Fresh off my trip to DogFoodCon in Columbus, Ohio, I thought I'd share some highlights from my talk, entitled "Blogging for Developers." This is also a quick preview of what you'll learn in the upcoming webinar of the same name. These tips are from a section called "Writing for Humans." Never, never forget that you're writing for people! You're a technical person, I'm a technical person, but the key word there is person, not technical. Your topical is technical. Your audience is a person.
A Pre-Writing Checklist
- Who is my audience?
- Why am I writing this?
- What problem am I solving?
- Why does the reader care about my topic?
- How is my content different than content in our other blogs—or pages on our website? How does it connect?
- What is the single most important thing a reader can take away from my blog?
Who is my audience?
Pick one specific person and write directly to him or her. It'll clarify your writing and be sure to focus your work so it appeals to exactly the audience who needs your solution. If you try to appeal to everyone, it's likely you'll miss the mark. (Ironic, no?) Go ahead, just try to appeal to both Gonzo and Miss Piggy. It's not easy.
Why am I writing this?
Hint: It's because you know something and they don't... but they want to know.
What problem am I solving?
You're presenting a solution, but think about it from the perspective of the _problem, _and be sure to write from that perspective. Readers are interested in solutions, but only if it solves the right problem.
Why does the reader care about my topic?
Will it make her life easier? How it will make her life easier? Because the code is faster? More elegant? Maybe a little hacked, but that's OK, because it solves a temporary issue? Express why it's important for the reader to care.
How is my content different than content in our other blogs—or pages on our website? How does it connect?
If your topic isn't new, be sure to offer a new angle. Otherwise you're just duplicating content, and maybe in a way that conflicts with another post. And, of course, be sure to include content that makes sense in the context of the bigger blog.
What is the single most important thing a reader can take away from my blog?
This question's about focus, like "Who is my audience?" Pick one thing that you want people to learn, and put it close to the top. In this post, my "one thing" is "Never, ever forget that you're writing for people!" That's why it's in the second paragraph. Of course, all this assumes you've already picked your topic. We'll address that in another blog. In the meantime, register for the Blogging for Developers webinar!