Personal Stories - Blogs#

Veronika Cheplygina: Writing a Successful Blog Series#

Dr Veronika Cheplygina is an Associate Professor at the IT University Copenhagen. Veronika strives to make science more open and inclusive.

You can find out more about her work from the links below:

We would like to thank Dr Veronika Cheplygina for answering our interview questions about her very successful blog series called ‘How I fail’.

1. Why did you start your blog?#

Very originally (during university) I wanted to have a blog because I was interested in setting it up, and not actually in writing anything. I did try to write some awkward posts, but felt mostly embarrassed about them and ended up deleting them. Only during my PhD/postdoc, I think, I started writing more frequently, mostly updates about my work, exploring productivity tools, and failures.

2. How did you get started?#

As described above it was quite gradual, the first blog I set up, I programmed in PHP myself (and it had lots of bugs). Then I switched to a free WordPress blog and then installed WordPress on my website. As for writing on the blog, when I did start to write more, I made it a habit to write (for example) once a week, and it became more natural after a while. Also, it became more clear what is really “my” topics to write about, or not. The CV of Failures I shared during my postdoc resonated, and that later turned into the How I Fail series.

3. What impact do you think your blog is making on your research/project/community?#

It helps people to see stories by other real people, and relate to the issues that are discussed.

Can I just get you to expand on the impact question? Did your blog lead to more impact in a project, or perhaps got you more noticed to secure a job, or help build a community?#

Yes, I get noticed because people know me from my Twitter and blog, usually this translates into talk invitations. Last year when I announced I was leaving my tenure track, I also had a few suggestions for jobs, which in the end translated into my current (tenured) position.

I am not sure there is an explicit community, but I do feel like I have a supportive community on Twitter. It has also resulted in some great projects, like the Avengers for Better Science workshop, which was funded by the Mozilla Foundation, or the Ten Simple Rules paper about Twitter.

For the blog, I have a sense of what kind of person reads my blog, even if I have never met them. It’s great to see the statistics for previous blog posts, and receive a thank you email or message once in a while.

4. What tools/software do you use most to produce your blog?#

Primarily WordPress. I use Mailchimp to send out a newsletter (only if there are any new posts) and Canva if I make graphics (but usually I’m too lazy). WordPress shares my new posts to Twitter and LinkedIn.

5. Do you have any top tips for other people that might be interested in starting a blog?#

Make it a habit to post something. Review your posts after a while to see what kind of tags/categories you seem to use more often, and which kind get more responses.

6. Do you have any tips on things to avoid?#

Don’t fall into the “X step simple formula for bloggers” which is optimized to create short content with lots of clicks. There are lots of types of “real” blogs that do not do this, and which have dedicated readers.

7. Where do you see your blog going in the future?#

It’s been on the back burner a bit last year, so first of all I would like to get back to writing regularly. I’m also thinking about compressing some of the information into a book, for example, but I haven’t quite decided on the format yet.

8. Is there anything else that you want to share?#

It’s like running, it’s better to just start and go regularly, instead of waiting until you have professional shoes.

This interview was conducted by Emma Karoune