Howdy fellow devs! 👋🏻 Warm greetings from Curacao! 😁
New here? Bon bini! (That's welcome in Papiamentu, the language spoken here on the island 😉) Else, welcome back. 😎
Disclaimer: Who is this post for? Anyone! But especially for anyone looking to:
- get better at blogging consistently,
- get started with blogging on the right foot,
- read a fun, light-hearted yet informative post
Well, if any of that checks out, you have come to the right place!
Last week I followed one of the sessions of the Hashnode Bootcamp III. The goal of said "bootcamp" is to help developers build a strong online presence and personal brand. Cool stuff, really!
The first session facilitated by Sam Julien, DevRel Manager at Auth0 (pronounced Auth zero), really spoke to me. It was titled: "The Counterintuitive Secret to Shipping Better Articles Faster". If you'd like to check out the slides for this talk, you can find them below 👇🏻:
In this post, I'll share with you what I have learned form his talk, as well as some blogging tips I've picked up along the way.
So, without further ado, let's get to it! 🚀
Yep. You read that right. But why a system? Many of us may not be huge fans of systems, but let's not deny their benefits. One major benefit of having a system for blogging in place (as described by Sam) is that you stop relying on motivation to get things done. Truth is, motivation is something you are bound to run out of at some point in time. And blogging (or creating any kind of content) only when you feel inspired and motivated, probably means not doing anything at all. Ever.
Additionally, by having a system for blogging (or for creating content in general), you streamline and speed up the content creation process significantly. How? By always following a set of steps, you are able to produce content (blogs, videos or otherwise) in the same fashion, always maintaining the same quality. Once you have a system, you no longer need to put effort in thinking how and where to start, and that ultimately saves you time.
Well, the truth is, it can look different for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all, sorry. However, here's what Sam proposes: a content creation system with five steps. See the steps below. 👇🏻
In essence, this is the inception of any content you want to create. You typically start off by putting a structure on paper. You come up with an outline for your next article, you do some research and the like. The same principle applies to other forms of content too.
In step 2 of the system, you take your draft and start expanding on it. You add images and GIFs, you create diagrams, you write code snippets and so on, until your post is where you want it to be. Ah, and don't forget the grammar and spell check! Might as well get a friend or colleague to proofread your article too, if possible.
This one speaks for itself. This is the step where you finally release your post into the wild. It can be on your personal website, here on DEV.to or wherever else that you are blogging. Cross-posting is highly encouraged, but don't forget your canonical URL! 😉
Perhaps the part that some of us dread the most. Depending on how serious a blogger/content creator you are, you may promote your posts more aggressively across various channels. If you are a casual blogger or content creator, you probably spend zero time in this phase and that is fine too! Stick to whatever you are comfortable with! 😊
In this step you basically groom your content over time so that it ages gracefully. You maintain your posts by revisiting them, updating them wherever necessary and by fixing broken links and the like. Gardening your posts can entail various tasks and can be arduous work, so make sure to go in with a plan.
Note that this five step system can be split in two (2) phases, namely:
- the Creation Phase, which entails activities such as drafting and creating, and
- the Post-Publication Phase, which encompasses the remaining three steps; Publish, Promote and Garden.
You've now got a system, or are in the process of crafting one for yourself, but in addition to it, you need a toolbox. To help you in the Creation Phase of your system, Sam suggests you put the following in your toolbox:
- a scratchpad 📒
- a task manager 📝 and
- a knowledge system (aka a second brain) 🧠
Examples of scratchpad tools are Notepad++, Sublime Text, Google Docs, Drafts, or whatever you like to use for quick note taking. When choosing a scratchpad tool, make sure it is fast, easy to use, and supports various export formats.
Some task manager tools you can use are OmniFocus, Things, Google Keep or, of course, the tool you prefer most. When looking for a task manager (in case you haven't got one), choose for something that works well with your brain. If Trello boards and list formats work wonders for ya, then go for it! You may also want to settle for a tool that allows you to add extra context and tags.
Lastly, a knowledge system. I'm sure you have heard of Notion at some point. That's nowadays the go-to second brain option for many, many people. But, there's more tools out there, such as Evernote, Roam, OneNote, Obsidian and more... (Yes, the list goes on and on. Welcome to tool hell! 😈) Struggling to choose a tool? No worries, here's what to look for in a second brain kind of tool: various organization formats (collections and the like) and the possibility to add multimedia and other rich content to your notes.
Before you go, let me give you a few blogging tips as a parting gift. 🎁 I hope you find them helpful!
Technical blogs are awesome, but take more time to craft to "perfection". To avoid the early disillusionment, start by sharing some learnings and/or personal experiences that you think may benefit others in the community. Writing from your heart and personal experiences is 10x quicker than writing more complex and technical content (this is by no means discouraged, but do start small and build up from there).
These are typically small blogs where you share something new that you learned today. These are easier to craft and also serve as a fun way to keep track of what you have learned over time. Here's a TIL format that Sam shared with the audience:
- 1) Write a short intro (2 to 3 sentences) describing the problem you encountered.
- 2) Write a paragraph or two describing the solution.
- 3) Share the code or resources that helped you.
- 4) Quick 2-sentence recap of the problem and solution. Finally, add some social links where people can connect with you. (Of course you can use your own TIL format, but if you are stuck and don't know where to start, the steps above may be of help.)
You know your schedule better than anyone else. Working fulltime and blogging/creating content every day, may not be the way to go for most. Whatever you choose to do, be realistic and consistent about it.
For example, I like to post two blogs every week. Doesn't matter when exactly (I prefer weekdays over weekends), as long as I post two blogs. For me this is doable, so find what works for you and give it your best shot.
Pretty obvious one, but really, keep a list. Your brain can't possibly archive all your ideas. Get 'em out of there ASAP! 🧠
By this I mean, do not measure your success only with number of likes or number of followers. Yes, these can be good metrics to assess what topics your (target) audience likes the best and such, but it says little about your success in general.
Don't get demotivated if your post doesn't do as well as you hoped it would do. That's totally normal. If I can give you any advice at all (take it or leave it): do it for yourself. The rest will follow. (It is totally acceptable to be ambitious and to want to have a large followers base and the like, but don't lose your sleep over it. Just saying 😉)
That's it for today's post! If you liked it, let me know in the comments below. 👇🏻 What system do you have in place for blogging or creating content consistently? I'd love to hear from you!
Remember: stay safe and code on! 👩🏻💻👨🏻💻 See you soon!
Task Manager tools:
2nd Brain 🧠 tools:
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