A Definitive Guide to Blogging as a Developer
Hey everyone, I recently gave a talk at DSC KIET about technical blogging. We talked about Why you should blog, what are the prerequisites, how to start blogging, choosing the topics, and structuring your blog for better readability, etc.
This blog is a supplementary read and conveys the teaching of the same talk. This is going to be a detailed guide on all of your concerns about blogging. Let's start with one question that every person starting a blog has in mind "Should I blog?".
Table of Content
- Should I Blog
- Why You Should Blog
- How To Start A Blog
- How To Choose Topics
- How To Structure Your Blog
- Blogging Best Practices
- Talk Video
Should I Blog
We often underestimate ourselves and think if we are really good enough to start blogging. Do I have enough expertise to write about a certain topic? Will people want to read what I have to say? What if I make mistakes? But I'm just a beginner?
These are some of the concerns even I had when I wrote my first blog so you're not alone. I think what's happening here is we are trapped in some kind of imposter syndrome. We think we are not good enough or to rephrase "not experts to write about a certain topic". But here is the secret, "Nobody else is". We are all learning, growing at our own pace and we all feel like there is a ton of stuff to learn before we start sharing our knowledge.
I think the best time to start blogging is right when you're learning. When you are trying out something new, you're stumbling upon problems that an expert won't even know exists. So, you trying to solve your problem is an excellent reason to write about it. You will discover a problematic area more often than an expert simply because you are experiencing it yourself.
The other question is do I have something new to offer? Again, this doesn't matter because we are not discovering anything new, we are learning that same topic with our perspective. And that perspective to approach is unique.
You can try writing about the topic you just learned with your perspective and who knows, maybe you do help someone see the things from your eyes and it makes things easier for them. So, in this sense, being a beginner is a massive plus point when you want to write.
You might feel not confident enough and think what if I make a mistake. I think it's okay to make mistakes as long as we can correct them or learn from them. Writing about a topic does involve a good amount of research and that will surely help you avoid mistakes.
Other than that, I feel very proud to say that our JS community is very welcoming when it comes to helping others. You can just send me a DM or any other person who you think can provide feedback. Ask nicely and they will guide you in making your article mistake-free and more presentable.
On a side note, we are mentoring first-time writers for this specific reason and you can enroll too. Go to thenextbigwriter.tech and join. We will help you with everything possible and yes, it's free.
I hope I was able to give you some assurance that you can blog. But you might say, "Yeah, shad. I know I can blog but should I do it. Is it worth it?". Let's talk more about this.
Why You Should Blog
Blogging itself is an amazing exercise to build your communication skill which is very essential when it comes to code. But this is just one reason, there are many more, to begin with.
You will study the topic in detail, create some code snippets to explain the logic, learn what are the pros and cons of that, what are different ways to work with that, etc.
What I want to say is, these all things are much much more than what you would do if you're just coding promises in an app. You will get a much deeper understanding of the topic and will be pretty confident when it comes to coding promises. This is a big plus for your career as a developer.
Let's talk about exposure. Once you write something and share it with the community, people are going to read and think "Yeah, this guy knows this topic well". Of course, you do, thanks to all the research we just talked about. This gives you exposure. I have personally got a lot of job offers and freelancing opportunities just because the recruiter happened to be on one of my blogs. This happens all the time. Not to forget, having an active blog on your resume gives you a huge plus when it comes to interviews.
Did I mention that you can pay for writing too? Yes, there are writing programs that pay you up to $300 per article. Some folks are writing full time and earning more than what they can in a job. Let's recall what we just learned.
- Improves communication skill
- Give a deeper understanding of the topic
- Help you get exposure in the community
- Help you in getting a job or freelance gigs
- Provides an amazing earning opportunity as a full-time writer.
I hope you're convinced enough to start a blog now. Let's learn how can you do that.
How To Start A Blog
What will be the questions you will have in mind when starting a blog? I'm listing out a few here, please drop a question if you have anything else.
- What platform to choose
- What tools to you
The one thing that you should be concerned about here is SEO and content ownership. You don't want duplicate content as this will reduce your SEO ranking. You would want to own the content and brand it as your blog. The major problem with platforms like the medium is that they own the content. That's why people choose to create their blogging site using Gatsby or Ghost.
While these two are very decent solutions but they do require a lot of work on your side. You will have to take care of everything yourself and this might comes in way of actually writing the blog. I might be biased here but you can try Hashnode (Skip it if you're already a Hashnode user 😁). Hashnode lets you blog on your domain so you get full content ownership. Your posts get to be featured on the Hashnode feed and you get an instant audience boost. If your post performs well, it gets to be picked up and featured on Daily.dev too. Your SEO and all other blog-related stuff are already customized so that you can focus on actually writing instead of maintaining your blog.
So my suggestion is to blog on your domain, you can choose between Gatsby, Ghost, or Hashnode as you like. Buying a domain will a small investment but it's worth it in the long run. Create a blog on Hashnode and add your domain.
Now, what to write about? Choose a topic that you have recently learned or want to learn. Research that topic and write some points that you want to include in the blog. Write your blog around those bullet points. We will learn more about the structure and how to write it later in this article.
One important thing is to check your blog post for errors and spelling mistakes. I would suggest you use Grammarly for this purpose. Once you're done writing, check it with Grammarly and correct the errors. You're ready to post now 🚀.
How To Choose Topics
While there are different approaches, I can only share what has worked for me and hope it works for you too. The idea here is to Love the process. How?
- Find something that you wanna learn and share your learnings in form of an article.
- Choose something that you have recently learned.
- Write about something that you're genuinely interested in. It won't feel like a burden and you will enjoy it.
- If you had a hard time, solving something at work, write about it.
- Keep an eye on popular sites like freeCodeCamp and Hackernoon and see what they are writing about. Certain topics do well than others and you will start to see a pattern.
Moreover, remember why you're writing. It should not be to become famous or bring more traffic to your site. These are side effects and will happen but they are not the actual goal here. Think about how you can provide some value to the reader. If you can nail this part, you are good to go. Solve problems and help others.
How To Structure Your Blog
One of the main problems I have encountered is motivation. I always waited too long for motivation and didn't write at all. Writing a 1500 words blog post is not an easy task which puts me in procrastination mode. How to tackle this? This is the approach I follow.
1. Create Roadmap
Write a description of your blog in 2 to 3 lines. Write bullet points for what you want to cover in the article. These points can be section of the topic you're writing or different steps a user will follow if it's a tutorial. This will serve as a roadmap for our blog. Now, when you can see the roadmap, everything else will become easy.
2. Follow the Roadmap
Expand a description and write an intro. Greet the reader and talk about what you're gonna cover and how it will benefit the reader. 2-3 lines in okay.
Take bullet points as headings and expand the topic into the paragraph. Do this for each point one at a time. Make sure you focus on one point only, otherwise it will start feeling overwhelming.
Once you have covered the points, write a conclusion in a takeaway fashion. Tell the reader what he just learned. It will make the topic stick in the user's mind.
This is the approach I follow and it works even when you're not motivated to write.
Now let's come to best practices.
Blogging Best Practices
- Starting is toughest, make it as easy as possible. Remember, Pushing a sliding car is much easier than pushing a car that is halted. That description and bullet-point approach will provide enough push to keep you going.
- Create an Idea Log, collect ideas to write on. Don't discard anything even if it's very basic.
- Write what you're gonna explain first, explain that, tell the reader what you just explained. This flow is perfect for writing blogs/tutorials that stick.
- Don't use lengthy sentences. Use small, simple sentences that are easy to read. Try to look helpful, not smart.
- Divide the blog into small sections and guide your reader through it. The reader often skims through the content and read what they find valuable. Use paragraphs, bold keywords, etc to make it more scannable.
- Providing resources for further reading is very helpful.
- Add Takeaways wherever necessary.
- Use Keywords Everywhere chrome extension to look for hot topics.
- Give some time to cover and title as well. It should look interesting to the reader. Show the value as early as possible.
- Provide some relatable examples.
- End with a call to action. Ask the reader what you should write next. Ask them to follow you on Twitter. Ask for feedback in the comments. Give them something to engage with.
- Remove unnecessary words. Example: Take this sentence, "In my personal opinion...". This sentence can be written as "In my opinion" without losing its meaning. Personal is not adding any more value to it and can be opted out. Remove unnecessary words and write to the point. This is something that comes with experience. If you need help here, join The Next Big Writer mentorship program. We have amazing mentors that will help you gain experience fast.
That's it, I hope it was helpful and worthy of your time. If you have read so far, can you please spare a moment and share it with the community? Thanks for reading.
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