Five steps from idea to polished result
I've been working in the open source community for almost 5 years, developing and marketing tools for developers, includingMeteoriteYApollo. During that time, I've found blogging to be one of the most effective ways to spread ideas.
A blog post doesn't take as long to prepare as a video or conference presentation, but it's easy to consume and can reach a lot of people. I also gained many personal benefits from writing: it helped me organize my thoughts, taught people about the technologies I love, and got my name out there.
since the postmy first blog postIn 2014 I finally started writing68 postsSo far here on Medium, some with over 50,000 views and 1,000 fans, and I've edited many posts for my friends and colleagues. During that time, I learned a few strategies for taking a publication from concept to publication.
In this article, we'll look at five key steps in my post-writing process:
- Find a good topic and participate
- Make your goals and audience specific
- Having a beginning, a middle and an end.
- Get feedback and iterate
- Add the finishing touches: packaging, publishing and promotion.
Let's take the first step right now!
1. Find a good topic and participate
You cannot start a post unless you have something to write about! When I talk to people who want to start blogging, this is often the biggest hurdle.
The simplest strategy is to write about what you know. If you've spent many hours learning something and you think you can explain it in just a few minutes, you'll be adding great value to your readers.
Another idea is to write about an area that you feel is lacking in content. For example, there aren't many posts about registering for tech conferences right now, so content about that could fill a gap in the community.
Here are some specific types of posts you can choose to publish. Examples are taken from related GraphQL posts on the Apollo blog:
- A step-by-step guide to achieving a specific goal:"Create a large scrollable list in React Native with FlatList"o"Simplify your React components with Apollo and Recompose". These are ideal for readers who want to hop in, do something, and get out quickly.
- An in-depth research on a specific topic:"Use nullability in GraphQL"o"Anatomy of a GraphQL query". They come in handy when targeting a more interested audience who want to have a cup of coffee and learn a lot.
- A numbered list of useful facts about a common topic:"4 easy ways to call a GraphQL API"o"5 Benefits of Static GraphQL Queries". This is a light and fun read as you don't have to commit to reading the whole thing and the bite-sized pieces are easy to consume.
Now, let me clarify some common concerns:
- There is already content on this topic.Don't let that stop you. Even if your idea has already been written down, you can see it from your own perspective or adapt it specifically to your situation.
- My idea is not interesting enough.Many of my friends and colleagues end up not writing because they fear their conclusions will be boring or obvious. It's a normal feeling! Of course, if you are an expert at something, the conclusions you write about will be boring...To the Lord. The key is that the people in your audience don't already know these things.
Still, at the end of the day, it's hard to predict which topics will make a great post and which won't, and it's oftenexecutionthis makes or breaks a post, not a brilliant thread. My main suggestion would be to try writing about different things and see what works.
2. Make your goals and audience specific
Now that you know your topic, you need an audience and purpose for your post. Who will read it and what will they get out of it?
must be your goalSpecificso you can focus all your energy on one main idea. For this post, the goal couldn't just be "blogging". I needed a more specific goal in mind:
- Public:People who want to start blogging, especially about technical topics, but haven't done so yet.
- Meta:Give people concrete steps and instructions to get started.
Once you have them, address your post by removing anything that doesn't contribute, and avoid adding extra details just because they're related. I've found that relatively concise posts with a read time of 5-10 minutes are the most successful.
Knowing your audience's background will help you adapt your writing to existing knowledge and determine how to publish and promote your content. For example, I hope to post this on freeCodeCamp, as many people in my target audience may already be reading this post.
3. Have a beginning, middle and end
It's confusing when a post takes a turn you didn't expect. Plot twists can be a huge benefit in short fiction, but a technical article is easier to consume when you get exactly what you expect. You can keep your readers on track by giving your post a comfortable structure.
The first paragraph or two of your post will persuade the reader to continue or lose attention. Start with some context so people understand where your post fits into the big picture. Then tell your audience what they get from reading your article. It might be tempting to postpone the big reveal until the very end, but be warned: if you don't have a good hook, your readers won't stick around to find out.
Now that you've told your readers what to expect, give it to them! Feel free to go into as much detail as you like and leave markers along the way to help guide people. Use lots of headings, numbered lists, and formatting so people understand where they are and allow them to jump to the content that interests them most.
Do not leave blank at the end of the article. If your reader has made it this far, he's really interested. Give them a brief summary of what they've learned, a pat on the back for reading, and maybe even something they can do next if they're inspired: a call to action.
The format I'm proposing here isn't the most creative, and there are certainly other ways to do this. But a simple structure is the most direct way to communicate with your readers.
4. Get feedback and iterate
You won't know what people will get out of your writing until they read it. Here, your assumptions about your topic, your goals, contribution details, and structure will be tested. If you want to get a good result, you cannot skip this step.
It might seem like you're impressing when you ask for feedback, or it might feel like it's negative, but people are more willing to help than you expect. It's much better to find out how your publication could be better before releasing it to the world. While compiling this post, I received very valuable feedback that made the content much better and more focused.
What should you ask your reviewers? My main advice is to keep it as open as possible. Do not try to explain in advance what you wanted to achieve. Submit your draft as-is and ask your reviewer what they think or what needs to be changed. If someone finds your article online, they won't have any additional context and will be left to their own devices.
The main thing you need to check with regard to feedback is: will this post achieve the goals you set in step 2? Repeat until you are sure this will be the case.
5. Add the finishing touches: packaging, publishing and promotion
Now that you have the idea, purpose, structure, and some feedback, it's time to polish and submit.
Think of a great title and subtitle, and make sure your post includes at least one image. This is what people see when the post is shared on Twitter or Facebook, and it's your chance to get people interested in reading it.
It's also important that your post looks professional so that your content really stands out. You should try to ensure that your post does not contain any spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or strange formatting. If you have a friend who is good at spotting small details, ask them to read it again before posting.
HefreeCodeCamp article in publicationhe also has great advice on writing style and formatting. Since you've already put so much work into your post, it's worth putting in the extra effort to perfect it and give it more reach.
Finally, be sure to credit anyone whose work you've mentioned or helped review and edit your post.
You are almost there! Choose where you will actually post the post for the best chance of reaching your audience. Medium is generally a great place for technical content and makes it easy for people to discover your writing.
For bonus points, try placing your post in a relevant post that will help you share your content; in this case, I chose freeCodeCamp because I think this tip will be relevant to your readers. If you want to do the same,Here are instructions for submitting your application.. Posts in your areas of interest are also likely to be looking for vacancies, so don't be afraid to get in touch with us!
If you've already published the post, you're not done yet! If you want people to see what you've written and get value from it, be sure to share it where your audience is likely to be. This could include Facebook groups, Reddit, Hacker News, LinkedIn, or any other platform. Also, be sure to share your creation on your own social media accounts like Twitter. Your friends will be happy to read, share and rate what you wrote!
And now you're done. Grab a coffee or go for a walk – Editing a blog post from beginning to end is no small feat. Read all community comments and responses to keep improving. And if you have another idea, do it again!
There is no substitute for practice.
We've just gone over five of the most important things to do when writing a blog post, from idea to post. Now that you've read it, try applying this tip and see what works for you.
I leave you with one last piece of advice. The most important thing I've learned from blogging over the past 3 years is that I have absolutely no way of predicting what content will take off and what will end up being utter nonsense. Sometimes I dedicate several days to a publication, I polish every corner and it doesn't move. On the other hand,"GraphQL frente a REST", my most read post ever, was written a few hours late at night.
Even if your first, second or third post is unsuccessful, keep trying new things, posting your ideas and improving over time. The world wants to hear what you have to say. Tell them!
Thank you very muchAnvisa Pai See More,Ângela Zhang,kate sealand the editors of freeCodeCamp for helping to proofread this post.
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