At the time of writing this post, I've been blogging on the Dev Community for almost a year and have 12,509 followers.
I always loved writing. From a young age I would write "books" which were really just ~4 page fiction stories that gathered dust in the corner. I believe my enjoyment for writing stemmed from my voracious love of reading.
And while I always loved writing, I never intended to make a part-time career of it, yet I'm humbled to say that my blog has taken off in the past year and I want to share some of my tips for growing a successful blog.
I want to preface this post with the admission that, over the past year, my social media following has exponentially blown up which had an invaluable impact on the visibility of my blog. If you want to read more details about the crazy Twitter journey, you can check out my post.
The best advice I received from my mentor, Kahlil Lechelt, was to blog consistently.
"If you post it, they will come."
Blogging consistently allowed me to develop a backlog of content. And while blogging consistently was difficult, I quickly learned that I had to blog for myself and let go of the angst about the possibility that nobody else would read it, or even like it.
When I say "blog consistently" I don't necessarily mean publish a blog every single Monday, but publishing a new blog every week or so will allow you to build up a wonderful backlog of posts for others to read.
The goal should be to hook readers with one post, and then capture their attention with a nice backlog of other posts.
One of the things I did, which I believe had a positive impact on the success of my blog posts, was to include high-quality header photos and supplement the technical content with custom-designed graphics.
You can find free images for your blog post headers on Unsplash for free, however the images are often quite popular so be conscientious of the fact that others will use the popular images, and select less frequently used images when possible.
I also designed custom graphics and charts to demonstrate more technical concepts. I built my graphics using Sketch, and while this does require a bit of design knowledge, you can create custom graphics too!
Sketch is a paid tool and only works on Mac, however Figma is a free web-based tool that provides the same capabilities.
Additionally if you're not a graphic designer and you're looking for amazing illustrations, I cannot recommend Undraw enough. All of the illustrations are free SVGs and as such are fully customizable.
If you discuss or note a technology, tool, or person in your blog post, link to it. I cannot tell you how many times I've had to open a new tab and Google something in a blog post because they didn't link it.
Take the burden off of your readers and link to valuable related resources.
If you're writing a technical blog post, please define your acronyms. I like to make the assumption that someone reading my blog post has very little prior knowledge of the topic I'm writing about.
If you're writing a post, everyone regardless of circumstance should be able to read it.
In the past I've made the mistake of including code snippets as images simply because they looked nicer. Accessibility trumps aesthetics. Use gist for code snippets. They're accessible and easily embedded.
One thing I've noticed is that readers love a finite number of tips.
Some of my most successful blog posts are of the format: "X Tips For ... " People love actionable blog posts, hence the numbered tips in this post.
I recommend keeping the number of tips at 10 or below to maximize readership.
I cannot say this loudly enough:
CREATE CONTENT YOU LOVE, NOT CONTENT YOU THINK OTHERS WANT TO ABSORB.
If you're not passionate about what you're teaching, nobody will read it.
First and foremost I write for myself. I write blog I can reference for years to come. And chance are if you love what you write, and you find value in it, others will too.
If your blog isn't catching on quickly, be patient. I recognize the fact that my growth was an anomaly. It can take years to develop a "successful" blog, but success is subjective. What I deem successful is different than what you deem successful.
For me, success is not a number, it's the impact I have on the community. If I can help one person, I've written a successful blog.
Go forth and kick ass, my friends.
Header image by LUM3N on Unsplash