Grounded & Steadfast

The journal of Chris Bowler, a collection of thoughts on faith, business, design, and the creative process. Also learning to code.

Creating Value that Lasts

If one waits long enough, time will prove your routine. This has proven true for me and my writing and my personal website. A daily morning routine has given place for my writing, but on a larger scale, I tend to evaluate the entire site on a yearly basis.

Looking back to my first blog in 2008, I can see that I have two routines for the site. It gets a visual refresh once a year. And the CMS changes just less than every second year. I started with WordPress, moved to Tumblr, made the leap to ExpressionEngine, and now Kirby is running the show.

More on the subject of Kirby later, but give it a look.

Each of those tools has its positives and negatives. I made the move to Kirby for one reason: simplicity. It's a reason I've made many changes over the past couple of years; I desire to focus more on the work than the tool. Kirby is mostly frictionless.

I must admit, changing a CMS can be a lot of tedious work. No matter how well planned out, there will still be some manual work, some scrubbing of content. But I tend to embrace this task because it gives the opportunity to review your body of work. I re-read every article on my site in the process of moving it over.

When you perform an exercise like this, whether you plan to or not (and I do), you will think about your overall goal with your writing. Why am I writing? Who am I writing for? Why am I writing articles of this sort? When all was said and done, I had one question to answer: why do I continue to write link posts?

Ben Brooks has made similar changes in the past year. He first vowed to discontinue linking to other articles with very little commentary:

Linking to a post and commenting “cool” is now against my own rules. If I can’t add value to a link with thoughtful analysis and opinion, then that post isn’t getting a link on this site.

Later, he discontinued the act of using links as the title of his posts, moving from a John Gruber style of linking to a style of commentary used by Jason Kottke:

That is, everything is an “article”, but some articles are specifically about a linked item. That which is being linked to is no longer done in the title, but instead in the first paragraph of the article — and linked to prominently.

When I read those posts, I appreciated Ben’s thoughtfulness. He desires to create lasting content. I desire the same. And a review of your writing helps you to see where you've done that and where you haven't.

In my migration to Kirby, I started by reviewing all my articles. They were moved over, tidied up a bit, and when required, formatted for the new design. I then moved to my linked items, of which there were quite a few more. If you've written a DF-style blog for several years, the number of linked-list style posts can really add up. But do they have lasting value?

Sadly, no.

A quick review of Mint proved this to be true. Linked items are not the top sources of traffic, nowhere near it even. This makes perfect sense - other writers will not link to links of original work. Instead, they link to the end destination.

I wrote linked posts for two reasons. To share what interests me and to bring attention to the work of others. It's clear that my Twitter account is a much better place for this sort of sharing, while my own site is a place for content created by me. Content that, God willing, brings value that is more lasting.

If time proves otherwise for various posts, they will also be migrated over.

I did end up finding a few nuggets in my linked items. Those were migrated over and turned into articles with a prominent link, similar to Ben’s method. The rest are now archived to a dusty hard drive. Again, hits to the 404 page of this site are proving that no one is sad to see them go.

One last change is included in this iteration. The support page. I love that the Internet is changing the world of publishing and enjoy supporting writers that have brought much entertainment and value to me. I would be flattered when anyone feels the same about my own writing. Thank you for reading.