importers don’t seem to be very smart when it comes to source code, so you may need to do a bit of edit­ing and refor­mat­ting after import.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did­n’t men­tion the Perl Weekly newslet­ter. Every Monday a fresh batch of Perl con­tent is sent to peo­ple’s inbox­es and you could be part of it. Contact edi­tor Gábor Szabó about pub­lish­ing links to your new blog.

Step 4: Repeat

Remember that con­sis­ten­cy builds trust from your audi­ence. Make time to write reg­u­lar­ly and pub­lish posts as often as you can man­age. I set a goal to pub­lish at least once a week and have kept up this pace since January of this year. You can often find new top­ics as you mon­i­tor and par­tic­i­pate in the social forums in which you’re pro­mot­ing your blog, espe­cial­ly in the com­ments. Even neg­a­tive com­ments can dri­ve new topics.

Did this arti­cle inspire you to start a blog? Do you have more ques­tions? Let me know in the com­ments below!

2 thoughts on “4 Steps to Blogging Outside the Perl Bubble

  1. Hi Mark,
    Thanks for the inspi­ra­tional post! These steps are help­ful for those who want to start blog­ging. Keep up the good work.

Comments are closed.