Book Review: 256 Bloghacks

Oct 09, 2017
Book Review: 256 Bloghacks
A detailed review of a guide to blogging by Yegor Bugayenko.

About the author

Yegor Bugayenko (also known as Yegor256), is a successful blogger, mainly blogging about Object Oriented Programming and management of remote teams. Author of two other books. He also speaks at conferences and has a YouTube channel with his webinars and talks. His content is usually quite opinionated and controversial - you can check his Testimonials page.


Section 1 - Attitude (10 items)

The first section is about your general attitude towards your blog. I really like it because unlike many other sources, it is not yet another 'Get rich overnight by quitting your job and starting a blog'. No false promises. Just an honest approach, no BS. Your blog should not be a money machine, but your passion. The relationship with your community is what is the most valuable. Cut all the advertising, popups, paid links and all the other nonsense.

Section 2 - Content (37 items)

This section, the biggest one in the book, covers the content of your blog posts. That is - how to write. How to format your content. What to use and what to avoid. What kind of language you should use, how long posts and how to create controversy to polarize your audience. There is a lot of good advice, although much of it is just common sense.

Section 3 - Community (9 items)

A section about the importance of your community. This part is somewhat similar to Section 6, but instead of social networks it rather focuses on building your mailing list, sending news to your audience, commenting or handling your haters.

Section 4 - Routine (25 items)

Probably the most interesting and useful section. It's about the phase, which follows directly after you finish your post. That means, how to properly promote your content. It is important to decide how often to publish your blog posts and when exactly. There are chapters on many of the social networks and their specifics regarding promotion of your blog posts. And last, but not least, there are some chapters about measuring and analyzing how your efforts are effective, so you can adjust your strategy.

Section 5 - Video And Audio (5 items)

Just several pages dedicated to webinars, podcasts, and video blogging.

Section 6 - Social (13 items)

This focuses on how to interact with your community and how to properly behave on social networks. There is an interesting chapter on buying fake followers.

Section 7 - Technical (28 items)

The second-biggest section focuses on the technical side of your blog. That is - implementing your blogging platform from scratch using tools such as Jekyll, Github pages, SASS, Travis Continuous Integration or even implementing custom Jekyll plugins in Ruby. There is a number of chapters focusing on automating tasks such as finding broken links, spell-checking, orphan pages detection and more. While all of it is really interesting from a technical point of view and it no doubt is a lot of fun to tinker with, I strongly disagree with such approach for blogging. Especially when it is preached with such a zeal:

One more thing before we dive deeper into technical details: you have to learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Ruby. You have to master them, I would say, if you are serious about blogging. You don't want to? You're not a programmer? You have something better to do? Then go back to WordPress and throw this book away.

I find such an attitude seriously misguided. First of all - while the author happens to be a programmer, this book is by no means targeted at software developers only. It is supposed to be about blogging in general. I cannot imagine someone from a different industry mastering Ruby, HTML, CSS and JavaScript just in order to blog. And Yegor's claims are not backed (which is not that uncommon in the book) by any solid claims or reasoning. So the benefit of doing everything from scratch is rather vague, but the cost, on the other hand, is huge. One could easily write dozens and dozens of high-quality posts instead of studying arcane mysteries of Ruby or JavaScript. Even as a programmer already familiar with the technologies, I am sure it is better to focus your effort, time and energy to producing content rather than doing the technical solution from scratch. The problem is that most of the new blogs fail because they fail to deliver quality content consistently and are not able to build a habit of regularly posting. Or the authors are too paralyzed by choosing and building a proper technical solution, so they never actually start.

For a non-technical person, the chapters are so shallow and brief, that there is no way someone non-technical can get much information out of them. The good thing is there is a demo blog available, where you can check the implementation.

Section 8 - Google (10 items)

As the name suggests, this section covers SEO optimization and providing metadata about your pages, so the search engines better understand your content. It covers sitemaps, keywords, internal linking, Accelerated Mobile Pages and more. And of course, advice to avoid all the dirty SEO tricks, which don't work anyway and just harm your ranking when detected. The section is rather short in spite of its importance. Being more detailed would definitely help.

Section 9 - Money (7 items)

The last section continues where the first one finished. It's about the financial side of blogging. About the expenses that it will bring and about the benefits you will reap. Not directly, like with annoying ads, but more indirectly. How having a blog can boost your credibility, how it can be used as a marketing channel for your products (books in author's case) or services.



All in all, I think this book can be very helpful when you are trying to start your blog or even in later stages. There is a lot of useful information, which is divided into independent chapters. That means, you can safely skip whatever you already know or are not interested in, which is good. The style is fresh and concise, easy to read. The book itself is quite short, it should not be a problem to finish it quickly. I really appreciate its honesty, it does not try to convince you, that you'll be able to turn your block quickly into a money-machine and be a full-time blogger.

While most of the advice given in the book is valuable, every now and then there are arbitrary recommendations not really backed up by any real data, evidence or reasoning. Some of them are most likely just meant to stir controversy, which is author's usual style, which he also recommends in the book.

What's also inconvenient is that the book is only available as a paper version, with no electronic variants available. That is bad if you prefer to read on your ebook reader or tablet. What's worse, it makes it rather difficult to get the book from Amazon, for example in my case (The Czech Republic, central Europe) that means international shipping, which can take up to nearly two months. Or expedited one $15 and up to three weeks, or one-week priority for $40. Or getting the book through some third party service as Book Depository. All of it rather inconvenient. Here are the reasons why the author does not publish ebooks.

Despite some negatives mentioned above, I consider the book to be very helpful for bloggers and not only if you are just starting out. Recommended and well worth the $40.

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