Where Do We Go From Here?

A question I’ve been asking myself recently is “What is the purpose of this blog”? When I started writing in 2018 it didn’t occur to me that I’d still be doing it five years later. I picked the name “CSS { In Real Life }” because I loved CSS (I still do!), and that was what I was most interested in learning and writing about. But over the course of the years I’ve found myself expanding my writing into different areas: web sustainability, JS, dev ops, front-end in general, and work/life more broadly.

Somehow this blog became a respected source of CSS articles, thanks to some well-known folks sharing it on social media and through newsletters. But it’s first and foremost a personal blog. The idea from the beginning was to document my web development learnings, and now I’ve found that many of the things I’m learning that feel important aren’t exclusively in the realm of web development. I want to write more personally from time to time, including non-web topics: book reviews, thoughts on parenting and work/life balance, tech in general, sustainability as a broad topic (beyond the web). A blog feels like a natural fit, especially now that Twitter is no longer a viable place to share thoughts and have discussions. But I worry that visitors coming along hoping for CSS content will be disappointed.

That’s not to say I won’t be writing about CSS anymore. But in my day-to-day work I don’t get to play around with CSS quite so much now (it’s very JS and data-viz heavy), and my priorities in my personal life have shifted off-screen. As a consequence I don’t always have as much to write on experimental CSS or interesting use cases for features as I once did. There are a great number of wonderful people writing in-depth CSS articles: Ahmad Shadeed, Stephanie Eckles, Temani Afif, Manuel Matuzović, Miriam Suzanne, Roma Komarov, the CSS team at Google (Adam Argyle, Una Kravets and Bramus Van Damme), to name just a few, and I enjoy reading and learning from their work. I want to write about more than CSS, but when the title of this blog pertains to CSS, is it appropriate?

I could start a separate, personal blog over on my personal site. But I’m not sure I have the time to maintain two blogs, and if I kept this one exclusively for front end content I feel like I’d end up posting here a lot less. Maybe that’s fine though?

So I’m asking you, dear reader: should I keep posting here, even if the content isn’t specifically CSS, or even front end? Or should my personal blog have another home? I’m not going to go all Elon and abide by your decision no matter what. But I’m genuinely interested to hear your thoughts 🙂

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  • @michelle As someone who struggled for yeeeears with maintaining work- and personal-specific domains, I’m always gonna veer toward the single site approach ????

    But domains aside, I think it’s about making a space *you* feel comfortable writing in. Excited to see what you settle on, and to read more from you!

    - Ethan Marcotte
  • @mia That’s true, but I’m thinking if I want to blog about personal life stuff, that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the web...is it still appropriate here?

    - Michelle Barker
  • @knowler Thank you for the feedback, yes I think that’s the way I’m leaning. I need to think a bit about the design and how to split things in a user-friendly way

    - Michelle Barker
  • @michelle sounds like real life? ☺️

    - Miriam (still)
  • @mia Haha, new title: CSS *and* Real Life! ????

    - Michelle Barker
  • @michelle @baldur I recommend starting a personal blog as it will serve a different purpose as well as a different audience. I already post to several blogs which reflect my interests:

    ???????? Personal: https://DarnellClayton.com
    ???????? Web Tech: @darnell@darnell.day
    ???????? Politics, Culture, Technology: @darnelltv
    ???????? Book & Entertainment reviews: @darnell@darnell.moe

    Yes, maintaining multiple blogs can be a hassle, but it can make it easier to create posts as well.

    - Darnell Clayton :verified:
  • @beep Thanks Ethan! Yes, I’m inclined to agree, as I really don’t want to make even more work for myself...but part of me thinks I’m just veering towards the lazy option ????

    - Michelle Barker
  • @michelle Hey, writing is hard and terrible, I am ALWAYS gonna be in favor of removing any roadblocks that make it even moreso!

    - Ethan Marcotte
  • @beep It’s true ???? Is the book-writing process as painful as they say?

    - Michelle Barker
  • @michelle @beep I also agree with Ethan. I did that just recently with my new blog and I solved the issue by putting a little explanatory “What’s this all about”-section at the top if the blog page: https://moritzgiessmann.de/blog/

    Blog — Moritz Gießmann, UX Engineer and Accessibility Expert from Karlsruhe, Germany. - Moritz G.
  • @michelle [long, slow drag on an entire carton of cigarettes]

    - Ethan Marcotte
  • @michelle Gonna chime in here with a recommendation that you separate personal blogging from topic-specific blogging (web development or whatever). I've gone back-and-forth over the years on how to handle this, and generally I've been much happier with keeping multiple personas in separate content streams/brands/feeds, etc. I even run multiple Mastodon accounts.

    It's definitely some extra overhead though, so I understand the hesitancy to commit to that.

    - Jared White
  • @michelle Also, just to touch on the personal blogging thing, I definitely agree with having that under your own name/domain name (sounds like that's what you've been considering). I think running "named" blogs is ideal when they're more topic-specific.

    - Jared White
  • @michelle @mia I’ve been working through a similar struggle with my own platform recently. Curious to see what you decide, and happy to swap notes!

    - Chris Ferdinandi ⚓️
  • @darnell Wow, that sounds like a lot of work! ???? Good point though

    - Michelle Barker
  • @michelle Follow your heart! I won’t bat an eye if you post more than CSS stuff on your blog, but I’m also happy to subscribe to a second feed.

    - Tyler Sticka
  • @michelle I think it's your domain, so you get to make the rules ;)
    Personally I love reading about non-tech things as well, it could just be a seoarate category or maybe you want to make a dedicated section of the site for it? In any case, keep it on the existing site ????

    - Max Böck
  • @michelle stick to the one site, it's easier ????

    If you don't think the domain suits, then change the domain and redirect the old one ????

    - Mike
  • @michelle please go for a single place for all of it. First, expanding content over the professional stuff makes you more 'human', not like a representative of something and thus people will interact mote empathetic.
    And second, talking about hobbies, but also bad times as well, will spark awareness of these things too.

    Hard, to get the (English) words for my thoughts but I hope you get it.

    - Sebastian Laube
  • @sebastianlaube Thank you for your feedback Sebastian ???? I’m inclined to agree — I enjoy reading personal reflections on the blogs I follow too, although perhaps that’s not true for everyone

    - Michelle Barker
  • I think your domain is perfect for having a mix of dev content intermingled with other stuff!

    Think about it—CSS in real life! Nuggets of CSS in amongst posts about whatever you feel like writing about.

    - Jeremy Keith
  • I think your domain is perfect for having a mix of dev content intermingled with other stuff!

    Think about it—CSS in real life! Nuggets of CSS in amongst posts about whatever you feel like writing about.

    - Jeremy Keith
  • @michelle Maybe post everything to personal site and also cross-post CSS/front-end posts to CSSIRL?

    - Paul Foster