When I decided to start a developer blog last year, it took me months before I actually published my first post. It really didn't need to be this way. Throughout my blogging journey, I've gained some knowledge about what it takes to get started. From listening to other developers sharing their struggles along with my own, I've observed 3 common barriers that keep developers from getting their first post published. I'd like to share these with you along with some tips to overcome these roadblocks so you can get started sooner and maintain a more consistent blog of your own.
Roadblock #1 - Where Will You Publish Your Blog?
Like many developers, you might want to build your blog site from scratch before starting to post. This is a great side project, but it can take a long time before a project like this is completed.
Possible Solutions: Treat building your own blog site and publishing your writing as two separate actions. Leverage platforms such as Hashnode, Dev.to, Medium, and WordPress where there are no barriers to begin and that have thriving communities. (Hashnode and Dev.to also have a variety of badges you can earn as fun incentives to keep posting.) You can always repost on your newly designed blog site when that is ready.
You can also go with a static site generator and give yourself a deadline for getting this set up. Stick with the original theme and give yourself up to a week to get the site ready to go so you are not tinkering too long.
With some hosting setup and becoming familiar with markdown, here are a few good ones that are quick to get up and running:
Jeykll - get your Jekyll site up on GitHub pages
Eleventy - you can host your Eleventy site on Netlify
Gatsby - get your Gatsby site hosted through Gatsby Cloud or Netlify.
Roadblock #2 - What Will You Write About?
You've got a plan for where you will post, but now you need to figure out what you will write about. You might have a lot of ideas and not know where to start or feel like you need to do a lot of research before writing a post.
Possible Solutions: You can start blogging the moment you decide to study web development and write about why you are pursuing this field. At the beginning, write about topics you are familiar with. Spend time brainstorming ideas often so you always have a pool of ideas to choose from.
To begin, narrow down your list to around 10 articles you want to write about and create a quick outline for each of them. This helps figure out the possible scope of the articles and how you would structure them.
Think about different angles related to the tech stack you already use. Is there an area you want to be known for? Is there a new language or framework you want dive deeper into? Keep a list of ideas and continue to add to this list often.
Here are some broad areas you can focus on:
- Write about what you are learning
- Document a challenge you are doing
- Outline a solution to a problem you solved
- Review a course or program you completed
- Share your experience of a bootcamp you attended
Roadblock #3 - What Will Your Writing Process Be Like?
Now that you know where you will publish and what topics you'll write about, you'll want to figure out a routine to get these posts written.
Possible Solutions: Figure out how often you want to publish and how much time you will dedicate to creating the posts. One strategy is to create a schedule where you have specified how much time you will write and what goals you'd like to reach.
Luca Rossi shared a great example of how he has established a writing routine for his weekly newsletter, Refactoring.
Sam Julien gave an excellent talk about shipping better articles. Check out the slides for his advice including how to set up a content system.
You can decide how often you want to post and set deadlines so that you are consistently working on your blog. Whether it is posting once a week or once a month, getting organized with a schedule and simple routine will help you publish more.
When starting a developer blog, make decisions quickly and just start. Don't think about it having to be perfect from the beginning. This is an ongoing process where you'll be doing a lot of trial and error, so you can always make adjustments as you go.
A few more tips to enhance your blogging experience:
Share your posts on social media
Find accountability partners to help you stay on track
Read other developer blogs to learn about different styles and topic ideas
Subscribe to the Blogging for Devs 7-day email course and newsletter
If you are currently blogging, what are some tips that have helped you start and maintain a developer blog? If you are planning to start a blog, are you facing any challenges at this point? Leave a comment here or reach out through Twitter or Instagram.