This article was originally published on mariokandut.com.
When you start to learn a programming language you start with the obligatory 'Hello World' application. It's a good start for learning and it makes you feel quite happy at the beginning. You achieved something.
With writing the first blog post it's a bit different. I personally don't want the first blog post to be about how to write
// Hint: console.log('Hello World');
So I researched how to write a blog post, so you don't have to. If you are new to software development, it's basically what you are going to do most of the time - research. The following aspects are the result of my research.
- Find a good topic
- Specific goals
- Frequency, style & audience
- Technical Considerations
- Take feedback serious and iterate
The first thing, when starting something new, is an idea or a spark of an idea. And if you can imagine how it could look like you can build/write/market it.
When you think about a blog post: what would you would like to read about? Or what topics are you interested in? This would indeed require some reseach. If you don't want to do an extensive research on something new, write about topics you already know. If you already are working as a Software Developer, write about what you do in a normal working day or a challenge you recently solved or an exiting side project. The possibilities are endless.
If you have doubts and question yourself like There is already content out there about this! or It is not interesting enough. or Why should somebody read this?. Don't worry. If you are just starting out with your blog, like me, don't let any doubts stop you.
If your topic has been written about, add your own perspective or add your own comment on it. If you think it's not interesting enough, I am sorry to say this, but you simply don't know. Maybe some of your future readers haven't read about it? And if you would read your own blog post, then I can assure you, that somebody else will read it.
Why does a blog post need goals? Think about it like this: what should your audience get from reading your blog post? A solution for a problem or a detailed tutorial or ...? For this post my goal is to give a compact list of five key aspects for a successful blog post.
Another goal are metrics. How long do you want your blog post to be? A reading time of 5-10 minutes for a blog post is very common. More info here about blog post lengths and how you can optimize it.
In my opinion, the best way is to experiment with different goals and different topics.
When you are starting a blog think about how often - Frequency - you want to post. I would recommend to be consistent with your blog posts. If you decide to post weekly, stick to it.
A good advice is to have a list of topics you'd like to write about and some backlog of posts. Try to write as often as possible, but not necessary every day.
In my opinion, the writing style of a blog should be personal. A blog post should have an intro, a middle and an end. And remember, you're writing for people, not for Google to be indexed fast.
When just starting with your blog, it's hard to think about the target audience. It really depends on your marketing abilities. What are you going to use to get traffic to your blog? The first thing is sharing on your personal social media profiles - facebook, twitter, linkedin - and to other blogs or cross-posting on platforms.
You are writing a blog post as a developer, so there should be several technical aspects in it. If you're writing a tutorial, you need to include some formatted code samples and ideally links to further documentation or other solutions.
A lot of developers are posting their blog posts only to media platforms like medium.com or freecodecamp.org. With the decision to only post on media platforms, you get into a dependency. Besides content limitations and code limitations, if the platform closes down, you loose all of your assets and your SEO ranking. In my opinion, the best way to avoid this is to build your own media platform to be in full control. A cross-post with canonical links to other platforms should be considered.
Consider a blog post a living thing. It can be corrected, updated, reposted, shared, commented and rated. And all of this is kind of feedback. The best feedback your readers can give you is a comment on your blog post, so add a feature like DISQUS to your blog.
Don't be afraid of negative feedback. Sometimes good manners can be lost in comments, it's a bit like stackoverflow. When you receive feedback on your posts, try to match them to your goals (see 2. Specific Goals) and iterate over the future post content to get a better match.
So I think I've given you a good set of points to consider when starting out.
What do think?
I am more than happy to answer any of your questions or to hear some feedback. Just leave a comment. See you soon!
Big thanks goes out to these people for writing such great blog posts: