Lessons Learned

In 2012, Shawn Blanc marked the fifth anniversary of starting his site by publishing an article titled 50 Things I’ve Learned About Publishing a Weblog. Filled with some of the best advice I have ever read on the subject, I return to this article every few months, gleaning just a little bit more each time. When I look back on the years since I started following Shawn, this piece stands out in my mind as his best work. And so, given how much I enjoyed his advice, I thought I would create my own list of lessons learned over the last few years of writing on the web.

Taking a cue from Shawn, I will do my best to keep most of these brief; however, a few warrant some explanation, and so when necessary I will break uniformity for the sake of clarity.

  • The incumbents became huge and successful for a reason, and have remained huge and successful for a reason. The former and latter are not always the same.
  • Failing to fully understand something is often the reason so many discount and disparage it.
  • Spend more time complimenting others’ work than criticizing it.
  • “You radically overestimate the average skill of the competition because of the crowd you hang around with.” Credit Patrick McKenzie for this gem I couldn’t resist adding in here.
  • Never say “I could have done that.” Maybe you could have, but you didn’t, so you have lost the privilege to claim that idea as your own.
  • Take incredible pride in your own work.
  • Show up every day prepared to work harder than yesterday.
  • Never waste your time.
  • Never waste another’s time.
  • Realize that everyone values their own time more than everyone else’s; in other words, as much as you value your own.
  • You will never regret reading more than you write.
  • Always have a good reason for everything you do.
  • Never lose sight of an ultimate end-goal informing your every decision, lest you stray from your intended path and fall to ruin.
  • You probably aren’t as smart as you think you are.
  • Everyone else is definitely not as dumb as you think.
  • You may very well be wrong.
  • You will always be wrong to someone.
  • For some, you will always be wrong.
  • Some people will never agree with you, no matter what you say or do or how much evidence you may present in support of your case.
  • Very few things are categorically anything.
  • Very few people consciously commit acts of wrongdoing or knowingly state inaccurate facts.
  • Everyone has their reasons, all of which are perfectly valid and justifiable in their mind.
  • Simple stupidity rarely motivates anyone.
  • Confrontation only solves problems when one party can force another to change the way they act and think. You can do neither over the internet.
  • Pay attention to the people who like you, and those who do not. Both their opinions have merit, both only to an extent. Take everything, both good and bad, with a grain of salt.