Many engineers have blogs. If you’re like me, you probably started up a blog to document the goings on in your job. Many of us start blogs for our own purposes as a way to record that obscure fix that worked in production or an interesting way to set up the latest software.
After a while, the interest of keeping up with a blog fades and www.mytechblog.com ends up another victim to the ADD nature of left-brained engineers – forgotten.
I don’t want another helpless blog to fall victim to our fickle minds. In this article, I will share the story of my blog, adamtheautomator.com, and how you can use it to build your blog to as or more successful than mine!
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No Readers. What’s the Point?
Why do so many techies start and stop blogs? Lack of motivation. After the newness wears off, writing a blog post turns into more of a chore than a delight. We lose motivation because, at some point, we do want the blog to be for others.
There’s only so much tech-journaling we can do on random tidbits of tech. Eventually, we really want others to see our blog. We want people to read our content, post comments and send us a tweet thanking us for saving their bacon with the latest post.
If only we had more readers!
How do you transform a blog from one reader (probably your mom) to hundreds of thousands of readers a month? Let’s find out.
Tip #1: Solve a Problem
Above all, the most important tip I can give is to first solve a reader’s problem. Are they struggling with creating a PowerShell function? Maybe they’ve just gotten started with Azure VMs and can’t find any good resource to create a virtual machine. Whatever it is, everyone has a problem to begin with.
When you’re just starting out, no one is going to come to your blog just to read what you write. They need a reason. In the tech world, that reason typically is when they can’t figure out an issue at work and need some guidance.
Help them. Guide them. Aim to provide a clear, concise solution to their problem. They will thank you with a new RSS subscriber, Twitter follower or comment.
Tip #2: Great Content
Write great content. Period. Write content so good that readers come back not because they have a problem to solve but just to read your posts.
In the tech world, chances are, the topic you’re writing about has already been done before. Make yours better.
How do you make content better than your competition? Here are four ways:
- Depth – Go deep. Don’t skim the surface. Create blog posts that leave no stone unturned.
- Flow – Treat each blog post as a river that starts at the first sentence and flows to the last word. Use transition sentences and provide context every now and then. A great post reads like a novel.
- Specificity – Be specific especially in technical posts. Don’t assume your reader knows what you’re talking about. Explicitly call it out.
- Personality – Put you in your posts. You bring a unique style to your readers that no one else can.
Creating great content is hard. I’m not going to lie. But, it will get easier over time.
Tip #3: Promotion
Don’t think when publish a post, your work is done. To attract readers, you must promote your blog.
Geeks are notoriously bad at marketing. I get it. It feels like we’re bragging, telling everyone how awesome we are. But most of the time, people just appreciate knowing a great blog post is available.
Wouldn’t you want to know when a new blog post comes up that you’d enjoy reading? I would! When I was a full-time engineer, I absolutely loved posts get mentioned on Twitter about a service I was currently working on.
Promote your blog as much as possible without spamming. Whenever you come up with a new blog post, let the world know! Set up an IFTTT task to automatically send out a tweet when a new post is published. Create a short summary of a new post and submit it with a link to various communities like LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, Reddit, and other forums that allow announcements.
Unless you’re versed in black hat SEO and you’ve convinced Google your posts are better than everyone else’s, you must let people know.
Building a successful blog isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work and dedication. But if you follow the tips provided in this article, study up on other topics like SEO and community engagement, you’ll be well on your way to attracting more readers in no time!