How to Write Successful Technical Blog Content
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The CloudShare community is one year old! Thank you for reading and sharing your comments and questions.
At the beginning of 2012, we started the CloudShare Community blog to help us tell the story of how people are using CloudShare, engage in conversations with you, and keep customers up-to-date on our new features, products and services. We’ve seen it as a golden opportunity to learn more from our readers and allow you to tell us exactly what you’re interested in. We enjoy sharing knowledge and experience with you and the community at large.
Through the blog we’ve been able to reach a diverse audience worldwide. We have grown the monthly number of visitors to our blog by 1266% (that’s not a typo)!
Posts on our blog have spread organically to Microsoft TechNet forums, MSDN forums, StackOverflow, Twitter, LinkedIn, Scoop.it!, Paper.li and in tens of thousands of private blogs, seen by hundreds of thousands of business professionals.
How Did We Do That?
We believe the more beneficial content available online, the merrier. Therefore, the key to a successful blog is content. Successful blog content should be well-written, relevant to the audience reading, easy to understand and contain useful information readers can benefit from.
Starting with this post, and another next week, we’ll share some useful tips for writing successful content on your blog. Today I’ll focus on best practices for successful technical blog posts. Let’s begin!
Always Search Online for Your Topics
Are you working on a new task you’ve never done before and can’t find any decent articles with detailed steps for getting started? This is a perfect opportunity for writing a successful blog post!
Last year, I had to install a demo server with SharePoint, PowerPivot and PowerView features. At the time, I hadn’t done that before. When I Googled those key words I couldn’t find any clear detailed documentation of the installation and configuration process. That made me work a little harder to learn what to do so I could write this blog post.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only one longing to find an article about this topic. This post was read by hundreds of people each day, significantly increasing the amount of traffic to our blog.
Each time you have an idea for a blog post, Google the topic to get an overview of the quality and amount of articles that have been written about it. This will help you evaluate the post you’re about to write.
Document Everything You Do
This habit started years ago, when I started a new job. A former co-worker quit the company giving short notice, taking all of his knowledge with him. This is when I decided that anywhere I go, I’ll document everything I do.
I’m a huge fan on knowledge-sharing. If you document one task a week, you’ll gain plenty of ideas for new posts. I’ve learned that a highly detailed post, explaining even the most common tasks, can be extremely useful for mentoring younger colleagues, for instance.
Note that how-to’s and troubleshooting posts get the highest number of hits on most search engines.
Don’t Second-Guess Your Audience
Do you usually write about Linux? SharePoint? Business Intelligence? Try writing about new topics.
When you write about something you specialize in, you may be concerned you’re “stating the obvious” and skip some important steps for those who are not familiar with the topic.
You don’t always have to write about something you know well. By writing about something new to you, you may bring a new fresh point of view on the topic that your readers will appreciate.
Blog as You Learn Something New
You have no idea what Dynamics CRM is? Good! Learn about it and document the whole process.
That gives you the benefit of expanding your knowledge and learning practical ideas, while giving your readers access to that useful information.
No Such Thing as a Post That’s Too Long
There are many complex and long processes when it comes to information technology. Don’t let the complexity discourage you. If you can’t simplify the process, it doesn’t mean you should give up on writing a post about it.
Don’t be concerned that your post is too long. If you have to document a long process, try to use more screenshots rather than words. Actually, the longest post I ever wrote is one of my most popular posts.
Follow Your Stats and Comments
I am a statistics addict. I follow search engine terms and referrals on a daily basis. This helps me learn more about my readers and gives me an opportunity to find other blog topics of interest I could write about.
If you want a better relationship with your readers, constantly ask yourself these questions:
- Who are my readers? What do they do? (Are they Solutions Architects? Developers? Business users?)
- How did my readers reach my blog? (Search engines? Forum threads? Other blogs referring to my posts?)
- What are my readers searching for? (What keywords are they searching on most often?)
- Did they find the information they were expecting to see? (If they didn’t – that’s an opportunity to write a new blog post.)
Comments are another wonderful way to get to know your readers. I’ve been asked lots of questions via blog comments, and it constantly gives me new ideas for future posts.
Last but not least, read and get inspired!
Read the latest news, find relevant thought leaders, follow companies and other professionals. Read forum threads, read latest updates by your co-workers, discuss emerging technologies, cultivate a list of blogs you like to read and find inspiration in all of it.
Happy blogging! Coming up next week we’ll share useful tips for writing successful blog posts from a marketing point of view.
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