Blogging tips after 3 years and a 100+ posts
Your time is limited... - Steve Jobs
A blog can be a useful piece for many reasons not only to you but to many others. Such it has been in my journey. Not only I have been able to generate leads (being a contract developer, it helps), it has been one of the most important things I have done in my career of being a dev. Sometimes, I do go back and read my blog posts when seeking information for a specific topic.
The motivation behind this article is to share my thoughts on blogging since I have been asked too many times to provide some insight from my journey and why I think blogging can help you achieve your goals at a faster rate if you are willing to dip your toes. Or let us just say you want to share what you know and you find blogging as the medium to do so.
Its about consistency
One of the major lessons I have learned from blogging is that to build an audience or if you are trying to scratch that itch of sharing what you know, you have to be consistent. That said, it doesn't matter how many blog posts you write and publish in a week or a month, achieving the deadlines you set for yourself, you need to be diligent.
When I started blogging on Medium I wasn't much consistent for the first year. But I was putting content out in form shorter posts or long length tutorials once in a while.
After a while, it made me realize how far I have come and how can I improve managing my time if I want to continue to publish more content. It helps me to create a schedule in my daily routine and dedicate several hours in a week either researching or building app demos and writing tutorials around them.
Topic consistency is a thing too
Apart from managing one's time and schedule, you have to be focused as to what your blog is going to be about. For example, when I started blogging, for a long time, I was writing posts on Node.js and backend. With time, my focus of work shifted towards front-end development and more precisely, towards the React Native ecosystem.
In recent times, my focus on writing tutorials on what I do and know shifted with that. You have to keep the content you are sharing in some sense, professional for the audience to read. You cannot assume the type of reader you are going to have.
Draft your posts in advance
Plan ahead. This is the best suggestion I can give it to you if you are interested in pursuing blogging in tech for a longer period of time.
Draft your posts in advance and make sure that it helps you stick to your publishing schedule even when you are taking vacations or having a week off.
I usually write almost all of my blog posts in Markdown format and store each draft on my laptop, inside a directory of my blog site. This way, it saves me time when I publish them since I use Gatsby and Markdown format for each blog post.
When I publish on sites like Medium that do not support Markdown format completely, I use a tool called Markdown to Medium which allows you to publish markdown formatted posts on Medium with correct syntax highlighting ( this is important if your post contain code snippets) using editable GitHub gists. It is fast and it works like a charm. (Shoutout to Jake Bennett for creating it and making it free to use). However, at the same time, publishing on sites like Dev.to, Markdown can be your friend.
List your ideas
Having a list of ideas is beneficial. Not every day you are going to feel like brainstorming about new topics or micro-managing a bigger topic in its subparts.
This helps you follow the previous step too, and help you plan with a clearer vision of what you might be writing or publishing in upcoming weeks or months.
Use tools that are favorable to you to manage a list of ideas. I use Notion to track each blog post. From the idea to the date, it gets published.
You can decide on what topics you want to write about. Not everything has to be too technical or walk through about building "X" with a specific framework or a stack or have to belong. It can be something work-related you are passionate about, something that you might find super simple (like writing Redux sagas) but it helps someone less experienced or who are just starting in their career.
Publish on your platform
This is a lesson I have learned late and in a hard way. Even though I have been professionally blogging for about two years now, I only did create and hosted my blog in the middle of last year.
I don't want you to make this mistake. Since day one, make sure you have a blog hosted on under your domain and it is linked with your portfolio website. It doesn't have to be pretty. Even though you are writing on other platforms or for publications, make sure to ask about their policy of re-publishing the post on your platform. Most publications do allow and generally have time span after which you can publish it under your domain provided the post links back to the original link/website.
Having one's platform with blog posts (regardless of their number) is much better than having no personal blogging platform at all. It is the core. When someone comes knocking on your down for a role or an offer, at first, they are going to see your website/platform and rather than publication.
Study not other bloggers but content creators too
One advantage we have these days is there is no shortage of the amount of content and platforms that you can host. To keep up to date with topics you want to write about, surely, at a certain point in time, you can never know everything about it.
Apart from other blogs I regularly follow, I exhaustively use Twitter, Medium, Dev.to, tech podcasts, official documentation and sometimes books to keep myself up to date and research whats going on. I can never be an expert on everything but I do love to share my perspective and I believe everyone has a unique perspective. Also researching and learning go hand-in-hand. I learn new things every day and at a faster rate when I share them.
You learn how to take criticism
Blogging taught me how to separate constructive criticism (which I consider actual feedback) from the criticism we find every day on the internet and that doesn't help anyone.
Some places on the internet exist where people are too harsh in their opinions but that's a good thing. You get a sense of feeling whom to hear and whom to shut out completely. In other words, you grow.
Share everything, everywhere
If you are writing on your blog but not sharing on every available platform that costs nothing, you are not helping much. Your blog post tends to help someone you might even don't know them.
It helps to drive the community forward and help someone when they are actually seeking useful information to their problem that you have already faced or shared.
Platforms I regularly share my content on:
- Hacker News
- Major publications like freeCodeCamp
Getting on the first page of the search engine is amazing but that doesn't happen in every scenario or overnight. Use these platforms. Cross-post and use canonical URLs and get on the wagon.
I hope this post serves its purpose and I urge you to go ahead and write your blog post if you haven't started already. There is no worst-case scenario here. Have a starting point, and stick to it. Also, I do consider writing is a skill in life worth learning and practicing, and blogging helps me do that.