Blogging is a great way to educate others, reinforce learning and show your expertise to a potential employer. If done well, it can also be a great way to make money as a developer.
As more developers delve into blogging daily, your articles need to be very informative and unique for you to stand out in the developer ecosystem.
In this article, I will share 13 blogging tips for developers. These tips will improve your writing, help you communicate with your readers effectively, and more. 🔥
1. Don't wait to build a blog from scratch. Start writing!
I've seen so many developers who have the interest to start blogging but haven't done so because they want to build a blog from scratch first. I mean, that's okay, but it isn't the best route to take because they may never complete the blog and, as such, never write a blog post. And even if they manage to finish building it, they'll also have to maintain the blog and worry about how their articles can get more visibility.
All these issues can be solved with a free developer blogging platform like Hashnode that allows you to publish articles on your own domain and get views through its global developer community.
That's what I used in creating my blog as well, and to be honest, it has everything I need to scale as a content creator. Curious to see a detailed breakdown of using Hashnode vs. building a blog from scratch? Read this article.
2. Know who you are writing for
Identifying, understanding, and tailoring your content for a specific audience will make your blog posts stand out. And that, my friend, is why "knowing who you are writing for" is the second tip. 😃
When you understand the audience, you will tailor your article to meet their needs and automatically pass the message effectively. If your audience are beginners, you'll know that you should use words that are easy to understand in your blog post, and you should also add concrete examples to help your readers understand you.
So, how can you get to know your target audience?
By asking yourself questions like: "who are my readers, and why are they reading the article? What do they expect from it?".
For instance, before I started writing this article, I asked myself these questions and came up with the answers below:
- Who are they? - Developers that want to become better at blogging
- Why are they reading this article? - To discover new tips that will make them better at blogging.
- What are they expecting? - Insightful and practical tips that will actually make them become better at blogging.
Once I figured out the answer to these questions, I identified my audience (you) and tailored this article for you.
3. Be able to do good research
The truth is, you don't know everything. So even though you might be familiar with a certain programming language or framework, you'll still have to carry out research to understand it a lot better before you blog about it.
Doing this will make your blog posts accurate and also make it communicate the necessary data most efficiently. Trust me, you don't want to be known as that developer that shares false or confusing information on their blog.
So, how should you go about conducting research?
Researching involves asking questions on your preferred search engine, reaching out to someone who is knowledgeable about the subject matter (if you know any), or reading a book.
If you decide to follow the search engine route, ask questions targeted at what you want to discover. For instance, if you want to learn about how to use the GSAP ScrollTrigger Plugin in React, your question should follow this format "How can I use GSAP ScrollTrigger Plugin in React".
If you decide to ask someone knowledgeable about the subject matter, always be polite and go straight to the point. Instead of saying "Hi" and waiting for the person to respond before asking your question, you can follow this format:
Hi Rita, my name is Edidiong. I know you are very knowledgeable about using the GSAP ScrollTrigger Plugin. I have seen some of your CodePen demos over the years, and they all looked really amazing. I'd love to know how I can manipulate the GSAP tween to trigger the animations on the scroll? I'd totally understand if you can't respond because of your busy schedule, but I will be glad if you do."
You might think that this was a pretty long message, but it covered the most important things: your name, your admiration of their work, what you need, and that you understand that you are not entitled to the person's time.
There's also an option of reading a book during the research phase. To do this, you can go to a library or find a book online, read it and take note of everything you discover.
4. Read blog posts by other developers
It is also important to know that if you are not fond of reading blog posts of various developers, chances are that you may not excel in your blogging journey. Why? You may ask. I'll tell you!
In my opinion, reading:
- lets you understand what a reader wants & what you need to give your own readers.
- helps you enrich your vocabulary & keep you abreast of current trends.
- gives you both inspiration and drive to write as a blogger.
- shows you what’s already been done and what you can do to make yours better.
- makes you learn a lot and derive new ideas.
My point is, a writer who doesn’t have time to read is like a footballer who doesn’t have time to watch a match or a developer who doesn't have time to code. Reading & writing work hand-in-hand.
I've used different platforms as a source for finding interesting tech articles, and so far, Hashnode has been one of the best. I totally recommend using it as a reading resource.
5. Develop a unique voice
Have you ever wondered why people drop comments like "wow, I've finally understood this concept thanks to your article" or "I read other articles, but I didn't understand this concept until I read yours, thank you!" on an article?
If you ask me, I'd say it's because the author's unique voice spoke to them in a way others didn't. What does this mean? It means every one is unique.
If two developers (developer A & developer B) write about the same topic, some readers will understand developer A's article more than they understand developer B's. In comparison, others will understand developer B's article more than they understand developer A's article. Why? Because they both have a unique voice that will speak to some people but not to everyone.
So, how can you develop a unique voice?
By staying true to yourself and letting your thoughts flow freely as a writer instead of copying other writers' content. Yes, get inspired by others. But don't forget who you are!
The truth is, people learn in different ways, and your content might be what one developer is hoping to read before they finally understand a concept.
6. Give your blog post a helpful title/name
Name your blog post in a descriptive and helpful way.
For example, don't name a blog post "A Deep Dive Into Understanding React" when the content is about Rendering Elements in React. If you do this, you risk disappointing readers who were expecting to learn everything about React after reading the blog post.
Instead, come up with a specific title that describes exactly what you wrote in your blog post, like "How to Render Elements in React".
I love the tweet above by Braydon Coyer. It sums up the importance of giving your blog a good title.
7. Always add an introduction to your blog post
Even though the title of your blog post is the first thing that the readers see, it isn't what will keep them reading through your blog content. Do you know what will? The introduction!
If your introduction is not strong, it’ll discourage the reader from reading further regardless of the captivating title you used.
An introduction should be written immediately after the title of the blog post. It should introduce your reader to your article and the goals they will accomplish after reading. This section is supposed to motivate the reader, summarize; what the article is about, why the reader should read, and what the reader will learn or do in the article. Here's an example.
8. Follow a style guide
According to WriteTheDocs, a consistent tone and style makes your content easier to read, reducing your readers’ cognitive load and increasing their confidence in your content’s authority.
So, how can you maintain a consistent tone and style? By following a style guide!
A style guide is a set of standards for writing and designing content. It helps you maintain a consistent style, voice, and tone across your content, whether you’re a lone writer or part of a huge docs team.
9. Make your sentences clear!
As crazy as this may sound, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication!
Yes, knowing big words is great. But you always have to consider if your potential readers will understand the words you are using in your blog posts. If the answer is no, then consider using a different word or explaining what that word means.
That's why I recommend using short, clear, and precise sentences in your blog posts.
10. Assume you are the reader
After writing your first draft, take some time off. Then come back and edit that draft when you are well relaxed.
While editing the draft, read the content out loud while assuming you are the reader. This will help you spot things sentences that can be rephrased and other information you need to add or remove from the blog post.
11. Seek feedback
As humans, we do not know everything. This means that we are prone to making mistakes or wrong assumptions.
And sharing these mistakes or wrong assumptions with the public isn't a good move. That's why I recommend seeing feedback from someone else who is knowledgeable about the subject matter you are writing about.
They will most likely spot the mistake and give you feedback on what else you can add or remove to make the article more useful to readers.
12. Always add a canonical URL when republishing your blog posts
Many developers republish their blog posts on different blogging platforms, which is great because it gives them more visibility. However, they forget to add a canonical URL when republishing the articles, or they don't even know what a canonical URL is and how it can affect the SEO of their blog.
Let me explain. 😃
A canonical URL is the URL of the page that Google thinks is most representative from a set of duplicate pages on your site. - Google Search Console Team
So, whenever you republish the same article on different platforms without a canonical URL, Google will be confused about which article to index first or send traffic to. Because of this, Google will choose one URL as the canonical version and crawl that, and all other URLs will be considered duplicate URLs and crawled less often. 😞
But when you add a canonical URL to all your republished posts, you will tell Google, "Hey, this is the URL I want you to index and send traffic". Doing this gives you total control and will build up the SEO of your blog and blog posts.
Learn more about canonical URLs and how to set them up here.
13. Blog consistently
Blogging consistently plays a huge role in helping you become a better blogger. It unlocks your productivity, transforms your perspective, and builds your confidence.
You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. - Octavia E. Butler
Just like every other skill, you get better at blogging when you keep blogging consistently. Aim to write at least one blog post every month, and you will be shocked at how your writing skills will improve.
If you need some accountability with your consistency as a blogger, you can try the #2Articles1Week Writing Challenge.
What is the #2Articles1Week Challenge?
This challenge aims to encourage dev bloggers to define their writing goals, understand writing standards, and most importantly become consistent at writing.
Participants are expected to publish a minimum of 2 articles per week for 4 weeks on their blog. If you do this, you will be able to create and publish 8 articles on your blog in just one month. Amazing, right? 😉
I've seen a lot of people talk about the benefits of participating in this challenge and I believe it will help you kick off writing consistently.
Blogging is a combination of sharing & gaining knowledge. It can help you achieve great things & get better as a developer.
Just like many other crafts, Blogging takes practice to hone. But the best part is that the improvements are detectable and the tips in this article will get you right on track.
Do you know of any other blogging tips for developers? Please share it in the comment section. 😃